Writing a post on the best places to visit in India is not an easy task. If I include some, but don’t mention others, some may be disappointed – and rightly so. The truth is that India is a huge country, it would take anybody a lifetime to visit all of it, and I can only write based on my own, very limited experience.
My decision to visit India was pretty much a last minute one. India had been in my thoughts for years, though to be fair I didn’t even know what the best places to visit in India would be aside from the Taj Mahal. But for as much as I wanted to go, I never felt ready for it, and kept postponing the trip. All in all, I am glad I went after having traveled extensively in other countries where the lifestyle, customs and the standards or living are significantly different from those of the Western world that I am used to, or I would have been shocked!
Tourist places in India are gorgeous… and crowded!
After I finally booked my flights, I hardly thought of the many tourist places in India that I’d have a chance to visit. I used to wake up in a sweat in the middle of the night, wondering why I was doing this to myself – after all, nobody was forcing me to go to India, nobody was expecting me to go, and nobody would be disappointed if I ended up not going.
Friends who had already been there gave me a very vivid picture of the country. They described the nicest tourist places in India as gorgeous, but crowded beyond belief. And they shared some anecdotes to prepare me for the worst. Others who had not even been there started remarking how dangerous India would be, basing their allegations on things they had “heard around.”
The point is that there is hardly any better way to convince me to do something other than telling me that I should not. So, for as scared as I was, I decided I’d go to India and see for myself. It was the best decision I have taken in a long time and I am glad to have visited some of the most wonderful tourist places in India.
My first impressions on the places to visit in India
I understood that I’d enjoy India the minute I landed in Mumbai. I giggled my way through immigration, saying to myself “I can’t believe I am finally here!” My connection with the country was pretty much instant, and whatever terrifying thoughts I may have had before immersing myself in the best known tourist places in India was gone the moment the girl at the check in counter gave me the typical Indian headshake and said “accha” to answer my questions.
I spent about a month traveling in India, and hit some of the best places to visit in India. What I have learned in that time is that India is way more amazing than anybody could ever describe, and I fell hopelessly in love with it. I saw the good, the bad and the ugly – yet I was charmed by it.
No words can describe what India is: all the spectacular tourist places in India, the incredible mixture of colors; the smiles and the penetrating stares of people – men and women, children and elderlies; the smell of spices, garbage and smoke; the noise – of music being played, of traffic, of people chatting. It’s hard to grasp, even for those who visit. It is simply impossible to explain the mystery that India is.
In my time in the country, I realized that tourism in India can thrive, and that there are way more places to visit in India than I could have ever imagined, and sure enough more than those I can mention on this post. The conclusion is that I have to go back, as soon as possible. In fact, I look forward to.
A small selection of the best places to visit in India
I went to India for the first time last October and spent about a month hitting some of the most famous tourist places in India. I had a vague idea about some of the best places to visit in India – who doesn’t know about the Taj Mahal? But to be fair, I had not realized that there are so many places to visit in India, spread around the country.
Most of the tourist places in India that I visited were cities and attractions within cities, but I had the chance to also immerse myself in the nature, to visit some of the national parks of Madhya Pradesh and to see the amazing Thar desert. Here’s a very personal selection of the best places to visit in India.
Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh)
Hardly considered one of the best places to visit in India, Bhopal – one of the main cities of Madhya Pradesh – was my first stop in the country and proved to be a good place to start exploring and, more than anything else, to get to know India without any of the strong cultural shock other tourist places in India may provide, as it is significantly less crowded.
Bhopal is sadly famous for the Bhopal Disaster, an incident which occurred in 1984 and caused the death of thousands of people as a consequence of the gas leakage from the Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) pesticide plant. It is possible to actually go on an observation tour of the Gas Tragedy. To me, this is an interesting way to learn more about the city, although this certainly isn’t one of the classic tourist places in India.
What makes Bhopal one of the nicest tourist places in India is the striking difference with the rest of the country, mostly due to the fact that a good 40% of its population is Muslim. This means that the city is packed with mosques (mostly concentrated in the northern side of the city), the most important being the Taj-ul-Masjid, started in 1877 with the intention of building the largest mosque in the world.
