It’s impossible to land in India and not encounter at least one scam or someone trying to rip you off during your stay. You shouldn’t be scared, as India is not the only place where you get scammed. It can happen in New York or Bangkok too. Like I lost half a million Indonesian Rupiah in Bali during money exchange. But it’s always good to be aware and cautious. We believe an informed traveler is a smart traveler, so If you know the modus operandi of the most common scammers, you will be prepared to avoid them well in time. These quick basic travel tips will help you to avoid being scammed or ripped off in India.
Fake it, Till You Make it.
Never tell anyone that it’s your first time visiting India. They’ll immediately view you as an easy and potential target. Instead confidently say that this is your third or fourth time in India. Remember few names of the big cities and the things they are famous for – Like Goa is famous for beaches, Kerala for houseboats, ayurveda & yoga retreats. So next time someone asks you where all you have been in India, you can say that you really loved the beaches of Goa or the yoga retreats in Kerala. This will give the potential scammers a hint that you have “been there, done that!” So, they will not try to mess with you.
Get a Room
Especially in big cities like Delhi & Mumbai, it’s always good to have your room reserved in the hotel before you arrive. Gone are the days when you can trust your cab driver or some stranger on the road to suggest you some good hotel worth staying. More often such suggestions by your cab driver involve a commission fees for bringing you into that cheap, dirty hotel where no one stays except you. And you end up paying more for a bad room in a bad hotel.
Don’t Be Polite Always
In India, it’s a weakness if you are polite and gentle. Smiling and saying “no thank you” will not stop you from being followed or harassed. Touts are very persuasive and your good manners will often be seen as a sign of weakness. Instead hold your hand up with the palm facing towards people, shake your head and look away. Do NOT look into their eyes or try to talk to them as the more you try to talk, the more they will follow you. It’s helpful to be strict and raise your voice and sternly tell them “NO”.
Fix The Price Before
Negotiate the price for any service before; otherwise you will end up paying the insane inflated price at the end. Don’t assume that a small thing like this will cost you a dollar or two. This is applicable for taking the rides and shopping as well. Indian holy men are famous for asking high donations in temples and mosques. Never feel obliged to pay a high amount in any situation, instead be reasonable.
Ignore the friends
Generally, ignore anyone who approaches you unwanted, no matter how genuine they look or sound. Most often such so-called “friends” will take advantage of you in some way or other, or take you to a place of their choice (mostly touristy emporiums) so that they get commission. They will try to gain your trust by offering you a free meal with their family at their home or invite you for a cup of tea. But there is a hidden agenda behind the offer mostly. And in the end, you will realize how smartly you have been ripped off.
Create A Scene
Don’t be afraid to make a scene, especially if you’re a woman. Indian men have difficulty dealing with extremely displays of emotion, especially from foreigners. Once they see that you are not an easy catch, they will leave you for good. Indian salesmen in the touristy emporiums are very pushy and can be intimidating at times.
Don’t Trust Too Early
Unfortunately, India is not the place to ask your driver to take you to the best local food in town- he’ll just take you to his cousins’ place. And a tour to local market always means visit to the high-priced touristy emporiums. Instead search online, look into the Tripadvisor ratings, read reviews and then decide on the places. We have been running Food Walks in Agra for more than a year now and often we see other tourists being taken to the very touristy restaurants in the name of traditional Indian food. In reality, such touristy restaurants only sell overpriced imitation of authentic Indian cuisine.
Did we miss something? Have you learnt the lesson in hard way after being ripped off? Tell us your smart tips to avoid being scammed or ripped off in India.