Before traveling to India, I braced myself for the possible unpleasant encounters with misogyny and utter poverty I often heard from news. Some said, expect people to poo by the road. Yeah, we saw that. Even stepped onto one in Old Delhi. Expect to be tailed. Yes, we experienced that. Expect to be groped. Hmm, that I did not experience, but I experienced my boob being elbowed, my butt touched. Intentionally? I would not know.

We expected and prepared for the worst.

But surprise, surprise! There are actually many places in India that are women-friendly, places that make you feel comfortable of showing a bit of skin, places whose men are kind and polite, places that I can explore with fellow female friends and places that I have the confidence to travel solo if given the chance.

Here are five that I could recommend.

OUR 26-DAY DAY INDIA TRIP ROUTE: DELHI-AGRA-VARANASI-DARJEELING-KOLKATA-KERALA


IMPORTANT NOTE: Check your country’s visa requirements for India. For Austrians and Filipinos, you can apply for your e-visa beforehand. Kindly follow the instructions on the link. The visa fee is USD50.00. We got ours within 24 hours upon the submission of our visa application.


Darling Darjeeling

Indeed it is. When we made it to Darjeeling, I thought we were not in India anymore. Locals look different from the ones in New Delhi, Agra, and Varanasi. Most of them have small eyes like mine. They dress like I do. And the people despite the cold temperature are very warm. We got invited for a home-cooked meal dinner in a Punjab family’s home!

Tiger Hill, Darjeeling, IndiaTiger Hill, Darjeeling, India. Photo by Ed Shoote

THINGS TO DO

  • Trek around its tea plantations
  • Visit the public zoo that houses various big cats such as snow leopard and Bengal tiger (You can always skip this. ☺)
  • Squeeze a day trip to Kalimpong
  • During sunny days, go for long hikes
  • Stuff yourself with marvelous momo (their version of a dumpling), pork, and beef! Oh yes, pork and beef are available!
  • Ride the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, a UNESCO heritage!


WHERE TO STAY

Midrange Hotels:
Himalayan Resort-Darjeeling is an awesome choice in this mountainous city.
Villa Everest guarantees a pleasant and a comfortable stay in the heart of the city.

Budget Hotels:

Golden Orchid: The Lodge (we stayed here) is a budget inn, the room did not have a heater, but it did have a hot shower. It is a bit of walk from the center. But overall, our stay was pleasant.
Hotel Dezong offers quality accommodation and great service for an affordable price.

WHAT TO WEAR: Most locals wear layered (because brrrrr) western clothes.


Seeking Sikkim 

Sikkim was supposed to be our destination after our three-night stay in Darjeeling. But we traveled to this part of India in its odd version of summer: rainy and cold. So we aborted our plan and went to Kolkata instead. But our stay in Darjeeling was, for us, enough evidence that northern India breaks away from the stereotypical misogynist image of this subcontinent. Northern India is the perfect destination for adventure seekers and nature lovers.

A scene inside a temple in Namchi, Sikkim. Photo by Бирюков Юрий

A scene inside a temple in Namchi, Sikkim. Photo by Бирюков Юрий

THINGS TO DO

  • Trek to Zuluk
  • Trek to Tsomgo Lake
  • Trek to Gurudongmar Lake
  • Trek to Nathula Pass

WHERE TO STAY

Midrange Hotels
While lodging at The Apple Orchard Resort, guests can enjoy 24-hour security, daily housekeeping, express check-in/check-out, luggage storage, car park.
At Golden Valley Lachung Residence, the excellent service and superior facilities make for an unforgettable stay.

Budget Hotels
Hotel Dragon Inn is a great choice for accommodation when visiting Gangtok.
Built in 2010, Mayal Retreat is a distinct addition to Gangtok and a smart choice for travelers.


Calculating Kolkata

Haha! The wordplay is not as good. But yeah, on my calculation, Calcutta (Kolkata) is not a bad choice. We walked most of time and let out tongue explore a lot of street food. Tobi enjoyed the food scene more than I did. There was a huge farmer’s market within the neighborhood, and we loved it a lot. We spent all our mornings there, buying all-time favorite tropical fruits and sampling different teas along the street (Tobi’s hobby in India). This city is for architecture and market lovers. Most streets are peopled, and the men do not rudely stare. They are helpful and fascinated with our fascination towards their food.

