Is it safe to solo travel India? Let’s talk about the “million dolar question” that everyone asks me when I say I went solo to India.
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To make a long story short, in March 2020, I was supposed to go to India with a small group of people. At the last minute everyone dropped out because of the pandemic, which at that time was just beginning.
About 2 months before departure, India was no longer issuing visas to foreigners, so as you can tell from the context, I went at a very specific time.
Not only were we at the beginning of the pandemic, but there were also protests in Delhi over the new emigration law, so the capital was in turmoil.
It was a very peculiar time to go, which made me have a different perspective than someone who visits the country under normal conditions.
So, let’s talk about the “million dolar question” that everyone asks me:
Is it safe for a woman to travel solo in India?
This article will reflect my personal experience, taking into consideration the context of the trip, especially that it happened at a time when there were almost no international tourists there and the main tourism was mostly domestic.
I will not make judgments of any culture, I will not comment on other videos that exist on the internet that have a divergent opinion.
I will leave only a small warning: when you consider traveling to a foreign country, be it India or anywhere else in the world, take into consideration other opinions. Anyhow take opinions of well informed people, namely people who have already been to the country in question.
Don’t rely too much on the media, because what you hear in Western countries is not exactly the widespread reality (not that it’s not true, but…).
The media tend to sell only the “bad things” that happen in some countries, and those countries are much, much more than that.
Proof of this is my trip to India!
So, let’s start at the beginning. I went around the country for 2 weeks, traveling mostly in Central India, in the states of Delhi, Rajasthan, Madhia Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.
This means that I went to the most conservative part of the country, so even though I didn’t have any problems, obviously a woman traveling alone is going to attract a lot of attention.
People asked if I was alone, if I was married, why was I traveling alone. It’s normal for people to ask a lot of questions.
However it’s important to realize that if they do it, it’s only because they are curious. Not because they wanted to do me any harm. It was just because I was different.
Obviously, there were several factors that attracted a lot of attention on me, one of them was traveling alone, another was the fact that I was very white and blond.
That also made me attract stares. I was stared at for quite a while. But I never felt intimidated or uncomfortable about it. It’s a normal, culturally accepted situation.
Above all they wanted to know why I was in India and if I was enjoying the country. Indians are a very proud people of their traditions and are happy to show and share their culture with outsiders.
If you show a little bit of “open mind”, they will show you the best of their country, because they are so grateful to have you there and so hospitable, that for them, “guest is God”.
If you behave properly, respect the culture, don’t do anything stupid like going to dangerous areas, if you avoid public transportations at night, like long distance transport, and if as a woman traveling alone you don’t stay in risky areas, you won’t have any problems.
During the trip I took internal flights, traveled by train, traveled by car with a driver on a route that lasted 6 hours, rode rickshaws and tuk-tuks, and never had any issues.
I only had male guides and all of them were extremely professional, none of them disrespected me. In fact, no one in India ever disrespected me.
They were all very kind and grateful to have me there. I often say that I was treated like a princess in India and that’s what I really felt.
As in any circumstance when you travel alone, whether in India or anywhere in the world, if you don’t feel like talking to people, you don’t have to.
People come up to you, start talking to you, and if you don’t feel like doing it, say goodbye politely and go on your way.
Avoid staying in very cheap accommodation for safety reasons. In general, these accommodations have poorly educated staff from remote areas of the country who do not understand the fact that a woman is traveling solo, and see this as an opportunity for an abusive behavior.
Understand that it is a different culture than yours, accept that fact, and respect the difference.
Be courteous and kind, because you will get so much back. You will receive so much joy and smiles, you will have the opportunity to meet extraordinary people.
I can’t say enough that Indians are extremely kind, and they will share with you their family, their culture, and even their food.
Before going to India I spoke with a friend, who has been there 7 or 8 times, and told him that I had learned that I was going to travel alone to India.
To which he replied to me: “You’ll be fine, just be smart and don’t do anything stupid. You’ll be fine!”
