India is different. After four months and 30 cities visited, I’m still not sure what attracts tourists. Let me save you the trip: whatever India has another country has better. UNESCO Buddhist caves? China’s Datong and Luoyang are masterpieces. Mountains? Nepal or Bolivia will never let you down. Beaches? Grab your towel and head to the Philippines, Australia or Mexico. Ancient temples and ruins? Until you’ve been to Cambodia, Peru, or Egypt don’t bother with India. Big cities? Tokyo and Buenos Aires. Colorful culture? Myanmar. Not only will the sights be better, but you won’t be groped or harassed like in India.
Visiting India for a few weeks won’t make you a skeptic because easy to say, “it was just the places I went,” but the vast majority of long-term travelers we’ve met want out. If you’re here for too long and tired of having men masturbate in front of you, riding on buses that average 10 Km/hr (6MPH), or debating what intestinal illness you have this time (all true stories), here are some places you can escape India without even leaving. Welcome to un-India, India.
Not only is it the main attraction, it is the only tourist attraction worth visiting in the country. “What!?” you may ask. I’m sure you’ve heard from other travelers that “there is so much to see in India”. The most beautiful thing in India is the Taj Mahal, there is nothing else like it anywhere in the world. The city itself has good tourist infrastructure and some other sights such as the Baby Taj, making it the must-see tourist city in the country.
India seemingly ends where Leh/Ladakh begins, where honking horns give way to Buddhist gongs. The simmerng heat of the Indian plains is found only in dumpling steamers. Populated by ethnically Tibetan people, Ladakh is worlds apart from the India that surrounds it. The arid mountains, accented by monasteries carved into them, are reminiscent of Tibet. This is a place that people come for a few days and stay for weeks, constantly traveling farther out to more remote villages, getting deeper into the ancient culture.
A great place to learn Hebrew. A great place to jam on an instrument you didn’t know existed before arriving. Unbeknownst to anyone who hasn’t seen it, India is the place that Israelis come to party after finishing the army. Few places is it as obvious as in Old Manali and neighboring Vashisht. Curry gives way to hummus and Bollywood hits to American classic rock learned while serving in the Israeli Army. The reason they flock here? Enchanting scenery, great weather, and a chill vibe. It is a great place to relax, have lazy days and avoid the noise of Indian cities, but clearly not for everyone.
“Why aren’t there more Americans in India?” we are often asked. My response: go to Darjeeling. I haven’t seen more Americans anywhere else since leaving the motherland. What draws us there? Great restaurants, stunning mountain views, and cool weather. Compared to much of India accommodations are substantially better, but so are prices. If India has gotten to you do as the British did and retreat to Darjeeling and relax…life is better here.
This is “easy India”. I could have included a photo of gorgeous coastline or a stunning sunset, but I don’t want to ruin it for you. You should get the chance to walk out to the edge of the cliff and see it for yourself. This is not only one of the best places in India, it’s one of the best places to chillout in Asia. Head straight for the North Cliff and make sure you have some extra days…or months. It’s a hard place to leave.