Victoria Memorial, Calcutta, India. Photography by Adrian Pope

Victoria Memorial, Calcutta, India. Photography by Adrian Pope

  • THINGS TO DO

  • Walk around the Victoria Memorial Hall
  • Admire St. Paul’s Cathedral’s interior
  • Take photos of the Esplanade
  • Visit Birla Temple (a bit far from the city center)
  • Pay homage to Kalighat Kali Temple (a bit far from the city center)
  • Visit the Writers’ Building
  • Buy some more fruits in the morning farmer’s market near Doctor Lane
  • Haggle at the night market. Bought some accessories here.

WHAT TO WEAR: Loose dresses and scarfs. Leggings paired with loose shirts or blouses.


It is all right not to be all right. #calcutta #india #sheisnotlost #sheisbeautiful #travelootd

A post shared by Backpacking with a Book (@backpackingwithabook) on


WHERE TO STAY

Midrange Hotels
The Astor Hotel Kolkata is the perfect place to experience Kolkata and its surrounding places.
Swissotel Kolkata can assure great food, comfort, safety, and relaxation.

Budget Hotels
Georgian Inn (we stayed here) is a family-owned gated budget inn at Doctor Lane, 1.6km away from Sealdah Train Station. There is free WiFi in the lobby.
Royal Guest House & Service Apartment offers free breakfast and free WiFi in its rooms.


Carefree Kerala

Among the four places we have been to, it was only in Kerala that I had the guts to show my legs during our rounds in wet markets and our walks around the neighborhood. For a moment, I felt overdressed. But the locals seemed more accepting of our differences more than anywhere else in India. So yes, I felt very comfortable with myself in Kerala.

Kerala Backwaters Boat Tour at Alleppey, Kerala.

Kerala Backwaters Boat Tour at Alleppey, Kerala. Photo by Holiday Mango

THINGS TO DO

  • Photowalk on Varkala Beach
  • Dine by the Varkala Cliff
  • Tour around Kerala Backwaters in Alleppey
  • Go on a road trip along the coast
  • Vist the market. [READ: Cooking our own food in Varkala, Kerala]
  • Visit mosque, Hindu temples, and churches

WHAT TO WEAR: Thigh-length shorts are welcome. I pair shorts with loose Boho
Avoid showing some cleavage though.



WHERE TO STAY

Midrange Hotels in Allepey
Punnamada Resort
is nestled in a lush garden setting only four kilometers from town, this resort offers the weary traveler or couple on honeymoon a fantastic experience.
Ramada Alleppey Hotel offers quality accommodation and great service.

Budget Hotels
Keratheeram Beach Resort (in Varkala, we stayed here) is 700 metres from Janardhanaswamy Temple and is a few steps away from the famous Varkala cliff.
Thiruvambadi Ayurvedic Beach Retreat is ideally situated in Varkala; one of the city’s most popular locales.


Agreeable Agra

Agra is the home of the iconic mausoleum Taj Mahal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This city is a popular destination, and the locals are mostly helpful and polite. We sampled a lot of street food, and consequentially, Tobi had a bad case of diarrhea here. [Do not forget to bring diarrhea medications with you!]

Mehtab Bagh Agra India

A view of Taj Mahal from Mehtab Bagh. Photo by Tobias Nussbaumer

THINGS TO DO

  • Visit the Taj Mahal,of course
  • Take photos of Taj Mahal from Mehtab Bagh (Highly Recommended)
  • Bird-spotting, including wild peacocks!, in Taj Nature Walk (Highly Recommended)
  • Walk around Agra Port. Enjoyed it more than Taj Mahal (Highly Recommended)
  • Hang out at Sheroes Hangout, a café with a cause
  • Indulge in different talis in Taliwala

WHAT TO WEAR: Agra is pretty humid in summer (June-August). Refrain from showing too much skin. Despite its popularity among foreign travelers, Agra remains a conservative place. But overall, the place is female-friendly.

WHERE TO STAY

Midrange Hotels
Hotel Taj Resorts is the ideal point of departure for your excursions in Agra. Only 11 km from the city center.
Hotel Crimson Palace enjoys a commanding position in the shopping, culture, sightseeing hub of Agra.

Budget Hotels
Bonfire Hostels (we stayed here) is within walking distance to Taj Mahal and other destinations. The well-traveled owner himself managed this place during our stay, so we enjoyed it a lot because of him.
Hotel Saniya Palace is a great base from which to explore this vibrant city.


There they are! We hope you find India appealing and beautiful like we did. If you have been there, what was your favorite place? Would love to hear your stories!


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