You see a lot of stuff about India on the internet, in movies, in pictures, and many others. It’s a beautiful place to spend your vacation in, and it is going to be different compared to what you’ve seen in movies. There is a lot of culture, delicious food and a lot of wonderful places to visit.
However, the question pops up in your head: “Is India safe to visit?”. Sometimes it’s hard to figure this out, because you see many people having successful trips, whereas you hear some bad things about it too. Thankfully, you will find out about India’s safety in this India safety guide. So, let’s explore these India safety travel tips before you book a plane ticket.
Highest Risks You Expose Yourself to When Visiting India
Overall Risks in India: MEDIUM
Although India is a beautiful country with a lot of things to see, there are definitely risks to consider.
For instance, there is a risk for women, as there were many reported cases of sexual assault against women, and they keep increasing. There were such attacks even against female tourists in areas frequented by foreigners. Delhi, Goa, Rajasthan and Bangalore are some of the places where incidents took place.
There is the possibility of scams when using taxis. Pre-paid taxis at airports have been said to scam passengers by offering cheap transportation and extended taxi rides. If the traveler refused to pay, they would be threatened with violence.
Muggings and pickpocketing are also possible, and there were cases of handbag snatchings in Delhi.
Terrorist attacks are likely to be carried out in some areas, such as Kashmir and Jammu. There was also an attack on a bus of Hindu pilgrims on the Srinagar-Jammu Highway.
Road travel can be very dangerous, as driving is chaotic in some cases. Many deaths are caused by car and motorbike accidents.
Pickpocketing and Theft Risks in India: MEDIUM
Theft and pickpocketing can happen anywhere, even in your own country, but India makes you more vulnerable, as you’re a foreigner who is not aware of the surroundings. So, if you were wondering “How safe is India for tourists concerning theft?”, you are in for a treat.
In areas frequented by tourists, you can be a target for pickpocketers, especially if the fact you’re a foreigner is visible. Bag snatchings are possible, and there was an increase in their number, especially in Delhi.
Also, you will find yourself more at risk in quiet areas, especially at night. You never know when someone is watching every move you make, and waiting for the right moment to strike. You could be robbed of money, and even your passport or other important documents, and that’s not the best way to spend a holiday, is it?
Moreover, if you choose to travel by train, make sure you don’t accept any drinks from strangers. According to some reports, there were cases of travelers being drugged on trains by Indian passengers, and then they were robbed of their belongings. Also, avoid people at the train station who are offering you tours and tickets – they may be up to something.
- How to avoid pickpocketing and theft in India?
You need to be vigilant at all times. Be suspicious of people who seem to get too close without reason, and make sure you don’t have all of your valuables with you. There’s no way in the world you are going to spend all of your money in only a day.
Keep a photocopy of your Indian Visa, passport and flight ticket separately from the original ones when traveling. If they are lost or stolen, talk to the police as soon as you can and obtain a report.
When at the airport, on trains or anywhere outside the hotel, don’t let your luggage unattended. It may be heavy and hard to carry, but if you’re alone, it would be difficult to fight someone in order to get your belongings back. Also, if you have a handbag, keep it in front of you tightly when in public areas. Bag snatching is bound to happen if you’re preoccupied with anything else than guarding your handbag.
Civil Unrest Risk: LOW to MEDIUM
In the Kashmir Valley, there have been violent protests that resulted in deaths and very serious injuries. Police has been deployed through the region, but it’s still a better idea to avoid it.
If you must travel through Srinagar, always be wary of your surroundings, stay vigilant, and follow the advice of local authorities and your travel operator.
However, it would be better to monitor the local media before you travel, so you know if something is happening or not. If you already have the plane ticket and the trip is planned, keep your distance if there are protests going on. Although you have no idea what is happening, you may be caught in it and become a collateral victim. It’s better to walk away to somewhere safe if civil unrest is taking place.
Scam Risk in India: MEDIUM
Be wary of scams when you arrive in India. There are scammers who operate directly from the airport, in the form of taxi drivers. Basically, where will be taxis waiting to pick you up from the airport, who offer you a cheap ride, with long taxi rides. If you accept any of these rides, you may find yourself having to pay an enormous price. Moreover, if you refuse to pay, you may be threatened with violence.
- How to avoid getting scammed in India?