And that’s the same thing I’m going to tell you: don’t do anything stupid and you’ll be fine!
And yes, this was my experience, I met in India some of the most generous and kind people I have come across in the world, I was treated like family.
It was funny because one of my guides called me “Sister Angela”.
Logically it was funny for me to be treated like that, because in Western countries we don’t see that, at least not in such a genuine way.
It is inevitable that there is initially that barrier between people that separates us culturally, mostly on our part, since we are educated to be suspicious of “difference” and to be afraid of the unknown.
So the answer to the “golden question”: is it safe to travel in India as a woman?
My answer is: Yes, it is….as long as you don’t do anything that puts you at risk!
Vamos falar sobre a “pergunta de ouro” que toda a gente me faz quando digo que fui sozinha para a Índia.
Para abreviar a estória, em março de 2020, era suposto ter ido para a Índia com um pequeno grupo de pessoas. No entanto, à última hora toda a gente desistiu por causa da pandemia, que nessa altura estava no início.
Aproximadamente 2 meses antes da partida, a Índia já não estava a emitir vistos para estrangeiros, por isso, como podem perceber pelo contexto, fui em circunstâncias muito específicas.
Não só estávamos no início da pandemia, como também havia protestos em Delhi por causa da nova lei da emigração, o que fazia com que a capital estivesse num tumultuo.
Foi uma altura muito peculiar para ir, o que fez com que eu tivesse ficado com uma perspetiva diferente de quem visita o País em condições normais.
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Assim sendo, vamos então falar da “pergunta de ouro” que toda a gente me faz:
É seguro para uma mulher viajar sozinha na Índia?
Este artigo vai refletir a minha experiência pessoal, tendo em consideração a conjuntura da viagem, especialmente que a mesma aconteceu numa fase em que quase não havia turistas internacionais por lá e que o principal turismo era, maioritariamente, interno.
Não vou fazer julgamentos nem juízos de valor de nenhuma cultura, nem vou comentar outros artigos ou vídeos que existem na Internet que possam refletir uma opinião divergente.
Deixo só um pequeno alerta: quando considerarem viajar para um país estrangeiro, seja para a Índia ou outro lugar qualquer no mundo, tenham em consideração a experiência de outras pessoas.
No entanto, foquem-se em opiniões de pessoas informadas, nomeadamente daquelas que já tenham estado no país em causa.
Não confiem demasiado na comunicação social, porque o que ouvimos nos países ocidentais não é exatamente a realidade generalizada (não que não seja verdade, mas…).
Os media tendem a vender apenas as “coisas más” que acontecem em alguns países e esses países são muito, mas muito mais do que isso.
Prova disso, é a minha viagem à Índia!
Então, vamos começar pelo princípio. Andei 2 semanas pelo país, viajei maioritariamente no centro da Índia, nos estados de Delhi, Rajastão, Madhia Pradesh e Uttar Pradesh.
Quer isto dizer que estive na parte mais conservadora do país, e assim sendo, ainda que não tenha tido qualquer problema, obviamente que uma mulher a viajar sozinha nesta parte da Índia vai atrair muita atenção.
As pessoas perguntavam se estava sozinha, se era casada, porque é que estava a viajar sozinha, e por aí fora.
É normal as pessoas fazerem muitas perguntas, mas, é importante que vocês percebam que se o fazem é apenas porque têm curiosidade.
Não porque quisessem fazer-me algum mal. Foi só mesmo porque eu era diferente.
Obviamente, houve vários fatores que fizeram atrair muita atenção sobre mim, um deles foi viajar sozinha, outro foi o facto de ser muito branca e loira. O que fez com que também atraísse olhares.
Olhavam-me fixamente, durante bastante tempo. Mas nunca me senti intimidada ou desconfortável com isso. É uma situação normal, culturalmente aceite.
Acima de tudo queriam saber porque é que eu estava na Índia e se estava a gostar do país. São um povo muito orgulhoso das suas tradições, e fazem gosto em mostrar e partilhar a sua cultura com quem chega de fora.
