I’ve put off writing these reasons not to go to India because most of the time, people don’t want to hear about negative travel experiences. And most of our experiences are amazing, even when they can be difficult. Even with India, there was so much that I loved and you can tell because I took about 1 million pictures while we were there (I’m the type that doesn’t take pictures if I don’t like it).
BUT… India was something that I wouldn’t recommend for MOST travelers. In fact, if you meet me in person, this is exactly what I’ll tell you: “India is for very experienced travelers who have prepared themselves for certain things that will most likely happen.”
I’ve had families ask me if I thought it was appropriate to bring children or young girls to India, and although I’m no expert and I understand that they may have a different experience than I did, I told them no.
Again, this is not what everyone experiences, but I have asked A LOT of people (mostly because a part of me needed to talk to people about what happened) and most women who have been to India shared similar experiences.
If you are wanting to go to India, but you’re not sure what to expect or maybe you aren’t sure if India should be on your bucket list.. this post could help you make up your mind.
5 Reasons Not to Go to India
1. Chaos & Noise
Unlike what most people probably believe about Jake & I, we aren’t always traveling, and when we are, we need time to rest and decompress after running around all day. This is definitely not something that was easy to find in India.
Even when we were inside our Airbnb, there was constant noise. Car horns blaring, music, yelling, etc.
I almost didn’t even realize why I felt so strained or tense until we actually left India and there was actual silence.
2. Possibility of Molestation
A huge reason why I started a blog is that I read them so often. So when I went to India, I knew that being molested was something that most likely would happen and I wanted to be mentally prepared for it.
Even though I went prepared, it still shook me quite a bit to feel so unsafe even with Jake right beside me.
Basically, there are millions of people in India, and in any type of crowd, it can be hard to pinpoint who is touching you. Jake could be right beside me, but the man who touched me would be gone in seconds and I wouldn’t be able to find them in a giant crowd.
Normally, my favorite travel experiences are going towards where the locals are. In many cases, these were street markets, temples, or street food, but in India, neither of us felt safe enough to hang around those places for very long.
3. The Holi Festival
This was my fault, I was warned about this festival, but I wanted to do it in the more traditional way in the most traditional city possible. I figured that I had been around the world already and I wanted to do this right.
The Holi Festival, usually known as the Festival of Colors, is celebrated once a year (although it lasts more than one day) by throwing color powder in the air and onto others. Of course, there’s more to it than that, but that’s the gist.
Unfortunately, this experience did not turn out as I had expected. This is not a festival that I would recommend any traveler do.
Although I knew this and still decided to do it. Jake and I went to Vrindavan the city famous for the way it celebrates Holi.
We had planned to go to multiple temples and parts of the city to watch and participate in the celebration, but we headed first to the most famous temple celebration at the Banke Bihari Temple. I was already uncomfortable just outside the temple.
I had originally thought that the colors were thrown in the air, but instead, I was surrounded by about 15 young Indian men trying to shove color into my nose and mouth.
I couldn’t breathe and was surrounded by so many people. If you have any claustrophobia or anxiety, you can understand.
I went into the temple anyways, with my husband who wasn’t being as targeted as I was, and had one of the scariest experiences of my life. I was molested multiple times, separated from my husband, and barely could move.
After that experience, we decided to skip out on the rest of the Holi festivities, which meant staying inside at all times. Even when we went out to just grab something to eat and head back, a man shoved powder directly into my mouth and nose.
Maybe some people can have fun in a situation like that, and I honestly wish I could have, but for me, it was not fun at all.
4. Intrusive Selfies
In India, if you look different (basically if you are white and young, but that’s just what I saw) hundreds of people are going to want to take a selfie with you.
At first, I thought this was a hilarious and super unique experience. I was at a temple in New Delhi and a line started to form around me and pretty soon I was taking selfies for almost 30 minutes.
I didn’t mind at first like I said before, but it started to get a bit scary. Men would use the excuse of a selfie to get a little too close, or they would start to tell you to smile or look a certain way in the photo.
I had a man follow us out of the temple and ask for his 5th + selfie. I turned around and told him “No, I remember you and you’ve had enough.”
He wouldn’t stop coming after me and asking, then an elderly Indian man came up with a walking stick and started whacking him and telling him to leave me alone.
5. Getting Followed by Strangers
Multiple times in India I was followed, including that experience I just shared about the temple. In Agra, Jake and I went to a famous lookout point to see the Taj Mahal. We had heard that it could be difficult to get to and that you might need to bribe someone to get in.
Once we got there, a man and his family were there waiting. There are certain times when traveling that I get a really gross feeling and I don’t know why. This was one of those times.
He led us up to the viewpoint where there were about 15 other travelers waiting to see the sunset behind the Taj Mahal.
For some reason, even after he showed us where to go, he wouldn’t leave us alone. He asked for selfie after selfie and kept getting closer and touching me more with each one.
I told him I wasn’t going to take anymore, but Jake and I both had a very uncomfortable feeling and didn’t want to anger him any more.
He started to get more aggressive and had me take selfies with his children and another man who he had come up to the viewpoint.
It might sound like an innocent experience, but the fact that both of us felt so uneasy made me think otherwise. He finally left but stayed at the bottom of the viewpoint, where we’d have to walk by in order to get home.
I ended up asking another traveler if he could walk with us, which he did. But even as we were walking home on a busy road, a man pulled his motorbike over right in front of us. He finally left after the boys yelled at him enough.
india or somewhere else? How to Visit India Safely
I have met a lot of people who love India! Although they shared the same experiences as I listed above, they found a way to overcome them or the positives outweighed the negatives in their case.
For me, India was something I always wanted to experience. It was different than anywhere else I’ve ever been and I still think it was worth it to go. However, I do think that if you are someone who goes on few trips or doesn’t travel as often, maybe leave India at the bottom of your list until you feel ready.
Visit India in a Tour Group
While we were in India, there were a lot of older travelers who were traveling as a group. I’m a bit of an eavesdropper, so I overheard a lot of them talking to each other about their experiences, which were all positive. However, I don’t travel this way since it is so expensive.
If you could afford it and just can’t go without seeing India, maybe that would be a good option for you.
Since I’m a budget traveler and I love my autonomy, especially on trips, it would never be worth it for me. But something to think about in case you really want to see India safely!
Either way, everyone has different experiences in the places they’ve been.
I have a million good things to say about India as well and I plan to write about that too. I gained about 10 pounds while there because of how INCREDIBLE the food was and I never got sick!
But I wanted to share my honest opinion about why I will most likely be choosing to visit other countries I haven’t been to yet than heading back to India anytime soon. Let me know what you think!