• 20 common tourist scams in india

WARNING: 20 Common Tourist Scams in India

India isn’t usually the gap year backpackers’ first choice destination. Maybe because of the onslaught of smells and dirt, or maybe it’s because of the horror stories of scams happening to travelers.

From jewelers, and cab drivers, to the cable man, I think in a year and half I’ve had every scam attempted on me that India has to offer.

Maybe if I warn everyone about them they won’t be afraid to travel in India. Some happen in places other than India too, but without further ado, here you go!

20 common tourist scams in india

Before coming to India do not forget these two very important things:

  1. Travel Insurance. I use World Nomads which is what Lonely Planet recommends
  2. a VISA. You would be surprised how many people email me saying they showed up without one and got sent home. Click here to see what one you need and GET IT ahead of time.

20 Common Tourist Scams in India (most have been tried on me!)

1. “Your hotel has moved places/burnt down/changed names” this most likely isn’t true and the driver is going to take you to his friend’s place and take a commission. On the way he’ll ask if you are hungry or need a pashmina. Anywhere he drops you on the way, he’s getting commission. 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. If you get to know a driver and use him often, then you can start to build trust.

2. The SIM card scam: if you buy a SIM while in India, you need to fill out paperwork, give a copy of your passport, and a 2×2 photograph, which is one of the things I’ve told you which paperwork to have handy! If they don’t ask for all that, they are either giving you a used SIM meaning you’ll get calls all day from rando Indians, or they aren’t even planning on filing your paperwork which means your SIM you just prepaid 500 rupees on will shut off when it isn’t verified. As a tourist, it might be best to go straight to the main office of Vodafone, Idea, or whatever company you choose. Vodafone is the worst. They turned three of my SIM’s off!

If you want to avoid this get Trabug! Trabug is a travel phone that you can have shipped to your hotel in India. This phone has the internet and all kinds of India travel apps on it. It’s more expensive than a SIM, but SIM cards are sometimes a huge hassle for foreigners in India (plus if you have to buy an “unlocked” phone anyway, this is likely cheaper). You don’t want to be in India without access to the internet.

3. While driving in a taxi, if the police stop your car (and no one else’s) and tell you to pay a road fee, they’re lying. The cab driver might be a good guy and tell the cop no, which happened once, or he might be a bad guy and tell you he can’t go until you pay. You can either pay the “fine” or “fee” or “tax”, whatever they call it, or you can argue. In the end if the driver won’t go, and you’re going to end up paying. It won’t go to the road, it’ll go for his next beer. On the other hand, tolls are real and the passenger does have to pay.

4. The 5 extra cocktails on your bill. That itself isn’t the scam. You’ll tell them you didn’t order them, and they’ll say “whoops, that was another table!” They will say okay, let’s subtract that amount. The scam is the service charge of 15% and luxury charge of at least 10% was taken from the first and higher amount. Make them make you a new bill if it’s high enough to matter.

5. Giving your driver or shop owner 1000 rupees and waiting for change, just for him to say you only handed over 100. You just have to argue this one out but to prevent it, you should show it very clearly as you hand it over. Most times, in a scam like this if you involve people on the street the driver will turn honest very quickly.

20 common tourist scams in indiathis nice guy charged me such a low fare, I tipped him triple the cost of the ride, but not all drivers are this way

6. When taking photos or certain people or animals (like cows that are dressed up or elephants on the street), someone nearby is expecting a tip. It isn’t a law or anything, but if you don’t pay expect to be yelled at!

20 common tourist scams in india

20 common tourist scams in indiato sit on the yak is Rs 50, but you better hope he doesn’t take a step- who knows what they’ll charge for taking a ride on the yak!

7. The beggar’s milk and the children’s pens: When you think, “I won’t give them money and make the begging situation worse in India, I’ll give them what they need. I’ll go to the store and get them milk for their hungry baby! Or follow these kids to the store where they want pens for school!” The pens thing is big in Hampi and Kerala. The milk scheme is popular everywhere. The beggars and kids have deals with the stores and will return the product when you leave. It’s a sad scam because you are trying to help and get ripped off. Eventually, you get jaded in India and you your heart stops hurting for people… that’s when I know I need a little escape from the chaos.

20 common tourist scams in indiaSorry cuties, you’re the best- but no pens for you!

8. “Pashmina? Cashmere? Only one thousand rupees!” Ok, you’ll never get real cashmere that cheap, so you know right away it’s fake. You can negotiate him down to 500 but you’re still overpaying for the product which is a fake silk/blend. You know what though, they are so beautiful it doesn’t really matter!

9. Buying a week or two long tour through an agent when you’re stressed is a bad idea. They will charge you a higher price for each leg of a driving route, and a higher rate than normal for each hotel, WHILE they take commission on each night’s sleep. Keep in mind local buses can get you from point A to B overnight for somewhere around Rs 300-700 no matter where you’re going. Don’t give into the temptation because of stress. I met loads of girls who paid for these “tours” (driver and hotel) and all paid more for two weeks than I did for three months with shopping my butt off!

10. Fake train ticket offices. These are tricky and happen all over the world but just use you best judgment. This was the worst one that (almost) happened to me in Delhi and made me want to punch a biatch!

11. Kids or “Holy men” putting flower bracelets or red string on your wrist while saying “it’s a gift!” It’s not a free gift; decline!

