As some of you may know, my sister, Taylor, and I began working with an Indian company in 2018 and have been able to do a lot of traveling since then. We are so thankful to have been able to see so much of the world and specifically India. One of the questions I get most often is- "How do you like India? I can't imagine being over there and working for an Indian company!"
While there are so many things about India that are so different from life in the US, there are a lot of things we have really enjoyed. Yes, you do have to be cautious and aware but it is definitely a special place when you plan appropriately.
The history of the country is so rich with culture and religion which makes it a very interesting place to visit. This means that everything from food, clothing, and architecture all has a meaning and most of the time, a religious or historical purpose. What many people don't know about India is that there are so many amazing things to see! The landscape is so different from place to place. Different animals, different wildlife, topography, weather... everything! It seems like most places in India we have visited all have such unique palaces, history, nature and cultural flair that makes India a must-see destination. There is plenty to see in India so our advice to you is, don't be shy, plan in advance and do your research to make the trip an amazing experience!
I have listed some of my favorite places to see in India as well as some tips to make your trip a bit easier. I hope you enjoy!
1. Amber Fort- Jaipur
Overview: If you are looking for a true Indian experience without having to venture too far, Jaipur is the city for you. It is located in the state of Rajasthan and is very rich in history. Just a few miles from the airport you start to understand why it is known as "The Pink City". This came to be in 1876 when Maharaja Ram Singh had the entire Old City freshly painted pink (traditionally the color of hospitality) as a way to welcome the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII). Even today it is mandated by law that all residents of the Old City should preserve the pink facade.
Advice: With most tourist destinations in India, the earlier you go, the better chance you will have for avoiding the crowd. We visited Amber Fort with a tour guide which I HIGHLY recommend. In India, most places don't have signage or plaques to commemorate and explain historical details to you so this is where the guide is clutch.
2. Rambagh Palace- Jaipur
Overview: Another sight to see in Jaipur is Rambagh Palace and it truly speaks for itself. It is a hotel so you can spend a couple of nights and enjoy living like Indian royalty. It is a palace dating back to 1835 that has now been turned into a hotel. It is known as the "Jewel of Jaipur" for good reason! Fun Fact: Rambagh palace was originally built as a "garden house" for Indian royalty and then was converted into a hunting lodge in 1887- CASUAL. The picturesque property is filled with birds, peacocks, and wildlife throughout. You can even take a ride on horse and carriage through the grounds.
Advice: I also have to say, if you are looking for a great, reliable hotel in India, ALWAYS go for the Taj Hotels. I love that they preserve the Indian traditions, decor and feel with all of the amenities of a luxury hotel.
3. Taj Mahal- Agra
Overview: By far, the most coveted attraction in India is the Taj Mahal. When you enter, you are greeting with glistening ivory-white marble that appears to change colors depending on the positioning of the sun. Built in 1632, it is still one of the most architecturally impressive structures in the world. It takes a bit more planning than other destinations but is very worth it.
Advice: I have a few tips to help you really enjoy your experience. First, go EARLY. Like when the gates open at 6 or 7am -early. This will help ensure you get a good view before everything gets too busy/crazy. Next, invest in a private tour- this will ensure you learn the history behind the Taj Mahal and make the most of your experience by helping you navigate crowds as well. Also, the city of Agra is not much of a city so you are literally just going to see the Taj Mahal. Its wise to stay at a nicer hotel so that you have a reliable option for dinner, lounge etc.
4. Taj Falaknuma Palace- Hyderabad
Overview: This is one of the first places we got to see in India. Its located just outside of Hyderabad. Whether you decide to stay overnight or just go for a dinner, you will really enjoy the beauty of Taj Falaknuma. While you are having dinner, you have an amazing view of Hyderabad and get to enjoy a romantic and intimate ambiance. The staff does a great job of ensuring you get the most out of your evening which enhances the entire experience.
Advice: We recommend staying overnight but you can also just visit Taj Falaknuma for dinner (make a reservation ahead of time). If you do end up staying overnight, you can take a place tour, book a massage (amazing!), and also listen to the music at night. Definitely worth the experience!
5. Ranthambore National Park
Overview: There are so many things to say about Ranthambore, I hardly know where to start. Basically, if you want to experience Animal Planet in real life- go to Ranthambore! The park is filled with beautiful wildlife and scenery. Out tour guide told us that the guides are not allowed to have any kind of defence tools because they do not allow people to inferefer with nature.
It does take a while (2 hours from Jaipur) to get there by car or bus, but once you arrive it is incredible. There are options for all different price points for tours and accomodations depending on how much you are wanting to experience. Because there is not much around other than hotels for guests wanting to go on safaris, I would definitely invest in the full experience. You will get to see some many types of plants and wildlife as well as learn a ton of information from your guide.
Advice: Make your safari arrangements through your hotel. They can start the safari from there and take you directly to the park. They will also pack snack and drinks so you can enjoy a picnic experience in the park.
Most things in India do require a bit of planning in advance for people who are not from India or who have never been. It is worth it to explore and to see but know that it might be easier to travel with a local or a company that can help you navigate. India is definitely a beautiful, unique and insightful experience.
What to Pack:
Keep in mind that for women, you should not show any cleavage and shorts or skirts should be to your knees. It is not necessarily required but I have found I feel uncomfortable if I am not dressed appropriately. It is much easier for everyone if you dress conservatively. India is such a diverse place, you should have outfits for multiple occasions. Also, India is the place to break out your bright and fun colors! I would pack some dressy options as well as casual basics. Flowy, light fabrics tend to work best and also be sure to pack a few layers for the cooler evenings. Heels aren't necessary unless you are planning to go to a function or very fancy dinner. Nice flats will work just fine.
-Basic t shirts
-Flowy Maxi skirts/dresses
-Flat shoes (sneakers, flip flops)
-There aren't many places to get a quick snack like there are in the US. I make sure to pack some protein bars in case of hunger emergencies. I also pack immodium for the days that my stomach doesn't agree with the Indian spices. My immune system is sometimes weak in India due to exposure to a different environment so I also bring some vitamins or vitamin- C tablets. Make sure to only drink bottled water and hydrate so that you don't get sick.