This is why you should be careful when it comes to taxi rides, and get them from hotel taxi rides. If you do get them from the airport, make sure the driver has identified himself properly before you enter the car.
Also, avoid hailing taxis on the street. You may fall into the same trap, as you’re not from the place, and you don’t know what to avoid. In addition, if you book a taxi online, there’s a facility that allows you contact your family/friends and let them know the details of the journey. This is a helpful tool in case of an emergency.
Kidnapping Risk in India: MEDIUM
In India, kidnappings and abductions are very likely to be carried out. Back in 2015, according to a list published by Control Risk, India was ranked as 2nd when it comes to kidnappings.
A Japanese woman was kidnapped and assaulted by Indian men in January 2015. Moreover, in 2016, a 19 years old boy was kidnapped in Bangalore by two men and bundled into a car when only waiting for the bus. Although the cause is not known, it is likely that it was out of financial reasons.
- How to avoid being kidnapped in India?
So, you should be vigilant at all times when in India. Not all kidnappers are professionals, but that doesn’t make the risk disappear altogether. It’s better to pay attention to your surroundings, and not walk alone anywhere, especially if you are a single woman.
Avoid late night walks in quiet areas, but don’t walk alone in empty and quiet areas during the day either. Make sure you don’t look “too rich”, because some wrong-doers could be tempted to do something evil.
Terrorism Risk in India: MEDIUM
Were you asking yourself “Is India safe to visit regarding terrorism?”? In that case, you will be able to find out the answer after reading the following paragraphs.
Attacks are very likely to happen in India. Basically, there were a number of attacks carried out by terrorist and insurgent groups such as Jaish-e Mohammed and the Indian Mujahideen. According to recent media reports, Daesh is interested in attacking certain targets in India.
Some insurgent groups are operating in Assam, and random incidents of violence and killings are happening. In rural areas of Odisha, Jharkand, Chhattisgarh and parts of West Bengal and Bihar, there are also active extremist groups, so you should avoid them.
The risk is present even in cases foreigners are present at the place, as attacks are indiscriminate. Despite the Indian government is usually the target of these attacks, there were cases when places visited by westerners were targeted. Some of these places include markets, restaurants, hotels, religious sites, festival and sporting venues, and others.
- How to avoid terrorism in India?
Therefore, you need to monitor the local media before planning the trip. You should be vigilant, especially in public places, because you never know when something could happen.
Avoid areas such as Kashmir and Jammu, as they have more risk compared to others. In these places, terrorist attacks are quite frequent, so it’s better to stay safe, without worrying about a possible incident.
If your trip’s dates are near days of national significance such as Diwali, Republic Day, Eid or many others, you should take particular care. Do some research on the internet about them and their dates, and monitor the local news if possible. It’s better to be safe than sorry, right?
Risks for Women Traveling Alone in India: MEDIUM to HIGH
It isn’t impossible for solo female travelers to go to India and have the best time of their lives. However, there are several precautions that should be taken into consideration before planning a trip there. So, if you were wondering “Is India safe for solo women travelers?”, you will find out exactly how safe it is.
As mentioned above, India has a high rate of sexual assaults not only against the local women, but against travelers as well. It doesn’t mean that something is definitely going to happen if you don’t have anyone to take with you to India, or you just need some time alone. Still, the risks can’t be ruled out. You should not, under any circumstance, visit remote areas alone. This is available regardless of the country, but India may have a special level of threat.
- How to avoid crime as a solo woman traveler in India?
Moreover, you may draw unrequired attention to yourself, especially if your clothing is unique. Most likely, you look different compared to local women, depending on your country of origin. Because of that, people are likely to stare and try to approach you. While staring does no harm except for being creepy, there may be people making comments. It’s better to ignore them, or to learn how to say “No, thanks.” in Indian, if necessary.
Additionally, as a solo female traveler, you may be more vulnerable to robberies, assaults and bag snatchings. This is why you should pay attention on the street, and be careful where you’re walking.
If you like going to bars and restaurants, you should be careful. There are situations when strangers would pour something in your drink, so they can rob you or take advantage of you. This is why you shouldn’t leave your drinks unattended – it can lead to problems and ruin your whole vacation.