20 common tourist scams in indiawe got these from our kind massage therapist teacher in McLeod Ganj, no strings attached. Get it?

12. The last one brings me to the “Pushkar Lake Scam”. This one is cute. The Holy man will do a ceremony for let’s say an agreed Rs. 100. He’ll ask how many people in your family and bless them, each and every one. After he’ll say, “you misunderstood. 100 rupees per person in your family. Pay me 500 or I will curse your whole family!” Like I said, it’s a cute one. Pay Rs 100 and walk away. You can’t let people get away with things like that and they won’t follow you; you have the right to pay what’s fair and leave. Better yet, like one reader told me- “put the money in the donation box, the correct amount, like you’re supposed to!”

20 common tourist scams in indiaif you participate in a ceromony, and someone “gives” you this, you will need to pay them

13. “The Name Game” If there is a popular hotel or restaurant, you better bet there is another one with a similar or even the exact same name nearby. If it’s a popular place, you can bet your driver knows it. If he takes you to the wrong ones, he’s done it on purpose. It’s good to remember what the place looks like online!

14. Trick Question: Are pre-paid taxis at the airport always the best deal? NO way, Jose. Bombay, Delhi, and Bangalore all offer pre-paid taxis at obscene prices. A meter is the best deal but it’s almost impossible to get a driver near an airport to use one. You want to go to the GOVERNMENT approved pre-paid stand like MERU cabs and pay the Rs. 50 for a ticket for the driver. The driver will then meet you outside and will use his meter! Follow your GPS for shortest route.

15. Get a receipt if you pay upon arrival at a hotel. I have had a couple of places try to make me pay again at check-out swearing I never paid. This goes for more than hotels really; any tour you go on or anything you pre-pay for, get a receipt. If at check-in to a hotel you agree on a set price to pay later, get it in writing.

20 common tourist scams in indiathe rate was set… but he didn’t divulge that it was hourly, not final.

16. Someone coming up to you saying they want to give you directions, or help you find something, is going to ask you for money after. If you are in somewhere touristy like Varanasi and someone starts to tell you about what’s happening, they are going to DEMAND money after. As soon as they start talking, tell them you aren’t interested. They will say “no, no, I’m just being your friend”, but they aren’t. Sadly. If you want a guide, go for it, but work out a price ahead of time. Even airport employees will do this! I was yelled at in Bombay by an employee once he pointed out where the ticket printing counter was outside the airport- apparently he didn’t think that should be a free service. He followed me, yelling at me for about five minutes until I lost my cool and yelled back at him making another employee come over and I’m assuming he got reprimanded, but really, who knows?

20 common tourist scams in indiacute kid followed everywhere in Jaipur and wanted a tip- it’s hard when it’s a kid

17. “Meter is broken, Miss”. OK, it’s not broken. In Bombay it’s illegal not to use a meter now (although near tourist attractions they will never turn it on for you). When you say you’ll tell the police, the invisible meter fairy always fixes the meter. Taxis that don’t use meter outside Bombay: agree on a price ahead of time. Show them the map on your phone if they do use a meter (even if it’s a fake map), so they go the shortest route. It will save you money and prevent anger issues.

18. Keep in mind, just because they are willing to use a meter, doesn’t mean that the meter is set appropriately! Just use your best judgement. You’ll get used to how fast the meter should run. If it’s going too quickly, call the guy out on it, threaten to tell the police, and leave. If you get to your destination and you KNOW the amount you should pay because you take it often, just give that much. The driver will not argue because they know what they’ve done. I’ve done it often when it’s a fee I know well. You can even say, “you must be able to tell that meter is broken, see how fast it went? I know you are an honest man, so you won’t charge me that price. You’re taking it to get fixed now, yes?” Since the guy knows he’s caught, it’s an out for him to take without being embarrassed and will prevent a fight.

19. If you hire a driver for the day and leave your bags in the car, first off take photo of the license plate and his information in the car. Secondly, don’t pay him until the end of the day and don’t leave your valuables in the car.

20. When you rent a bike or car, take photos of the damage already there and show them. Know that you take a chance of the renter stealing his own bike from you and then making you buy a new one. You could lock it up. I have never heard of this happening in Goa. We did rent bikes in Hampi and one tire blew- they made us pay 3,000 for a new tire. There wasn’t anything we could do.

If you will be spending a week or more in Goa (which I highly suggest) then do check out my $25 e-book. The Insider’s Guide to Goa is 170-pages long and will guarantee you have the best time in Goa, meet other travels, and chill at all the coolest places. Click here to purchase.

20 common tourist scams in india

If all of this stresses you out, don’t freak out. You don’t have to travel India alone!

If you want to go with a group tour, there is one company I recommend: G Adventures. Lots of my readers have used them and loved their trips. I usually travel alone, but it’s not for everyone. Read up on the “truth” of traveling India alone.

Bonus tip: Hospitals in India are not above the small scams. When I was suffering from Dengue Fever, which has no cure & just needs platelets monitored, the hospital in Varanasi pushed me to get many tests down like a CT and chest x-ray that as a nurse, I knew I didn’t need. These are expensive even in India. Before your trip do yourself a favor and get travel insurance. You can go ahead and get the tests done that they suggest without worrying you are being ripped off or worrying that you actually do need the test. You can submit the claim later and get your money back. I’ve always used World Nomads.

