Location: South Asia
Capital: New Delhi
Time zone: GMT/UTC plus 5.5 hours
Daylight savings time: no
Current time: 17:25
Currency: Indian rupee
Dialling code: +91
Internet suffix: .in
India is a large South Asian country known for its long history, rich culture and religious diversity but it is not without its travel challenges.
That said, while it suffers from issues such as domestic terrorism, tense borders and strong under-development, the level of risk is not uniform across the country. Many of the issues of concern are highly concentrated around areas such as the country’s borders. Most of the country is actually considerably safer.
The level of risk can also depend on the time of year. Flooding, landslides, traffic disruption and building collapses tend to be more frequent during the monsoon months, so it might be advisable to take additional precautions during this time, but even during the heaviest rains of the monsoon season, it’s still atmospheric and a special place to be.
Overall security situation: security threats exist, especially in some parts of the country
Crime rate: low
Murder rate: moderate
Gun ownership levels: moderately low
Kidnapping hotspot: yes
Maritime piracy hotspot: yes
Do landmines/unexploded munitions pose a significant risk: only in some border areas
While the majority of travellers will visit India facing minimal security issues, there are certain parts of the country which are more hazardous than others.
Otherwise, overall, the crime rate is low, with some petty and opportunistic crime (such as bag snatching in busy areas) and limited violent crime. The murder rate is moderate, but this is usually down to business and family disputes escalating into violence rather than any targeted brutality against travellers.
Significant parts of society have strong grievances with sporadic protests, strikes and occasionally violent demonstrations sometimes occurring in urban areas – although these can mostly be avoided by the average traveller.
India also suffers frequent terrorist incidents causing extensive damage and casualties. However, the majority of these incidents target the local security forces rather than civilians. Foreigners have been targeted in radical Islamist terrorist attacks in the past but such incidents are usually less frequent than in parts of Europe.
The country’s borders with Pakistan can be tense. Clashes and skirmishes have caused localised loss of life, while anti-government sentiment in nearby areas can lead to violent protests and curfews on occasion. There is a theoretical risk that the situation could one day escalate into war but this is not thought to be likely. Landmines are also a risk around some of the country’s borders, particularly the frontier with Pakistan.
In general, public institutions are underdeveloped and lacking in resilience. Conditions are improving but there are still significant capability gaps related to issues such as law and order, corruption, crowd control and prison management.
The country is regarded as a kidnap hotspot by global trends but this is highly unlikely to affect travellers and is usually only in areas with poor law enforcement. The level of risk is also spread across a huge country and vast population. In similar fashion, the country is also statistically a piracy hotspot, but incidents tend to be low-level affecting smaller vessels around certain harbours.
Aviation safety levels: standard
Annual road fatality rates: high
Vehicles drive on the: left
Infrastructure quality: poor – note that building collapses are a common occurrence, particularly in poorer neighbourhoods.
Urban ATM availability: limited – they are often situated in hotels, malls and bank buildings in larger towns and cities but they are usually uncommon in the street.
Electricity supply: 230V 50Hz
Electricity supply reliability: very poor, particularly in rural areas. Power cuts occur in urban areas but the supply is a lot more reliable.
Plug types: C, D and M (note that many hotels provide universal plug sockets)
Plug type C (2 round pins, not grounded/earthed)
Plug type D (3 round pins, top pin is larger than the others, grounded/earthed, socket compatible with plug type C, unsafe socket compatibility with plug types E and F)
Plug type M (3 round pins, top pin is larger than the others, grounded/earthed).
Is tap water drinkable: no but bottled water is widely available.
Healthcare quality: room for improvement – some hospitals have very good healthcare available but it can be expensive, while healthcare can be poor in rural areas.
Infectious disease prevalence: fairly high
Travellers should consult a medical practitioner prior to their trip but the following vaccines may be considered before travelling to the country, depending on factors such as specific destination, planned activities, intended time and length of stay as well as personal medical conditions (in some cases no additional vaccines may be required at all):
- Cholera (usually only recommended for aid workers or those spending time in at-risk areas)
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B (not always needed)
- Japanese encephalitis
- Rabies (usually only for long-term stays, or for those spending time in isolated areas or coming into contact with animals)
- Standard vaccinations (ie those commonly used in the developed world, such as diphtheria, measles, mumps, polio, rubella, tuberculosis and tetanus)
Malaria risk: moderate, with the level of risk different in different parts of the country. Note that there is deemed to be a low/non-existent risk in New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Pune, Amritsar, Patna, Chennai, Bangalore and Cochin. For other areas please seek medical guidance before you trip to work out whether or not you need to take anti-malarial medications and other precautions.
