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Is India safe for international tourists?

by Pilar Dujan | September 4, 2023
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Traveling to India can be an overwhelming experience in every way possible. The people, the smells and the culture are not what most people are used to, and that can be intense when traveling. It’s also an incredibly beautiful country with countless areas worth exploring! 

The main question is always “is India safe?”. Here you will discover that it is, but also how to make sure your trip goes as smoothly as possible. Also, some travel to India tips for women and members of the LGBTQ+ community. 

Is India safe to travel?

Yes. India is safe, but this doesn’t mean that there’s no cause for concern. 

The Global Peace Index for 2023 places India 126th out of 163 countries, with a medium (yellow) rating for peace, but they highlight the fact that there was improvement from the previous Index. 

The U.S. government’s travel advisory for India places the country in level 2: exercise increased caution. This is because of border tensions and internal, ethnic conflicts. However, international travel to India is still safe if you take certain precautions.

First of all, you should avoid displaying your valuables and you should always keep your bag safely attached to you to prevent bag snatching or pickpocketing. One useful tip is to carry your bag on the opposite side of traffic. That way it’s less likely it will be snatched by a passing motorbike. 

You should travel to India with an insurance policy in effect in case of an emergency. Especially one that covers a visit to the hospital: getting sick is a common experience for tourists in India, so you should consider it when you book your activities and accommodations. Leave a few days open for relaxing and unwinding: India is chaotic, crowded and full of smells, and it can be mentally exhausting if your country of origin has a different culture. 

Driving can be dangerous due to poor road conditions, so it should be avoided, especially at night. They also drive on the other side of the road so it’s an added complication. 

Lastly, keep your eyes particularly open if you’re in a crowded place such as the street, a market or a train station. And remember: cows are sacred so don’t ask for any beef dishes, they will consider it insulting. 

Indian palace, Is India safe

Safest parts of India

As in most countries, some parts of India are safer than others. These are considered the safest areas for tourists in India:

  • Kolkata
  • Pune
  • Hyderabad
  • Mumbai
  • Surat
  • Ahmedabad
  • Chennai
  • Tirupati
  • Dehradun
  • Jaipur

Unsafe areas of India

Some parts of India are involved in external and internal disputes, as well as crime, and no tourist should travel to those areas in order to stay safe. These unsafe areas are:

  • The union territory of Jammu and Kashmir
  • The area surrounding the India-Pakistan border
  • The Thar desert, which many venomous creatures call home
  • Phulbani
  • Aksai Chin
  • Dras
  • Delhi outside of tourist areas

Is it safe to travel to India for tourists? Common scams

Tourist scams are to be expected when traveling abroad. The locals see tourists as good sources for easy money, so they will not hesitate to charge an exorbitant amount for a purchase or something similar.

India is no exception. Here are some common scams you can expect while exploring India:

  • The fake guided tour. If a local offers to show you around or take you to less-touristic places, say no. It’s likely they will charge you at the end, and it exposes you to crimes. 
  • The fake ticket scam. You should always buy your own tickets in official stands. If you ask a travel agent for help, make sure they’re legit. They could be trying to scam you. 
  • The bindi or bracelet scam. If someone approaches you trying to give you a bracelet or put a bindi on you, decline their offer unless you wish to pay them. 
  • If you’re about to reach an attraction and somebody tells you it’s closed for the day or they’re not selling any more tickets, don’t believe them and don’t ever follow them to the other ticketing station.
  • A common scam is to offer help with a tourist’s luggage only to demand money afterwards. If you don’t need help, don’t let them touch your bags.
  • If you’re traveling by auto-rickshaw or cycle-rickshaw, always settle the price before starting the trip. Also, do some research about the normal prices for locals so you can tell if they’re trying to rip you off. The same goes for taxis you take in the street.

Painted hands celebrating Holi, Is India safe

Is India safe for traveling alone?

Yes, India absolutely is safe for traveling alone, but you should stick to the places most frequented by tourists. Some good advice for traveling alone is to arrive during the daytime as the nights can be more dangerous, especially in a place you’re not familiar with. Also, be as informed as possible about how to get from the airport to your accommodation to avoid falling victim to a tourist scam. 

Always have your phone and portable charger with sufficient battery to get around during the day. Buying a local SIM card is a good way to stay connected. 

Is India safe for women?

India can be a tricky destination for women. To avoid issues, women tourists should avoid traveling alone (when possible) and stick to the common tourist routes

Although it’s likely women will receive catcalls, stares and other forms of unwanted attention, dressing modestly will help them stick out a little less. 

When going out at night, don’t ever leave your drink out of your sight and try to avoid overdrinking. Don’t share your lodging address with strangers. Also, don’t use public transport at nighttime: it’s best to take an Uber or other similar taxi company. 

If you feel like you’re in a dangerous situation, ask for help. The locals will most likely help you and shame the one making you uncomfortable. The emergency number is 112

Is India safe for members of the LGBTQ+ community?

Yes. People in same-sex relationships can travel to India safely, but it’s worth noting that homosexuality was made legal only in 2018, and it’s still not accepted everywhere. 

A way to stay safe is to avoid engaging in public displays of affection and avoiding any interactions with the police. Traveling to tourist places will be safer than going to smaller, more conservative villages. 

Is India safe in the Zanskar River, Is India safe

Is India safe for families with kids?

Yes, India is safe for children. In fact, the locals will probably be very warm towards your kids, even giving them gifts or touching them (pats on the head or pinching of the cheeks are to be expected). 

However, some parents may not be comfortable with strangers taking pictures of their children, something very common with foreign-looking kids in India. If that’s the case in your family, don’t be afraid to tell them no if they ask. 

One area of concern if you travel to India with kids is the air pollution that runs rampant in the cities. That can be very damaging, even for adults. The country is quite dirty as well, another possible issue. 

Lastly, going to the toilet with kids will prove to be a bit difficult. You should pack a good amount of toilet paper and wet wipes.

Is India safe from natural dangers?

There’s a risk of encountering natural disasters in India, especially cyclones, floods, earthquakes or landslides. However, you’ll be pleased to hear that India has developed a strong system for detecting natural disasters so, even if they happen, you’re not likely to notice.