Everyone who has ever been to India agrees on one thing – it is a journey that will change you.
This mystical and wonderful country full of contrasts leaves no one indifferent.
Some realize as soon as they land that India is not their cup of tea, but others (of whom there are many more) fall in love with this country and its unusual way of life from the first moment and wish to return to it as soon as possible.
Whether after your trip you realize to belong to the disappointed or delighted group, if you are traveling to India for the first time, many things will undoubtedly surprise you and probably shock you.
Even thousands of pages of read texts about India cannot prepare you for some of the things you will experience and see in this country.
India is a country with an incredible amount of cultural and historical treasures, but also a country where it is pretty common to come across a landfill on the street.
This country is home to unimaginably wealthy billionaires and millions of homeless people facing severe poverty.
There are many highly educated people in this country, but also many illiterate people.
In New Delhi and other big cities, you will be greeted by the spirit of a modern, bustling metropolis, but you will also come across villages without water or electricity.
Traffic in India is also a big shock to most western tourists as there seem to be no rules, so simply crossing the street is considered a dangerous adventure.
On the other hand, this land has imposing buildings and incredible natural beauty. There are dozens of national parks and hundreds of wildlife sanctuaries in India.
India is huge, and you can see and experience many different things.
The experience differs depending on whether you travel to the snowy mountains of the north, the dreamy beaches of Goa, the wilderness, or the urban jungle of New Delhi.
Most tourists who go to India for the first time opt for the Golden Triangle, which includes New Delhi, Agra, and Jaipur.
Although your preparations and list of essentials will depend on the time of year and the part of India you visit, one thing is sure. The main thing you need to bring is an open mind and a willingness to adventure.
Climate of India
Considering the country’s size and colorful geography, India’s climate is also very diverse.
The Himalayas and the Thar Desert mainly influence it.
When discussing the weather in India, we always think of heat first.
Indeed, summers in much of India are extremely hot, with temperatures reaching as high as 45°C (113°F) in some regions.
However, some parts of India, such as the northern mountainous regions, are also prone to extreme cold. For example, a record low temperature of -45°C (-49°F) was recorded in Kashmir.
Most of the country has a tropical climate, although due to many microclimates and variations in different parts of the country, one cannot speak of a unique Indian climate.
There are four seasons in India.
Summer lasts from March to June and brings the heat.
After summer comes the period of monsoon rains that lasts until September. At this time of year, the east and southwest of the country are the best destinations because they are drier than central and northeastern India.
October and November are the post-monsoon seasons.
Winter lasts from December to February and brings the most pleasant weather to most of the country.
Except for the extreme north of the country, where it is cold and snowy at this time of the year, India is sunny and rainless during these months.
What to Wear in India?
Although this question is not easy to give a simple answer to, as your clothing will depend on which part of the country you are traveling to and at what time of year, there are some basic principles that you should follow.
First, you must be aware that India is primarily conservative, and tourists must follow local dress codes.
Modest and conservative clothing is also expected of men, but it is still far more important for women.
If you don’t want to offend the locals or attract unwanted attention, forget the western dress code and conform to the Indian dress code.
Wear clothing that covers cleavage, shoulders, and legs (especially thighs).
Clothing that is too revealing, short, and tight is unacceptable in India.
Avoid tank tops, spaghetti strap tops, backless tops, mini skirts, shorts, or anything else that reveals too much skin.
Swimsuits are only acceptable on the beach, and even then, you are expected to wear a cover-up or a loose top over them.
Although it may seem very challenging to bear the Indian heat with such a strict dress code, breathable and loose-fitting clothes will help you feel comfortable and still comply with the rules.
Choose from baggy T-shirts and linen shirts, baggy full-length or below-the-knee pants, and maxi dresses.
During the rainy season, the most important thing is to bring an umbrella and a light raincoat.
There is a risk of malaria in some regions of India, which is all the more reason to choose long-sleeved clothing.
Suppose you’re traveling to India in winter. In that case, much of the country will have pleasant weather, so you’ll feel comfortable in light clothing, with an extra layer if necessary in the evenings.
However, prepare for low and cold temperatures if you travel to the country’s north and higher altitudes. Pack layered clothing, thermal underwear, a warm jacket, hat, scarf, and gloves.
Dressing Tips for Women
As we said before, modesty is the basic rule of dressing in India.
Avoid all clothing that reveals too much skin or clings to your body, and choose loose-fitting, long-sleeved clothing.
Airy, loose shirts and long skirts are a great way to fit the expected look and protect yourself from the sun and mosquitoes.