Yellow fever presence: no
Dengue fever prevalence: frequent cases – take steps to avoid or at least minimise mosquito bites.
Rabies prevalence: high risk – be particularly wary of stray dogs in the street.
HIV prevalence in society: low
Hepatitis A prevalence: high
Hepatitis B prevalence: intermediate
Hepatitis E prevalence: highly endemic
Cholera status: regular outbreaks
Chikungunya virus presence: present
Zika virus presence: not recently reported
Japanese encephalitis presence: yes
Cutaneous leishmaniasis presence: endemic
Visceral leishmaniasis presence: endemic and problematic
Onchocerciasis presence: non-endemic
Schistosomiasis presence: none
Tick-borne encephalitis status: low/non-existent risk
Chagas disease presence: none
Typhoid fever presence: strongly endemic
African trypanosomiasis presence: none
Plague status: present
Rift Valley fever status: not present
Lassa fever status: not present
Polio status: not endemic
Ebola outbreaks: no
Meningococcal meningitis hotspot: no
Climate: varies from tropical monsoon in south to temperate in north; the monsoon season generally lasts from June to September
Terrain: upland plain (Deccan Plateau) in south, flat to rolling plain along the Ganges, deserts in west, Himalayas in north
Natural disaster risk: high
Natural hazards: flooding; severe storms; landslides (all of these are particularly common during the monsoon season); droughts; earthquakes; heatwaves
Tropical storms: common
Volcanic activity: Barren Island (elev. 354 m) in the Andaman Sea has been active in recent years
Previous earthquake(s) with over 1,000 fatalities: yes
Government type: federal republic
Socio-economic development score: 5/10 (medium levels of socio-economic development)
Adult literacy rate: 71.2%
Unemployment rate: very low
Civil liberties: some restrictions, usually mild
Investment rating: investment grade
Corruption levels: fairly high
Same-sex sexual activity: illegal
Death penalty: in use
Languages: Hindi 41%, Bengali 8.1%, Telugu 7.2%, Marathi 7%, Tamil 5.9%, Urdu 5%, Gujarati 4.5%, Kannada 3.7%, Malayalam 3.2%, Oriya 3.2%, Punjabi 2.8%, Assamese 1.3%, Maithili 1.2%, other 5.9%, English also widely spoken
Ethnic groups: Indo-Aryan 72%, Dravidian 25%, other 3%
Beliefs: Hindu 79.8%, Muslim 14.2%, Christian 2.3%, Sikh 1.7%, other and unspecified 2%
- The following advice has been compiled by travel safety specialists and ex-special forces personnel.
- However, please note that it is of a general nature only and may not reflect the reality of your circumstances.
- Ensure you have proper insurance cover in place.
- Select good quality accommodation and properly prepare for any tasks, excursions or other activities you have to undertake.
- Be mindful of local laws and cultural norms, bearing in mind that they might be different to what you are accustomed to.
- Consider conducting or obtaining a risk assessment specific to you, your profile and your trip, task or operation.
- This should take into account the likelihood of potential risks affecting you, as well as the likely impact they will have, and will help you decide, depending on your risk appetite and implementable risk mitigation measures, whether or not you should proceed.
- Be prepared for potentially poor-quality roads and other forms of transportation.
- This can make it difficult to get around.
- Consider obtaining a high-quality vehicle that can handle difficult terrain if you intend to travel anywhere with particularly bad-quality roads.
- Bear in mind that traffic safety conditions may be poor.
- Try to ensure that any accommodation or workplace is located in a good quality building.
- Bear in mind that in the event of an accident or emergency, the emergency response services may have very limited resources available.
Road traffic accident
- Be aware of local driving conditions and hazards.
- Drive defensively and adhere to speed limits to minimise the risk of being caught up in an accident, or request that your driver(s) do the same.
- If using a taxi or local driver, ensure that they are qualified and competent and that their vehicle appears well maintained.
- Ensure that vehicles are in good working order before travel.
- Perform regular checks on your vehicles for oil, fuel, tyres and seatbelts.
- Consider taking additional equipment such as a jack, spare tyres, water, blankets, torches and a first aid kit, especially if travelling to more rural or isolated areas.
- Consider using four-wheel drive vehicles for particularly poor road conditions.
- Car users should know how to perform emergency repairs.
