How Safe is India

Dec 8th, 2010, 07:50 PM
  #1  
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How Safe is India

Hi All
I'm planning to go through India in April. Not sure how much time to allocate for that part of the trip. I will land in New Delhi, would like to go to Agra (of course) Jaipur, and Mumbai before returning to Delhi to go on.
I have read several posts here and also a few "Be Carefuls" from the state Department, and I'm not sure what to believe. I don't plan to wear any expensive jewelry, and dressing down has never been a problem for me. I don't think I will become an instant target. I am not cavalier about being there, but neither do I want to have to sleep with my backpack chained to me.
I originally thought I would take a train from Delhi or Agra to Mumbai, but after looking at the Indian train website, the overnight trip doesn't look so good.
Just a few questions: I am thinking between 3 and 5 days for India. Is that enough? I am planning to stay in a reasonably nice (read safe) hotel. Any recommendations would be appreciated.
How bout meds. I take, as a matter of course, about 5 daily ranging from aspirin to Vytorin. Will I have any problem with customs with this. I read somewhere here about Maleria pills --- Huh?
Have read about tours with Gate-1 and another agency or two here, Do your recommend that. I really dont want to see the enire country in 4 or 5 days. The above cities will do fine.
As usual, any info or advice would be appreciated. FWIW I will be traveling alone.

Thanks for your help

Shrink
Shrink is offline  
Dec 8th, 2010, 08:39 PM
  #2  
 
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IMHO, you could use more time to see a bit of India. For example, to drive in a car from Delhi to Agra took us 5 1/2 hours last Feb. Worth doing, but everything takes time. I personally loved India and felt safe everywhere. I was carrying a small fortune in camera equipment on my back and around my neck and never felt threatened a bit. Had 0 problems with customs about anything. Just be really careful about what you eat and drink. We had no problems with health issues in our 14 days there. But India happens quickly (as dogster once said) and colorfully, I might add, and you need time to capture a true taste.
pattyroth is offline  
Dec 8th, 2010, 08:49 PM
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That is really far too short for India, which is an incredibly diverse country. India is also likely to produce massive culture shock, rather than any actual danger. i suggest you read some of the trip reports here (use the country drop-down menu), and spend some time reading guidebooks - the Insight tyoe with lots of photos are good for deciding where to go, but Lonely Planet, rough Guide and Footprints are better on logistics and wha to watch out for.

Before you decide you'd rather travel by road than rail you need to consider the state of the roads. I was very glad to get off the absolutely horrible roads in Karnataka and back on a nice smooth train, but there may be a new road between Delhi and Mumbai. However, you should not be on any roads in India after dark.

You really do need to do some more research. And rather than the US State Dept web site (where the travel advisories are written by a bunch of nervous nellies), try the UK, Canadian or Australian Foreign Office sites.
thursdaysd is offline  
Dec 8th, 2010, 11:00 PM
  #4  
 
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5 days for all you have tentatively planned is only do-able if you don't mind getting exhausted of travel and not really seeing anything. Indian travel is very time-consuming and can wear you down. It is important to spend some time enjoying your destinations before you are off to another. If you really only have 5 days, you could easily do Delhi and Agra. There is a Shatabdi Express train that leaves Delhi at 6am and arrives in 2 hours to Agra. I have taken a car to Agra too, and the train is much more comfortable and less time-consuming (car is 5.5 hours). If you insisted on going to Mumbai in those 5 days, you need to fly. Traffic is really bad in Mumbai and getting just from the airprot to the centre can take a good 1.5-2 hours.

Not sure if you are a man or woman, but regardless safety will most likely not be an issue. I have only had one problem traveling solo as a woman, just don't get chatty with your drivers if you are alone.

If you do not know what malaria is you really should read up on the country more.
Jen158 is offline  
Dec 9th, 2010, 06:01 AM
  #5  
 
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You have a lot of research to do. Go to www.cdc.gov/travel and read about the travel health issues. Get a good guide book and read about the destinations you are considering. Read some of the India trip reports here.

Your plan for India makes no sense at all. Three to five days is not enough to do anything there. India takes time.

