Northern India is a bucket list trip for many, but India is a very large country. If it’s your first trip to Northern India, it’s important to do some research about the culture, food, religion, customs, and transportation. It’s also important to know the most important places to visit in Northern India.
North India includes the area around Delhi, The Golden Triangle, and Himachal Pradesh which is the Himalayas to Nepal. North India tourist places include major cities as well as more remote small villages. The further north you travel in India the more the culture changes to a Tibetan influence.
The Dalai Llama has taken refuge in the area of Dharamsala with the approving grace of the President of India. Many Tibetans have also migrated here and have created a small community where they can freely practice Buddhism. The combination of Indian and Tibetan culture is absolutely magical and harmonious.
The Himalayas are always spectacular and the views while driving around this area are breathtaking. You will fall in love with the Himalayas if you love outdoor activities.
The culture of spirituality in Northern India is infused everywhere
Northern India is a mecca of spiritual information for every aspect of cosmic learning you can possibly think of. You can learn things from Astrology to Yoga or get certified to be a yoga or spiritual teacher. There is signs everywhere you go for many types of Yoga schools and Ashrams with enlightened Gurus.
Ritual is the norm and ingrained into every aspect of life here. And, “Namaste”, is the greeting and word that resonates with respect for each individual they come into contact with. Here are tips for traveling in Northern India that may make your trip go a little more smoothly.
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52 Tips for Traveling to Northern India
Below are 52 tips to plan your North India trip. We’ve also included the top places to visit in Northern India, top tourist attractions as well as the foods you must try during your visit to Northern India.
Some of the below tips are practical and some will inspire you to explore even more of Northern India.
Plan Your Trip to North India (Things to do before you leave)
It’s important to plan your trip in advance. Give yourself enough time to research where you want to visit, the route you want to take and if you want to travel on your own or with a tour. If you do travel on your own, give yourself a few days to adjust to the time zone before traveling on to new locations. Also, make sure to add in a few extra days in some locations. You’ll be surprised how much there is to do! Between the beautiful places, historical monuments and 14 Unesco world heritage site locations, there is an abundance of tourist destinations that you must visit!
Here are a few more things to do before you leave on your trip to India to ensure your trip to Northern India is the most amazing adventure of your life!
1. Get your Indian Visa paperwork going ASAP. There is only one outsourcing called Travisa and they are extremely busy so , get the paperwork started immediately. Make copies of your passport and visa and keep one copy with you always, one at the hotel, one at home, and place your original documents in a safe place.
2. Build your immune system & bring stomach medicine. Always check current requirements for shots and vaccinations. Beyond this, it is always a wise idea to take supplements and some kind of immunity defense. I take a preventative supplement called Travelan. It is a dietary supplement high in antibodies that help prevent diarrhea. Simply take one pill before each meal.
If you can’t find Travelan, a great backup supplement option for gut health that helps prevent diarrhea is Pure Velvet Capsules.
I also suggest bringing Oil of Oregano for Immune and Intestinal Support as well as upset stomach. Papaya enzymes are great for digestion and can be found at natural food stores or on Amazon. As careful as I was I still had some digestion distress.
3. Purchase Train tickets in advance. It is very difficult to find a train with available seating in 1,2,3 A/C. which is the most comfortable way to travel. Seating in any other class or general is extremely crowded with no room for your own personal space. Also, if you are a woman, men can be aggressive. Many of the locals tend to stare as not many tourists travel in the general boarding.
Book at least one or two months in advance. You can now buy train tickets direct from Indian Railways at the IRCTC website www.irctc.co.in as it now accepts overseas (non-Indian) credit cards. Simply select International cards at the payment stage.
4. Get Travel Insurance
In today’s today’s world, travel insurance is my top suggestion to everyone currently traveling.
It’s never fun to think about what could go wrong on a trip. A good plan can ensure that emergencies that may come up – medical trouble, stolen items, damage to your belongings, etc. – are easier to handle, and at little to no extra expense to you.