- Bear in mind that healthcare facilities and services may be less extensive than what you are used to at home.
- Facilities and services may be particularly limited in rural areas.
- Pharmacies may not offer the same medications you might be accustomed to being able to purchase at home.
- If you use any medications on a regular basis, consider taking extra supplies.
- It may also be advisable to have them accompanied by a note from your doctor.
- In the event of serious or complicated illness or injury it may be necessary for a patient to be evacuated out of the country.
- Ensure that there is sufficient medical insurance in place to cover such an event.
- Find out what specific diseases are present in your intended travel destinations.
- Research the specific measures you should take to lower the risk of infection, bearing in mind that the disease(s) in question could be water, air or insect-borne.
- It might be useful to seek medical advice prior to your trip.
- If possible, do this several weeks in advance of your travel, in case you need to obtain specific vaccinations, some of which can take time to be administered properly.
- Be aware of any potential outbreaks which may be taking place in the country.
- Be careful with any cuts and grazes which might be more susceptible to infection in your travel destination than at home.
- Hygiene will be very important, but it can be more challenging to maintain good standards of hygiene in some parts of the world where sanitary products, cleaning products and even clean water can be hard to obtain.
- It might be advisable to bring extra supplies with you.
- It would be better to take them and not use them than to leave them behind and then need them in a challenging situation.
- You may also encounter challenges over where and what you want to eat.
- Try to avoid venues which appear unsanitary.
- Be very aware of any medical symptoms which might arise, both when you are travelling and for up to a month after you return home.
- Seek medical assistance if you have any concerns.
- Bear in mind that local doctors in your home country might not be familiar with certain tropical diseases.
- If you become ill on your return, inform your doctor where you have been and ensure that unfamiliar tropical diseases are taken into consideration as a possible diagnosis.
- Civil unrest can lead to road closures and even curfews, which can affect your travel plans.
- Be prepared for delays and route alterations.
- Avoid demonstrations as they can turn violent.
- Large gatherings of people can be difficult to predict or control and can lead to issues such as mob violence, arson, assault and looting.
- The security forces may use excessive force to control events in some circumstances, posing an indiscriminate risk to anyone in the area.
- Even without any particular violence, large demonstrations can be at risk of poor crowd control, which can lead to crushes and stampedes.
- If demonstrations take place on a frequent basis, research the trends which tend to accompany them.
- Where do they tend to take place? Do they tend to turn violent? Do attendees target specific types of building or representative interests associated with a specific nationality, industry, political group (such as party-political offices, state buildings or foreign-owned businesses)?
- Once you have identified the sorts of risks, trends and areas of higher risk to be avoided you can start planning to minimise your exposure.
- If civil unrest appears to be particularly volatile, or set to last for an extended period, try to stock up with essential items (including food, water and medicine) in case you are stuck in your accommodation or work place or other location for an extended period of time.
- Be prepared to alter your plans at short notice and even to leave the area or even the whole country if conditions escalate. deteriorate.
- Identify evacuation routes and safe havens in case you need to get out of harms way at short notice.
- It is also advisable to identify the evacuation routes and fire safety procedures at your accommodation and/or work place in case you need to leave in a hurry.
- Beware of photography at sensitive sites or during civil disturbance.
- Research and familiarise yourself with your destination in advance of travel.
- Find out what the local criminal trends are and identify any potential hotspots, such as certain neighbourhoods.
- You may wish to avoid the higher risk areas, but this is not always practical.
- As such, in higher risk areas exercise caution and be aware of your surroundings.
- Note that jewellery, watches, mobile phones, laptops or other items may mark you out as a potential target for petty thieves.
- Be careful with your wallet and cash.
- Note that crime trends can change, and the level of risk can become higher, after dark.
- In general, use your gut instincts and be prepared avoid situations, places or people that seem suspicious, odd or wrong in some way.
- Monitor and assess the trends and tactics of any relevant terrorist organisations with the potential for targeting your location and identify potential targets.
- For particularly at-risk areas, the most effective risk mitigation advice is simply to avoid them.
- Use your judgement on the frequency of incidents taking place and decide whether or not your journey to an at-risk location is needed.
- Be vigilant in and around higher-risk areas, which could include crowded places, symbolic or sensitive political sites, or busy restaurant, nightlife or tourist spots.
- Depending on the situation and circumstances (including your own work, nationality, lifestyle and other profile aspects) you might need to enact security measures for protection in higher-risk areas.
- Be aware of your surroundings and be prepared to react at short notice in the event of an incident.