Other attractions that make Bhopal one of the best places to visit in India are the Tribal Museum, dedicated to the seven tribes of Madhya Pradesh; the State Museum, which is an archeological museum; and the two lakes which provide a pleasant place for a walk.
Here are some tour options for Bhopal:
- Private Tour: Full-Day Sanchi and Udaygiri Caves from Bhopal
- 4-Hour Private Tour of the Bhopal Gas Tragedy Site
- Bhopal Heritage Walk
- Excursion to Bhimbetka and Bhojpur from Bhopal
- Explore Bhopal in One Day
Where to sleep and eat in Bhopal
Although it hardly is one of the most famous tourist places in India, Bhopal has some impressive hotels and restaurants that make a visit to the city a special occasion. I visited the following, and loved them all.
The Jehan Numa Palace Hotel is the proof that tourism in India is reaching high standards. The hotel has beautiful, spacious, cozy rooms all set around a gorgeous garden with a lovely swimming pool and palm trees all around. Some of the best perks of the hotel are the pub and the great breakfast buffet, and Under the Mango Tree – arguably the best restaurant in the city. Click here to book now or here to read more reviews
Even if Bhopal may not be listed among the best places to visit in India, the Jehan Numa Retreat, which is located a bit outside the city, may be worth the trip. Think of a resort completely immersed in nature, at a stone’s throw from the city, with gorgeous, stylish room, a spa, a beautiful pool, a lush garden and a restaurant whose chef prepares some of the best food in India. Click here to book now or here to read more reviews
The WelcomHeritage Noor-us-Sabah Palace is another of those hotels that are proof of how well India tourism is developing. Most rooms offer a spectacular view to the city and its lakes, and to the gorgeous garden and lovely pool. There is a spa, a gym and even a hair stylist on site, and obviously a delicious restaurant where every dish is freshly prepared to order. Click here to book now or here to read more reviews
Satpura National Park and Pachmarhi (Madhya Pradesh)
What makes the Satpura National Park and the Satpura Tiger Reserve some of the best places to visit in India and a good reason to visit Madhya Pradesh is the incredible wildlife that lives there. They are home to spotted dears, sloth bears, various species of monkeys, buffalos, birds and snakes, and more importantly they are among the top places to visit in India to spot leopards and tigers.
It is said that over 40 tigers live in the reserve, but they are not easy to see and sure enough seeing one requires several tries, at various times of day: the best season to see them is apparently during the monsoon, when they hang out in the water. To me, this is enough to rank the Satpura National Park among the top tourist places in India.
Find out more about Madhya Pradesh on my post “Five reasons to visit Madhya Pradesh.”
One of the few hill stations in India, I found Pachmarhi incredibly pleasant thanks to the mild weather and peaceful atmosphere: to me it ranks among the best places to visit in India.
Yet, it is the great number of natural attractions that make Pachmarhi one of the nicest tourist places in India. Aside from the Satpura National Park and Tiger Reserve, other places of interest are the Rajat Prapat Waterfall and the viewpoint of Chauragarh, where the Mahadeo Cave is the starting point to a great hiking trail.
Here are some tour options for Satpura and Pachmarhi:
Where to sleep and eat in Pachmarhi
Pachmarhi is the main point of access to the Satpura National Park, one of the best places to visit in India. As a result, there is a good selection of places to stay, usually colonial era mansions that have been converted to hotels, though most of them are run by the Madhya Pradesh Tourism Board. All hotels have good restaurants, which are arguably the best places to eat in town.
