Travel Tips for First-Time Visitors to South Asia

Category: India, Sri Lanka, Travel Tips & Guides

South Asia is undeniably an attractive destination worth visiting. If you are a first-timer to this place, it's good for you to know some tips before starting the fantastic tour, so as to make sure your first trip to South Asia goes well.

Taj MahalTaj Mahal is a must-visit attraction in India.



  • Clothes: check the weather forecast for your destinations before packing, so that you can select appropriate clothes accordingly. In any case, light-weighted clothes are highly recommended.
  • Rain jackets and waterproof shoes in case it rains.
  • Hat and large scarf to protect you from the harsh sun or cold wind. You can also cover yourself with the scarf before entering temples without wearing long-sleeved tops and long pants.
  • Swimwear for countries with beautiful beaches, such as India, Sri Lanka and the Maldives.
  • Suncream and sunglass to prevent you from sunburn especially in summer. 
  • A money belt for cash, passports and other valuable items when you want to walk without a big and heavy backpack.
  • Essential medicines such as Aspirin (for common cold and pains), Dramamine (for motion sickness), mosquito repellents, Band-Aid and also some other medicines. And consult your doctor before departing to see if you need any vaccinations for any of these countries in South Asia.
  • Toiletries kit: toilet tissue may not be provided in some remote areas and a large number of toilets are Asian style (squat toilet), so prepare yourself. And ladies, please bring feminine hygiene products including tampons and pads with you, because these may be expensive in many cities here. 
  • Put a copy of the biographical pages and visa pages of your passport along with several passport photos in your carry-on baggage against a rainy day.
  • For smokers, pack a reasonable amount of cigarettes or tobacco products for personal use before entering Bhutan, as the sales of such products is banned in the country. 


Food and Drink

Food is great, but you still need to be careful with. Influenced by many foreign cultures, a rich variety of South Asian food makes eating an amazing part of the tour. Try some local food and drinks in fine restaurants or street stalls, while keeping away from those with a dirty environment.

Birds flying among the Ganges RiverBirds that flying among the Ganges River.


Money Advice

  • Always exchange currency in authorized institutions, such as banks, hotels and airports. Please insist on a receipt showing the amount of currency exchanged and the exchange rate clearly, which proves the source of your local currency. Don't buy currency from local residents.
  • Make sure you have got enough cash before visiting some small cities and remote areas in South Asia. Sometimes, credit cards and travel notes are not acceptable.
  • Watch out your belongings. Usually, robberies can occur almost anywhere at any time. It becomes worse when you're traveling abroad. So always keep your belongings insight when waking in the street or being in the crowds; store your luggage in the hotel, and only bring essentials and valuables with you when you go out.
  • Haggling is essential when shopping in most areas in South Asia, except for in some restaurants and pharmacies. When you ask the price, most vendors will offer a higher one. Then don't be shy to ask for a lower and acceptable price.

Train in Sri LankaTrain travel is very popular in Sri Lanka.


Religion and Culture

  • Dress conservatively: take off shoes and hat before entering into temples or some other religious venues. Don't talk loudly and touch any offerings there.
  • Obtain permission before taking photos in religious and sacred venues. If you have no idea whether it is allowed to take pictures, you can ask your guide for advice.
  • Cover your religious tattoos (especially Buddha and Hindu tattoos if any). Those tattoos may hurt the religious feelings of locals, most of who believe in Buddhism or Hinduism, and even break the law of some countries, resulting in serious consequences, for instance, being deported the country. There is a precedent: a British woman with a Buddha tattoo on her arm was deported from Sri Lanka in 2014.
  • Don't touch people's head as the head is considered as a sacred part in most places in South Asia.
  • Use the right hand for eating, shaking hands, giving or receiving items rather than the left hand. In most areas, the left hand is considered unclean and is used for bodily hygiene. Locals may feel offended when being given something with the left hand.
  • "Namaste" is used for greeting in most areas in India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, etc.
  • Visiting South Asia during some big religious or national festivals is a wonderful way to witness the unique culture and tradition of the area. Watch the special ceremony, participate in some interesting activities, be among enthusiastic local people wearing colorful traditional costumes, and emulate what locals do… It must be an amazing experience and life-long memory for you because there are many splendid festivals in South Asia.

Paro VellyThe breathtaking view of Paro Valley in Bhutan.


Personal Safety

  • Seek advice from your tour guide or hotel receptionist on the "safe" and "unsafe" areas.
  • If you're a solo female traveler, don't hitchhike. Wear a marriage ring whether you are married or not, and try to pretend that you are traveling with your husband or male friends, thus avoiding uncomfortable attention somehow.
  • Avoid ear piercing, tattooing and other activities which may infect you with blood-borne diseases. 


Sightseeing Highlights and Suggestion

The majestic Taj Mahal in historical India, mysterious Sigiriya rock fortress in the "Pearl of the Orient" Sri Lanka, breathtaking views of Mt. Everest in Nepal, miraculous Tiger's Nest Monastery in "The Last Shangri-la" Bhutan, etc. South Asia has so much to offer, catering for both nature lovers and history buffs.

Then how can you visit all the attractions that you expect most during your first trip to South Asia? A private tour tailor-made according to your interests and expectations is better than a group tour! You can go further to explore the fascinating South Asia.

So with all these useful tips, I hope your upcoming South Asia tour will be smooth and of great fun. Share this article with your travel partner and tell him/her the tips! And if you have further questions about the tour to South Asia, you could write to our experienced travel consultants at . They will offer you more suggestions.

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