I highly recommend checking out World Nomads before you travel. World Nomads travel insurance has been designed by travelers for travelers, to cover trip essentials and is very reasonable.
I recommend Travelex for family travel insurance. Not only does this company offer ‘cancel for any reason’ policies as well as very clear COVID-19 coverage, Travelex also includes coverage for children under 17 when traveling with an adult at no additional cost. (Be sure to read all terms and conditions.)
Squaremouth is a 3rd travel insurance I highly recommend. It allows travelers to quickly get a quote, compare, and buy travel insurance. Squaremouth will find the best policy for your trip for the lowest possible price. Be sure to look for ‘cancel for any reason coverage‘.
5. Pack light! Take light comfy clothes for your afternoons as India is quite hot during the days even in Himachal Pradesh. For women, always cover your shoulders to avoid stares, any form of aggression, and as simple respect for the culture. I suggest a light shawl or scarf with a hidden pocket.
Don’t forget to leave room for purchases on your return trip. It is very inexpensive to shop in India and you’ll want to leave room in your backpack or luggage to bring back gifts.
6. Pack a Travel Umbrella or rain poncho. Summers are the Monsoon season so bring an umbrella if you decide on this season for travel. Also, pack a hat or cap as protection from the hot sunny afternoons.
7. Exchange money in advance. Money Exchange at the airport is horrible so I suggest at your own bank before you leave and while there, Western Unions are safe and I used ATMs as well. My bank had a great exchange rate.
8. Add a currency exchange app on your phone. This will let you know exactly what you are spending and what the merchants are trying to negotiate. I found when they saw me use mine they quoted much more fairly and when I compared it later with friends, I actually paid much less for the same item.
9. Get a prepaid phone or a prepaid SIM card to make calls during your North India trip.
10. Pick hotels wisely. Most hotels are not very expensive and I found that you have to ask for A/C. Find a hotel that will be somewhat close to the sites you will be seeing or else you spend a lot of time in a car trying to communicate with the driver.
Tips for Travel in North India
There are a lot of things about India that will be a culture shock. From cows wandering the streets, to crazy traffic, it’s a learning curve. Indian driving is absolutely mad; this is their norm, just relax and maybe video it for memorable driving times. There are also all of the wonderful things; the natural beauty, snow-capped mountains, rich heritage and delicious foods!
Here are a few tips to make your trip the best ever!
11. Never drink the water out of the tap. There is quite a bit of pollution in India. Take a water bottle such as Grayl Quest Grayl Water Filtration Bottle or only drink purified water.
12. Get a prepaid taxi when you arrive at the airport. When you arrive there will be many taxi drivers bombarding to take you to your hotel. Go to a booth for a prepaid taxi to get the fairest price for a taxi or else you end up paying too much.
13. Carry a Lonely Planet India Travel Guide for the area that you are visiting. I found that it really helped with what direction I was heading along with places to stay.
14. Always carry some travel bathroom wipes or tissue as they rarely carry any. Paper products of this nature including napkins at restaurants are rarely available.
15. Be aware of panhandlers. You can be bombarded by them, I made the mistake once of giving them money and a few minutes later was surrounded by so many, it was uncomfortable. So, instead, whatever I didn’t finish at a restaurant, I had it packaged and donated that instead. All this is optional.
16. Negotiate Taxies. When touring around by taxi, it is best to negotiate your price, especially when going to 2 or 3 places.
17. Negotiate when shopping. One of the merchants told me that they raise their prices on the weekends and that since they hardly have any people during the week they negotiate more.
18. Do not feed the Monkeys. Although they are fun to watch, they can become aggressive when competing for food with other little monkeys.
Places To Visit in Northern India & Top Things To Do
Below are some of our favorite places to visit in Northern India and top things to do in this part of India.