Se vocês tiverem um bocadinho de “mente aberta”, vão mostrar-vos o melhor do país, porque são tão gratos por vos terem lá e tão hospitaleiros, que para eles, o “convidado é Deus”.
Se tiverem os comportamentos adequados, respeitarem a cultura, não fizerem nada estúpido como frequentar zonas perigosas, se evitarem andar sozinhos em transportes públicos durante a noite, como transportes de longas distâncias.
E se, como mulher a viajar sozinha não ficarem alojadas em zonas de risco ou alojamentos low budjet, não vão ter problemas.
Durante a viagem fiz voos internos, andei sozinha de comboio, viajei de carro com condutor num percurso que durou 6 horas, andei de rickshaws e tuk-tuks, andei a pé pelas cidades e nunca tive nenhum problema.
Só tive guias masculinos e todos eles foram extremamente profissionais, nenhum deles me desrespeitou. Aliás, nunca ninguém na Índia me desrespeitou.
Foram todos muito gentis e agradecidos por terem-me lá. Costumo dizer que fui tratada como princesa na índia e de facto foi isso que senti.
Sejam inteligentes, evitem comportamentos que possam comprometer a vossa integridade, não desrespeitem a cultura. Se se derem ao respeito, as pessoas vão respeitar-vos.
Como em qualquer circunstância em que viajem sozinhos/as, seja na Índia ou em qualquer parte do mundo, se não vos apetecer falar com as pessoas, não são obrigados a fazê-lo.
As pessoas aproximam-se, começam a falar convosco e se não vos apetecer conversar, digam adeus educadamente e sigam o vosso caminho.
Evitem ficar em alojamentos muito baratos por questões de segurança. Regra geral, estes alojamentos têm funcionários pouco escolarizados, provenientes de zonas mais remotas do país.
Muitas vezes não entendem o facto de uma mulher viajar sozinha, e veem ali uma oportunidade para comportamentos abusivos.
Entendam que é uma cultura diferente da vossa, aceitem esse facto e respeitem a diferença. Sejam corteses e gentis, porque vão receber muito de volta.
Vão receber alegria e sorrisos, vão ter oportunidade de conhecer gente extraordinária.
Não me canso de afirmar que os indianos são extremamente simpáticos, e vão partilhar convosco a família, a cultura e até a comida.
Antes de ir para a Índia conversei com um amigo que já lá esteve 7 ou 8 vezes e contei-lhe que tinha ficado a saber que ia viajar sozinha para a Índia.
Ao que ele me respondeu: “Vais ficar bem, sê inteligente e não faças nada estúpido. Vais correr tudo bem!”
E é o mesmo que vos vou dizer: não façam nada estúpido e vai correr tudo bem! Na Índia, como em qualquer parte do mundo.
E sim, esta foi a minha experiência, conheci na Índia algumas das pessoas mais generosas e gentis com que me cruzei no mundo, fui tratada como família. Foi engraçado porque um dos meus guias chamava-me “irmã Ângela”.
Logicamente, para mim foi engraçado ser tratada assim, porque nos países ocidentais não vemos isso, pelo menos não de uma forma tão genuína.
É inevitável que haja inicialmente uma barreira que nos separa culturalmente, maioritariamente da nossa parte, já que somos educados para desconfiar da “diferença” e para ter medo do desconhecido.
Por isso, a resposta para a “pergunta de ouro”: é seguro viajar na Índia como mulher?
A minha resposta é: Sim, é…. desde que não façam nada que vos coloque em risco!
24 thoughts on “Solo Travel INDIA – Is it safe? My experience”
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Thanks for reading
I get this question wherever I travel solo and my answer is always as safe as you want it to be. That goes for being at home. But a place like India is definitely a different culture and religion but you advice to respect the culture is number 1 rule…always!
Most of the not-so-good experiences people have while traveling are because of a lack of information before they go. If you inform yourself and don’t make basic mistakes, you reduce the potential for something bad to happen.