- In the event of an incident, get out of the area quickly if it is safe to do so.
- Alternatively hide and try to keep out of harm’s way.
- In most cases you should only try to help other people if it is safe for you to do so.
- Keep quiet and notify the relevant authorities, colleagues or loved ones only when you are out of danger.
Religious or conservative attitudes
- Exercise sensitivity in societies which place a high value on perceived morality, even if it goes against personal beliefs and values.
- Research what local cultural practises, attitudes, values and laws you will need to be mindful of before travelling.
- Note that some behaviours, interactions and attire may also attract unwanted attention, cause offence or trigger a hostile response.
- Note that some subjects may be taboo so avoid discussing them with people if you think it might cause offence.
Foreign government warnings
- Pay attention to the advice issued by your government and/or other countries (such as the US or UK).
- For most travellers, it will be very much advisable to avoid any areas deemed to be high-risk by official government bodies.
- For those who need to travel to these locations for work, personal or other essential reasons should consider the risks likely to be present and take appropriate measures.
- Insurance may not be valid for travel undertaken to these areas, so it is advisable to check with your provider before travel.
- Note that areas of official high-risk might change at short notice.
- Find out where the at-risk areas are in a country and consider avoiding them, particularly if any minefields are poorly demarcated.
- If you have to go to an at-risk area, consider undergoing minefield awareness training first.
- Seek local knowledge on the whereabouts of potential unexploded ordnance as residents will often have the most up-to-date information.
- Stick to well used roads, routes and paths.
- Don’t touch or approach suspicious items.
- If in doubt when travelling, especially on foot, turn back and retrace your steps.
- If driving in an at-risk area, avoid leaving the vehicle as far as possible.
- Take particular care after heavy rainfall as flooding can wash away warning signs or even displace unexploded ordnance and move it into new areas.
- If travelling to areas with more challenging terrain types, bear in mind that you might need to take specific and specialised equipment and clothing.
- Some terrain types might be more hazardous at different times of year so research any seasonal variations and work out the best time for you to visit.
- You may have to alter your behaviour and consider certain types of medication, such as if you have to travel to high altitudes.
- Areas with challenging terrain are often sparsely populated and/or with underdeveloped infrastructure.
- Not only can this make it difficult for you to travel there, it may also make it difficult to get out if you need to, or for any assistance to arrive in the event that you encounter difficulties and need help or evacuation.
- As such, have backup plans in place, methods of calling for help even if local communication networks are poor and aim to be as medically self-sufficient as possible.
- Be prepared to respond at short notice to any seismic activity.
- Create an emergency plan to follow in the event of an incident that involves a communications breakdown, so you can meet colleagues at a designated meeting point if you are separated and cannot get in contact with one another.
- Practise drills such as “drop, seek cover and hold on” procedure so that you can take shelter as soon as an incident occurs.
- Know the location of your nearest medical kit and medically trained personnel.
- Knowledge of basic first aid will also be very useful.
- Get away from glass or anything that could fall if shaking starts.
- Consider carrying a whistle that can be used to alert first responders in the event that you are trapped after an earthquake – although bear in mind that in some circumstances and/or locations there may not be much in the way of first response capabilities, particularly following a damaging earthquake.
- In the event of an incident, avoid damaged buildings that might still be at risk of collapse.
- Be prepared for aftershocks.
- Note that earthquakes can trigger tsunamis and landslides so be prepared to move out of harm’s way once the shaking has stopped.
- You may need to move very quickly and with limited time.
- If rainfall, flooding, extreme temperatures or other types of severe weather are a concern, check the local weather patterns to find out if there are times of the year where the risk is much higher.
- Consider avoiding travel to at-risk destinations during these times.
- Try to stay in good quality accommodation.
- Take appropriate clothing and footwear.
- Take appropriate protection for any sensitive equipment you wish to bring.
- Note that storms, flooding and other types of harsh weather can overload infrastructure, lead to traffic jams and power cuts.
- Flooding and heavy rainfall can also raise the risk of landslides, as well as insect- and water-borne diseases in some parts of the world.
- As such, be prepared to delay, alter or even cancel travel plans to affected or high-risk areas.
- Pay attention to local weather reports and stay up to date on any potential warnings of upcoming potential dust or sandstorms.
- If a dust or sandstorm is expected, consider delaying non-essential travel as low visibility can make driving hazardous. Flights can also be disrupted.
- Consider staying indoors, particularly if you have pre-existing respiratory conditions.
- Use a face mask and eyewear if going outside.
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