19. Spend Time in Delhi. The is so much to do, see and experience in Delhi. A few of the top places to visit are Red Fort (Lal Qila) a historic fort in Old Delhi that was built between 1638 and 1648 by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan as a city palace and fort of his capital Shahjahanabad.
Across from the Red Fort, is the oldest and best-known Jain temple in Delhi; Shri Digambar Jain Lal Mandir. This is one of the many Jain temples in India.
20. Do the “The Golden Triangle” tour. This is one of the most popular things to do on an tour of Northern India.
Book one through an agent. Price compare though, there can be considerable price changes between tours and ask if it includes entry ticket and guide. You’ll get to see these highlights of the Rajasthan area before heading up north. This is a good way to see the Taj Mahal, Jaipur, and other temples and sites. If not, go on your trip by train instead of taxi. You will save more money this way.
21. Plan on staying in an Ashram. Check the requirements in advance. Many are extremely inexpensive but you have to wake up before dawn and meditate or do some chores as part of cleaning your karma.
22. See Tigers at Jim Corbett National Park. The park covers thousands of kilometers of stunning landscape and is India’s first national park. It was established in 1936 and Corbett National Park is famous for having the highest number of tigers of any Indian national park.
23. Visit Rishikesh when heading up north to Himachal Pradesh, where the views of the Himalayas are quite spectacular, especially the snow-clad mountains in winter.
24. In Rishikesh, stay in an Ashram for a night or two. There are many here and in some of these you can wake in the morning and take a Yoga Class and it is extremely inexpensive. The food is also good and inexpensive.
25. Visit the Sadhu’s in Rishikesh. You will see a different aspect of the spiritual culture.
26. Visit the Ganga River, it is considered holy and the river that brings life to India.
27. Make arrangements in advance to see the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala. You must do this in writing to his secretary. You can go to www.dalaillama.com to see his schedule and where his teachings are held. If interested, you can also make an appointment to see the Karmapa which will succeed the Dalai Lama and ask questions.
The 14th Dalai Lama, known as Gyalwa Rinpoche to the Tibetan people, is the current Dalai Lama, the highest spiritual leader and former head of the state of Tibet.
28. Visit The Golden Temple Amritsar, Punjab
The Golden Temple is a gurdwara (place of worship) and the preeminent spiritual site of Sikhism. The pool on the site of the temple was completed by the fourth Sikh Guru, Guru Ram Das, in 1577. This is one of the most popular places to visit in Amritsar.
29. If you are an outdoors person, go Paragliding. This is spectacular, especially with the mountain view in the Himalayas.
30. Visit a Tea Estate. There are many large Tea Estates that are wonderful to visit and sit and have some afternoon Green Tea.
31. Visit McLeod Ganj. It is a Tibetan Settlement community and there are many temples to visit here, classes to take, plenty of shopping, and Tibetan food. McLeod Ganj sits at an altitude of 5,577 feet (1,700 meters) in the Kangra district in the state of Himachal Pradesh.
32. Visit the Tibetan community of Norbulingka. Located in Lhasa, Tibet, the institute has the goal of preserving the continuation of Tibetan art. You can see how the community raises money by making meticulous hand-crafted buddha dolls, paintings, and woodwork. While there make sure to eat at the Norbulingka café and stop in the shop. They have the best hand-stitched clothes you can possibly buy. If it’s in your budget, stay a night at Norling House on the Norbulingka grounds. It is a bit more expensive but it’s worth it and so very peaceful.
33. Take a Tuktuk for transportation to some places. It is a motorized rickshaw and very inexpensive and an experience to be had.
34. Visit the Dalai Llama’s temple in McLeod Ganj. It is also still a school for monks of all ages.
35. Visit Bhagsunag. A brisk walk from McLeod Ganj on Temple Road. A Tuktuk can take you there for about 40 rupees too.
36. Go to the waterfalls in Bhagsunag. You can also take a refreshing dip to cool yourself off.
37. Visit Dharamkot. It’s a steep road that takes you more into a forested area of town.
38. Take little hikes around Dharamkot and Bhagsunag areas. There are trails and a couple of small temples along the way. Being in the mountains is beautiful.