I stayed at the Hotel Golf View and it was a good pick – it gave me easy access to the best places to visit in India that were around, the rooms are spacious and comfortable, the staff friendly and the location spectacular. Click here to book now or here to read more reviews
The Denwa Back Water Escape Resort is closer to the Satpura Tiger Reserve, one of the best places to visit in India. It is immersed in nature, for a truly peaceful stay, and the rooms are incredibly cozy. Click here to book now or here to read more reviews
Varanasi (Uttar Pradesh)
Nobody should go to India and then skip Varanasi. Yes, it is intense, it is somewhat shocking, but this is the ultimate of the tourist places in India, and for all the good reasons. It’s the cradle of the Hindu religion, the holy city. Chaotic yet peaceful, noisy yet quiet, Varanasi has everything one may possibly love and at the same time hate about India.
I must admit that the minute I arrived, after having spent a week immersed in the nature of Madhya Pradesh, I had such a cultural shock that I was ready to call it quits and get the first plane to go back home. But then I go into the Old City, rested for a few hours, and set to explore the beautifully intricate narrow alleys, walked along the Ghats that are among the best places to visit in India and ended up falling in love with it.
Varanasi is packed with interesting things to see and do – making it one of the most beautiful places in India. This is where I was able to seem some incredible rituals, such as the Ganga Aarti, the ceremony during which fire is donated to the Mother Ganges. It takes place every day, right after sunset, at Dashashwamedh Ghat, and it attracts a multitude of people – international tourists, Indian tourists and locals who all gather there to enjoy one of the most important attractions in India tourism.
Yet, what I think makes Varanasi one of the most important destinations for tourism in India is the incredible atmosphere at sunrise. One of the best things to do there is taking a sunrise boat tour, to observe all the rituals as well as the daily life that take place along the river: people cleansing their sins in the Ganges; the cremations (which, by the way, can’t be photographed); people doing laundry; the buffaloes being washed; barbers shaving their customers; children playing; dogs enjoying a bit of shade; and cows chewing everything in sight.
Here are some great tour options for Varanasi:
- Evening Handicraft Market Tour with Dinner
- Morning Aarti and Private Varanasi City Tour
- 4-Hour Evening Aarti Tour with Dinner
- Morning Boat Ride and Akhadas Visit
- Full-Day Tour of Temples, Sarnath, and Aarti
- Morning Yoga by the Ganga River
- Walking Tour of Varanasi
- Varanasi Tour for First Timers
- Varanasi Independent Adventure
Where to sleep and eat in Varanasi
As one of the top tourist places in India, Varanasi has a great selection of places to stay, for any budget. I stayed at Marigold P Guesthouse, a budget option, and loved my stay there. Rooms are simple, yet comfortable; the view from the rooftop is incredible; the area is very quiet (no noise whatsoever) and the owner Sonu is an incredibly kind and helpful person. Click here to book now or here to read more reviews
Other places to stay in Varanasi reflect its status as one of the best places to visit in India:
- BrijRama Palace is a beautiful heritage hotel with views of the Ganges. Click here to book now or here to read more reviews
- Aashray is a good guest house that has been recommended to me by various friends. Click here to book now or here to read more reviews
It goes without saying that, since it is one of the top places to visit in India, Varanasi has a good selection of restaurants and street food eats. Spicy Bites is a nice, plain place that serves decent food at more than reasonable prices, and is a favorite of backpackers. Bona Café is a bit more cozy, and also a good place to meet other travelers. The French Bakers is a good place to have a freshly baked croissant; and Bana Lassi, which is close by, is the place to try Lassi, a yogurt drink which is one of India’s specialties.
Finally, Blue Lassi is in an of itself one of the best places to visit in India. Aside from all the traditional lassi one can have there, this small “hole in the wall” (which however has a few seatings at the rear) is the place to go to try the Bhang Lassi. Bhang is an extract which is made of the flower heads and leaves of cannabis and which is added to the lassi, with the obvious effect of making those who taste it high (and it is completely legal!).
If you want a more guided food experience, try this evening street food tour.
Agra and the Taj Mahal (Uttar Pradesh)
The Taj Mahal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was pretty much the only one of the tourist places in India I knew about and I was truly curious to see before ever considering a trip to the country. Accessed from Agra, it is even more impressive than I thought it would be – no wonder it is one of the best places to visit in India and one of the top temples in India. My main fear was that it would be so crowded that I would not be able to enjoy it. But I have to say it wasn’t half as bad as I thought it would be.