Rape Risk in India: HIGH
In India, cases of sexual assault have increased over the years, and they keep increasing. They don’t only happen to local women, but tourists are targeted as well, even in areas they frequent.
For instance, in some cases, some British women were sexually assaulted in Bangalore, Goa, Delhi and Rajasthan. Moreover, many female travelers receive unrequired attention from Indian men, in both verbal and physical harassment form. This can be a very scary thing to experience, which is way women should be cautions in this country.
Back in 2014, there were some serious attacks that involved Danish, Polish and German women travelers. And, like that wasn’t enough, in January 2015, a Japanese woman was kidnapped and was a victim of sexual assault close to Bodh Gaya. A Russian woman was also assaulted by an auto-rickshaw driver in the Vasant Kunj area of New Delhi.
Therefore, rape is a serious concern when it comes to India, and that being said, any female traveler should be careful when visiting.
- How to avoid being raped in India?
First of all, you should make sure that you respect the dress codes and customs. Being a foreigner, you probably look different than the common Indian woman. Different things usually draw attention to themselves, and that’s the least you should want. Check the way local women dress before visiting the country, so you know how modestly you should dress.
If possible, avoid walking by yourself. Alone female travelers are more at risk, because they are seen as vulnerable with nobody to guard them. If you are alone, make sure you avoid isolated areas, even beaches, at any time of the day. In addition, make sure you arrive at your hotel room before dark. There may be dangerous people wandering the streets at late hours.
If you are a sex crime victim, seek help immediately, both medical help and authorities.
Risks for People Traveling with Children in India: MEDIUM
Indians love children, so it shouldn’t be a worry whether your child is safe or not. Still, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider the risks that come with this trip. These India safety travel tips will ensure you and your family’s trip will be a successful one.
If you love the culture and colorful nature of India, be sure that your child will love it even more. They may want to run around a lot, as kids usually do that when they are being playful. Make sure you don’t let them out of your sight. Don’t be too paranoid either, but try to take control over the situation. Even though your children may win the hearts of Indians, you shouldn’t overlook everything.
- How to avoid unwanted scenarios?
As there may be terrorist attacks or evil-doers who want to rob you of belongings, children should stay close to you, so you can protect them in case of anything. Also, as driving can be chaotic at times, so you should make sure the vehicle you are traveling in is properly-maintained and has seatbelts. Children need to be safe.
Natural Disasters Risks in India: MEDIUM to HIGH
The country may be dangerous regarding natural hazards, depending when you travel during the year. If you travel in rural areas during the monsoon season, which is from June to October, it can be hazardous.
Most of the times, rains during monsoon cause problems such as landslides and flooding, and it may take days for rural areas to regain access to the train and roadway services. If you are in a city, you should know that even metros can be affected by the monsoon. It’s better to monitor the local news, so you know what the situation is in the country before visiting. Check the extra routes, and follow the advice of the local authorities, as well as that of your travel company before your plane takes off.
You may have seen many on TV, but cyclones and tropical storms can take you by surprise if you visit India during September-December. They are most common during these months, especially in the coast of India.
If you happen to go in the Bay of Bengal, you should be aware that the tropical cyclone season has two peaks there: April-June and September-December. Check for the news before visiting the country, so you avoid going during a dangerous storm. These storms usually destroy everything in their way, so it’s best to avoid them as much as possible.
Moreover, there are parts of India that happen to be in active fault zones, and earthquakes are likely to happen there. Most of the times, they happen along the length of the Himalayas, as those are the most active states. In these areas, earth tremors are frequent, and they can cause landslides in mountainous and hilly areas.
What’s worse is the fact that the vehicles that should come to help have a limited emergency response, and the medical facilities and equipment are limited too. Because of that, the impact of earthquakes in these areas could be increased.
Transportation Risks in India: MEDIUM
The driving standards may be different compared to those of your birthplace, which is why you shouldn’t expect the road to be fully safe. In India, car and motorbike accidents are one of the main causes of injury and death.
If you must travel by a vehicle on the road, always enter well-maintained vehicles that have seatbelts, and always put the seatbelt on. In case you happen to travel by motorbike, a helmet and proper footwear are very much required for safety.
If you can, try not to travel at night. In some areas, the visibility may be very low, which would make driving even more difficult.