In this post are affiliate links, meaning I get a small percentage of sales, but all opinions are my own! You can see all my travel resources on my “travel resource” page.

2017-08-17T14:55:50+00:00

About the Author:

Rachel Jones left a career in nursing to live on the beaches of Goa, India almost four years ago where she is now a travel writer. Her website gives advice on the 35+ countries she's been to but has become the go-to site for India travel, focusing on offbeat places & “glamorous travel”. Hippie in Heels has been featured in ELLE magazine, Tripadvisor, and Thomas Cook. Her blog is one of the top 50 travel blogs in the world based on traffic. She also enjoys writing for BravoTV.

89 Comments

  1. Marcus May 21, 2014 at 11:57 am - Reply

    Nice post! Wish I had read this before going to India. :)

  2. Stef May 21, 2014 at 1:48 pm - Reply

    What a helpful post, seriously! Your blog is a great resource for everyone who wants to travel to India!

  3. Megsy May 21, 2014 at 3:00 pm - Reply

    OMG we ran into sooo many of these while travelling in India. We were so confused by the pen one – we had kids ask us for pens in Kerela and we were like ‘huh? That’s a new one!’
    Thanks for the article, it’s important for people to know what to expect before getting to India or you can end up feeling bitter and jaded by the constant scamming.

    • Rachel Jones May 21, 2014 at 10:22 pm - Reply

      Yeah I agree, if you know it’s coming then you won’t be so pissed off, you might even laugh. It was so hard my first few days, I had traveled many places other than India, but this was before I knew about travel blogs and such- I had no clue what to expect and I spend 3 days just fuming mad in Bombay before I started to get used to things.

  4. mon ika | You Get The Picture May 22, 2014 at 6:28 am - Reply

    Wow! Learnt so much, great article!
    Who would have thought ..
    Not planning right now to go to India (one day) but love to learn about other countries/cultures, wow kind of shocking, thanks for sharing!

    • Rachel Jones May 22, 2014 at 2:12 pm - Reply

      No prob, you can bookmark it for when you actually do come to India!

  5. Emily May 21, 2014 at 10:19 pm - Reply

    So many great tips Rachel. Can you clarify #3? So if the driver is a ‘bad guy’, then you are just screwed and have to pay?

    • Rachel Jones May 21, 2014 at 10:24 pm - Reply

      Yeah, you’re screwed. The police are very corrupt so there’s really nothing you can do. If you are in your own car, you just drive past. I do it all the time actually. But if the driver won’t go and they all start yelling (and they SO will) it’s either pay or sit there all day. You can always negotiate the rate down IF it’s a fake fee. But usually it’s not more than 100 rs , or 2 USD… but still when you’re on 10 USD a day, it’s very ANNOYING haha

  6. Victoria May 22, 2014 at 1:31 am - Reply

    Yep! Yep!! Yep!!!
    They tried to catch me out on the 1st tip and said that I wasn’t booked at the hotel even though I had called them that very morning from Istanbul! I arrived at 02:00 and I was so scared of walking the streets that I absolutely stood my ground and insisted that I be given the room that I had already confirmed and paid for!

    Rikshaw scams parctically all the time of I said 100 rupies and they said they meant per hour as is the “please take me to where I can buy books” and of course, they took me to where I could buy jewellery instead. After 2 hrs of this, I refused to get out of my rikshaw and only then did they take me to actually buy books. Sigh!
    Thanks for this Rachel. Such a good read as usual. :)

    • Rachel Jones May 22, 2014 at 2:10 pm - Reply

      Im glad you stood your ground- you really have to in India! The rickshaw drivers sometimes can be so frustrating!

  7. Jen May 22, 2014 at 3:55 am - Reply

    Great points. Also on the taxi front… I got in a taxi with a meter but I think it was a ‘special’ tourist meter which was way higher than it should have been, so always ask around to see how much a certain journey should cost so you know if you are being hugely ripped off.

    • Rachel Jones May 22, 2014 at 2:10 pm - Reply

      I hate when they do that to their meters! and it’s so obvious!

  8. Erin May 22, 2014 at 6:17 am - Reply

    Great post – we certainly ran into a few of these on our trip! One that we had a lot was in Delhi, where we’d be wandering along and a local would start walking along with us and chatting. All well and good, until they’d inevitably ask where we were going and then give us directions on how to get there, as well as offering to walk with us in case we got lost. Rather than the places we were trying to get to, we’d always end up in an overpriced high pressure tourist gem/rug/silk store! We stopped listening to people’s offers of help pretty quickly!

    • Rachel Jones May 22, 2014 at 2:11 pm - Reply

      Yeah, it’s always a bummer when they say they’re trying to help and you have to kind of shoo them off- but in my experience no one is trying to help when you haven’t even asked for help.

  9. Emily from Let's Roam Wild May 22, 2014 at 2:35 pm - Reply

    This is so helpful. Visiting India is in my near future and this makes me feel so much more relaxed about it! I will definitely be bookmarking this to review before I go. Have you thought about compiling some of these into a PDF “Quick Guide to India”?

    • Rachel Jones May 23, 2014 at 12:24 pm - Reply

      I have never thought of that! I wouldn’t even know how :p haha but it’s a great idea!

  10. Rebekah Voss May 23, 2014 at 10:19 am - Reply

    So great Rachel, and so fascinating to see which scams are the same all over the world! It’s kind of sad but if someone comes up to YOU instead of vice versa I think it’s a safe bet they’re trying to get money.

