The year 2020 has changed drastically safe travel meaning. With the entire world in the grips of the coronavirus pandemic and people forced into solitary existence, we can no longer just pack our bags and go whenever wanderlust hits. Apart from checking for crime rates and hotels that are secure and hygienic, we now have to factor in the extent of COVID-19 spread to pick out safe travel destinations.

While international holidays may be out of the question this year, the opening up of domestic airspace gives hope that once the dust settles on this crisis we’ll be able to travel for leisure at least within our borders. To help you get started, we bring you this rundown on places for safe travel in India.

Top 5 Safe Travel Destinations in India

Based on the states with the lowest number of COVID-19 cases so far and their handling on the pandemic, our selection of the top 5 safe travel destinations in the country includes:

  1. Goa
  2. Ladakh
  3. Dadra Nagar Haveli
  4. Andaman
  5. Pondicherry

Here is a travel guide for each of these destinations to help you plan that perfect getaway once the lockdown is lifted completely:

Goa – Sun, Sand and Sea

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Yes, Goa – it’s happening again! The coastal destination that remains a favourite for vacationers of all ages, backgrounds and tastes has remained largely untouched by the Coronavirus scare with just over 50 cases and 0 deaths. So, it tops our list of places for safe travel in 2020.

From white sand beaches to scrumptious cuisine, stellar nightlife, adventure sports and heritage architecture, this tiny little state on India’s west coast has everything you can look for in a holiday destination. Whether you’re looking for a party-till-dawn kind of a break or just want to soak up some susegad (laid-back vibe), Goa is the OG hub that offers it all.

The state is divide into North Goa and South Goa. The former has emerged has the tourist hub with happening nightlife, trendy bars, discos, pubs, elegant cafes, flea markets, tattoo shacks…the works. South Goa, on the other hand, is all about tranquillity. Virgin beaches, dolphins and luxury resorts.

Based on what you’re looking for, you can choose which part of Goa to head to. You can divide your time between North and South, and get the best of both worlds.

Related Reading: Five Offbeat Experiences in Goa for a Fulfilling Holiday

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Top Things To Do in Goa

Check out the top things to do in Goa and pick the ones that resonate the most with your idea of a holiday:

  • Spend a quiet evening at one of the hidden beaches of Goa. We recommend Sinquerim Beach, Arambol beach, Ashwem beach, Bambolim beach and Patnem Beach in the North and Fatrade Beach, Cola Beach, Hollant beach, and Butterfly Beach in the South.
  • Go dolphin spotting in South Goa.
  • Party at Anjuna Beach, sourcing some delish snacks and unlimited rounds of booze from Curlies Shack and Shore Bar.
  • Stroke you sense of adventure with scuba diving, snorkelling, parasailing and hot balloon rides.
  • Work those muscles with some kayaking.
  • Explore landmarks like Fort Aguada, Se Cathedral, Big Foot Cross Museum, Basilica of Bom Jesus, Museum of Goa, Chapora Fort, Dudhsagar Falls, Fontainhas and spice farms.
  • Spend an evening at one of the boat casinos in Panjim and wrap it up with a hearty meal at the Venite Bar and Restaurant.
  • Plan a romantic candlelight dinner at Susegado – The Leela.
  • Give Chicken Xcauti, Pork Vindaloo and Bebinca a try.
  • Have a meal at the Fisherman’s Wharf
  • Mostly, just laze on a beach, soak up the sun with a generous helping of beers and food from the nearby shacks.

Related Reading: How I Pulled off Goa Under Rs 5,000 and You Can Too

Ladakh – Rugged Mountains and Unbroken Calm

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If you love the mountains, there is no way Ladakh isn’t on your travel bucket list. And if you’ve checked it already, there is no way you don’t constantly yearn to go back at the first opportunity. If you nodded in agreement to both those things, we have the best news for your – Ladakh will be safe for travel once this pandemic passes and people gather the nerve to go on vacations again.

Ladakh, the land of barren mountains, pristine lakes, soul-stirring landscapes, lies nestled between the mighty Karakoram and the Great Himalayan Mountain Ranges and flanked by the Zanskar and Ladakh ranges. The destination exudes a mystical charm that holds you in its spell forever. So, make the most of your first (and much-needed) holiday in a post-coronavirus world by soaking up the charm of Ladakh’s serene monasteries, fluttering prayer flags, buzzing local bazaars, mountain trails, sprouting streams and calm rivers, and warm culture.