I'm not sure what safety issues you are concerned about. In terms of personal safety, you are less likely to be the target of crime in India than in the US, for instance. In terms of terrorism, anywhere in any country can be targeted. India is pretty safety-conscious abut terrorism.
Kathie is offline  
Dec 9th, 2010, 07:45 AM
  #6  
 
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I will land in New Delhi, would like to go to Agra (of course) Jaipur, and Mumbai before returning to Delhi to go on. ..I am thinking between 3 and 5 days for India. Is that enough?

Reply self-deleted. Only the hollow laughter remains.
dogster is offline  
Dec 9th, 2010, 08:33 AM
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Dogster, that's funny.

Shrink, not to make fun of your 3-5 day schedule, but if you only have that much time, go to another country where things work on time and there are roads that work. India is spectacular and I love it, but with 21 days there I barely scratched the surface and there were days, after 8 hours of bumpy, insane car travel that I wanted to scream and grab someone by the neck and say "Dear GOD, how can you be taking over customer service in the US and still have these roads!!!??". Then I remembered that I was a guest and this is why I came to India--to experience another culture. A shower and a few Kingfishers later I loved India again.

If you really only have that much time and still want to go to India, just go to Delhi and Agra. You can do that in 3-5 days. If you don't mind being exhausted, you just do a fly-by in Agra (get there at night and leave the next morning after you see the Taj at sunrise) and could try to get to Jaipur (6 really bumpy hours by car) Add this to your five hour drive to Agra and two of your days are pretty much just driving. Take an airplane to Jaipur you say? Well there is this thing called "fog" in India and everything comes to a screaching halt for hours or even days. But you could try it. Of course, then you have to get back from Jaipur to Delhi (5-6 hours) So, you have three days of pretty much doing nothing by driving.

Unless you are the the show "the amazing race" there is no possible reason to do India in 3-5 days.

I felt perfectly safe in India. Like any country, you stay alert and monitor the state department warnings.
BostonHarbor is offline  
Dec 9th, 2010, 02:03 PM
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3 to 5 days is fine if you're already nearby, say Nepal, and fully adjusted to the time zone. For those of us coming from much further, 3 to 5 days is unreasonable. We're still in jet lag for the first few days.

No one will care about your meds. Bring them in their pharmacy labeled container or store package. As long as you don't have a jar of Percocet or other narcotic, no one will bother you.

Traveling alone? Generally not a problem. If you're female, don't get drunk and/or get flirty with the men. Male or female, don't drive (or be driven) after dark. Dogster can, but that's another story.

Indians are very friendly, but don't let your guard down.

The hotels AND their location should be safe. How do you know? Check back here with names or, better yet, just go with the high-end, known hotels. It's only for a few nights anyhow.

Stay far away from large public gatherings of people for your own safety. Don't join in out of curiosity.
Jaya is offline  
Dec 9th, 2010, 08:45 PM
  #9  
 
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Here are my thoughts on your post:

1. April in most parts of India is brutally hot. Temps in the mid 90’s F as a start, over 100 F and over 110 F not at all unusual. No rain and hence no cloud cover to help. I would not recommend a visit to India in April if it can be at all be avoided. Or go to higher elevation areas where temps are more reasonable.

3. With that short a trip, you don’t really have time for trains, other than something like the super-fast Shabtabi between Delhi and Agra, or the 4-hour or so train ride between Delhi and Jaipur. Otherwise, you will need to fly as trains will take too long.

3. With only 3-5 days you don’t have enough time to do Delhi, Agra, Jaipur and Mumbai. You could not physically get to all 4 places in 3 days, and would be hard pressed to do actually get to all of them in 5 days. You won’t have any time to see them even if you tried to squeeze all 5 places into 5 days. You will need to limit yourself to 2 places IMO. You have to choose. While Agra is a draw of course, it is a pain to get to because there is very limited air service. So you have to go overland by train or car which will add time. So you may want to actually skip Agra. If not, then IMO you can only go to Agra and one other city. It might be possible to land in Delhi from your international flight and go directly on from there by plane/train to Jaipur or by train to Agra, thereby skipping Delhi entirely. This will depend on when you land in India. I would agree that you don’t want to be on Indian roads at night, but you can take a train at night. See what works with your flight schedule. Jaipur has decent air service.