    The milk scam is big in Cambodia and Nepal too, and the “whoops your hotel is overbooked/moved/burnt down” is a thing here in Vietnam.

    My other favorite that’s been happening to me constantly in Hanoi is “Oops! I THOUGHT I knew where that destination was, but now I seem to be lost. Let’s drive 3km out of the way until I find it.” {complete BS, a taxi drives knows EXACTLY where it is, no matter where you’re going!}

    • Rachel Jones May 23, 2014 at 12:28 pm - Reply

      That’s interesting. When I was in SE Asia I found them to be a little scammy as well. I hate when drivers do what you mentioned!

  11. Renuka May 23, 2014 at 1:22 pm - Reply

    A must read for anyone heading to India! Although I am aware of almost all of these, it’s good to know it from another person too.

    • Rachel Jones May 24, 2014 at 11:46 am - Reply

      I’m glad you can relate. I should have pointed out, they run these scams on Indian tourists just as much as western ones. It’s not the nationality, it’s just the lack of knowing where you are they prey on.

  12. Glamourous Traveller May 26, 2014 at 11:32 pm - Reply

    Number 4 and 7 were deff new to me. And its really sad that they’ve worked out a way to return the milk and pens. Probably cheaper to arrive with some pre-paid pencils and what not from home.

    I was planning on visiting Varanasi, deff would be careful with people coming up and trying to have a random conversations about the sights and locations and all

    • Rachel Jones May 27, 2014 at 7:22 pm - Reply

      Varanasi is one of the places you have to be very careful. My friend I Was with at the time got pickpocketed at the train station!

  13. Elena May 27, 2014 at 8:15 am - Reply

    That’s probably the most ultimate list I’ve found anywhere! Some of things happened to me too and dealing with all of the drivers is such a pain in the ass. Not all of them are scammy, but most unfortunately are and will try to make extra penny from you.

    One particularly annoying type in Varanasi named a twice higher price upon the arrival and refused to accept the sum we’ve agreed first. I just went along the street and he followed me yelling and demanding more. I walked and walked till he finally came and took what we agreed for.

    • Rachel Jones May 27, 2014 at 7:25 pm - Reply

      Ah, yes Varanasi was the place I found the meanest drivers! It’s hard to shake something like that off, but I’m glad you ended up okay.

  14. Elora May 29, 2014 at 8:12 pm - Reply

    Awesome post! Thanks so much for the tips. I kept thinking, “Oh my gosh, man–I’d be losing my temper with those people! And I rarely lose my cool!” Give them a good example of American vocabulary, likely. ;) I’ll definitely keep this tips in mind.

    • Rachel Jones May 30, 2014 at 10:47 am - Reply

      Sometimes I do lose my temper! It can be really hard.

  15. Hannah Wasielewski June 9, 2014 at 10:24 pm - Reply

    The milk and pens scam is sad! This is a great ultimate list, and I feel like every country has their own version of a taxi scam. It surprises me that you can’t take a prepaid taxi from an airport though, I would have never expected that one!

    • Rachel Jones June 11, 2014 at 7:15 pm - Reply

      It is the saddest scam (the milk and pens). The airport one is annoying, but even at airports here if you’re silly enough to use them to exchange money, they always give you a dollar amount like with a “?” after it… waiting to see if you’ll go for it. They won’t give a receipt! I’ve had to do it in a pickle.

  16. Empty Rucksack June 14, 2014 at 10:33 pm - Reply

    Well done again, there are some new scams in place now, will write about it shortly and tell you :P

  17. Empty Rucksack June 14, 2014 at 10:34 pm - Reply

    Well done again, there are some new scams in place now, will write about it shortly and tell you :P

    You also need some aggression just some fake stuff to show the taxi / hotel guy that you won’t take nonsense and you know how things work.

    But that cannot be taught, one picks it up very easily after a month in india

    • Rachel Jones June 14, 2014 at 11:17 pm - Reply

      Yeah let me in on those scams! I was reading about the touts hiding trolleys in new mumbai terminal lol, so silly! making people pay 20 USD for them. You’re right , I do just that and fake being really serious and strong so they dont try any scams on me. It works now; I hardly ever have problems.

  18. Laura June 16, 2014 at 3:29 am - Reply

    Wow this has really put me off going to India! It would really upset me to be scammed. I think India would bring out the worst in me, I’d probably shout a lot :( but thanks for sharing, this is very useful! I’m going to read some more of your posts now, I’m sure you have a few that will make me want to go to India :D

    • Rachel Jones June 17, 2014 at 2:42 am - Reply

      It’s hard to let it just roll off, but after a couple weeks you start to be able to not react to the mean guys! I hope my other posts make you want to come here :)

  19. Sayali June 18, 2014 at 5:06 pm - Reply

    Rachel,
    I am from India and I have traveled all my life with family and friends in India. I agree with all the above mentioned scams and say it happens everywhere and to everyone (Indian or non-Indian). My parents always told us about any scams they or some they knew had to deal with or some that they read in newspapers. If you are travelling from outside India, I would suggest finding someone from India in your country, somebody who you think could give you best idea about India, and discuss your concern with them. I have helped many of my US friends this way. We stay in touch on phone or Facebook or emails while they are in India. I do the same when I am travelling to any other country or a different region of India.
    Sayali

    • Rachel Jones June 19, 2014 at 12:00 am - Reply

      It’s always good to have conversations with my Indian friends about new places :) I agree it’s important!

