India

India is an intense place to visit. Having said that, it’s also a very culturally enriching and rewarding experience. The challenges are worth the effort, and you’ll hopefully walk away from your trip with lifelong memories.

Delhi is also famous for being the food capital of India. This is where the best food can be found in the entire country, and there is an endless array of options to choose from! I created this India guide as a way to help you sort through the noise and focus in on the main dishes that the city is known for. I’ve also tried to mix it up between different regional specialties, vegetarian options, and price ranges.

adriana pope india street food
Me, eating street food (a fried bread snack called pani puri) in Delhi

In this India guide, you’ll discover tips on where to stay, where to eat, and which places to visit. Simply select an article under our India tab on our website and navigate to the article that interests you. We’ve broken this guide up into sections so that it can be more easily digested. This guide is focused solely on Delhi India for the time being (as that is the only city that Nate & I have visited) but when we revisit India we will add more city guides.

If you would like to follow me around the globe, make sure to subscribe to our YouTube Channel! Lastly, my husband and I create iPhone travel apps. Feel free to check out our latest travel apps at NomadTravelApps.com (coming soon!)

Practical Information

Why should Delhi be your next destination? It’s the most exhilarating country you’ll ever visit, hands down.

India is an amazing and wild wonderland filled with ancient ruins, exotic foods, and non-stop things to do. Although Delhi is a very overwhelming place to visit, it also contains an incredibly rich culture that is full of surprises.

While some tourists get easily exhausted by the constant noise, shouting touts, and insane traffic… there is a beautiful side to Delhi that is usually overlooked. My job is to show you that side, the gems of the city that are hiding behind shrouded corners. In fact, I’m going to be your personal guide during your awesome trip and show you all there is to love about Delhi!

Delhi Population

With a population of over 21 million, Delhi is can easily be described as a congested metropolitan area. To really experience just how packed this city is, take a stroll down one of the narrow streets in Old Delhi (near Jama Masjid mosque).

delhi turban man
Traditional headwear known as a pagri is worn by men in India and is seen as a symbol of honor and respect.

Within a couple steps… you’ll rub elbows with street food vendors, see street children running down the alleys playing games, and meet the most affectionate stray dogs looking for belly rubs.

Language in India

The national language that is spoken in India is Hindi. Other common languages are Urdu, Punjabi and English. Most business owners and street food vendors understand enough to tell you the price of an item, take your order, and give you simple directions around the city. It is prudent to learn a couple phrases in Hindi in order to be courteous when speaking with locals (see section below titled “Hindi Lesson 101” to brush up on your international vocabulary).

Religion

The predominant religion in New Delhi is Hinduism which is practiced by nearly 80% of the entire population. The second most popular religion is Islamic with 13% of New Delhi city dwellers identifying as Muslims. The minority religious groups include Jains, Christians, Catholics, Jews, Sikhs, Parsis, and Buddhists. While strolling through New Delhi, you will notice a mixture of different types of religious structures from ancient mosques and Sikh Gurdwaras to the modern Bahá’í temple.

Dress Code in India

How should women dress in New Delhi? This can be summed up in one word: Respectfully.

Even though the Islamic religion is not the majority consensus, the overall culture in New Delhi is very conservative and caters to Muslim ideals. This means that the women dress very modestly and reveal almost little to no skin. After seeing one too many Bollywood films before my trip to India, I had completely different expectations for the general dress code.

indian women dress code
Typical garb for women in India is typically very modest and colorful

On my first day in Delhi, I wore a dress with long pants underneath and felt like I was nude! I got lots of uncomfortable stares that made me realize my assessment was incorrect. I soon realized that I needed to cover my ankles and bare arms (and sometimes my hair depending on the situation).
Luckily I had a Balinese sarong in my luggage which proved to be very handy. I wrapped myself like an enchilada when visiting Old Delhi, temples, and mosques (and it actually made me feel a lot better). No longer was I drawing attention to myself, but instead I was blending in with the other women.

I should also note that Delhi is a giant city with lots of different sections; certain neighborhoods are more conservative (such as Old Delhi), while other neighborhoods can be more liberal (Hauz Khas Village).

In the end, it’s your choice to dress however you feel most comfortable with. Wearing a head covering is not mandatory, but covering up fully is highly recommended.

What to Pack – For Women

I suggest preparing by packing a couple must-bring items in your luggage.

  • Shawl (sheer fabric is best)
  • Long pants (preferably that cover your ankles)
  • Long sleeved t-shirt (breathable fabric would be best)
  • Fanny pack or a cross strap purse with a clasp closure
  • Sports bra (quick drying fabric to combat the heat)

Choosing the right fabric for your clothing is key to staying comfortable in New Delhi. Delhi can get very hot during the day time, so cotton and linen are great choices. A shawl is a very versatile item in your clothing arsenal. You can use it to either cover up your shoulders or to cover your head (if you are visiting a temple that requires this). “No no” items would include sleeveless shirts, shorts, and tight fitting clothing.