It is also recommended that, before driving into or visiting a certain area in India, you check the news reports related to it, as well as any other information in regard to that specific area. The local driving standards and safety conditions usually change from to area and, therefore, it is better that you are always prepared and fully aware of what might happen during your trip.
Night-Clubs, Pubs, and Bar Risks in India: MEDIUM
While there are no reports telling of serious incidents happening inside night-clubs, pubs, or bars, there are more than enough incidents telling of women being assaulted throughout India. In this respect, it is advised that you respect the country's dress code, as well as its local laws and customs, even when you are going to a pub or bar.
Then, even though reports of drink spiking are rather scarce, we still recommend you to keep an eye on your drinks at all times. If you think your drink has been tampered with, so to say, you should return to your accommodation at once and call the ambulance as well.
However, be very careful as to how you plan on returning from a club or bar. There have been quite a few reports telling of taxi drivers that scam tourists. The scamming drivers, so to call them, usually wait around airports and night-clubs, claiming to offer cheap taxi rides to anyone that gets near them. In fact, after the journey begins, they will inform the passenger of the actual cost of the taxi ride - which will most likely be more than expensive -, and demand payment from them.
If the passenger refuses to pay, then they risk of being threatened and even assaulted. Therefore, if you are returning from a night-club and have had some drink throughout the evening, it is recommended that you call a taxi from a reputed company or have your accommodation send one of the taxis they are partnered with to get you.
You should also avoid any night-club, pub, or bar that is located in either remote, bad-reputed, or shady areas. If possible, it is recommended that you stick to those that are fairly close to your accommodation.
Health Risks in India
In terms of medical facilities, you should rely only on those located within major cities. Private medical care is available here and, while it may be expensive, it is a much safer choice than the medical facilities that you might find in remote areas. The latter are in a rather poor condition and may not be able to provide you with medical care in case of more serious injuries.
When it comes to health risks, it is recommended that you are cautious when visiting high altitude tourist destinations, as these can induce altitude sickness and may expose you to extreme weather conditions. In case you plan to travel to such locations, you should take the necessary safety measures and also pack up a first-aid kit with medication that may be required for this type of situations.
If traveling to Delhi, keep in mind that severe air pollution is present here. Moreover, many other Indian cities face the same problem. So, if you have any pre-existing medical conditions that may be affected by polluted air, you should properly prepare for your trip - for example, you could rely on air filtering masks.
Other diseases and viruses that are confirmed to occur in India are Dengue fever, Zika virus, and Chikungunya virus. You should do your best to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes - use bug repellents wherever you go, as well as other health safety measures.
As always, it is recommended that you travel with proper travel health insurance and have enough funds with you to cover the costs of any medical treatment or medicine that you might have to buy. In case of a medical emergency, dial 102 and ask for an ambulance.
List of Vaccines You Need in India
As a rule of thumb, you and your family should consider a doctor appointment weeks before the trip. The doctor will determine if you need vaccinations before your plane lands in India.
You may need to start immunizations at least four to six weeks before departure. If you do that, the vaccines will become effective until you leave. Additionally, you can start taking preventive medicines for diseases that don’t have vaccines early on.
First of all, make sure you are up to date with the routine vaccines, and this is recommended for all travelers. The routine vaccines include varicella, polio, measles-mumps-rubella, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine and yearly flu shot.
Besides these, here are the other vaccines you may need before visiting India:
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
- Japanese Encephalitis
- Yellow Fever
Also, India is at risk of the zika virus, which can be very dangerous, especially to pregnant women. So, if you are expecting a baby, you should consider the risks.
Most Dangerous Areas in India
- The border with Pakistan, especially its immediate vicinity.
- Jammu and Kashmir regions - except when traveling within Jammu or within the region of Ladakh
- Manipur - except Imphal, the state capital.
- Gulmarg, Sonamarg, and Pahalgam tourist destinations.
Concluding Remarks: Is India Safe to Visit?
Now that you’ve made it to the end of this article and read all the India safety travel tips, you should know whether a trip to this country is a good idea. Although it comes with many challenges, that doesn’t mean something will surely happen. You need to take some precautions before and during your trip in order to make it successful.
Therefore, make sure you dress accordingly if you are a solo female traveler, don’t go to high risk areas, take care in quiet areas and make sure you get your vaccinations. This India safety guide has shown you why this and many other advice are important for your safety.