  20. Ross August 4, 2014 at 4:25 pm - Reply

    Great advice. I am heading there soon so its good to know some of the scams before I get caught!

  21. Lee October 7, 2014 at 6:07 pm - Reply

    good post. We spent our first afternoon roaming around and got caught in #13.
    We thought a local was being helpful, but he was steering us to a place for shopping.
    We eventually ignored him only to be told by another local of the same place. The second local being from a department store. We went to a CCCI place, seemed a bit shady and empty. We didn’t purchase anything, got back to our hotel and lookcd up the place only to find it was very similar to the original CCCI reputable establishment. Yikes.

    • Rachel Jones October 7, 2014 at 8:47 pm - Reply

      Yikes! I’m sorry that happened to you. India can be a challenge.

  22. valerie January 2, 2015 at 2:52 pm - Reply

    Hi,
    I will be travelling to Kerala (Trivandrum Airport), is there any reliable/safe taxis to take? I have a booking made at hotel.

    Thanks!
    Valerie

    • Rachel Jones January 3, 2015 at 9:44 am - Reply

      When I arrive in Kochi, I take a Meru Cab. I haven’t flown into Trivandrum but would imagine they have Meru too. Most often, hotels will send someone if you ask (even complimentary).

  23. Krishnamurthi February 23, 2015 at 11:09 pm - Reply

    I have a few tips for visitors to India to make your visit less cumbersome.
    1. Visit during winter and never during summer – in many places there are power outages and you’ll find it difficult to travel around
    2. If possible – dye your hair black /brown or wear a wig – there is a tendency to charge more if you’re blonde
    3. Get a SIM as soon as you land – try to get Airtel and also check with the staff in the outlet – how to get free incoming while roaming (out side the mobile circle area) – there are schemes such as Rupees 10 for 2 days of free incoming while roaming.
    4. Preferably come with a smart phone – with GSM capability and do web search and store all numbers in the phone along with notes, etc. So when you come you don’t need to search for anything. Also carry a 230 V, round pin charger
    5. Don’t wear spaghetti tops, exotic clothing, etc. Wear a proper loose fitting light color shirt and full trousers – this will reduce a lot of problem – more revealing the cloths the more rich the tourist – this opinion is somewhat prevalent in many places.
    6. Always wear sun glasses – this way you can observe the person, without that person reading your mind through your eyes.
    7. Medical shops are the best place to buy things – they nowadays sell milk, bread, jam, biscuits, etc. including in some place mobile talk-time recharge – better than any convenient store.
    8. Keep stock of most of the OTC medicines for all most all common problems – like cold /flu, stomach ailments, body pain, cough, etc. most cities have high air pollution.
    9. Establish contact before you land itself – get a friend in hotel itself – so, that person can guide you better in terms of how to reach any place fast, cheaper mode of transport, time, etc.
    10. Today most of the State bus timings, booking counters and their locations are published in the Internet and in some you can also do online booking.
    11. For Rail, one can book online.
    12. Carry an ID other than Pass Port – carry many photo copies of your pass port – only when it is absolutely necessary take out your passport.

    • Rachel Jones February 24, 2015 at 12:07 pm - Reply

      wow that is a comprehensive list – thanks for sharing; you’ll help my readers I’m sure.

  24. MIrosan March 13, 2015 at 5:42 am - Reply

    Thank you so much Rachel. Wow so many things to keep an eye out for. And all the yelling. Hmmmm, I’m not sure I’m all that sold on India all of the sudden, after all, this is what I am running away from when I’m going on a holiday…. :-(

  25. MIrosan March 13, 2015 at 5:44 am - Reply

    but having said all that I am very thankful for your stories and amazing pictures. Very entertaining and tempting.

    Cheers

  26. Arjun August 1, 2015 at 3:01 pm - Reply

    Hello Rachel! Great article! I know it’s somewhat dated at this point but these scams are still at play. I noticed that one of the common scams you have listed relates to drivers (taxis/rickshaws). I started a business precisely to avoid having people get scammed like this and prevent great drivers from getting a bad rep because of the bad apples. Check out http://www.driverji.com and let me know what you think! Thanks – Arjun (Founder)

  27. Sivaramakrishnan October 17, 2015 at 3:12 pm - Reply

    This post is useful for Indians as much as it is useful for non-Indians .

    1) It is often good to use online services like flipkart , Ola , Amazon , for buying even cheap items like soap , shampoo etc . you must use the store(brick and motor) only if you can’t get it online

    2)If you want to register a complaint to police DONT go to the police station , instead register a FIR (First Information Report ) online . Police are the biggest scammers in India !

    3) Its good to come via some agency you trust , like a Christian /Buddhist/Islamic Missionary .
    Its most likely that they will help you as you may donate to them or maybe you are a believer . There is a sense of brotherhood .

    4) Compulsorily wear Indian dresses . Don’t do makeup , No lipstick , etc . Be a Roman in Rome . I’m saying this because you will not look like a foreigner , they will think you live hear for years , so probably they won’t cheat you .

    5) Keep Google in handy ! (select appropriate internet pack ) . The tourist-guide doesn’t know anything . He just tells some nonsense , some fairy tales . Take pictures , use a high quality camera. Remember in some places you have to pay for going with camera . Have the bills/receipts safely .