I arrived at the site at around 3:30 pm, in time to walk around, take a lot of amazing pictures – the iconic one of the Taj Mahal reflection in the fountains is one of them; explore the inside (where there actually was a bit of a crowd and lots of locals pushing their way through and being quite loud); enjoy the view from the top and take in a gorgeous sunset. There was no wondering why the Taj Mahal is symbol of India tourism and one of the most beautiful places in India.
As the Taj Mahal is one of most crowded places to visit in India, it may be a good idea to pre-book a tour or to buy the entrance tickets in advance. This will definitely save some time and help make the time there more enjoyable.
Agra is also home to the Agra Fort, another of the most beautiful places in India. This is a massive red sandstone fort built on the bank of the Yamuna River that is fantastic to explore and that has stunning views around the city. It is possible to visit Agra Fort and theTaj Mahal on a day trip from Delhi, if properly organized.
Not far from Agra, there’s the Fatehpur Sikri, a fortified ancient city founded in 1569 by the Mughal Emperor Akbar and that is one of the most interesting tourist places in India. The imperial complex was abandoned around 1585, allegedly because the water reserve in the area was terminated. Various 2 days tours leave from Delhi to visit the Taj Mahal, Agra Fort and Fatehpur Sikri.
Here are some more great tour options for Agra:
- Taj Mahal & Agra Fort Sunrise Tour from Delhi
- Private Tour of Taj Mahal & Agra Fort from Agra
- 4-Day Golden Triangle Luxury Tour
- Dine with a view: Taj Mahal & Agra Fort Tour
- Skip-the-Line Ticket for Taj Mahal
- Agra Independent Adventure
Where to sleep and eat in Agra
Agra is one of the best places to visit in India, and it caters to any kind of traveler and any budget. I opted for the Utkarsh Vilas, and it was an alright place – if only a bit outdated in the furnishing and style, but it was ok for one night. The location was good, and the on-site restaurants proved to be a decent choice. Click here to book now or here to read more reviews
Forget about what people say about Delhi not being one of the best places to visit in India. Yes, it is a huge city, it is crowded, and it is polluted beyond belief: I coughed my way around, my delicate throat not too pleased with the dust in the air. Yet, it is incredibly interesting and packed with great places to visit, making it one of the most vibrant tourist places in India.
Among the most beautiful tourist places in India that are located in Delhi, and that can be seen during a day tour of the city, there are the beautiful Red Fort, which the British converted into barracks; the Jama Masjid, which is India’s largest mosque; Humauyun’s Tomb, also known as the little Taj Mahal, which is surrounded by a gorgeous park where locals enjoy hanging out at weekends.
Here are some great tour options for Delhi:
- Old Delhi Temples and Spiritual Site
- Full-Day Old & New Delhi Private City Tour
- Old Delhi Tuk-Tuk/Rickshaw Tour
- Gandhi’s Journey Half Day Tour
- Delhi by Cycle & Old Delhi
Where to sleep and eat in Delhi
There are many good places to stay in Delhi, as it caters to India tourism. I stayed at The Piccadily, which is well connected to other areas of interest via the metro – the Janakpuri station is right outside the hotel. Rooms are large and comfortable, there is a beautiful swimming pool, two good restaurants and an excellent breakfast buffet. Click here to book now or here to read more reviews
A lot of restaurants are located in the Connaught Place area – a favorite of the locals. There are choices for pretty much any kind of cuisine around, but restaurants tend to be packed at weekends.
For other food tour options in Delhi:
- Eat Like a Local: Chandni Chowk Street Food Tour
- Old Delhi Street Food Tasting Tour
- 5-Course Cooking Class and Meal
How to get to Delhi from the airport
Delhi is notoriously busy and a hassle to get around. And I know from personal experience that, as with all the best places to visit in India, scams are rife at Indira Gandhi airport. The good news is that there are some valid alternatives for safe airport transfer in Delhi. The comfort of it is a driver that waits around the gave with a sign, ready to help with luggage. This is particularly comforting especially after long haul flights! For transfers from Delhi airport, book here.
