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Travel Healthy & Safely in India & Asia: Top Food & Bacteria Travel Tips for Foreigners

Traveling through India and other parts of Asia can be an enriching and unforgettable experience, but it’s important to take precautions to avoid common travel-related illnesses such as “Bali Belly” or “Delhi Belly.”

These tips are designed for foreigners, including NRIs (Non-Residential Indians), who may not be accustomed to the local microbiome environment.

As an Ayurveda health practitioner and seasoned traveler, I have compiled these guidelines to help you enjoy your trip without the discomfort of digestive issues.

PS. I am an Australian who has lived in India half the year for a number of years, visited India frequently over the past 15 years and was probably Indian in past life/lives. As accustomed as I think I am to Indian food and environment, as good as my digestion and immune system is, I still get parasites if I am not careful (although the severity is becoming less as I become more diligent and more healthy). 

Essential Guidelines for Safe Eating and Drinking:

  1. Drink Bottled Water Only:
    • Ensure the bottle cap is properly sealed to avoid tampered or refilled bottles.
    • Opt for large 15L water bottles for less plastic waste and reduced risk of contamination.
    • Ensure restaurants are cooking with clean water.
    • Brush your teeth and rinse your mouth with bottled water.

  2. Consume Hot Food:
    • Food should be served steaming hot to kill any potential bacteria and prevent food poisoning. 
    • Be cautious with rice and other foods that can harbour bacteria if left out too long. Steaming hot only.

  3. Choose High-Quality Restaurants:
    • While dining at reputable establishments can reduce risk, it’s not a foolproof method. Follow all other safety guidelines.

  4. Peel Fruits:
    • Ensure that fruits are peeled properly to avoid consuming bacteria present on the skin.

  5. Fruit Juices, Smoothies & Sugar-Cane Juice
    • One problem is the water they use to wash the fruits. You are better washing your own fruit and eating it yourself.
    • Sugar-cane requires a lot of washing before juicing it. Some vendors do not wash enough.

  6. Be Mindful of Raw Foods:
    • Avoid salads or any raw foods unless you are certain they have been washed in clean water to high standard (e.g. international ashrams or Ayurveda clinics).

  7. Avoid Ice and Cold Dairy
    • Ice can be made from contaminated water, so it’s best to avoid it.
    • Stay away from cold dairy products which can harbour harmful bacteria.

  8. Avoid Incompatible Food Combinations:
    • In Ayurveda, certain food combinations can cause digestive issues. For example, do not mix cow’s milk with salty foods, like drinking masala chai with samosa or dosa, or after a meal (like many Indians do). This incompatible food combination (“virudhanna”) creates digestive disturbance and a breeding ground for parasites. Watch my viral video about the milk + salt incompatible food combination.

  9. Drink Chai from Busy Vendors:
    • Only drink chai from chai wallahs with a high turnover, ensuring milk is fresh and not left out for long periods.

  10. Be Cautious with Street Food:
    • Avoid street food unless the vendor is very busy, indicating fresh and hot food. Always check for cleanliness.

  11. Clean Your Own Utensils and Water Bottle:
    • Carry a reusable water bottle with a built-in filter.
    • Wash the utensils yourself well to avoid contamination from improperly cleaned utensils. Or better, bring your own. Eating on a banana leaf is also very good.

  12. Wash Your Hands Regularly:
    • Simple reminder, clean your hands regularly, especially before eating or touching your face.

  13. Seek Medical Advice:
    • Consult with a healthcare provider or an Ayurvedic phuysician before your trip for personalised advice.

Ayurveda Remedies to Travel With

  • Shodana Vati:
    • Take daily to ensure regular detoxification and support your body’s natural cleansing processes.

  • Nasika (Nasal Drops):
    • Use nasal drops to enhance your nasal turbine capacity to filter pollution. The Ayurvedic practice of Nasya involves lubricating the nasal passageway and the brain with herb-infused oil, which also enhanced intake of prāṇa (life-force). 

Herbs to Have on Hand:

It is wise to travel with these herbs incase any symptoms manifest. Start these early.

  • Prana Drops:
    • This is the #1 Ayurveda First Aid Kit. This small bottle of liquid helps with parasites, fever, cold, congestion, pain, headache, virus, diarrhoea, nausea, insect bites, and more. Add 1-3 drops in hot water, inhale the steam, and drink.

  • Shoolagna Vati:
    • For parasites, diarrhoea, fever, cold, virus, headache, and pain. Take as needed. If your gut feels vulnerable traveling and eating local food, take 4 tablets 4 times a day as a preventative for parasites.

  • Akrimi:
    • A Vital Veda formula specifically for parasites. Adults can take 1/2 tsp with hot water or mixed with honey, 2 times a day or as prescribed.

  • Neela Vati:
    • For cold, flu, virus, and nasal congestion.

  • Amritarista (Immunity Nectar Tonic):
    • This classical formula is good for fever and can be obtained from most local Ayurveda pharmacies.

Additional Travel Safety Tips (Not-Food / Digestion Related):

  • Dress Modestly:
    • In many parts of Asia, dressing modestly is not only a sign of respect but can also help you avoid unwanted attention. Women should consider covering their shoulders, chest and knees, and men should avoid wearing shorts in certain cultural or religious sites.

  • Wear a Toe Ring:
    • A toe ring on the second toe can signify that a woman is married, which may reduce the likelihood of receiving unwanted advances from men.

  • Be Aware of Local Customs:
    • Understanding and respecting local customs can enhance your travel experience and prevent misunderstandings. Say namaskar (prayer gesture) instead of shaking ones hand, or touching another in any way. Doing this confidently also creates boundaries of touch in a respectful way.

  • Use a Money Belt:
    • To keep your valuables safe, use a money belt or hidden pouch. This can prevent pickpocketing in crowded areas.

  • Stay in Well-Known Accommodations:
    • Opt for reputable hotels or guesthouses with good reviews to ensure safety and hygiene.

  • Stay Connected:
    • Ensure you have a reliable means of communication, such as a local SIM card or an international roaming plan.

By following these guidelines and carrying these Ayurvedic remedies, you can significantly reduce your risk of contracting food-borne illnesses and enjoy a healthier and safer journey through India and Asia.

Remember, a little caution goes a long way in ensuring your travels are smooth and enjoyable.  


Traveling to Asia, especially places like India and Indonesia, can be a gastronomic adventure, but it requires diligence to avoid the pitfalls of food-borne illnesses.

By adhering to these tips and being mindful of what and where you eat and drink, you can safeguard your health and fully immerse yourself in the rich culinary landscape of these vibrant regions.

Safe travels! 

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Special thanks to Rudolf Steiner and Jiddu Krishnamurti for providing content.

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