Kolkata, the second busiest city of India, with more than 15 million inhabitants, is seen as artistic and cultural capital.
Despite the poverty that the city is constantly fighting against, Kolkata booth shocks and charms its visitor. It is a university city which yearly gives numerous poets, writers, as well as Nobel Prize winners. The transformation of certain areas form slums to the modern ones is incredible and it is worth of every traveler’s attention.
When visiting India, Kolkata should definitely be on your agenda because the city is unforgettable.
Warnings & Dangers in Kolkatta
OVERALL RISK : HIGH
The level of crime in Kolkata is high and travelers should be cautious of petty crime acts. Unlike the most cities in India, the people of Kolkatta are more friendly and helpful, but you need to be watchful of possible drug dealers especially around Sudder Street.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : MEDIUM
The most often scam is the taxi scam, since the drivers themselves want to determine the price if they notice that you are a foreigner. Pickpockets operate in the public transport, particularly at night, so be careful while travelling. The traffic in India is chaotic, signs are not respected and be especially careful when renting a motorbike and always wear a helmet. Road direction might change twice a day and drivers must be ready to follow these changes.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : HIGH
The whole India and Kolkatta as well are in a big problem when pick pocketing in buses and trains is in question. In order to keep safe you are advised to have as little cash as possible with you and put documents at hotel room or at the reception.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : HIGH
The level of risk when natural disasters are in question in India is very high due to the dangers of earthquakes, flooding and severe storms.
MUGGING RISK : LOW
Even though the risk of petty crime acts is high, violent crimes like kidnapping and mugging are not characteristics of Kolkatta. Nevertheless, you can never be sure whether something can happen to you or not, so remain attentive and do not rely on the fact that there are no reports of serious crimes against travelers.
TERRORISM RISK : HIGH
The risk that a terrorist attack may occur in India is high, and the U.S. citizens may be the victims, due to Anti-Western terrorist groups that operate there. Tourists may be affected directly or indirectly, but the constant threat exists. The locations of the reported attacks were luxury hotels, markets, cinemas, and restaurants in large urban areas.
SCAMS RISK : HIGH
As in every major Indian city, taxi drivers are the worst nightmare of visitors. They do not want to turn on taxi meters and ask for abnormal prices for their services. Travelers should be aware of a number of scams that target foreign travelers. The scams generally target disoriented or distracted people. Drink spiking might happen in bars and pubs, so do not accept drink from unknown people.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : HIGH
Sexual assaults against women happen in India and female travelers are not advised to visit it alone. To make sure that they are safe, poorly illuminated streets should be avoided, as well as talking with unknown and intoxicated individuals in bars. There are numerous reports of women who have been victims of sexual harassment and assaults in Kolkatta describing them as frightening.
So... How Safe Is Kolkatta Really?
Considering the crime rate in the entire India, Kolkatta might be considered a reasonably safe city. Theft is the most frequent crime, like in every other major city in the world. It is very important for visitors not to get lost especially after dark, because that can be frightening experience.
There are areas which are absolutely safe, even though constant attention to your surrounding is necessary. In recent years burglaries are more common, but that should not be a concern for tourists.
So, long as you pay attention to the pickpockets and watch your belongings, there is no need to worry.
- Visas - A visa is obligatory before traveling to India. Further information can be found online. Your passport should have six months’ validity.
- Currency - The best way for money exchange is in banks, post offices or hotels. The international airports also offer good exchange rates and are secure. Bargaining is considered a way of life in India, so you should bargain at markets and in most shops.
- Weather - The best period during the year for visiting India is when the weather is pleasant and that is from November to March. Kolkatta has a tropical wet-and-dry climate and it is warm throughout the whole year with average temperature about 27 °C in December and January to nearly 38°C in April and May. Kolkatta has 3 seasons: Summer, Monsoon, and Winter. Summers are hot and humid. Monsoon season lasts from June to September. Winter runs from November to February and it is usually without rain.
- Airports - There are several major airports which can be used when coming to Kolkatta. Kempegowda International Airport and Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport in Kolkatta are some of the busiest airports in India.
- Travel Insurance - You cannot predict whether the insurance is going to be necessary during your trip or not, so it is better not to go abroad without it.