    6) Its must to go to the webpage of the telecom service provider , and look up your scheme/plan etc.Because 99% of the time the people working in the store (even the head office or the customer care ) wont know the details of the plan .

    7) Use Online cabs like Ola . Use famous ones and read them on Wikipedia .

    If you have succesfully completed your tour in India , without any scams , you can be selected for CIA -FBI etc . They can probably keep this as an entrance test :P

    ADDITIONAL SAFETY :
    If possible have a auto-audio recorder and record all your conversations with strangers/shopkeepers/ drivers .

    EXTRAS TO MAKE TRAVEL CHEAPER : Don’t buy Indian clothes in US or your home country . Buy from a “RELIABLE “,”BIG “mall in India . If you go to the temple you will get extra special attention from the staff there . Its all for your money . Use the Queue that ordinary Indians use .

    LAST TIP :
    If you want to come to India , you have to be like a Indian to survive . It may be difficult to give up luxuries but its an Adventure :)

    • sunil November 17, 2015 at 12:34 pm - Reply

      TRUE TRUE TRUE

  28. venus john November 10, 2015 at 10:52 pm - Reply

    good advice..made me think of the amount of time and energy that goes into avoiding scams..
    about the child beggars..the genuine ones look very poor and I know that they haven’t eaten.i take them to the shop,and get them something to eat..or drink..but make sure they eat in front of me..the scammers also look poor..but not so poor..

    • Rachel Jones November 11, 2015 at 7:42 pm - Reply

      You’ve got it right, it’s good to watch them eat and know they aren’t having it taken away.

  29. Christine Wilhelm November 11, 2015 at 5:59 am - Reply

    A terrible scam is for young street girls to carry opium fed babies around just to stir sympathy to gain maximum baksheesh. Human trafficking is real and will never stop until the money stops. I was instructed several times during my recent visit not to give money to these pitiful girls as they will give any money to their “boss” making their life of misery perpetual. Begging is a business. The baby has been purchased and is drugged so that it does not cry or feel hunger.
    It is hard. It is a comfort to know that India has massive public feeding stations all over India and anyone needing a meal is never denied. Be firm, look away shaking your head no to this dreadful scam.

    • Rachel Jones November 11, 2015 at 7:43 pm - Reply

      You’re exactly right. It’s so hard to say no, but yes babies are bought or borrowed and often drugged. It’s a sad reality.

  30. PANKAJ JANI November 11, 2015 at 4:59 pm - Reply

    Good post… Being an indian I have been through all these scams already… Only rented bike one happent to me in Thailand… Rest in India… But the best part I like is they just cheated me to make some extra bucks still I got all the time wat I want… That’s more important for me…

  31. Mica November 13, 2015 at 8:17 pm - Reply

    Nice that this list got resurrected and it still seems to be true for most of this so I’m bookmarking it for when I get to India next year, traveling solo! I’m excited but when I see lists like these I go UGHHH (but still going!!)

    Thanks for the good tips!

    • Rachel Jones November 14, 2015 at 9:41 am - Reply

      You should definitely still come, and now you’ll be more prepared and ready when a scam comes :)

  32. sunil November 17, 2015 at 12:21 pm - Reply

    I have stayed in mumbai all my life and am still being scammed by the auto drivers, the usual meter is rigged by 10% or 20% which is very difficult to understand unless you are travelling more than 10kms. And all tourist destinations have the same story to tell, from the commissions to the hotel bills, well i guess they don’t have a soft corner for domestic tourists. I had a similar bike episode in goa, where the stand was broken and after a half hour of heated argument we had to pay 200, I am sure i would have had to shell out the cost of the tyre too if it burst, but 3k is a bit higher, the next time we can get the cost checked online. Well and a lot of patience to handle the scammers.

  33. Helel November 19, 2015 at 9:24 pm - Reply

    Hey there Rachel! I’ll be heading to India next month and will be staying there for almost a month. I’ve been binge reading all your India articles and it’s making me feel all sorts of stuff in between worried and excited. Thanks for all the tips and great info. Definitely helped in improving my BS meter :)

    I hope i’ll be able to just laugh and not get frustrated angry when I encounter these (or maybe getting angry is part of the experience? in some good way)

    P.S. got any tips for travelling solo and Couchsurfing in India?

    • Rachel Jones November 20, 2015 at 11:20 am - Reply

      I’m glad it’s helping you! :) I did CS in India and it didn’t go well :( I don’t really recommend here actually unless it’s just for a meet up in a public place, but not staying.

  34. Suraj November 21, 2015 at 8:51 pm - Reply

    Hi,

    You are doing really good . I like your all blogs. Vary help full for all visitors.

  35. Leigh-Ann January 5, 2016 at 3:29 am - Reply

    Thanks for this list. I am going to India in a week, so I feel a little more prepared.

    We are going for our friends’ cultural wedding- any tips?