I totally agree with everything here. I see a lot of solo females on my travels and they all report that they feel safe if they understand and follow the advice you have given here. Funnily enough in many countries, I get asked the same questions and one man was even surprised that I wasn’t married or had kids…. just a cultural thing. I’m always open to alternative thinking and travel broadens my mind and educates me.
Traveling alone is quite different from going with someone, but it is a liberating experience. You have to be extra careful, however, you learn to be more independent and to take care of yourself without depending on anyone else.
Knowledge is power, and if you know as much as you can before you go about the customs then the level of risk is lessened. For many, it’s a maturity factor. As you said don’t do anything that puts you at risk. And that infers judgement, so as long as you feel comfortable with your level of judgement and don’t take risks it’s safe for a solo female traveller. Thanks for giving confidence to others who might not already have it.
That’s just it Renee, above all, be a conscious traveler. Thank you for reading
I heard a lot of stories about India from female and male solo travellers and none of them were horrible or scary, just that the culture is so different it can be a shock to the system. Some loved it and others hated it but we all deal with experiences differently. it’s great to hear another positive perspective from a female traveller. How did you travel within the country? I know that traveling by train in India is an adventure in itself but would love to read more insights on that.
Just do a search on youtube, for example, to find testimonials from travelers with bad experiences. Most probably the situations that caused the problems were created by themselves, but anyway… I traveled by all possible types of transport 🙂 the train trips were made in tourist or women’s wagons. There is the possibility to travel in wagons that are exclusively for women. It is the safest option!
It’s like you’ve said, be respectful towards another culture when you travel and you should be fine, too. I would struggle with the interrogations and stares, as I have had very bad experiences with people and have to be cautious and vigilant that I don’t attract any harm. Not sure if I would travel to India solo or if I would chose a tour for a first time visit.
Carolin | Solo Travel Story
The option of hiring a local tour company is great for those traveling alone. Especially if the guides are experienced and have a good knowledge of the places.
I was supposed to be there in April 2020 but it obviously got cancelled. I find your perspective refreshing! We often are afraid of what we’re not used to, but that doesn’t mean it’s unsafe. I’m hopeful that I get to go soon!
I went in March 2020, just in the last chance before the pandemic. I hope you get to visit soon because it is a fascinating country
Thanks for sharing your insight. Other solo travellers will be happy to know that the more conservative areas of India felt safe to you. It’s important to always be vigilant when in new places, but most places and people are good 🙂
There is a widespread idea that India is not a safe country to travel solo, especially if you are a woman. When proper precautions are taken, there is no need to be afraid.
Planning and not taking risks is the main part of being safe as a solo traveler. You have the exact right mindset here and so glad to see it being used to educate and inform and not scare people away from solo travel which is a wonderful experience. Sure, India is a different country than maybe one you’ll have visited before, but that doesn’t make it bad, especially if you’re smart with your choices. I would love to go to India, solo or not, so I appreciate the honest feedback of your experience
The vast majority of the time less good things happen to those who travel solo because of misinformation. It is essential that we are well informed, whether we are traveling to India or anywhere else in the world. India is fascinating!
Loved reading your personal experience with traveling India solo. I’d love to travel to India as well but I know it’d be a solo trip, because no one else would really want to go with me. The more aware you are, informed you are on the country’s culture and people, and not do anything stupid like you’ve mentioned, traveling solo as a women is not as terrible as it seems.
Try to get a local agency to accompany you and guide you through the places you want to visit. I had local guides that were a great help and without them the experience wouldn’t have been so good 🙂
That’s the way to go!!
Super common sense advice here. Do nothing dumb. Use good judgment. Everyone seems entitled to having fun, enjoying travels, but even a guy like me could make some bone-headed decisions in a place like India, traveling solo, and would find myself in dire straits. Common sense, folks!
That’s right Ryan. Common sense and a sense of knowing how to be in the world, but above all respect for the culture you visit.