Also known as the Pink City, Jaipur is the capital of Rajasthan and one of its most interesting cities, let alone one of the best places to visit in India. The main attraction in the area is Amber Fort: this is an amazingly intricate fort of pale yellow and pink sandstone that can be seen from a distance, packed with beautiful courtyards and that offers spectacular views of the surroundings and which surely is one of the top tourist places in India.
As Amber Fort is located on top of a hill, getting there is a bit of a hike. I went by jeep, but when I was there I could see that a large number of tourists opted to go on elephants’ back. Riding elephants is still on offer in India tourism, despite the fact that this is a cruel and unnecessary practice. I encourage anybody visiting Amber Fort to avoid this activity, and if traveling with a tour operator that offers that, to firmly protest against it and to opt out.
Read more about the treatment of animals in tourist attractions on my post “Don’t ride that elephant.”
Other places to visit in India that are located in Jaipur are the City Palace, which is located right in the centre of the city, and the Ancient Astronomy Observatory. I also really enjoyed walking around the local market – it was a burst of life, noise, smells with people going around their business and it was incredibly interesting to observe that.
Finally, as one of the most important tourist places in India, one of the coolest things to do in Jaipur is a sunrise hot air balloon ride. Unfortunately, it was windy the day I was supposed to do it and we had to cancel it. It only means one thing: I will have to go back for that.
Here are some more great tour options in Jaipur:
- Jaipur Private Day Tour
- Private Half-Day Tour of Jaipur
- Customized City Tour of Jaipur
- Full-Day Tour with Camel Ride & Monkey Temple
- Jaipur Night Tour
- Small-Group Half-Day Food & Walking Tour
- Full-Day Jaipur City Tour
Where to sleep and eat in Jaipur
Another of the best places to visit in India, there is a great selection of places to stay in Jaipur. I stayed at Mandawa Haveli and it was a real oasis in the midst of chaos – beautiful, plush rooms located around a lush garden, and no noise coming in from the busy street. It was bliss. There even is a good on-site restaurant. Click here to book now or here to read more reviews
One of highlights of India tourism is its flavorful, spicy cuisine. One of the greatest ways to enjoy Jaipur and to eat a fabulous meal is by taking a food tour to have dinner with a local family.
Not even mentioned on the most thorough travel guides, Alsisar is definitely not considered one of the best places to visit in India – yet it should be. In fact, it is more off the beaten path than one may think. I am hardly the kind of person that puts an effort to go off the beaten path, in fact I call myself an unsuccessful backpacker – but I am glad I visited Alsisar.
A desert outpost along the Silk Route, this small city counts no more than 7000 souls but it provides a great break from the noise, the chaos and the crowds of Indian metropolis. Besides, there are some interesting tourist places in India that are located in Alsisar.
I enjoyed my time in Alsisar exploring several havelis – a generic word that indicates traditional Indian homes, usually featuring a courtyard, several rooms set around it, and screened windows from where women could observe what went on outside. Havelis are definitely among the places to visit in India – in Alsisar they were mostly used as business places, where merchants would go to trade but also to rest.
Other interesting tourist places in India that can be found in Alsisar are some beautiful temples, and a small yet busy local market.
Where to sleep and eat in Alsisar
For as small as it is, and despite being a bit outside the India tourism circuit, there are some good places to stay in Alsisar. I stayed at Indra Vilas, which counts with incredibly large and comfortable rooms all set around a nicely kept garden with a large swimming pool. It also has a really good restaurant. Click here to book now or here to read more reviews
What makes Bikaner one of the best places to visit in India is the amazing fort. It is also significantly less crowded with tourists than other tourist places in India, thus being a pleasant place to spend a few days.
Junagarh Fort is the main attraction of Bikaner, and it dominates the city. The impressive fort is one of the most beautiful places India. It was built between 1589 and 1593 and is characterized by lovely courtyards, intricately decorated rooms, and doors that are a real work of art. And the view of the city from there is breathtaking.
