There’s a lot of fear and undeserved myths about visiting India and that’s a shame if it stops anyone from traveling to this epic country. After all there is a reason they call it an entire sub-continent. It’s huge an diverse. So I thought I’d try to breakdown some of the top myths about visiting India so that you can make your own decisions.
You shouldn’t eat the street food
This is half true. If you want to try the local cuisine, give yourself time to adjust, but I would start off easy with something like a dosa or Idli (steamed rice cakes).
In conjunction with above, I was armed with all the Imodium and electrolytes I could pack. Thankfully I still have the packaging in tact. Many are under the belief that if you go to India, you will get food poisoning. This is not the case. This doesn’t mean you should run around eating everything in sight. Start off slow and be smart about it. Just because they have well known franchises such as MacDonald’s and KFC doesn’t mean they are the safest options. Opt for cooked food such as pizza, (if you need a break from some of the heavier Indian food) Burgers will have fresh vegetables that may not have been washed correctly.
India is poor
India is a destination full of extremes, from luxury to daily poverty in a matter of seconds. Despite boasting a high economic growth, India still has the largest level of poverty. Yet it also has the fast growing middle class. Again there are just so many myths about visiting India.
The Taj Mahal is the only thing to see in India
An exceptional piece of architecture it is, but by no means the only thing to see in India. Be sure to consider the beaches of the south, the melting pot of Mumbai and the colour explosion in Jaipur.
This one got me! Apart from the mountains, I assumed India erred on the side of warm year round. While it wasn’t snowing, it dropped in temperature at night and early morning.
This is such a broad statement. Have you not read Eat, Pray, Love? Admittedly, I wouldn’t walk around the streets by myself in Delhi on my first day, but then again I wouldn’t walk down my own street at night in New York City when I first moved here. The point being, everywhere in this world has its own kind of dangerous. Always have your wits about you while traveling and make smart decisions.
There is only vegetarian food and it’s all spicy
Holy Cow! Quite literally! The cow is a holy animal in Hinduism so don’t expect to find beef on the menu. This doesn’t mean you will be limited to vegetarian food. There is always chicken and goat. In most restaurants you will be asked ‘Veg or Non Veg’. This is especially good for those that are vegetarian and often struggle to eat vegetarian while travelling. The same goes for spice levels. If you mouth can’t handle a hot hit like me, just let them know. They will be happy to cater for you.
Butter Chicken is a westernized dish
Wow mind blown! They eat butter chicken in India. I always thought it was a creation by the west for the western palate. The east still cook it better.
I hope this helps to expose some of the many myths about visiting India and stokes your own curiosities about this fabulous destination.
Herstory is a weekly column on women and travel by Steph Ridhalgh. Steph is a Sydney born; New York based television producer and travel blogger. Not one for being quiet for too long she simply loves talking about travel and lifestyle.
Steph is the founder of STEP(h) ABROAD, a travel and lifestyle resource for those who love to be in the know and know how.