Suggested India Packing List

What to Bring, and What Not to Bring, to India

India is a developing country with conservative dress standards. Therefore it's important that you take time to consider what to bring to India. Here are some suggestions for your packing list.

  • 01 of 07


    Tourists in India.
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    The type of luggage best suited for travel to India really depends on your itinerary. If you only plan to visit major cities and don't intend to do much walking, a suitcase is fine. However, roads and pavements are often dirty and in poor condition. Therefore, if you intend to travel a lot on foot and go off the beaten path, a backpack is better.  For sightseeing during the day, it's a good idea to carry a daypack, or other sturdy bag that can't be easily opened or accessed by pickpockets.

  • 02 of 07


    Female tourist in India.
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    Many people prefer to shop for clothes in India as they like to adopt a more local way of dressing and clothes can be purchased very cheaply. However, cities such as Mumbai and Delhi are fast becoming very westernized and you'll see people wearing jeans, t-shirts, and even short skirts. In smaller cities and villages, people still dress conservatively. The most important rule for both ladies and men is to keep your legs and shoulders covered (although it's okay for women to show shoulders in large cities). Wearing tight tops and shorts should be avoided. Females will also often find it beneficial to wear a shawl or scarf that covers their breasts. For men, short-sleeved shirts are more respectful than wearing t-shirts, although t-shirts are fine. In nightclubs, western dress standards of jeans and a top (or dress) for girls, and jeans and a t-shirt or shirt for guys, apply.

    Ladies, unless you're heading to Goa or plan on hitting the clubs, leave items such as strapless tops, spaghetti strap tops, and crop tops behind. Yes, you will see Indian women's bellies on display when they're wearing saris but that's traditional dress. It's very different.

    Does it really matter what you wear in India? If you don't follow conservative dress standards, it's likely that no one will say anything. It comes down to how much you want to be respected though. Indian men are much more likely to harass and photograph women who are not appropriately covered up, as they perceive them to be of loose or immoral character.

  • 03 of 07


    Shoes in India.
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    Shoes are another thing that can be bought very cheaply in India. Markets abound with them in all different colors and designs. You get what you pay for though, so make sure you bring a sturdy and comfortable pair of walking shoes, sneakers or sandals. If you intend to go out in the evenings, bring a pair of dress shoes as well. The rest you can easily get along the way.
  • 04 of 07


    New Indian currency 500 rupees notes.
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    Credit cards are widely accepted in major cities. ATM machines can also be found in most places, including in small towns. The entrance fee at many tourist sites can be paid in US dollars if you have the exact change, so do carry some US currency with you in small denominations. Indian currency is highly regulated can't be purchased outside India, so it's also a good idea to carry some currency that you can exchange for Indian rupees when you arrive at the airport in India. Or, simply withdraw rupees from an ATM in the airport terminal.

    Continue to 5 of 7 below.
  • 05 of 07


    Pharmacy In Mumbai, India
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    Medicines for specific ailments, with similar active ingredients to what are found overseas, are available in India. The problem is figuring out the brand names and making the pharmacist understand what you're after. Therefore, you should bring an adequate supply of whatever medicines you usually need. Common items such as Vitamin C and acetaminophen (a standard pain killer) are not difficult to purchase from a pharmacy. However, problems may still be encountered as, for example, acetaminophen is known as paracetamol in India. Therefore it also helps if you describe your symptoms, such as headache or stomach ache, to the pharmacist. Indian pharmacies will supply antibiotics and many other drugs without a prescription. This is generally no longer the case for sleeping tablets or sedatives though. Pharmacists in some areas, such as south India, are also becoming stricter about the types of drugs they'll issue without a prescription. Hence, it's a good idea to bring your prescriptions with you.

  • 06 of 07

    Personal Care Items

    Personal hygiene items including soap dish, facecloth, razor, toothbrush, comb, mirror, nail clippers, plastic bottles
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    Shampoo, conditioner, moisturizers, razors, deodorant, condoms, and sanitary napkins and pads are all readily available. You'll have to search to get roll-on antiperspirant and tampons outside major cities, but they can be found. Bring mosquito repellent with you, as western brands tend to be stronger and more effective than the Indian ones. It's also a good idea to pack sunscreen and your favorite hair products. The range of gels and hair sprays is limited, and hair wax is virtually non-existent.

  • 07 of 07

    Other Useful Items

    Tourist reading book in India.
    Ian Cumming/Getty Images

    Anti-bacterial and wet wipes are extremely useful for many situations. A torch or flashlight, sunglasses, padlock and chain (to secure your luggage on trains), toilet paper, and earplugs also come in handy. If you wish to use any electronic devices from the United States, you may need a voltage converter and plug adapter. People coming from countries with 230V currency, such as Australia and the UK, only require a plug adapter for their appliances. In addition, it's highly recommended that you bring a couple of books. You'll find yourself waiting around a lot in India (the concept of time and punctuality is much different to the west) and reading material is invaluable. Many guesthouses also have a collection of books and will allow swapping. A good India guidebook can also be helpful.