Medical Advice to Persons Visiting India

India is a tropical country and many foreigners are not used to its environment. You may have already heard about heat, dust, rain, poverty, pollution, etc., and wondered about your capacity to cope with all that. Paying attention to the facts relevant to south India (India is a big country), and recounting the experiences of our past foreign visitors, we offer the following information.


Above medical advice is in agreement with the two most refered sources, CDC and WHO. Their web links to health information for travellers to the Indian subcontinent are

Please note that these sites also list additional immunisations, which in our opinion are global and not India-specific (e.g. tetanus and hepatitis-B). You may consider them, but we do not think that you will need them just for your trip to India. Please consult your doctor to get the advice that will give you satisfaction. If you carry prescription drugs with you, you should also find out about the side effects of the drugs, e.g. peculiar taste in mouth or reduced alertness are more often caused by taking too many medicines than by contracting a disease. Contraindications of drugs for pregnant women and small children should never be ignored.

Food and water

Foreigners sometimes have trouble with Indian food and water. Good Indian hotels have learnt over the years to offer a safe and varied fare to suit different palates. We list some simple precautions which usually allow even the most sensitive stomachs to survive in India without problems for weeks.

It is always advisable to eat warm food in a clean environment. Indian food is very diverse, and different from what most foreigners are familiar with even after eating in Indian restaurants abroad. It is tasty, spicy, rich, and people tend to overeat. As a result, an upset stomach is more often a case of the digestive system being unable to handle unusual food, than a case of food poisoning. You will have to decide not only what to eat, but also how much to eat.

Thick skinned fruits (e.g. bananas and oranges) are safe to eat anywhere. Seafood, away from coastal cities, is not always fresh, and should be always eaten in moderation.

Bottled water available in the shops is essentially safe drinking water, even if it carries a mineral water label. There are many brands, Bisleri is a popular one. You should always make sure that the seal on the cap is intact. Tender coconut water available on the streetside is safe, provided you carry around clean straws, and is cheaper than the bottled water available in the shops.

Sunglasses and sunscreen lotions would be helpful if you are planning a lot of outdoor travel.

Please note that most medicines are freely available in India at a much cheaper rate than in western countries. But you should know their chemical names (instead of their brand names) to be able to find them.


Last modified: 15 March 2000 Tanmoy Bhattacharya

Valid HTML 4.0!