4. I would not recommend Mumbai for a first-time visit to India. And not in April. And not as part of a 3-5 day visit.

5. A tour may work for you as it may help take care of details you won’t have time for. But I agree that tours seem to try to load in too much. But there may be a tour option which just provides hotels, drivers, guides and you pick the itin. I have never taken a tour to India or elsewhere, so can’t really give any reccos.

6. If you can give a budget for hotels, that may make recommendations easier. Also, you may want to wait on hotels until you have a more firm itin. IN April, you should not have any trouble booking a hotel, and may find good deals even at 5 stars in Agra or Jaipur; as no one wants to go then. (Delhi and Mumbai are popular business locations and seasonal deals are not readily available.)

7. Malaria pills are recommended only for certain areas, and in April may not be as necessary as there would not have been rain in virtually any of the places on your list for about the last 6 months. The Scottish NHS has very useful travel health website at http://www.fitfortravel.scot.nhs.uk/home.aspx (see esp their Malaria page), the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office also has a good one at http://www.nathnac.org/travel/index.htm,
This may help with your decision as to whether you want to take Malaria meds.

8. You won’t have any trouble with Customs in terms of bringing in meds which are prescribed to you. They are not looking for that. They are looking for Ipads, laptops etc which are new and which they think you may want to sell in India (as tax would be due on such a sale). But basically unless you are Indian, Customs won’t look twice at you or your luggage when they x-ray it on entry.

8. In terms of crime, IMO India is very safe. You would want to take normal precautions with wallet or purse, and in some cases you might want to consider chaining your backpack to the train seat (i.e. overnight trains when you take something other than 1 or 2 class.). But you don’t have time to take overnight trains anyway. In terms of terrorism, well India has had some issues of course. But who can really tell. IMO the US State Department is very conservative, which you probably can understand. You may want to read their reccos for other countries which you know well and see if what they say matches conditions as you know them to be on the ground. You probably will see the same conservative trend in all State Dept reports.
Cicerone is offline  
Dec 9th, 2010, 10:22 PM
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HI Shrink, You will not have probs getting through customs with your meds, as long as they are legal. Keep the original Rxs if worried.

OK, was it possibly a typo or slip of the keyboard did you mean 3 to 5 days..or weeks??

Are you trying to squeeze in India on a round the world tour? You say something about returning to Delhi to "go on." If that is the case--can you get more time there?
Ifyou skip Mumbai (why that cityin particular?) you can do the classic, short and maybe sweet, Golden Triangle tour of Delhi-Agra-Jaipur in 5 days--but it sure will be hectic!
CaliNurse is offline  
Dec 9th, 2010, 10:27 PM
  #11  
 
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Dogster, why did you self-delete it? Heck, if Fodors can look the other way at your posts about massage positions, surely they'll accept some salty language?
CaliNurse is offline  
Dec 10th, 2010, 08:16 AM
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Anyone who has been a member since May 2004 knows you can't ask if 3-5 days is enough for India/China/US/Italy without getting killed. So I agree with CaliNurse. The OP must have meant weeks, or months, or years.
colduphere is offline  
Dec 10th, 2010, 11:08 AM
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Cali: I'm having a brief attack of niceness. Too much time on Azamara, I guess. It'll pass.
dogster is offline  
Dec 10th, 2010, 11:30 AM
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Cali and cold, you are both being so nice. If you read the whole original post, it is clear that the 3 to five days is exactly what the OP meant. But the OP has not returned to respond, perhaps embarrassed by the their own question.
Kathie is offline  
Dec 10th, 2010, 11:43 AM
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Kathie - I just wanted to see what it felt like to be nice.
colduphere is offline  
Dec 10th, 2010, 01:44 PM
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Can we assess penalties to OPs who don't return to acknowledge our advice? It's no secret that I (and probably others here too) should be tending to other things, but we are a gracious and generous type and will stop, open up Fodor's, and offer up our worldly travel experiences to all those who ask (and sometimes even when they don't ask).