Related Reading: 5 Offbeat Beautiful Places in Kashmir You Must Visit At Least Once

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Top Things To Do in Ladakh

Here is our pick of the top things to do in Ladakh:

  • Of course, no trip to Ladakh can be complete with a trip to the Pangong Tso. If you thought nothing could be more beautiful, give the Tso Moriri in the Changthang Plateau regions a chance to blow your mind and then some.
  • Spend a day in Leh, exploring the local market, eating the local delicacies, visiting attractions like The Khar – Leh Palace, Shanti Stupa, Sankar Gompa, Zorawar Fort, Sindhu Ghat, Spituk Monastery and Phyang Monastery. Save your shopping sprees for one of the smaller towns of Ladakh. The Leh market is infamous for its inflated price tags.
  • If you have the budget to splurge, book your stay at the Grand Dragon in Leh.
  • Do not miss out the breathtakingly beautiful Nubra Valley that falls on the ancient silk route and is cradled by rugged mountains all around.
  • Visit Lamayuru to see the famed Moonland of Ladakh.
  • Adventure lovers can throw an exhilarating trek to the mix. Chadar Trek, Kang Yatse 2, Markha Valley, Digar La and Sham Valley are some of the most popular trekking trails of Ladakh.
  • Plan a day trip to the Zanskar valley.
  • Take a guided tour of the Hemis National Park
  • Apart from these mainstream touristy things, we strongly recommend that you set a day aside to explore one of the villages of Ladakh, just exploring the area, talking to the locals and enjoying the hospitality of a homestay.

Related Reading: 7 Best Honeymoon Destinations Adventure Loving Couples Will Fall in Love With

Dadra and Nagar Haveli – Nature, Wildlife and Serenity

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Despite being tucked in the middle of Gujarat and Maharashtra – the two states worst hit by the COVID-19 spread – the union territory of Dadra and Nagar Haveli pretty much has a clean slate with a total of 2 reported cases. This sylvan land known for its serenity, bountiful nature, wildlife and architecture fits the bill for a safe travel destination in India.

Whether you’re looking to unwind with friends or planning a getaway with family to celebrate the end of lockdown (when it happens), this destination with lush green forests, meandering rivers, expansive waterfronts and exotic wildlife makes the perfect pick. Apart from travel safety, Dadra and Nagar Haveli also checks the box of being an offbeat, unexplored destination. It is still off the radar of most travellers and awaiting to bowl you over with its intrinsic charm.

Just like Daman and Diu, the culture, architecture and heritage of Dadra and Nagar Haveli bears a Portuguese influence and is a delight to behold. So, is its tribal way of life.

Related Reading: 5 Best Under the Radar Travel Destinations You Must Check Out Today

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Top Things To Do in Dadra and Nagar Haveli

A well-rounded itinerary for your safe travel experience to Dadra and Nagra Haveli:

  • Spend a day at the Vanganga Lake Garden, situated on the outskirts of the capital city of Silvassa.
  • Plan a picnic at the Hirwa Van Garden, and indulge in the beauty of its waterfalls, springs, lush greens and vivid flowers.
  • Go hiking at Kauncha and explore its mountain peaks, valleys and dense forests.
  • Afterwards, unwind by the Madhuban Dam waterfront.
  • Take the Vasona Lion Safari.
  • Visit the Tribal Cultural Museum for a lookup close at this unique way of life.
  • Enjoy the crabs, fish, vegetables prepared the traditional tribal way.

Related Reading: Top 5 National Parks in India for Spotting a Tiger

Andaman – Blue sea, White Sand and Corals

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Think Andaman, and you’re transported to quintessential coastal heaven – blue sea, pristine beaches with glistening white sand, exquisite marine life and coral reefs, one of the only two on the Indian coastline. The other lies in Lakshadweep. Andaman, a dream destination far removed from mainland India, is safe for travel. The place is a natural wonder that abounds in breathtakingly beautiful attractions for tourists of all kinds.

