India Travel Tips: The Ultimate Free Beginners Guide
How to NOT get scammed or ripped off in India
Know that a “gift” can quickly turn into a sale. No matter what the “gift” is, be sure it is actually a gift before accepting it. Otherwise you can be quickly hit with a bill.
All shop keepers will try to rip you off. A simple way to minimize this is to only go to “fixed rate” shops, bring a local with you or you’ll need to quickly learn how to bargain like an Indian.
Don’t give money to beggars. This can attract an army of beggars after you and helps sustain their often drug-driven “profession”.
Be wary of all drivers especially auto rickshaw drivers. Drivers in India are renowned for their dishonesty and tricks to try to make more money from you. E.g they may take you to the wrong hotel or quote you a price that is five times the fair rate.
Learn to avoid fake “information offices”. The way to know is that everything looks dodgy, there are no computers (or not many), no proper desks and they tell you that all trains or hotels are fully booked out due to some “event”. This can be a front for the mafia so be careful and make sure it’s legit before following directions from them.
Children may want pens and beggars want milk. In both cases, they often have an arrangement with a shop to return the item for cash after you leave!
Trinket and gemstone scams. At any tourist location there are likely to be people touting trinkets and sometimes gemstones for sale. Unless you’re buying something as a souvenir don’t entertain their hype and always bargain them way down. The “gemstones” won’t have real value and can be a popular scam for unsuspecting tourists.
Watch out for people tampering with food or drink. Always check beverage bottle caps to make sure it hasn’t been tampered with and don’t accept food from strangers.
Be careful when exchanging money. ATM’s are the safest way to get cash because the machine won’t scam you.
Always count your change carefully! No matter who you are dealing with, always watch out for “miscalculations”. Use a calculator on your phone to help deter them from trying to scam you. This is especially important around large financial transactions.
Keep away from the mafia. If something is fishy then it probably is a scam or trap (sometimes organized by the mafia). Do your research and have your wits about you especially around train stations, popular tourist attractions (e.g Taj Mahal) and cheap hotels.
Get experience with true local pricing. To do this, you’ll need to know what the locals would pay for the same product or service and then you’ll know how low the shop keeper, driver or hotel etc is willing to go. An Indian friend (or stranger) or guide can help you with this.
Never pay upfront for a full service. If you do pay upfront then the driver (or whoever) can take your money without delivering you the agreed service.
Do your research before arriving at a particular place. Look up your destination on the Internet, study maps, get advice from other travelers and read the latest Lonely Planet guide book. This will help you get insider knowledge before you arrive, making you more prepared to deal with the possible onslaught of scams that await you.
Don’t worry too much about getting “ripped off” by small business people, merchants, guides and auto drivers. These are poor people trying to make a living, and if you overpay by a few rupees, consider it tourist tax and show some compassion.