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10 Tips For Women Traveling in India

 

Journeywoman Mariellen Ward is a Toronto-based freelance writer and editor who has published articles in magazines such as Dreamscapes, Arrival, and on various internet travel sites. A passionate Indiaphile, she has traveled extensively in India on three trips and studies Hindi and Yoga in both Toronto and in India. We asked Mariellen to give us 10 tips to help other women preparing for a trip to India. She writes...

 

Aside from good walking shoes and sandals, a one-piece bathing suit and cotton bras and underwear – or, if you prefer, the synthetic kind that wicks away sweat – don’t bring any clothes to India. If you land in Delhi, head straight to one of the Fabindia outlets and stock up on inexpensive cotton “suits.” The three-piece suit (in Hindi, salwar kameez) consists of a long or short tunic over fitted or wide-legged pants, topped with a long scarf, called a dupatta. These outfits suit the climate, the need for modesty and will help you fit in, mitigating your status as a moving target for gawkers, touts and beggars.

 

Even if you don’t opt for wearing the costume preferred by many women in India, the “suit” or salwar kameez, always travel with a long scarf made of light-weight fabric. It will come in handy for situations where modesty will be more convenient and allow you to go into mosques, gurdwaras and more traditionally minded Hindu temples.

 

Jas Vilas Hotel in posh Bani Park, Jaipur is a favourite accommodation option, a real gem, but it is on the expensive side and often full. The owner’s niece, Sanyogita – who is a Rajput royal – recently opened a comfortable and gracious guesthouse in her lovely home. The Rawla, also in Bani Park, offers modern amenities, good food, and, best of all, Sanyogita’s company and advice. Sanyogita is a charming hostess who knows Jaipur like the back of her hand. In 2009, a single accommodation was about $US30 per night. Websites: http://www.jasvilas.com http://www.hotelsjaipur.com/rawla_rawatsar_jaipur.htm

 

In India, I never go out for the day without a mini pack or two of tissues, a small bottle of hand disinfectant, a cell phone and an iPod shuffle. I use the cell phone to call a friend (or guesthouse) and report the number of the taxi, as I get in, and so that the driver can hear me. (If no one answers, I pretend!) In markets and bazaars, I sometimes turn up the iPod so that I can’t hear the aggressive vendors, and they eventually leave me alone.

 

Check online posts for recommendations and tips from fellow travelers. I found the wonderful Fifu Guest House in Jaisalmer this way – I figured that 140 glowing recommendations couldn’t be wrong. They weren’t. I also read a tip for women, advising them to travel back to the Fifu from Jaisalmer by taxi, rather than by foot, after dark. That's what I did. Website: www.fifutravel.com/

 

I was very glad that I stayed at the Hotel Ganges View, Assi Ghat, in Varanasi. Aside from being a comfortable and safe place to stay, it also features a communal dining experience in the gracious dining room. At dinner, I met other women traveling alone, and a couple of us went on to Delhi together, sharing some of the expenses. To read hotel reviews: http://tinyurl.com/nd5ojh

 

Rishikesh is a wonderful destination for a woman traveling alone in India who is interested in health, wellness, yoga or spirituality. The “yoga capital of the world” is a relatively serene town that meanders along the jewel-green Ganges River as it cascades through a beautiful valley among the Himalayan foothills. There are many safe accommodation options in ashrams and guesthouses and lots of opportunity to take yoga classes, study and meet other women traveling alone.

 

IndiaMike.com is a great online resource, packed with destination information, travel articles and forums on many topics relating to traveling or living in India. You can pose very specific questions and chances are good that a friendly and knowledgeable fellow-traveler will respond.


Makemytrip.com is an Indian travel site that offers information and can help you plan your itinerary and book plane, train and bus tickets as well as hotel and homestay accommodation.

 

One of my favourite Indian experiences was staying for two weeks at Shinshiva Ayruvedic Resort in south Kerala (about 8 kms south of busy Kovalam Beach). The Shinshiva is a small resort that features thatched-roof cottages, an open-air Ayurvedic dining room, a perfect cliff-top setting overlooking the Arabian sea and magical sunsets AND authentic Ayurvedic treatments such as one-hour-long hot oil massages performed by two young women working in rhythmic harmony. Also a good place to meet other women travelers, it is a favourite destination for Europeans. Website: www.shinshivaresort.com/

 

More relaxed shopping in Delhi...

I love shopping in Delhi, but I know it can be an overwhelming experience for the uninitiated. If you want to shop in a more relaxed, upscale environment, follow the diplomatic crowd to Khan Market in central New Delhi, close to the Lodhi Gardens. You can easily spend at least half a day in great stores like Anokhi, Biotique (for Ayurvedic skin care), Amrapali Jewellers, Fabinidia and the Full Circle bookstore; and stop for lunch at the Big Chill, the Market Cafe or the Turtle Cafe. And if you are missing food from home, specialty food stores carry European cheese, British biscuits, American breakfast cereal and even Canadian maple syrup -- for a price.

Click here to watch a video about Khan Market. It will give you a great idea of what it's like.

To read about Mariellen's travels to India (and for more tips), please visit http://breathedreamgo.com/

 

 

 

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