Every popular app in your country may not be that useful when you’re in another nation. For example, Weibo is far larger than Twitter in China. There’s no Uber in Pakistan.
It’s best to download local apps when you’re travelling to another country. Here’s what you need to get if you’re going to India.
Taxi: Uber / Ola Cabs / Meru Cabs
Uber is now available in India, but not in all cities. That said, it works well in the major metros and if you already have it installed, you can use it like you do in your home country.
However, Uber isn’t the only major taxi service in India. Ola Cabs, a competitor, also lets you hail private cabs, government-run cabs, and government-run auto-rickshaws in certain cities. If you’re relying on public transport in India, it’s worth it to also install the Ola Cabs app.
Another radio cab service you might want to rely on is Meru Cabs, which runs its own fleet of cars with trained professionals, unlike Uber and Ola Cabs. Additionally, it also operates between two cities.
For intercity travel, buses are often a convenient option, especially in remote areas where a private cab will be too costly, not easily accessible, or perhaps unsafe. Redbus is the country’s premier bus booking service, operating across most tourist-friendly destinations. The app is dead easy to use and several bus operators now support e-tickets shown on your smartphone.
Trains: IRCTC Connect
Indian cities are best connected to each other by trains, and a train journey in the country is actually an integral part of a travel experience here. The Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation Limited, or IRCTC, has a fantastic app that lets you easily book tickets, check schedules, and even gives you alerts on your journey.
Flights: Make My Trip
You can pretty much use any app out there to find the best fares for flights in India, but this app does a better job of tracking localized discounts. Make My Trip is the premium portal for air tickets in India, it works perfectly on mobiles, and you can even use it to check-in at most airports.
While Make My Trip also offers train and bus tickets, we would suggest sticking to the aforementioned apps for those. There are plenty of alternatives too, like ClearTrip, and they all work pretty well. At all times, remember our rules to find cheap airline tickets.
Hotels: Booking Now
Even in India, Booking.com is one of the best apps you can use to book a room. The big reason? They won’t charge your credit card till a day before your booking, so in case your plans change, you’re safe!
Budget Hotels: Oyo Rooms
The selling point of Oyo Rooms is a standardized experience anywhere you go to. All rooms have air conditioning, TV, clean linen, complimentary breakfast, free Wi-Fi and hygienic washrooms, complete with a complimentary toiletries kit.
Home Stays: Airbnb
Airbnb is a wonderful way to get the feel of a new place by staying in the house of someone who isn’t using it. It’s a popular choice for international travellers and a fantastic way to save expenses on your next trip.
In the major metropolitan cities in India, couchsurfing isn’t anything new, and you’ll find plenty of hosts on the main destination for this activity, Couchsurfing.com. We have some tips to take advantage of couchsurfing, but you should know that it isn’t that popular in smaller towns in India. Also, with couchsurfing, you need to be aware of security concerns, so check the video above to get safety advice for the app.
Information, Food, and Events
Local Directory: Justdial
Any business or service you need locally, whether it’s a doctor, a pharmacy, offices, or anything else, chances are that it’s listed on Justdial — a local directory of businesses that operates across all the major cities in India.
Yelp and Zagat won’t help you here—and well, Yelp can’t be trusted anyway. If you’re in India, install Zomato, the largest restaurant directory and recommendation service in the country. Zomato has a well-categorized system to find whatever you are in the mood for, and the customer reviews for each joint will help you narrow down what you should have there.
News: Times of India / NDTV
When you’re in a new country, you want to know the news that’s going on around you. The Times of India is the biggest newspaper and NDTV is the largest news channel. Install either app to stay abreast of the happenings in India.
Events: Book My Show
Need to buy tickets for a show, an event, a game of cricket, a walking tour around a city, or just catch a movie? Book My Show has it all. Again, you will be able to show your Book My Show ticket on your phone at several events, saving you the trouble of finding a place where you can print your ticket.
The Indian government has recently introduced an app that helps tourists make their way around the country, and we think it’s one of the best trip planning and organizing apps. Tripigator is beautiful, easy to use, and is full of handy information that can make your trip better. Its best part is its smart engine. Feed it your destinations, your interests, your budget, and it’ll smartly create an itinerary for you!
Triposo basically makes travel guides using publicly available information, like what you get from Wikipedia, WikiTravel, OpenStreetMaps, and more. All of that is brought together in one app, creating an easy way for you to navigate your trip. Triposo works completely offline as well, which is its biggest boon since you might not want to spend on international data charges. Overall, it’s a useful app to save money on your vacation.
In partnership with the Ministry of Tourism in India, AudioCompass has built a library of guided audio tours for several of the top tourist hotspots in the country. It has over a 1,000 points of interest, it works offline, and perhaps most importantly, it saves you the hassle of haggling with a local guide and trying to understand their thick accent. That said, most AudioCompass guides are paid.
Tell Us Your Picks!
I actually compiled this list recently after playing host to several tourists to India, but I’m sure I missed a few good apps along the way.
So tell us, which apps would you tell tourists to install? If you’re a tourist who has been to India, what else did you find useful? Let us know in the comments!