India with kids

India with kids: top 10 things to do

The colours, the chaos, the noise, the dirt, the smells… India is not for the fainthearted. It’s a destination that awakens the senses – exhausting yet energising, frustrating yet thought-provoking.  Many question whether travelling India with kids is worthwhile. But for those intrepid families who yearn for something different, India may be one of the most magical places you encounter if you’re up for the challenge. My advice is to embrace the chaos, practice some patience and have a read of these twelve tips for travelling India with young kids.

Northern India itinerary with kids

We spent a year living in Bangalore (ours boys were 1 and 3 years old when we first moved out there) and took every available opportunity to travel and explore India. There were times when the bureaucracy, noise and congestion would be too much, but my over-riding feeling was that of wonderment. Indeed India is a fantastic cultural playground for kids of all ages and here are our top ten things to do in India with kids.

1. Ride a tuk-tuk around the architectural ruins of Hampi

Large sandstone boulders balance precariously across the undulating landscape, which itself is dotted with magnificent ancient temples and ruins patrolled by tribes of macaque monkeys. Hampi is a fascinating place to explore, and best done with the kids driving a tuk-tuk (well, sort of). We hired the services of Vinay the tuk-tuk driver to show us around the sites of Hampi. He had such a wonderful way with the boys and let them sit in the front with him to drive the tuk-tuk. They had an absolute ball!

Read more: Happy in Hampi with kids

India with kids

2. Celebrate a River Ganga ceremony in Rishikesh

Young backpackers, ageing hippies and chilled out yogis flock to Rishikesh to find inner peace and hurtle down the River Ganges on a whitewater rafting trip. It may then surprise you that our boys’ favourite stop on Our Northern India Itinerary was Rishikesh. Why? Well there was sand to play in, water to splash in, monkeys to feed, colourful people to meet, and chocolate milkshake and banana pancakes served at almost every restaurant. But the highlight has to be watching the nightly mystique of the River Ganga ceremony. The boys loved clapping along and were fascinated by the fire ceremony.

Read more: Rishikesh with kids: top 5 things to do

Rishikesh with kids

3. Watch the sunrise over the Taj Mahal

Admittedly, it may not be high up on your kids’ bucket list, but no trip to India is complete without a visit to the iconic Taj Mahal. Plan you visit wisely to beat the crowds and heat (we strongly advise arriving for sunrise) and hide any snacks from stringent security checks (you cannot purchase any food whilst inside, which makes thing tricky with little ones).  Whilst in Agra, ensure you visit Agra Fort. With darkened corridors, mysterious doors and secret rooms to explore, arguably, our boys enjoyed their time more here.

Read more: Visiting the Taj Mahal with young kids

2017 Travels in Review for TraveLynn Family

4. Climb over old trains and carriages in Mysore

There’s more to Mysore than the Palace. Next to Mysore Railway station you will find a collection of brightly painted derelict trains at Mysore Rail Museum. Children are allowed to explore inside the engines and climb over and around the carriages. There’s also a playground that has seen better days.

Read more: Mysore with kids: top 5 things to do

India with kids

Shop the spice markets of Kochi

5. Watch a puppet show at one the palaces in Jaipur

Jaipur is famous for its flamboyant palaces and impressive forts. Indeed, we spent many hours exploring their maze-like corridors and hidden doorways. But it was the puppet shows, accompanied with live drumming and singing, that kept them truly engaged.  The puppet with a detachable head had our boys in fits of giggles!

Read more: Jaipur with kids: top 5 things to do

Jaipur with kids

6. Ride camels through the deserts of Jaisalmer

Riding a camel across the desert plains has to be one of the most fun experiences for kids. Although parents be warned – riding a camel is one of THE MOST UNCOMFORTABLE modes of transport. But, if you can hack it, a night sleeping in the desert under the Indian stars on a multi-day camel trek, has to be one of the most magical experiences (indeed the silence will be heavenly if you’ve been travelling India for sometime).

Read more: A memorable night in a Jaisalmer Desert Camp
India with kids

(photo credit: Where is the World)

7. Sleep on an overnight train

Clickety-clack, clickety-clack… going to sleep in one city and waking up in another is an exhilarating way to travel. The Indian train network is extensive and trains get very overcrowded. Book your tickets as early as possible to avoid disappointment and set your expectations to be very low with cleanliness (pack the hand sanitiser). My boys are train obsessed and never tired of the long train journeys.

Jaipur with kids

8. Eat croissants and baguettes in Pondicherry

Being honest, my boys didn’t really take to the India curries; they were too spicy. So when we visited Pondicherry’s French Quarter, our first stop was to  Baker Street for their perfectly scrummy chocolate croissants. Paradise Beach is just a 20 minute tuk-tuk ride away and a very worthwhile visit for some beach play.