What to Pack – For Men

Men can generally wear whatever they want. Shorts, however, are looked upon as being a tourist only clothing item so wearing shorts might make you stand out. Shorts are also not appropriate attire for entering a mosque. When we went to a Jama Masjid (a famous tourist attraction), my husband Nathan was given a long robe because he was wearing shorts (but it was free to borrow and wasn’t an inconvenience). With that being said, Nate wore shorts the entire time and didn’t seem to have an issue once.
I suggest bringing the following items for men:

  • Light fabric shorts
  • Linen Pants
  • Cotton t-shirt
General Packing
  • Comfortable Sneakers (Delhi tends to have a lot of trash on the ground so sandals are not a good idea)
  • Cotton underwear
  • Quick dry socks
  • Day bag with a secure closure (If you want to carry a nice camera, it’s best to not parade around all day with it around your neck in poverty stricken areas. Carrying a bag allows you to put it away whenever you see it.)

When to Go

Low Season (May – August)

Summertime in Delhi. These few months out of the year are considered the worst time to travel to Delhi. The temperatures are at their highest during this period, frequently soaring to an uncomfortable 105°F. If you don’t enjoy boiling under the sizzling sun and sticky air, then I’d suggest avoiding the low season. However, if you don’t mind tropical weather, there are some positives. Visiting during the low season means less tourists which equates to more room vacancies and even cheaper prices.

rooster rainy weather
India gets hit hard by monsoon season, so it’s best to plan your trip according to the weather

Shoulder Season (June – September)

Monsoon season in Delhi. Temperatures are high and it rains a lot during these four months. This is undoubtedly the wettest time of year to visit New Delhi. If you are comfortable creating a flexible itinerary, you should be fine. Expect to carry an umbrella everywhere you go as showers are constant with little intermittent periods of extreme sunshine. Think humid, hot, and wet.

High Season (October – March)

Winter & Spring time in Delhi is a time to rejoice. Temperatures are moderate during this time of year. Expect warm days and zero rain. The mornings tend to be brisk and filled with fog, so be prepared for chilly weather during the first couple of hours of the day. The only issue can arise if there is an abundant amount of fog which can lead to delayed flights.

Hindi Lesson 101

One great way to learn how to pronounce these words the correct way is to type them into Google translate and to play back the recording. Let’s get started with our mini lesson on Hindi.

sanskrit hindu
Sanskrit is the sacred written language of India and is also the liturgical language of Hinduism

Introducing Yourself

English – Hello
Hindi – Namaste
Pronunciation – nah ma stay

English – Bye
Hindi – Alvida
Pronunciation – all vee dar

Greetings

English – Good morning
Hindi – shubh prabhat
Pronunciation – shub prab hot

English – Good night
Hindi – shubh ratri
Pronunciation – shub shivaraatri

Interacting with Others

English – How are you?
Hindi – Aap kaise hain?
Pronunciation – ap kesse hane

English – I am fine
Hindi – Mai achchha hoon
Pronunciation – moo ke hahcheha hoon

English – You are welcome
Hindi – Aapka swagat hai
Pronunciation – apka swaga te

English – Thank you
Hindi – Dhanyavaad
Pronunciation – Thun ya vaad

English – Excuse me
Hindi – kshama keejeeae
Pronunciation – chama key gee eye

Shopping

English – How much is it?
Hindi – Yeh kitne ka hai?
Pronunciation – Yeh kitna khai hey

Numbers

English – One
Hindi – ek
Pronunciation – eek

English – Two
Hindi – do
Pronunciation – dough

English – Three
Hindi – teen
Pronunciation – theen

English – Four
Hindi – chaar
Pronunciation – chaarre

English – Five
Hindi – paannch
Pronunciation – paunch

English – Six
Hindi – chheh
Pronunciation – chhakka

English – Seven
Hindi – saat
Pronunciation – saut

English – Eight
Hindi – aath
Pronunciation – aaht

English – Nine
Hindi – nao
Pronunciation – no

English – Ten
Hindi – dus
Pronunciation – dus

English – Twenty
Hindi – bees
Pronunciation – bees

English – Thirty
Hindi – tees
Pronunciation – theese
English – Forty
Hindi – chaalees
Pronunciation – cha lees

English – Fifty
Hindi – pachaas
Pronunciation – pa chas
English – Sixty
Hindi – saath
Pronunciation – saaut
English – Seventy
Hindi – sattar
Pronunciation – satarr
English – Eighty
Hindi – assee
Pronunciation – a sea

English – Ninety
Hindi – nabbe
Pronunciation – na bee

English – Hundred
Hindi – sau
Pronunciation – so

English – Thousand
Hindi – hazzar
Pronunciation – hah zar

Getting Directions

English – Where is the bathroom?
Hindi – Aucaghara kahaan hai?
Pronunciation – Ehookee gaheru kahan hey

English – Where is the pharmacy?
Hindi – Pharmacy kahaan hai?
Pronunciation – Pharmacy kahaan key

Ordering Food

English – Snack
Hindi – chaat
Pronunciation – chat

English – Small food store/vendor
Hindi – wala
Pronunciation – wala

English – Milkshake
Hindi – lassi
Pronunciation – la see

English – Water
Hindi – paanee
Pronunciation – paw knee