Here are some great tour options for Bikaner:
- Guided Sightseeing in Bikaner
- A Day in Bikaner
- Fascinating Bikaner
- Rajasthani Cooking Class
- Astrologer Meeting Tour
- Bike Excursion to Villages of Bikaner
Where to sleep and eat in Bikaner
Although less busy that the majority of the places to visit in India, Bikaner has a good selection of hotels and restaurants. I stayed at Maharaja Ganga, and it was a very good choice. This is a heritage hotel, with an impressive hall, an incredibly beautiful garden with a nice swimming pool, very large and comfortable rooms and great view of the city. Click here to book now or here to read more reviews
As an up and coming India tourism destination, Bikaner has some really good restaurants. I ate at Gallops and I was impressed by it: it is set in a beautiful park, it has amazing views of the illuminated fort at night, and needless to say the food and the service are superb.
Jaisalmer and the Thar Desert (Rajasthan)
Of all the tourist places in India, Jaisalmer is one of my favorite. The city is much smaller than other ones in Rajasthan, yet incredibly lively and packed with attractions. It is a pleasant place to walk around, to explore the narrow alleys, to shop for souvenirs and textiles, and to begin exploration of the gorgeous surroundings.
If you need more information about Jaisalmer, head over to my post “15 Beautiful Places To Visit In Jaisalmer.”
The highlight of Jaisalmer, and one of the best places to visit in India, is Jaisalmer Fort. What makes this fort different from all others in India is that people still live there. In fact, there even are boutique hotels and fabulous restaurants in the fort. However, the local authorities are now encouraging tourists to stay outside, because the massive use of water by the increasing number of visitors is having an impact on the fort, which is slowly collapsing onto itself.
One of the nicest places to visit in India is the Thar Desert. Lots of people who visit the country will say that the one of the highlights of India tourism is a safari in the desert. I didn’t go on a proper safari, as I didn’t have enough time to invest on that – but I spent a good half day in the desert, walking on the sand dunes, looking at the camels, admiring a gorgeous sunset and, after dark, staring at the incredibly starry sky.
Here are some great tour options Jaisalmer:
- Jaisalmer Private City Tour
- City Tour with Heritage Havelis
- Jaisalmer Tour with Camel Safari
- Overnight Stay in the Desert
- Half-Day Morning Tour of Jaisalmer
- Billions Stars Experience
Where to sleep and eat in Jaisalmer
Jaisalmer is packed with good hotels and restaurants, as the rest of tourist places in India. As I didn’t want to have an impact on the well-being of the fort, I stayed outside, at Narayan Niwas, a lovely hotel with an incredibly beautiful courtyard and reception area and an indoor swimming pool. I ate at Gaji restaurant and it was a good pick. Click here to book now or here to read more reviews
Known as the Blue City for the multitude of blue houses where traditionally the Brahmins live, Jodphur is one of the best places to visit in India. The main attraction, which is unmissable in a tour of Jodhpur, is the stunning Mehrangarh Fort, located on top of a hill that dominates the city, thus offering a breathtaking view at sunset, and which is a stunning view itself from a distance.
So beautiful it is that it can he rightly regarded one of the best tourist places in India. The best shots of the fort can be taken nearby the lake where its image gets reflected. Pity I only realized once I had left!
Here are some great tour options for Jodhpur:
- Welcome Tour with a Local
- Jodhpur, Mandore Gardens, & Lunch
- Bishnoi Village & Jodhpur City
- Camel Safari Day Tour in Jodhpur
Where to sleep and eat in Jodhpur
Jodhpur is one of the nicest places to visit in India and there are some good accommodation and eating options. I opted to stay at the lovely Karni Bhawan Hotel, which has cozy and comfortable rooms and a beautiful garden where tables are set and meals are served in the evening. The food was actually incredibly fresh and tasty. Click here to book now or here to read more reviews
What makes Ranakpur one of the top tourist places in India is the stunning Jain Temple, one of the biggest and most important of India. The temple is an intricate work of halls, domes and pillars, all beautifully decorated. Each and every visitor is checked before entering the temple: cigarettes, food, shoes, any leather item can’t be carried inside so go prepared.