39. Visit Manali for more outdoor nature activities and to see Beas River Valley.
40. Get a Massage. Relaxation Treatments are very cheap in India and you can also get a Pancha Karma which is a 7-day cleanse for very little. Afterward, your skin looks amazing and you feel extraordinary.
41. Go to a Hot Spring while in the mountains. There are many and you just have to look at some travel books to find out where.
42. If you are an outdoors person, plan a hike to the Himalayas with a Sherpa. There are tour hikes that provide a Sherpa with cooking food campfire.
43. Visit The Thar Desert Located in the northwestern part of the Indian subcontinent at the natural boundary between India and Pakistan. It is the world’s 20th-largest desert, and the world’s 9th-largest hot subtropical desert. It located partly in the state of Rajasthan.
44. Visit Dal* Lake in Srinagar Especially if you are there in July or August, visit the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir and the floating gardens of lotus flowers known as ‘Rad’ in the Kashmiri language. A perfect place for nature lovers!
*(Dal actually means lake in Kashmiri means)
What to Eat in Northern India
From Chaats to Samosa, trying the traditional and popular food items when traveling in North India is a must.
45. Please try Tibetan Bread while in Mcleod Ganj. It is absolutely delicious with honey.
46. Try Chole Bhature. This is a delicious street food that has also become a popular restaurant dish. It is a combination of chana masala and bhatura, a fried bread made from maida.
47. Butter Chicken. Traditionally known as murgh makhani, it originated in Delhi. It is a type of curry made from chicken with a spiced tomato and butter sauce. The end result is creamy and spicy.
48. In Mcleod Ganj eat at The Green Hotel. The restaurant serves Tibetan items that are Vegetarian and Vegan. They are known for a Tibetan specialty; a tasty thick soupy casserole dish that comes with two steam buns and veg momos.
49. Visit Moonpeak Café for omelets.
50. Visit Gaiyaki for Vegetarian food. This is a Tibetan-owned little place.
51. When possible stay at a guesthouse while visiting Northern India. They are family-owned and cost about $4 per night. And many are cleaner than hotels. Hotels cost start at $18 per night. This helped when I extended my stay.
Tip: Check to make sure they have private bathrooms.
You can read about How to find homestays for an authentic India travel experience.
52.- Enjoy every minute of your trip to Northern India. Immerse yourself in the culture and have a great experience. After all, you are on vacation!
Where is North India?
India shares its border with seven countries; Afghanistan and Pakistan to the North-West, China, Bhutan and Nepal to the North, Myanmar to the far East and Bangladesh to the East.
The northern region of India is one of the largest and includes eight states and the union territory of Chandigarh.
New Delhi is the capital city of India.
The Eight states in North India
- Jammu & Kashmir
- Himachal Pradesh
- Uttar Pradesh
North India Cities
There are currently 31 cities in Northern India. Some of the best places to visit in Northern India include; Delhi, Agra, Varanasi, Amritsar, Parvati Valley, Manali Leh, Ladakh, and Rajasthan.
Weather in North India
- The hottest months in Northern India are May, June, and July. During this time highs are regularly around 110.3°F and lows rarely drop below 80.4°F.
- The monsoon season of August and September brings high temperatures as well as heavy rain.
- During the winter months of December and January, it can be chilly in northern India.
The climate is much cooler in the Himachal Pradesh section of Northern India. Some days can be quite warm, but evenings cool off and require a light sweater. This is a nice change compared to the heat and dryness around Delhi, Jaipur, and Rishikesh.
The weather in the Himalayas is a little more comfortable and a quite pleasant climate compared to the dry heat that normally is associated with India.
The Best Time to Visit Northern India
The best time to visit India is between late October and March. These months tend to be cool, dry, and sunny.
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