(shrink...this it light humor. Don't take offense if you comet back and read this).
Jaya is offline  
Dec 10th, 2010, 02:40 PM
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Completely agree with Cicerone. Don't go in April. It will be very, very hot. 110F is correct. As for meds that will not be a problem. Just be sure they are in labeld prescription vials. This may not even be necessary either but its a safe bet. As for safety you are likely to be given a hard sell by vendors who will charge high prices so bargain hard. Recently we were in India and the fellow running the snack stand at the train depot in Delhi gave me back 20 rupees in change from the 500 I gave him for ONE coke. I asked my nephew who was with us aboutt his andhe right away what was going on so he confronted the guy who immediastely gave me the rest of the change. He said he was waiting for me to return. This is the sort of mischeif you will encounter. Now anything can happen but use common sense, don't wear flashy jewelery and be aware of your surroundings like you would anywhere else. But be aware of them in Dec. or Jan. BTW 5 days just isn't close to enough time. You need about 2 weeks to do the so called Golden triangle which is very popular for tourists.
jacketwatch is offline  
Dec 13th, 2010, 01:32 PM
  #18  
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Hi All
Please dont shoot.....I really intended to come back and reply to your responses - I have just been away for a while. Let me clear up something. My original post did really mislead. Originally, I had intended to do Mumbai, but after your comments and several other things I had read, I really did not intend on seeing anyting except the Golden Triangle. I really had no intention of trying to squeeze in Mumbai in 5 days.
A lot of tour companies advertise Delhi, Agra, Jaipur in 4 or 5 days. My question was not whether it could be done, but was it advisable. You have answered that question in spades. Most of the advice was very helpful. Appreciate the info about weather, meds, safety, roads, transportation, etc.
Insofar as whether it should have been 5 days, weeks, or months, it will have to be pretty close to 5 DAYS. I am going around the world, and frankly, I do not have the ability to sit at my desk and know the correct time to allow for each of about 25 stops - India being one. I really have no burning desire to spend a great deal of time there, but since I am in the area ... thought I might like to see the Taj. Unfortunately, I am going to have to do India in April. The temperature doesn't really scare me, as I live in Texas and 110 is quite common. But I do appreciate the warnings.
In closing - to a couple of you - I realize that some of my questions are borne strictly out of ignorance - which by the way is why I am asking. If they offend you, please go to another thread. Condecension doesn't become you. Thanks for your help.

Shrink
Shrink is offline  
Dec 13th, 2010, 04:52 PM
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Some tour companies will try to impress travelers with how much they can see in India in a short time. It's misleading and a waste of money because although you technically do go to the various cities, you certainly are not afforded the time to soak it all in.

If 5 days is all you have, then do what you can. You can travel from Delhi to Agra and back to Delhi in the same day (take the Shatabdi Express Train) and then go on to Jaipur for another 2 days.

The Shatabdi leaves Delhi around 6am and gets you to Agra in about 2 hours. Then it returns in the afternoon (don't know the time). It's way more time efficient than traveling there by road.

The Taj Mahal is closed on Fridays - just an FYI.

So 2 days in Delhi, 1 day (no overnight) in Agra, then 2 days in Jaipur. Now, you can pick your points of interest for Delhi and Jaipur. What do you like? Maybe we can advise.
Jaya is offline  
Dec 13th, 2010, 05:20 PM
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Hello Shrink.Hello my fellow Texan (i'm a part timer in Texarkana).

Good for you, for your last paragraph. We all should take this chastisement to heart. Thank you for the reminder.

A-HA--so i guessed correctly and you are planning for around the world tour? How exciting!

I recommend you should use one of the numerous companies that can do a classic "Golden Triangle" tour in 5 or 6 days. ? Hectic, yes, but for your stated purposes, it's fine. The reason i mention a tour-planner (not a group) is that they can make it all more efficient--airport pick up--drive to hotels--drive between places --in comfortable i air conditioned car/hotels

BTW, i was in that area in June (110 F) and survived, quite happily, to tell the tale!
CaliNurse is offline  

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