In this article, we will answer the following question: Are Caravans allowed in India? We will also give you essential tips to consider before travelling to India.
Are Caravan allowed in India?
While caravans are allowed in India, it is illegal to claim a caravan as your main address. If you want to rent or buy a caravan in India as a tourist, you are free to do so and you should, as India has many picturesque places that are worth visiting.
The market for caravans and RVs in India is not particularly large, and the main reason is the high price of these vehicles. If there are people in India who live in a caravan, well, they do it for lack of money and because they cannot afford to buy an apartment or a house.
And if you plan to venture through India with a caravan, we must tell you that there are not many camping sites in India, therefore you must keep in mind that it will be harder for you to find drinking water or a place specially designed to empty the tanks or to get power supply.
The best camping sites in India are:
- West Ladakh Camp, Ladakh
- Anjuna Beach – Goa
- Camp Exotica, Kullu
- Neora Valley Camp- West Bengal
- Kipling Camp, Madhya Pradesh
- Sangla Valley Camping, Sangla
- Mehar, Jaisalmer
- Rishikesh Valley camp, Rishikesh
- Camp Room on the Roof, Dehradun
- Camp Desert, Pushkar
- Mussoorie, Uttarakhand
- Rishikesh, Uttarakhand
- Tso Moriri Lake, Ladakh
- Nameri Eco Camp, Assam
- Chardham Camp, Kedarnath
- Sarchu, Manali
- Sam Sand Dunes –Jaisalmer
- Magpie Camp, Chopta
- Spiti Valley, Himachal Pradesh
- Banjara Camps & Retreat, Spiti
- Chandratal Lake, Himachal Pradesh
- Rann Riders, Kutch
- Coorg Planter’s Camp, Coorg
- Solang Valley, Manali
- Tribal Camp, Madhya Pradesh
- Dubare Camp, Karnataka.
Practical tips for caravaning in India
Below we will give you a few essential tips for those interested to travel to India, either by caravan or aeroplane. These suggestions are based on both our experience and the advice of many travellers who had the chance to explore India in all of its vastness.
- Be aware of the scammers in India: Whenever you go, but especially at camping sites, there will always be some locals on top of you trying to sell you something, take you somewhere … and trying to rip you off.
- Where and what to eat in India: Eating in India is an adventure. Their food is spicy and delicious and varies greatly from north to south and east to west. Even if you ask for something “not spicy” they will put something that is minimally spicy! Of course, the perks of travelling with a caravan is that you can cook for yourself. In this case: please be careful where you buy your products from.
- Traffic in India: There is one word to describe it all: chaos. Be extra careful while driving with your van, but even more when you are on foot and crossing the road.
- Look for options even if they tell you there aren’t any: There are so many scenic sites to see in India, but unfortunately, you will not get too much (if any) guidance on where they are. So, do your research!
- Know a little about its history before you go: This is fundamental among my tips for travelling to India. Do it however you want: read a book, watch a documentary, movies … Their culture and religion are very old, very rich and very interesting. If you go with a previously built idea you can find out and enjoy things there much better.
Documentaries I recommend: The story of India, from the BBC.
Movies: Lagaan; Outsourced; Gandhi; Slumdog Millionaire; Fire, Earth, Water trilogy.
Books: Inside India, by Álvaro Enterria; India of Naipaul, Children of Midnight, by Salman Rushdie.
- Be patient and stay calm: It is necessary not to despair at times like the continuous approaches to sell you something, their innate selfishness nudging and sneaking into the queues, their huge traffic … Be patient and enjoy the trip!
10 general tips for the first trip to India
Avoid Burnout: By far the most common complaint reported by first-time visitors to India is fatigue, who are simply trying to do too much in too little time. India is vast, colourful and addicting, but have realistic expectations for everything you can see. A well-planned visit to a particular area can offer a lot of spirit to the place. And remember, India is not going anywhere: you can come back time and time again.
Get out of town: While it might be a cliché, the only way to get a real sense of India is to visit the small villages. The real benefit is that it’ll take you out of sprawling and considerably overcrowded cities. Take a trip to the mountains or to the quieter state of Kerala in the south, you will be in a much better position to enjoy the famous hospitality of Indian city dwellers.
Watch what you eat and drink: A sore stomach is quite common on first trips to India. This does not mean that you should rule out street food, but try to eat fresh fruits and foods that have been boiled or fried. Drink bottled water and avoid salads or ice cream.
Don’t be too protective of your personal space: it’s not really a popular concept in India. You will be crushed on public transport and in elevators. People will ask you seemingly intrusive personal questions that you may find intimidating. Remember this is a totally different culture and the questions are purely indicative of the polite interest of the locals in you.
Dress soberly: be aware that India has a relatively small culture. Covering your arms and legs is a simple step towards respecting this culture. Indians forgive those who are unfamiliar with their culture, but you can quickly make a good impression, for example, by removing your shoes before entering someone’s house. This is especially important when entering a sacred space, such as a temple. If you also see shoes outside a store, that’s a sign to take yours off.
Watch out for feet and hands: Feet are considered unclean in India, so if you touch something with your feet, it is appropriate to apologize quickly. Likewise, eating or passing things with your left hand is considered unpleasant for reasons best left to the imagination. If in doubt about local customs, watch what others are doing and imitate them.
Remember that Indian time is relative: you may very well find yourself waiting half an hour in India when your friend assures you that he will be there in five minutes. Traffic and other disruptions can also mean that getting around can take much longer than expected. Allow plenty of waiting times and check opening hours: Many government offices and convenience stores close in the afternoon for lunch.
Think about your safety: while “not going down the dark streets alone” may seem a little obvious, there are many other easy ways to avoid dangers in India. Having huge amounts of cash is not a good idea everywhere, in major Indian cities pickpocketing is a big problem today. Likewise, bargaining can, at times, turn into an unpleasant heated exchange. Inexperienced visitors are advised to try to stay cool. Be nice but firm, and don’t be obnoxious.
Be Prepared for Noise: One way to ensure you have some personal space in your head is to have headphones with you to shut you off from some of the surrounding noise – there is nothing like the incessant sounds of an Indian city.
Avoid Transactions That Look Too Good To Be True: Government stores are probably the best way to avoid scams, but simple rules like paying for things with cash to avoid credit card copy scams can save you a lot of unnecessary trouble later in your trip. You should also pay special attention if you have agreed to have things sent by post: some stores receive your payment and send worthless items instead.
The bottom line
In conclusion, we wanted to say that caravaning in India may not be for everyone. Big cities are tiring, noisy, polluted, congested. As for the smaller towns, they lack comfort and are prone to power cuts (although this seems to be getting better from year to year).
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