Travelling To India For The First Time? Here Are Some Handy Tips To Avoid Scams

Travelling in India can be an enriching experience, but being aware of common scams and knowing how to avoid them will help ensure your trip is safe
Tips To Avoid Scams For Foreigners/Representational
Tips To Avoid Scams For Foreigners/RepresentationalShutterstock

From the bustling streets of Delhi to the beaches of Goa and from the Himalayas to the backwaters of Kerala, India offers a plethora of experiences for every kind of traveller. However, like any popular tourist destination, India has its share of scams targeting unsuspecting visitors. Being aware of these scams and knowing how to avoid them can ensure that your trip to India is safe, enjoyable, and memorable for all the right reasons.

Taxis And Auto Rickshaws

One of the most common scams in India involves taxis and auto-rickshaws. Drivers may quote exorbitant prices, take longer routes, or claim that your hotel is closed or fully booked to take you to a different hotel, where they receive a commission.

How to Avoid:

  • Always use prepaid taxi services available at airports and major train stations.

  • Use ride-hailing apps like Uber or Ola to get a fair estimate of the fare.

  • If you’re hailing a taxi or rickshaw off the street, insist on using the meter or agree on a fare beforehand.

Tips To Avoid Scams For Foreigners/Representational
Tips To Avoid Scams For Foreigners/RepresentationalShutterstock

Fake Ticket Offices And Guides

Scammers often set up fake ticket offices near tourist attractions, offering overpriced or counterfeit tickets. Similarly, unauthorised guides may approach you, claiming to provide faster entry.

How to Avoid:

  • Purchase tickets only from official counters or websites.

  • Hire guides through reputable travel agencies or your hotel.

  • Verify guide credentials, as official guides usually carry identification.

Gem Scams

In cities like Jaipur, tourists are sometimes approached with offers to buy gemstones at bargain prices. The scam often involves elaborate stories about how these gems can be sold for a profit in your home country.

How to Avoid:

  • Be sceptical of any unsolicited offers involving valuable items.

  • Buy jewellery and gemstones only from reputable, well-established stores.

  • Research prices and ensure you are getting certification for any purchase.

Overpriced Goods And Services

Tourists are often quoted inflated prices for goods and services, including souvenirs, clothing, and food. This can happen in markets, shops, and even restaurants.

How to Avoid:

  • Always negotiate prices in markets and with street vendors.

  • Familiarise yourself with local prices to avoid being overcharged.

  • Choose restaurants with menus displaying prices to avoid surprises.

Hotel Scams

Some common hotel scams include offering a different room than the one booked, claiming the hotel is full and redirecting you to another location, or adding hidden charges to your bill.

How to Avoid:

  • Book your accommodations through reputable websites or travel agencies.

  • Confirm your booking directly with the hotel before arrival.

  • Always check your bill carefully for any unauthorised charges.

Tips To Avoid Scams For Foreigners/Representational
Tips To Avoid Scams For Foreigners/RepresentationalShutterstock

Train Ticket Scams

India’s railway system can be confusing for first-time visitors, and scammers often take advantage of this. Common scams include fake ticket sellers, touts claiming you need a special pass, or offers to “help” with your booking for a fee.

How to Avoid:

  • Book train tickets directly through the official Indian Railways website or app.

  • Use authorised travel agents or your hotel’s concierge service for assistance.

  • Be cautious of anyone offering unsolicited help at train stations.

Pickpocketing And Theft

Crowded areas such as markets, train stations, and tourist attractions are prime spots for pickpockets. Thieves often work in groups and use distractions to steal your belongings.

How to Avoid:

  • Keep your valuables secure and out of sight.

  • Use a money belt or hidden pouch for important documents and cash.

  • Stay vigilant, especially in crowded areas and during interactions with strangers.

Fortune-Telling Scams

You may be approached by people claiming to be holy men, offering blessings, or predicting your future for a fee. Often, they will ask for money or offer to sell you trinkets for protection.

How to Avoid:

  • Be wary of unsolicited offers of spiritual services.

  • Politely decline and walk away.

  • If interested in a cultural experience, seek out reputable sources or recommendations.

Fake Travel Agencies

Fake travel agencies and touts may offer to book tours, tickets, or other services, only to disappear with your money or provide substandard services.

How to Avoid:

  • Use well-known, reputable travel agencies.

  • Check reviews and ratings online before making any bookings.

  • Be cautious of anyone offering deals that seem too good to be true.

ATM And Card Skimming Scams

Card skimming is a risk at ATMs and even in some stores. Scammers can clone your card and steal your funds.

How to Avoid:

  • Use ATMs located in banks or reputable hotels.

  • Cover the keypad when entering your PIN.

  • Monitor your bank statements regularly for any unauthorised transactions.

Shop Commission Scams

Drivers or guides may take you to specific shops where they receive a commission on your purchases, often resulting in inflated prices.

How to Avoid:

  • Be firm about where you want to go and avoid being redirected to unfamiliar shops.

  • Shop around and compare prices before making a purchase.

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