Best Time to Visit India
The best time to visit India is ideally from late October to the end of April. However, India has a very distinctive climate and a different concept of seasons. The winters are mostly pleasant with moderate temperatures and almost no precipitation. The summer months of April, May, October and November thought, can get unbearably hot. From June to September, the monsoon covers the entire country in heavy rains.
So, the climate largely shapes what the best time to visit India is. Festivals also play a large role in deciding when to travel. Plan your trip with us if you are not sure yet when to come or which places to go to. We can help with candid advice and our extensive travel experience.
WHEN IS THE MONSOON SEASON? HOW IS IT LIKE?
The Monsoon starts in June and lasts until September. It’s an exotic concept to those travelers coming from more moderate climate zones. People then think the monsoon is anything from a constant drizzle to short but heavy rainfalls to tropical storms and gales. But India is a big country with multiple climate zones and therefore the monsoon develops differently in various areas of India.
However, and we don’t want to sugarcoat it: it rains a lot! Not like British drizzle or the one shower for a couple of minutes you get in Southeast Asia. It can rain for days and heavily in the tropical areas of the west coast and the north of India. The cities have an almost non-existent drainage system and the streets flood quickly. On top of that, there is the humidity, your constant travel companion. Clothes don’t dry for hours to days and the heat feels more discomforting. In the mountains they can cause cloudbursts and landslides. Airports and air traffic can get shut down due to fog and heavy downpours.
While it rains in the monsoon time, the countryside becomes incredibly green like here in Munnar, making it an incredible time to visit
Even though it can sometimes be quite unpleasant and it might not be the absolute best time to visit India, there are benefits to this season. The natural world comes to life; dry brown grasslands and forests become lush and green, the farmers welcome the season with full productivity and lakes and rivers as well as waterfalls fill up and become stronger than ever.
Many avoid India in the monsoon, which means you get a lot of the sights to yourself. Moreover, it’s the best time in India to visit for budget-conscious backpackers who like to get the most ‘bang out of their buck’. Many hotels offer their rooms for much less, often half the cost compared to other months.
PREPARING FOR THE MONSOON
Technically, you can travel anywhere as you are both physically and mentally prepared. Some areas, however, might be more enjoyable than other. Goa and Kerala get a lot of rain and humidity. We’d recommend avoiding the coastlines. Beaches lose their charm and strong currents make swimming even dangerous. The beach resorts and shacks close in April and don’t open again until September or October. So it’s the best time to hit the countryside and beautiful hill stations. Wayanad, Munnar, Thekkady and even the Dudhsagar Waterfall Hike in Goa are such places. Ooty in Tamil Nadu is very popular among domestic tourists to flee from the heat of their cities. Munnar in the Western Ghats is famous for its tropical mountain climate as well as tea plantations. Check out Rachel’s two week trip across South India, definitely possible in the monsoon just without the beaches.
If you want to escape the monsoon all together and enjoy the mountain landscapes, Ladakh might be the best place for you. The region boasts of breathtaking views and great hikes. It’s called the cold desert as the only precipitation here is snow. July and August are the absolute ideal times to go visit. Check out Coralie’s trip to Kashmir, Leh, and Ladakh.
Escape to the mountains, like the Nubra Valley near Ladakh, during the monsoon season, and enjoy the paradisiacal landscape
Rajasthan has less rainfall every year and some rural parts don’t get any rain, especially in the Thar Desert. With a varied range of boutique and heritage hotels that lower their prices during this time, it’s a good time to visit Rajasthan. Check out Henning’s trip through Rajasthan,
From June to August, avoid travelling the footsteps of the Himalayas. Rishikesh, Dharamshala, Manali, Shimla, Kasol, Sikkim, and Darjeeling face heavy rainfall and consequently many landslides. It’s impossible to trek and you’d stay indoors most of the time – not the best way to spend your valued time in India.
WHEN IS SUMMER AND HOW HOT DOES IT GET?
From the end of March until the monsoon stars in June, as well as October and November, it can get really hot. In the central and flat parts of India it can rise to 45 to 50 degree Celsius. But, that shouldn’t stop you from visiting India. In fact, it gives you the perfect chance to answer the mountains calling!
It’s the perfect time to visit the Himalayas or the northeastern part of India. You can venture to the spiritual haven of Rishikesh, which lies on the banks of the Ganges River. You can even visit the exiled Dalai Lama in Dharamshala. British hill stations like Shimla or Darjeeling are great to visit and go hiking along the foothills of the mountain ranges both in central, north and northeast India. Ladakh becomes accessible by June. Take a look at Stephanie’s spiritual voyage through the north.
In April, May, October and November it can get quite hot in India, like here in Hampi
It’s the perfect time to visit the Himalayas or the northeastern part of India. You can venture to the spiritual haven of Rishikesh, which lies on the backs of the Ganges River, or even visit the exiled Dalai Lama in Dharamshala. British hill stations like Shimla or Darjeeling are great to visit and go hiking along the foothills of the mountain ranges both in central, north and northeast India. Ladakh becomes accessible by June. Take a look at Stephanie’s spiritual voyage through the north.
All along the western coastline runs the massive 1600km long Western Ghats mountain range. It contains beautiful hill stations, a variety of flora and fauna, and forest and natural reserves that give it’s reputation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Wayanad, Coorg, Munnar and Conoor and some of the places you can visit to escape the heat.
Every time you leave the plains and enter the mountainous regions between the summer months, you immediately feel the change in temperature and air quality. Since the off-season starts in April, you’ll already save substantially on hotel bookings. Except in the northern mountains where the main season is at full swing in April and May.
WHEN IS TOURIST SEASON?
The best time to visit India, and hence when the tourist season starts, is from from November to beginning of March. This is when India faces mostly moderate temperatures in the south, central and the flat parts of North India and really cold weather and inaccessible routes in the far north.
If you plan your holiday during this time, it is best to book at least three months in advance to get the best pick of hotels and easy access to train reservations.
The main tourist destinations such as Rajasthan, Agra, Goa and Kerala get quite crowded. During Christmas and New Years in particular, Goa is completely packed with domestic tourists.
Having said this, it’s not just the benefit of cooler temperatures. If you like meeting other interesting travelers, and you like the buzz and excitement while you travel, then there’s nothing quite like seeing India in peak season. Check out our tour ideas that almost all could be executed in these months.
WHEN ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT INDIAN FESTIVALS?
There are few events and festivals in India that make them some of the best times to visit India. So, if you can time your travel around them, it will make your trip even more magical. Diwali, the festival of lights is usually in October and sometimes beginning of November. Holi, the festival of colours, is in March. August and September are celebrated across the country with countless, diverse harvest and religious festivals. These include Ganesh Charturthi (festival for the elephant headed god), Onam (ten days harvest festival in Kerala), Navratri (nine days festival to celebrate every form of the mother goddess) and Dusshera (religious festival based on Hindu mythology).
While it’s great to see and take part in local festivities and ceremonies, normally families celebrate the festivals at home. Therefore, it would be best to stay at a homestays either north or south at that time. Just before and after festivals, trains get booked way in advance and flights are at extremely high prices. This is because the majority of Indians travel to be with their families. So, try and do the same and book well in advance.
The Holi festival, the festival of colour, will leave you breathless, with streets and people painted in vibrant colours
The festival seasons may not always coincide with the holiday dates you had in mind. If you just give us a shout, we’ll help you plan the best trip possible for that time of the year. There’s always something great going on in India, and we know exactly where it all is!
Check out also our Blog weather series for the different months in India. If you are still not sure when and where to travel to when visiting India, plan your trip with us and we can help you figure it out.