Don’t overstuff your luggage with clothes. Clothes are very cheap in India, so you can buy anything you need when you arrive. It is also a great way to find suitable garments and look more like a local.
Traditional Indian clothes are also good; you can get them at every turn. In addition to being worn during your travels, saris, churidars, and kurtas are also beautiful souvenirs to take home.
Do your research and prepare for the religious sites you plan to visit. Customs and rules vary from temple to temple, but in all of them, the rule is that you must cover your shoulders and knees and leave your shoes outside.
In addition, in some temples, you cannot enter with leather items, such as belts or purses, while in others, you can enter only with your head covered.
For winter, prepare a sweater or a light jacket because even though it is warm during the day, temperatures drop in the evening.
Bring warm clothes if you plan to go to the northern mountains in winter because the temperatures drop below freezing.
Dressing Tips for Men
Men are also expected to dress conservatively in India, but the rules are somewhat more liberal than for women.
Men should also avoid tank tops, shorts, and tight clothing that shows off their muscles.
Also, avoid any religious symbols, inscriptions, or images on T-shirts that could be interpreted as an insult to local customs and traditions.
T-shirts, shirts, and loose-fitting pants in knee length, below the knee, or full length are recommended.
During the rainy season, don’t forget to pack a light waterproof jacket or raincoat.
Between December and February, in addition to summer clothes, pack a thin sweater, sweatshirt, or light jacket for cool evenings.
If you are traveling to the Himalayas or Kashmir, you will need warm winter clothes during the winter.
Footwear for Visiting India
The most important thing is to choose comfortable shoes because you will probably do a lot of walking in India.
Sandals are a good choice, especially for the hottest part of the year.
You can also choose comfortable sneakers or slip-on shoes.
If you are traveling during the monsoon season, opt for waterproof footwear.
For mountainous areas, choose good quality and comfortable hiking boots or shoes.
What to Wear to an Indian Wedding?
If you have received an Indian wedding invitation, it is a beautiful opportunity to attend a magnificent ceremony where you can see traditional customs. Also, it’s an opportunity to dress up and show respect for Indian culture.
An essential aspect of choosing clothes for an Indian wedding is color, as guests are expected to wear bright hues.
Generally, you can select any color except red and black. While black is considered inappropriate for a wedding, red is usually reserved for the bride.
Guests may, but don’t have to, wear traditional Indian clothing.
Men may wear a long top called a sherwani.
Women can opt for a saree, which is a single piece, or a lehenga, which is made up of a long skirt and top.
Different traditional clothes are preferred in various parts of India, but you can’t go wrong with any choice.
However, instead of traditional Indian clothes, guests can wear other formal and elegant clothes.
Women can opt for a cocktail dress or jumpsuit, and men for a pantsuit.
Accessories are also an important part of outfits for women, so feel free to add earrings, a necklace, or bracelets.
Sometimes weddings in India involve religious ceremonies that require special dress codes, so ask what is expected of you ahead of time.
What to Wear in India in January?
The weather in January is excellent in India.
Much of the country is warm but not hot, and most regions are not expecting rain.
Suppose you’re traveling to the Golden Triangle, central India, or Mumbai. The weather will be perfect for sightseeing and activities during the day, while cooler weather is expected at night and early morning hours.
In New Delhi, for example, daytime highs are around 18°C (64°F), while nighttime temperatures can drop as low as 7°C (45°F).
During the day, you can wear T-shirts, pants, long skirts, and long sleeves.
You will need slightly warmer clothes, a sweater or a light jacket in the evening.
On the other hand, if you are traveling to the Goa region or elsewhere in the south of India, you can expect warm days of up to 30°C (86°F), so you can bring light and summer clothes. Ensure it’s not too revealing to stay consistent with the Indian dress code.
In the far north and at higher altitudes, temperatures in January are pretty cold, usually below 10°C (50°F), so prepare warm winter clothes.
These areas are mostly covered in snow in January and look stunning, but bring a hat, scarf, gloves, and a winter jacket to enjoy the view while staying warm.
What to Wear in India in February?
February is a great month to go to India as the weather in most of the country is still very pleasant and dry. The conditions are ideal for abundant and exploring the surroundings.
February’s weather is similar to January’s, so temperatures vary throughout the country, from low in the far north to moderate in most of the country and high in the south.
Rain is not expected during February, so you don’t need to bring an umbrella and rain gear.
For the south, prepare light summer clothes; for central India and the Golden Triangle, spring clothes and slightly warmer wear for cold evenings and mornings.
