Given its vast size, India's climate has great regional weather variations as well as a unique range of microclimates and seasons. Generally, winter (December to February) is relatively dry and cool; followed by hot and dry summers from March through May. During the Monsoon season, from June to September, most of the country gets rain. The post-monsoonal season is October and November.
When to fly to India
The ideal time to catch flights to India, particularly southern India, is from January to September, with northeastern India best visited from March to August. The desert and northwestern regions are best experienced during the July to September monsoon season. Summer is the ideal time to explore the mountain regions.
The peak tourist season in Delhi is mid-September to March, though October to February is normally the best time for cheap flights to India. Mumbai is usually drier and cooler from November to February, Bangalore’s dry season is December to February, while Goa is best October to February.
Indian summers are typically hot and humid, with Delhi temperatures topping 43 degrees Celsius. Also bear in mind that monsoons have the potential to disrupt plane schedules, cut power supplies and shut down phone networks.
Getting around India
Driving in India is not much fun and not recommended, especially in the major cities. In Mumbai and Old Delhi you can easily get around on foot. Some visitors hire a car and driver, but taxis and rickshaws are always an option - just ensure you negotiate the fare in advance to avoid any surprises.
In smaller towns such as Goa, motorbikes are popular way to get around.
India's buses are generally hot and jam-packed, particularly during peak hour, when even more traffic slows everything right down. Chennai's fast and cheap buses and trains are a rare exception.
Domestic flights between major cities are an easy way to travel around the country.
India insider information
- New Delhi, the capital, is modern India, with all its contradictions — old and new, rich and poor and a fascinating mix of history, cultures and religions. Old Delhi's historic buildings, bazaars and narrow alleys are a journey back in time, juxtaposed against the modern city's skyscrapers, stunning gardens, grand public buildings and tree-lined avenues.
- Goa's warm weather and sandy beaches attract hordes of visitors from India and abroad. Renowned as a hippie magnet in the 1960s, modern Goa is more about luxury resorts and all-night party atmosphere, yet you can still get away from it all on remote and secluded beaches. Discover its spicy Indo-European cuisine and explore the colourful Wednesday market, which has thousands of stalls to satisfy the most voracious shoppers.
- Mumbai (Bombay), with its Victorian townhouses and colonial relics, can’t hide its history as an industrial port town. India's financial and arts capital is the country's most prosperous and vibrant city, with swinging nightlife, fine restaurants, wonderful bazaars and shopping malls. Yet next to the most prosperous areas is the Banganga Tank, a veritable time warp where pilgrims go to cleanse their souls.
- Bangalore, India’s fifth-largest city was the first Indian city to get electricity. Bangalore today is India’s high-tech centre, a cosmopolitan city with great pubs, restaurants and cafes. Bangalore is also a shoppers’ dream, a treasure trove of exquisite Mysore silks, intricate woodcarvings, brass and ivory artefacts, unique lambani jewellery and local handicrafts.
- Chennai (Madras) may have one of the longest urban beaches in the world, but the city struggles with water shortages, traffic congestion and air pollution. The gateway to Southern India, Chennai is one of India's most important trade centres and is also home to the booming Tamil film industry, which produces more than 150 films a year.