    • Rachel Jones January 5, 2016 at 10:37 am - Reply

      Oh tell me all about it after – I STILL haven’t been to an Indian wedding. They have always been too far away and too expensive to fly and get hotel :(

  36. Ann M February 22, 2016 at 7:30 pm - Reply

    Travelling get in India for 3 months. Biggest scam in Delhi . Travel agent who organised trip round Rajasthan for 30 days. These companies are very persuasive and Delhi, particularly Connaught place, has people on every corner waiting to divert tourists to one of the ” special government tourist offices” Do not be fooled their only objective is to play on your vulnerability and separate you from your hard earned cash. We payed through the nose to India tourism.com office in Connaught place. The organisation was awful. The hotels were far below the standard we payed for and the driver wanted a tip of 10% of the full amount we payed at the end of his stint. They didn’t give us the hotel names until the very last minute so we couldn’t check on trip advisor and in fact I did refuse to stay in several of the hotels which were absolutely filthy. It should have taken the hassle out of the journey but caused more hassle than we would have encountered if we had organised ourselves. In addition our driver wanted to divert us to every massage parlour, emporium weaver, local guide etc etc where we received an additional hard sales pitch which just added to the stress of the tour. Do not touch these deals with a barge pole! You may encounter some people in Connaught place who tell you that you are being watched by scammers and to avoid these people you should go with them to be safe. This may even involve a police officer who hands you are card to establish his identity. Don’t be fooled this is a scam. I’m afraid sometimes you have to be a bit rude to get rid of people. They count on your politeness at first and I’m sure they can smell a “new tourist”. India is a place of extremes. You encounter the best of people and the worst. Im afraid its inevitable that you will be scammed ( i think i could write a book now) however its important not to beat yourself up about it . Put it down to experience, let it go and keep a sense of humour if you can. You will learn very quickly how to avoid further scams as you go on.

    • Rachel Jones February 22, 2016 at 7:52 pm - Reply

      Absolutely – great description. I’ve gotten emails from girls saying the exact same thing. Thank you for sharing! You’re right that they prey on our politeness.

  37. Nadia March 19, 2016 at 6:22 pm - Reply

    Lol rightly said we got that Pushkar lake rip off
    being Hindu is worst in that area cause we believe it’s all for the good of our lives. We were given the tour and puja and was told to pay 500$ to feed bramhas for a month even got the receipt. I told the tour guide -he was like it’s ok it’s blessings. I said it’s a rip off and a sin to force ppl to pay this $.

    • Rachel Jones March 19, 2016 at 6:58 pm - Reply

      shame that the tour guide was probably in on the scam.

  38. Graeme Duke March 19, 2016 at 9:13 pm - Reply

    Hi! It’s good you are warning travellers about scams in India..it is important to remind travellers not to let their guard down and be complacent..I have been travelling for years and I still find ways to lose money much to my annoyance!!! Well…I have been caught out again( and I haven’t even arrived in in India yet!!!)….I am researching domestic flights at the moment for an upcoming India trip , and even respectable companies are not adverse to scams. I attempted to book a cheap airline ticket from Calcutta to Dimapur for 3200r with indigo directly online.however, typically ( as this very common) they took the cash but then there was a technical problem. You are left without a confirmation and out of pocket ,and a message will pop up saying you will be refunded in 3-5 working days.then , you will face the problem of getting that money back with uncaring staff, delaying tactics, etc.many sites don’t accept international cards so be careful. I wish I had been warned! The problem is that all the airline and travel internet sites are stoneage in design…I think it is a deliberate ploy to extract cash from customers. It is terrible..not only is cash taken but you are left without a ticket.
    For people that have booked expensive flights and packages it can be a nightmare!…a phone call on the day before informing you that flights have been cancelled, or worse,turning up at airports and hotels and discovering the same. You are often left with no alternative other than buy more expensive flights on the spot or you face a cancelled holiday and exhorbitant cancellation fees. I wish I was exaggerating here…but it’s sad that in the internet age ,practically all Indian travel and airlines online are employing these scans, so there is little one can do…they are all scamming. I am now faced with long train journeys..when I wanting to take an ocassional flight due to time constraints. I can’t take the risk losing more money! It is a sad state of affairs…not just for tourists but for Indians too who have been treated so badly ( most of the complaints are from Indians online ) I just want to warn tourists to be aware that while there are many cheap budget flights, the booking and payment processes are very backwards, and you will probably be left without tickets and out of pocket.Sleep easy and take the train instead…

    • Rachel Jones March 21, 2016 at 12:10 pm - Reply

      I have not heard of this so thank you for sharing. I hope that it can help other readers not have the same issue! :)

  39. Ross Evers April 11, 2016 at 11:54 am - Reply

    Nice post very helpful :) But forgot the people at the jewellery shops that sometimes scam people :s

  40. Meg June 4, 2016 at 6:27 pm - Reply

    So approximately how many rupees should I expect to pay in India (Varanasi) for a real Pashmina? Cotton pants? Cotton tunic?

    • Rachel Jones June 4, 2016 at 6:34 pm - Reply

      I haven’t bought a real pashmina so not sure – a cotton tunic and pants could be maybe $40 a piece if they are nice. You don’t get cotton that often – usually it’s polyester

  41. Shantelle June 10, 2016 at 8:14 pm - Reply

    I enjoyed the part about being charged for everything. I got very ill on a solo trip to India and ended up leaving a week early. Whilst in the airport, unable to remove my self from the toilet to put it politely and sobbing my heart out, a cleaning lady came and asked if I was ok. I explained I was just sick. When I came out of the cubicle a while later she was still there. I washed my hands and she handed me a piece of tissue, to which I said thank you and turned to leave. At this point she got angry and started demanding I gave her money for the tissue. It’s fair to say after 2 months travelling alone and a few days of being toilet/bed bound I was not amused. I’ve loved reading this blog. It’s made me want to go back to India and try again!