Here are some tours for Ranakpur:
- Kumbhalgarh and Ranakpur from Udaipur
- Jain Temple form Jodhpur to Udaipur
- Private Day Trip to Ranakpur from Jodhpur
Where to sleep and eat in Ranakpur
There’s no village proper in Ranakpur, but as the temple is one of the most beautiful places in India, several good hotels are located nearby. I stayed at King’s Abode, which has large, modern and comfortable rooms, a beautiful garden with a large pool, and a very good restaurant. They even have traditional music and dance shows for guests every night. Click here to book now or here to read more reviews
There is no doubt that Udaipur is one of the best places to visit in India. Yet, I hardly enjoyed it. I went there right after Diwali, when Indians take their holidays, so it was packed from tourists coming from Gujarat, as it is the closest of the tourists places to visit in India for them. This meant that the various tourist attractions around town were unbearably crowded, to the point that I ended up just wandering around the market – the only place which was not crowded with tourists (in fact, it was blissfully quiet).
Having said so, visiting Udaipur at the right time may ensure hitting some of the highlights of India tourism. Udaipur Palace is certainly one of the most beautiful places in India, always included in a guided tour of the city, though I admit that it was so crowded when I went that, after a line of well over one hour to get in, all I got to see where the heads of people moving, and all I heard were the ongoing whistles of the guards – that’s before I called it quits and made my way out.
Another of the nicest places to visit in India that is in Udaipur is Lake Pichola – an attraction which I actually enjoyed. I took a boat tour of the lake, which provided some stunning views of the palace, and also visited Jagmandir Island.
Here are some great tour options in Udaipur:
- Evening Horse Riding Experience
- Welcome Tour with a Local
- Private City Tour with Jagdish Temple
- Lake Pichola Evening Boat Ride
- Experience Udaipur Full-Day Tour
Where to sleep and eat in Udaipur
India tourism has developed a lot in the past few years, so that Udaipur has a great choice of hotels. In town, the Leela Palace is simply stunning, with a great view of the lake and a gorgeous garden and pool. Savage Garden is one of the best restaurants in town. Click here to book now or here to read more reviews
Useful information about tourism in India
When to visit India
I went to India in October, and I found the weather to be pretty much perfect across all the best places to visit in India. It was hot, but never unbearably so, and it cooled down a bit at night. In any case, the weather varies dramatically from region to region, where the South is pretty much hot year round, while the North does get cold winters, and the Himalayas inevitably really cold.
The weather starts becoming really hot in April, and turns into unbearably hot in May and June – not to mention that from June to the end of September it is the monsoon season and it rains a lot – this may be a deterrent to visit even the most beautiful places in India.
Getting a visa for India
The Visa on Arrival scheme for India is a bit complicated – and it requires an online application to be made between 30 and 4 days before travel. The visa lasts 30 days and it is valid from the date of arrival. I wasn’t sure on how to get a tourist visa for India, so I opted for the more traditional way of sending all my paperwork to the embassy and got a multiple entry, 6 months visa. Otherwise, there are other, easier ways of getting a visa. A specialized agency is iVisa. Another one, E-visums, guarantees an incredibly easy application process, and the visa is typically approved within 24 hours and delivered in 72, including during the weekend.
The India eVisa is granted for 365 days, with multiple entry and, depending on your nationality, a maximum of 90 or 180 days to stay in the country. You can process the eVisa at the official website or with a specialized agency such as iVisa.com.
Make sure to read my post “A Step By Step Guide To Getting The Indian Visa On Arrival.”
Currency in India
The Indian Rupee is the only accepted currency in the country – even in the most famous tourist places in India. ATM are scattered throughout cities but cards often do not work, so having a few different ones may be a good idea to avoid being stuck without cash. Only the best hotels and restaurants accept credit cards. At the moment, the exchange rate is about 78 Indian Rupee to a Euro and 70 Indian Rupee to a US Dollar. Officially, it is illegal to take Indian Rupees out of the country so change any leftover currency before leaving.
