Working out the best time to travel to India can be difficult, considering the sheer size and complexity of the country’s topography. Read on and find out more about the best months to visit India’s main highlights.
As one of the largest and most geographically diverse countries on earth, India showcases an eclectic mix of not only attractions but also climatic regions. The pesky and rather spectacular Himalayas stop very cold winds from reaching most of India so, overall, this colourful and enticing country boasts mild winters and very hot summers. The biggest inhibitor to travels through most of India, therefore, is rain. Big rain. Monsoon season drenches the country with heavy rains, which can play havoc with travel plans, most especially to more remote regions, where infrastructure is still basic.
To help you best plan your unforgettable adventure to this mesmerizing country, we’ll outline the major season difference and then detail the best time to travel to each specific region of India.
What is the overall best time to visit India?
Generally speaking, the best months for overall travel to India fall between October and April, when the dry and warm climate facilitates extensive trips. However, nuances between regions mean that you can still expect heavy rains if travelling through some regions in November and that, by March, some others will already be blanketed by stifling heat.
Best Time to Travel to India – Seasons
Monsoon – As most of India is tropical in nature, it succumbs to a hefty Monsoon season, which starts in the south at Kerala by May and slowly travels north through Goa, Mumbai, Rajasthan, Kolkata and Delhi over the subsequent months. Monsoon rains can cause considerable travel disruptions through the entire country. This is especially true of the northern jungle region, around Bengal and the base of the Himalayas, where flooding and landslides are common and, at times, catastrophic. The Monsoon is a rather sticky subject, as far as travelling is concerned, because even though it travels north, its tail tends to linger throughout the country.
Winter – December marks the start of winter in India and this season is the one that brings about the biggest regional climatic differences of all. If visiting Delhi at the start of winter, you can expect to find the city swept by chilly Himalayan winds although in the seaside areas south, there will still clear skies and high temps. Overall, this is by far the best season to travel through this wonderful country, as dry skies facilitate sightseeing and transfers between cities and regions. Early morning fog at the Taj Mahal in winter makes for sensational photography and this is the ideal time for a trip to Delhi and Agra, home of India’s most famous and coveted attractions. Winter is, naturally, also the ideal time to visit the ski fields of Gulmarg, with the cleanest and best snow found from mid-January until the end of February.
Spring & Summer – In March and April, temperatures across the country will start to rise, culminating in stifling heat in May and up to early June, causing widespread crowd movement across the country, as wealthy locals move to the highlands to get some reprieve from the intense heat and humidity. By the time heavy rains start again, throughout most of the country and at the foothills of the Himalayas, the high-altitude mountainous region will enter its best season.
Best Time to Travel to India – Regions
From south to north, we explore the most popular travel destinations in India, detailing the slight climatic differences you ought to know:
Kerala – The best months to visit Kerala’s gorgeous seaside hubs are between September and March, outside of rain season. Warm temps are a yearly constant although, by the end of March, they will rise considerably. By and large, expect daytime temps to range between 22°C and 28°C, quite perfect to experience the Highlights of Kerala.
Goa – In idyllic Goa, the ideal travel period occurs slightly later, with the best months being from October to May, with heaviest rains falling from June until the end of September. Daytime averages during this period are around 24°C, with slight drops in January and February.
Mumbai – Continuing up the western coast, captivating Mumbai shares its best travel months with Goa. From October (20°C) to May (26°C), dry and warm days are the norm. The coldest month in Mumbai is January, with 16°C daytime averages.
Kolkata & West Bengal– Over onto the eastern side of the country, Kolkata showcases a much more subtropical climate, with daytime averages never falling below 20°C. A much shorter ‘ideal travel season’ here runs from October (28°C) until the end of January (24°C), with March seeing a surge in temps again, even though rains aren’t really expected to arrive until the end of May, so if you can handle the heat and increase in humidity you’ll still have a great trip. For fabulous tours of Kolkata and its picturesque surrounds, however, plan for end-of-year travels.
Rajasthan – Head to central Indian and Rajasthan between October and March and you can enjoy the coolest temps of all (similar to Delhi and Agra, below) in this infinitely regal destination. Do note that July and August bring substantial rains to the eastern side and piercing heat (40°C) in the west.
Deli & Agra – Northern India is likewise ideal between October and March, when manageable temps (from early 20s°C to 30°C as the season progresses) and dry days make sightseeing on a Golden Triangle tour absolutely blissful.
The Himalayas – Between June and September, the low-lying plains receive a far-too healthy amount of rain, so plan your exploits here in the dry but cold (average 10°C) months between February and May. For extensive trekking in the Himalayas, however, this perfect will continue right up through the height of summer, with August and September seeing the biggest surge in international visitor number to this far-north region.
Amritsar – The highlights of northeast India are prime for the picking between November and March, when temps will be cold but skies clear and sparkling. Rug up and visit ancient monasteries, admire spectacular scenery and experience the most spiritual corner of the country.
Brahmaputra River Cruising – Rising high in the Tibetan glaciers, the Brahmaputra River crosses the luscious northeaster region of India before meeting the mighty Ganges and exploding into the Bay of Bengal. Offering a wealth of historical, cultural and natural attractions, a scenic cruise along this river will see you pass authentic villages, spectacular forts and sensational scenery. The best months to enjoy an awe-inspiring Brahmaputra River Cruise are between November and April.
Low tourist season in India
High humidity and frequent thunderstorms are the usual calling cards for April and May, keeping many foreign tourists away. However, if you’re looking for great value for money and smaller crowds at major attractions, and especially on a longer tour of India, then this could be your ideal sweet-spot.
If all this isn’t enough, keep in mind that India is the capital of specialised visits, with a host of dedicated tours being supremely popular among avid travellers. From the country’s best wildlife, to its culinary delights, its photogenic treasures and even its world-famous Best Exotic Marigold Hotel film, India offers discerning travellers a world of possibilities, at any time of year.
At GetAboutAsia, we offer a comprehensive array of tours to India, with a most fervent mission to deliver safe, comfortable, enchanting and utterly unforgettable experiences. For more detailed info on these and any other points of interest, and to help you discern when the best time to travel to India is for you….contact us today.
Author: Laura Pattara
“After spending years taking short vacations in Asia, Laura finally managed her dream, travelling extensively through Central Asia, China and Southeast Asia on a 3-year-long overlanding adventure that she describes as “SIMPLY EPIC”. Following in the footsteps of ancient traders, Laura meandered along the famed Silk Road through the Stans, delighted her tastebuds for 8000km across China (no mean feat) visited an insane number of temples in Southeast Asia, all the while snorkelling, diving and beach-bumming along the way. Tickled pink by history and culture, Laura loves off-the-beaten-path destinations in Asia and anything that isn’t gift-wrapped for tourists”