    • Rachel Jones June 11, 2016 at 3:18 pm - Reply

      That sounds so frustrating! I hate when that happens.. you think aww this little auntie cares about me that I’m sick then you realize they want money and probably don’t give a rats’ ass!

  42. Vivek June 28, 2016 at 3:41 am - Reply

    Good article, being indian i can say most of these are true if you are foreigner, and rachel u observed things very minutely

  43. Maria Edwards August 21, 2016 at 9:14 pm - Reply

    Hello! I’m planning to spend New Year’s in India. I just have no idea what city would be the option to be at. Do all these things happen at good hotels, too? I’m just a little afraid to go now, even though I love traveling and living new cultures. Also, if I only have 15 days for my trip, what are the best cities you recommend me to visit? Thank you so very much!

    • Rachel Jones August 22, 2016 at 9:09 am - Reply

      Hi Marcia! Don’t be afraid :) These are things that COULD happen but some people travel for months and don’t face any scams :) it’s just to give you a heads up what to watch for.

  44. patrick September 30, 2016 at 11:11 am - Reply

    Rachel, I’m flying to dehli in about a month.. ill be there for 28 days… the main issue I’m concerned with is how to travel with my money. should I keep it on my card and use trusted atm’s, or should I carry all my cash with me in a safe location. Also, I plan on visiting Darjiling, have you been?

  45. Anne December 21, 2016 at 3:09 am - Reply

    Am in Delhi at the moment and experienced something else to watch out for. I researched restaurants on TripAdvisor etc before coming and had a list of ones I wanted to try. We have a high-end agency arranging things for us, including a car and driver and guide – I wanted to splurge and avoid some of the problems you described! Anyway, this afternoon I named some of the restaurants and the guide shook his head. “I have to warn you that those restaurants are not certified.” What’s that? “The government tracks complaints and illlness and keeps a list of the cleanest best restaurants. You should go to those. I can recommend some.” Well, my husband is convinced we are all going to get sick and said, OK. We ended up at a not-horrible-but-sort-of-depressing tourist restaurant – which our fancy guide clearly got a cut from. I checked later that night and – unless I was misinformed – there is no government list of clean restaurants. Not a big problem but just passing this along.

    • Rachel Jones December 21, 2016 at 12:09 pm - Reply

      Thanks for sharing – the lies can sometimes be so believable!

  46. David from travelscams.org March 13, 2017 at 5:21 pm - Reply

    Thanks for sharing Rachel! Really well written with your detailed real life experiences, shows your years of experience in the country :) If I can add on to the list for anyone heading to India, do be wary of the “government approved tourist offices”, because many are fake! For instance, they could have “approved” in such small font/unreadable corners that you might think that they are “government tourist offices”, when they are not.

  47. Genny Turay March 13, 2017 at 5:35 pm - Reply

    Hi Rachel, Wonderful blog, I have got so much inspiration from this. Starting to panic, we had to push our trip back a few weeks due to work commitments and now we are flying out on 23rd March for a month and heading to Goa and Kerala, is this a bad idea due to weather and will things still be open? we wanted to avoid things being too busy but hopefully this isn’t too late? What are your experiences of the wether then. Thanks so much :)

    • Rachel Jones March 14, 2017 at 9:58 am - Reply

      Hey genny – check out this post on Goa monsoon in goa (kerala will be similar in tourist areas only, but okay in most of Kerala!)

  48. Bhaskar Dihingia March 31, 2017 at 2:53 pm - Reply

    Awesome post. Just adding to the tips… While you are being nagged by all those touts, know that there are (too many) options for everything in India. If the hotel reception, driver, etc. does not agree to the price, instead of arguing, just say, “I will try someplace else then” and walk on. He may start claiming on his dead mother that you wont find anything for your price, but just walk on.. In 2 minutes, you will see the fastest change in tone, behaviour and price! Once he is sure that you are actually leaving, he will agree to even polishing your shoes. Understand one thing.. those pleas for mercy, those sarcasms, those veiled threats and that anger shown are trained theatrics. Stay calm and stay the course! Happy Indian Holidays! (drama is inevitable in India)

    • Rachel Jones March 31, 2017 at 5:47 pm - Reply

      Ha, I love your humor! You’re so right with they bit where they swear you’ll never find a lower price lol :p

  49. Ashok May 10, 2017 at 5:48 pm - Reply

    Dear Jones,
    Greetings!!!
    Thanking for the information, also please write one detailed article related to tourist guide fraudulent in Tamil Nadu, India. Most of them full of many minded, also they will not maintain proper time for their guidance they always hurry to finish & look for anther guest to make more money even if you see most of the guide license are expired in TN. Also they try to sell some products on hire from the neighbouring shops the monuments, most of them are do unethical behavior, please do to make aware of traveler,

    Thanks

  50. Kenneth Eugenia Stoico September 21, 2017 at 2:35 pm - Reply

    Great blog. Leaving for Delhi in November. Currently in China. btw your dear Buckeyes took a beating from the Sooners last week. Go Blue ! I can by zithro otc here in China. I think I’ll take some with me…the Dengue Fever sounds serious.

    • Rachel Jones September 22, 2017 at 12:16 pm - Reply

      Poor Buckeyes! – and yes, Dengue is serious, it’s so rough!

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