India is undoubtably one of the world's most unique countries; overwhelming, chaotic, cultured, and beyond terrifying (especially for first-timers).

From Delhi to Jaipur, Kolkata to Agra, backpackers need to have their wits about them at all times - to avoid the scams, scandals and straight up professional "tourist-targeters."

1. Check, check and double check hostel reviews

Hostelworld and TripAdvisor provide a decent number of reviews for hostels across #india. Always check who wrote the review, and whether the same problems are reoccurring - i.e “unsafe for solo #Female backpackers” or “little or no security at night.”

Your best bet is to find a hostel brand you like, and stick to it.

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Common and highly recommended ones include Zostel and Crashpad, based in #Backpacker areas such as Goa, Agra and Jaipur.

Location is key - check google maps, avoid staying in dodgy backstreets and stick to the popular, lively tourist areas.

2. If they ask for a photo - let them take it, because they’ll take it away!

As frustrating as it is having a camera shoved in your face every 10 to 20 minutes, sometimes it’s best to just smile for five seconds instead of explaining why you do not want a photo taken. The truth is, whether you say yes or no, 99% of the time locals will pursue taking your photo regardless.

It’s actually quite refreshing when someone is polite enough to ask you first. It’s difficult to get your head around being treated like a celebrity, but try not to take offence - if you're like me, this could be the only time some of the natives see a white, blonde person, and they want photographs to show their kids who live in more rural towns and are rarely exposed to tourists.

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3. Always book prepaid taxis and avoid travelling at night

The larger cities such as New Delhi have international trusted taxi services such as Uber and Ola, which have an installed GPS tracking device so you can always check you’re on the right roads and the driver hasn't decided to take a detour to a friends clothing shop down a back alley who conveniently sells garments for tourists.

If you’re in a more rural area and do not have access to apps such as Uber, ask (trusted) hostel staff to book you a taxi and make it clear you want a safe driver, even if it means paying a little extra. Always firmly agree on a price prior to entering the taxi, incase they decide to add an extra £20 when you reach your destination.

4. Download offline apps

If India isn’t scary enough, it’s even scarier when you’re lost. Although many restaurants, bars and hostels have access to wifi, 3G is highly expensive abroad so most backpackers choose to switch it off. Apps such as “Maps Me” can be a lifesaver in situations where you’re walking to a local tourist hotspot, but accidentally walk 2km in the wrong direction.

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Offline apps use GPS to locate your exact whereabouts, and follows you as you’re travelling, so you can see the precise road you’re on and whether you’re travelling in the right direction. You can also ‘share your location’ to a friend or family member, so they can also track your journey.

5. Avoid drawing attention to yourself

Although this may seem like an obvious one, it can be difficult to comprehend how differently women are treated in India compared to Western countries. Many tourist spots are associated with religion, therefore women are expected to be respectful within their clothing.

Although some may not agree with the concept, covering your shoulders and not wearing short shorts could save a lot of hassle and unwanted attention. Most markets sell thin, breezy trousers and Indian style kimonos which are perfect to chuck on with a vest and still allow room to feel cool in 30+ degree heat.