You will visit many tourist attractions early in the morning to avoid crowds, so it is a good idea to have a sweater or light jacket handy.
If you plan a trip to the north, equip yourself with warmer clothes. The higher altitudes you travel to, the warmer clothing you will need.
What to Wear in India in March?
March is the beginning of summer in India, the hot and dry season, so temperatures are starting to rise all over the country.
However, in most parts of the country, it is still pleasant, especially compared to the coming months when it will be scorching.
Goa is already quite warm, with an average of 28°C (82°F). However, during the hottest part of the day, temperatures reach 33°C (91°F) and drop to around 23°C (73°F) at night.
If you plan to enjoy the beach, bring swimsuits and cover-ups. Off the beach, opt for airy and light clothing that doesn’t reveal too much skin.
In New Delhi, the daily average is a pleasant 22°C (72°F), but on some days, the temperature can rise to 28°C (82°F).
It would be best if you packed T-shirts, airy shirts, loose-fitting pants, and skirts. Remember sun protection – sunscreen, hat, and sunglasses.
Nighttime lows drop to 15°C (59°F), so you may still need a sweater in the evening or early morning.
It’s a good idea also to pack a pashmina or buy a traditional Indian shawl. It will come in handy to keep you warm in the evening, and during the day, it can protect you from the sun.
In the north, it is still colder than in the rest of the country but warmer than in previous months. So autumn or spring clothes will suit you, with the occasional need for a light jacket.
What to Wear in India in April?
India is warming up, so this time of year can get quite hot in some regions.
April is a great month to go to the far north because the weather there is spring-like at this time, so you can enjoy light clothes without getting too hot.
April is also suitable for going to the beaches in southern India, where the average daily temperature is 29°C (84°F), with highs around 33°C (91°F).
It is often boiling in big cities, so it is a challenge to choose clothes. New Delhi, for example, has a daily average of 29°C (84°F), but during the day, temperatures rise to 36°C (97°F). UV levels are also very high, so do your best to seek shade.
Choose as light clothing as possible, with mandatory protection from the sun in the form of sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat.
In addition, choose loose-fitting clothes in which you will sweat less. Although long sleeves don’t sound like the best choice in this heat, they can help protect you from the sun.
What to Wear in India in May?
May is even hotter than April, so traveling to some parts of India during this month can be pretty challenging.
The Far North is a good destination in May as the average temperature is around 20°C (68°F), so you’ll feel comfortable in T-shirts, shirts, and baggy pants.
It is hot in the country’s south, with the possibility of short-term showers, so don’t forget your umbrella.
It’s best to avoid New Delhi and other major cities in the Golden Triangle region, as it is uncomfortably hot at 40°C (104°F).
However, if you decide to travel to these parts, you will be pleased with the low accommodation prices.
Make sure you drink enough water and apply plenty of sunscreens.
Choose the lightest pieces of clothing made of cotton and linen.
It might surprise you that even at this time of year in India, you might need a sweater or hoodie, but if you’re traveling on overnight trains, be sure to pack them.
Due to the intense heat, many places in India, including public transport, are air-conditioned.
Unfortunately, the temperatures are often set very low, so you may find yourself uncomfortably cold if you don’t have an extra layer of clothing handy.
What to Wear in India in June?
In June, the heat continues, and the monsoon season arrives in large parts of the country.
It will be most pleasant in the far north, at high altitudes.
If you are traveling to Mumbai and central India, prepare for rain. You will need light clothes that dry quickly.
Goa will be hot with heavy rains, so bring a waterproof jacket.
What to Wear in India in July?
Monsoon season is in full swing, and in many regions of India, it rains for hours every day. As a result, many local roads will be flooded and impassable.
Regardless of the rain, it is extremely hot, especially in the interior of India.
On the south coast, it averages 28°C (82°F), and you can occasionally hope for a refreshing breeze combined with heavy and frequent showers.
If you are going to the Himalayas, prepare a raincoat and waterproof shoes.
What to Wear in India in August?
The monsoon season is still going on, but there is less rain than in July.
During August, the best choice is the Indian Himalayan states because although there are showers, the temperatures are moderately warm compared to the rest of India. You will need summer clothes and the obligatory umbrella and raincoat.
Central India is highly humid, and showers are expected daily, making many activities, such as visiting national parks, inaccessible.
It is still hot in New Delhi and the Golden Triangle region but more pleasant than in previous months.