Safety in India
Rumor has it that India is a dangerous place to visit, especially for solo female travelers. I have traveled across some of the most famous tourist places in India, used the public transportation, walked around alone and hardly felt any danger. Sure enough, I made sure to always dress very modestly: large pants or long skirts, t-shirts or shirts that covered my shoulders and chest, and a scarf that I could put around my hair if needed. Yes, men stared at me a lot, and I got regularly asked for pictures – but that came from men, women and children. I just said no when I didn’t feel comfortable and that was the end of it.
Scams in India
As it is normal, in all the best tourist places in India scams are quite common. The typical ones involve transportation – where tuk tuk or taxi drivers (unless booked via the official government-approved booths) generally raise the prices for tourists. Touts are very persistent – I was regularly followed around and asked to enter shops. Ignoring is normally a good policy.
Shopping in India
The best places to visit in India have some good shopping, mostly for things such as textiles, rugs and carpets, and traditional clothes, but also gems. Haggling is the rule in markets, but somewhat accepted in shops – though the best ones usually have fixed prices.
Taking guided tours of India
I am not really the kind of person who enjoys organized group tours, but I must say that with my limited time in the country I felt that if I wanted to make the most of it and see as many of the top tourist places in India as possible, going on a pre-arranged tour would be my only option.
Find out why I think guided tours may be a good travel option on my post “Ten reasons to take a guided tour at least once in life.”
If you aren’t a master or organizing, if you don’t have time to properly research your trip, or if you think you’r rather just have to pack and leave the tedious organization job to the experts, I recommend taking a guided tour of India.
G Adventures has several good options you can check out:
- Mysteries of India – 15-Day Tour
- Essential India – 15-Day Tour
- Golden Triangle Tour – 8-Day Tour
- Uncover India: Delhi – Goa – 15-Day Tour
- North to South India on a Shoestring – 21-Day Tour
- Ultimate India by Rail – 46-Day Tour
- Indian Odyssey by Rail – 54-Day Tour
Eating and Drinking in India
If there is one thing that is a highlight of India tourism, that is the amazing food and drinks to be had. One thing to be aware of is that although the choice of vegetarian dishes is incredibly wide, the same doesn’t quite apply vegan food. Forget about any soya milk or other milk substitutes – they are simply not found.
I am lactose intolerant, and even in the best tourist places in India I had a hard time finding food that I could eat comfortably other than tadka dahl (lentils), plain rice, plain naan, chapati or roti, aloo gobi (potatoes and cauliflower) and a few other vegetable dishes. I never even tried the lassi – though everyone claims it is delicious; the paneer (curd cheese) dishes; or the chai – but had to opt for plain tea.
Street food is definitely one of the must tries in the top places to visit in India, but watch out for poor hygienic conditions. I had no issues whatsoever, but it is quite common that those who visit India get travelers’ diarrhea.
Good coffee is hard to find even in the best places to visit in India: hotels usually rely on instant coffee. On the other hand, teas and infusions (such as ginger tea) are delicious. Water is never potable – bottled water or a water filter are the way to go.
Hygienic conditions and pollution in India
I think that India tourism would do much better if the country cleaned up a bit, but that is easier said than done when the place is so crowded and there is a huge disparity between the (few) rich and the masses of people that live below the poverty line.
Even in the top tourist places in India, garbage, cows and dogs excrements, exhaust smoke, the smoke of burning trash, dust and the recurrent strong smell of urine that comes from public urinators (hardly more than walls in the middle of the street) can make even the strongest of stomach churns. I advise anybody who is planning to visit India to purchase travel insurance before traveling.
Having said so, I wasn’t particularly bothered by the sight of dirt and garbage and that didn’t change my experience in the country, which was nothing short of amazing.
All in all, I really fell in love with India and can’t wait to explore more of the best places to visit in India.
Have you ever been to India? What where your favorite places to visit in India?