Read more: Pondicherry with kids: top 5 things to do

Croissant eating

9. Boogie-board the waves in Goa

Balance the chaos of India with some relaxing beach time in Goa. Our favourite has to be the chilled out family friendly beach of Agonda. We stayed at Seastar Resort which has free boogie boards for the kids – hours of entertainment in the sea!

Read more: Best beaches in Goa for kids

Agonda with kids

10. Wander the funky streets of Fort Kochi

Colourful Kochi has a more laid back feel compared to other Indian cities. The main sites of Fort Kochi (the old town) are conveniently contained in a relatively small area, making it all accessible for little legs; especially with frequent stops for mango juice. Start at the Chinese Fishing nets and watch the fishermen heave in the big nets and sort through their catch. Then take a wander along the quiet, colourful Princess Street and Burgher Street, perhaps popping into a chic cafe, before some reflective time at St Francis Church. Be sure to check out the cool street art along the way. Walk back towards the Chinese Fishing nets via the Beach Walkway, alongside Mahatma Ghandi Beach. This isn’t a beach for sandcastles and swimming but it’s always a treat in India to find an open pedestrianised walkway to allow the kids to run freely. Plus, there are boats to spot!

Read more: Kochi with kids: top 5 things to do

Street art, Fort Kochi

 

Have you visited India with kids? I’d love to hear your favourite thing to do!

 

India with kids

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Our Northern India itinerary with kids
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21 Comments

  1. pamgoward

    Lovely photos. Brings back memories of a wonderful few days spent with you at Goa.

  2. Oh Jenny I have loved following your trip and adventures over the last couple of years what a start to give your boys all of those memories x

  3. I would love to visit India it looks an amazing place!

  4. ChelseaMamma

    My first travel memory is of visiting India. I remember the dodgy roads, being patted on the head (I had blonde hair) and the elephants!

  5. One day we’ll visit India and I’d love to go on a tuk-tuk! Must be an amazing trip with all the sights and sounds x

  6. My sister in law has been to India and loved it – your opening sentence about the colours, dirt, noise etc and what appears at time to be utter chaos are probably what she loved about it most. Would I travel there with young kids if I had the chance? I’d like to think so as it gives them such a wonderful view into how other cultures live and how together we all make up this wonderful world we call Earth.

  7. bavariansojourn

    India is very firmly on my list. I had decided not to go until my youngest was a little older, but having read all of these amazing adventures, I am now thinking why not? 🙂

  8. Oh i would totally take my kids on a Tuk Tuk. I loved following your adventures. your trip looked amazing and what a wonderful adventure for your beautiful boys!

  9. I have never been to India before. So many great things ot do and explore. I would love to try a camel ride 🙂

  10. India sounds so amazing from your post. Its always somewhere I’ve been hesitant about visiting with our son but your tips make it sound totally doable. We’re facing our first overnight train in December although I’m hoping it’s a bit more comfortable than an Indian train x

  11. Lisa (Travel Loving Family)

    Love your tips Jenny. Following your journey brought back so many wonderful memories of my time in India. It was only very brief, nothing like the time you had out there, just a few ports of call when I was cruising but I would love to return with my boys. (And when I do I’ll be heading back here for all of your tips!)

  12. wow so much to do and see. The sunset over at Taj Mahal sounds fab. Also, the calming camel trek too x

  13. Definitely a lot to see and do in India. Maybe we would brave the trip one day.

  14. There are so many of these that we didn’t get to do when we were living in India such as visiting Hampi and Mysore. Our experience with an overnight train was a complete disaster (haha!) but I enjoyed them when I visited India pre-kids 😉

  15. So many gorgeous photos! Those things sound like so much fun especially riding in a tuk tuk and boogie boarding the waves in Goa!

  16. What beautiful memories your children will have from their adventures

  17. Ahh this brings back lovely memories. I went when I was 19 and would love to return with my son

  18. This is a good list of to dos if in case we visit India soon. Thanks for sharing this. I can’t wait to ride that tuk-tuk.

  19. I’ll be honest – the thought of going to India as an adult, let alone with kids, terrifies me! I’d love to do it though – it looks utterly incredible. And so many cool things for the little ones to experience. I bet even though they were so young they’ll still have magical, colourful memories of your time there.

  20. This is incredible! What an amazing year that must have been. So many great ideas for children-friendly places to visit. Love the sound of the puppet show and having an overnight train sleepover. Ha ha.

  21. India is one of those places I would love to take the kids. I think the culture and experience would be totally eye opening for them. If we ever make it, this will be my go to list of things to do

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