Pristine beaches for those looking for a laid-back relaxing vacay, virgin nature trails for hikers, scuba diving and snorkelling opportunities for marine life enthusiasts, an intriguing past for history buffs and the most mesmerising sunsets for couples on a romantic getaway.

The Andaman and Nicobar Island collectively comprise a group of 572 islands spread around the Andaman Sea and the Bay of Bengal. Of these, merely 38 are inhabited, and fewer still open to tourists. The Nicobar group of islands is essentially out of bounds for travellers. The focus of your safe travel experience will be the Great Andaman that comprises North, middle and South Andaman.

Related Reading: Krabi Island – A Destination of Surreal Charm

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Top Things To Do in Andaman

With the right travel safety precautions, you should be able to fly to Andaman soon and soak up a one-of-its-kind holiday experience:

  • Make Port Blair your basecamp for this trip and set time aside to explore this laidback town steeped in colonial history. The Cellular Jail, Samudrika Marine Museum and Corbyn’s Cove are the main attractions to explore here.
  • A day trip to Chidya Tapu is recommended for avid birdwatchers. The place also has the most stunning sunset view.
  • Visit the Jolly Buoy Island to view the coral reefs in all their glory. The crystal clear blue waters here will hold you in a spell.
  • If water sports such as snorkelling, scuba diving, jet-skiing and sea walk are on your list, take a day trip to Ross Island and North Bay Island.
  • Of course, no trip to Andaman can be complete without exploring the famed Havelock Island. Plan at least a 2-night stay to be able to soak up the beauty of this place to the fullest.
  • Neil Island is another gorgeous landmark on this destination that deserves an overnight stay.
  • If you want to take the offbeat route, make space for Diglipur and North Andaman in your itinerary. It takes 12 hours to arrive here from Port Blair, but the mesmerising beauty of this virgin wonder of Andaman is worth every minute spent on the road.

Related Reading: A Reluctant Trip to Coorg Turned Into A Memorable Getaway

Pondicherry – Bougainvillea, Promenades and French Hangover

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Now that you’re taking a leap of faith and exploring safe travel option amid a pandemic, it is only natural that you’d want the experience to be out of the ordinary. Say hello to Pondicherry – a slice of France in India. A quaint little town tucked away in the folds of Tamil Nadu, the place stands out for its unique mix of culture, history, spirituality, all against the backdrop of an enchanting landscape.

The city is home to some beautiful beaches, stunning architecture, the spiritual hub Auroville, among many other delights. The blend of South Indian and European cultural influences gives this destination a distinct charm, quite unlike any other place in India. This confluence of cultures comes alive the most in its native delicacies.

From watching sunsets and sunrises by the sea to cycling and walking around the sleepy streets, gorging on lip-smacking food at cafes and fine-dining restaurants, getting in touch with your inner self through meditation, and indulging in water sports, Pondicherry truly offers a well-rounded holiday experience.

Related Reading: Five Types of Biryani in India You Must Try

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Related Reading: 7 Regional Delicacies of India that Every Foodie Must Try

Top Things To Do in Pondicherry

Make the most of your getaway by adding the following experiences to your safe travel itinerary:

  • Enjoy a mesmerising sunset at the Promenade Beach
  • Walk along the seafront on Goubert Avenue
  • Drink, dance and dine at Asta and Zero House
  • Take a boat ride to the Paradise Beach Island
  • Indulge in water sports such as scuba diving, kayaking, canoeing, jet skiing and more
  • Explore the lanes and alleys of the city on a rented bike
  • Try your hand at surfing at the Serenity Beach
  • Tickle your taste buds with French delicacies such as Salad Niçoise, Coq Au Vin, Ratatouille, Crêpes, Bouillabaisse, Croissants and Crème Brule.
  • If you have a spiritual streak, set a day aside for Sri Aurobindo Ashram and take a trip within.
  • Take a heritage walk to soak up the inherent charm of the place
  • Visit the myriads churches, temples and museums to understand the true character of Pondicherry.

Make sure you keep with the advisories being issued by the Centre and various state governments before planning a trip for a safe travel experience.

Author

A journalist by profession, a freelance writer by choice. When not writing, she likes to spend her time in company of books and food or hitting the road to explore new places, besides juggling roles as an army wife and mommy.

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