Colorful and marvelous at every turn, India resembles a vast kaleidoscope with its diverse regions and exotic landscape.

India’s sheer size offers magical conquests for all types of travelers. Serene getaways such as tea plantations in Darjeeling and hill stations of Kerala await visitors seeking complete relaxation. The Himalayan Mountains is the Holy Grail to avid climbers who yearn to conquer the world’s highest mountain range, while Goa’s beaches have become one of the surfing meccas in India’s West Coast.

The country is home to almost a billion people, who collectively speak in numerous languages and practice various traditions and faiths. One thing is for sure, though: the people of India have a deeply rooted respect for their spiritual beliefs, be it Hinduism, Christianity, Buddhism, Sikhism, or Islam. Thus, it pays to observe proper behavior and wear decent clothing when visiting religious sites.

The richness of Indian culture can be seen in its 18 official languages and thousands of dialects. Don’t be surprised to find movies in 15 languages or newspapers in more than 90 dialects. Schools in India, after all, teach more than 50 different languages. However, Hindi and Bengali remain the most widely spoken of all their local languages. English, too, is an official language, owing to the country’s history as a former British colony.

India’s history dates back to nearly 5,000 years. It is almost inevitable that throughout its existence, India has seen political and tribal conflicts, some of which continue to this day. Therefore, some areas are best left unexplored for Westerners; these areas include Jammu, Kashmir, Manipur, Imphal, and Srinagar. Extra caution should also be observed in large cities, especially in public places, due to the recent spate of terrorist attacks.

Before you go to India, check the latest travel advisories to make sure your travels around India will be safe and secure. It helps to have the latest vaccinations against infectious diseases, especially when traveling to rural areas.

If you are carrying electrical appliances with you, be advised that electricity in India runs on 240 volts and 50 hertz. Outlets are generally made for plugs with two round pins or three round pins arranged in triangular form.