Temperatures range from 28 to 35°C (82-95°F), and there is less rainfall than in other areas. Choose linen or cotton, breathable and loose-fitting clothing.
In the coastal regions, many short showers bring relief from the heat. There will be time for the beach and days when you will be limited to indoor activities.
Pack summer clothes and rain gear.
What to Wear in India in September?
The monsoon season is slowly passing, and the heaviest rains are over, but it still rains occasionally.
However, September is a good month to visit India.
In the southern coastal regions, you’ll be able to enjoy the beach as daytime temperatures range from 27 to 31°C (81-88°F).
It will be slightly warmer in New Delhi, with a maximum temperature of 33°C (91°F), but still much more pleasant than in previous months.
Prepare lightweight T-shirts, shirts, pants, and skirts.
What to Wear in India in October?
If you are traveling to India in October, you will be pleased as this is when you can choose between different regions.
India is in the post-monsoon season, and the heaviest rains are over.
In the Himalayas and the far north, pleasant days await, with averages around 20°C (68°F). You’ll be comfortable in your spring wear, and bring a few warmer pieces to keep you warm if it gets cold in the evening.
It will be warmer in the south, with highs of 33°C (91°F) and lows of 25°C (77°F).
The weather is ideal for T-shirts, summer pants, skirts, and dresses. Off the beach, choose more modest models that cover the knees, shoulders, and cleavage.
New Delhi has a pleasant 25°C (77°F), with slightly higher temperatures during the hottest part of the day.
Nighttime temperatures drop to 19°C (66°F), so mornings and evenings are perfect for enjoying a walk.
What to Wear in India in November?
November is definitely one of the best months to visit India.
It is sunny throughout the country without much precipitation.
If you prefer cooler weather, we recommend higher altitudes and the far north, where average temperatures are around 15°C (59°F) in November.
Bring long-sleeved clothes and some warmer clothes to keep you warm in the mornings and evenings.
If you’re a sun lover, choose southern India, where November averages around 28°C (82°F).
In New Delhi, the daily average is 20°C (68°F), but the daily maximum is 27°C (81°F).
Nighttime temperatures, however, drop to 13°C (55°F). Therefore, to adapt to different parts of the day, bring summer clothes, hoodies, sweaters, and a light jacket.
What to Wear in India in December?
Christmas vacation in India? It could be a great idea!
It is cool in the far north, averaging about 12°C (54°F) at higher elevations and about 25°C (77°F) at lower elevations.
In the lower altitudes of northern India, you can still wear spring clothes for most of the day, but you’ll need extra warm layers in the mornings and evenings.
At higher altitudes, there is usually already snow at this time of the year, and you need winter clothes, thermal underwear, a coat, scarf, hat, and gloves.
The weather is perfect for sightseeing and walking in New Delhi and inland.
The maximum daytime temperature is 21°C (70°F), ideal for T-shirts, shirts, light hoodies, and trousers. However, nighttime temperatures can drop as low as 8°C (46°F), so pack warm clothes.
Goa and the rest of South India stay warm, averaging 27°C (81°F), so pack your summer clothes and enjoy the sun.
What Else to Pack for India?
If this is your first trip to this exciting country, consider whether you want to carry a suitcase or a backpack.
Experienced travelers recommend a backpack as a more practical option, but the decision is up to you.
In any case, the essential recommendation is not to carry too many things. To save space in your luggage, you can use practical packing cubes.
If you still decide on a suitcase, bring a daypack for all your daily necessities, such as a water bottle, cooling towel, insect spray, or a camera.
Among the essential toiletries, pack hand sanitizer, wet wipes, and dry shampoo. It can easily happen that there is not enough hot water in your accommodation, and this shampoo will be very helpful.
Pack a first aid kit and medicines you usually take on trips. It is good to bring rehydration powder, especially if you are traveling during the summer.
Mosquito spray is also a must when traveling to India.
Bring your sun gear – hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen. In big cities, the concentration of smog can sometimes make it seem like you don’t need sunscreen, but the harmful effects of the sun are still there.
The cooling towel is also handy, easy to pack, and does not take up much space.
Depending on the time of year, bring rain gear.
If you want to avoid buying bottled water, pack a bottle with a filter, as tap water in India is unsafe.
India is considered a safe destination where you are less likely to be robbed. However, don’t carry large amounts of cash. Make copies of the documents and carry them along with the money in your neck wallet to keep them safe.
Feel free to bring the tech you need, and don’t forget spare batteries, as you may not find suitable ones easily in India. Also, don’t forget a portable charger and power adapter.