My experience in Varanasi is has been very good.
I suppose your experience will depend in what are you looking for when you visit a place and of course beforehand information about what you are visiting if you do not want to have disappointments.
I did not expect India to be an European country so not surprises there. I do recognize is still shocking for some people. India is a beautiful and diverse big country with huge population and very low salaries or even just enough money to survive for quite a lot of the people. The cities in general can not keep up with the flowing of people either.
I do think Varanasi is a very interesting place and if you like India, their culture and mostly their interesting religious ceremonies you would love to visit it and you should not miss it as it is a very sacred place for them.
I did bathe in the Ganges ,a couple of days ago, that means got into the water head and all for a few minutes, we did not swim and actually was OK, no problems afterwards. I do not give advice about what you should do, just my experience.
I definitely do not drink water from the tap but I eat on the stalls most of the time. It is cheaper and often better than at some restaurants.
I hope it helps,
 Haifa & Bread of Life
I reverted the changes made to Haifa Cafe and Bread of Life Bakery... if they're true, someone speak up and we can add the info back in in a less harsh way. But it seems a little weird to me that 2 of the most popular places in the city with tourists have taken such a simultaneous nose-dive. Forgive me if I'm wrong about this. – cacahuate talk 01:26, 20 June 2007 (EDT)
 Do NOT Bathe
surely this recommendation should be removed, if the water's not drinkable, you surely should not swim in it. " Try not to think too much about the dozens of sewage pipes and sunken corpses " again, just thinking about it doesn't make it in any way advisable. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by 126.96.36.199 (talk • contribs)
- Millions come here every year specifically to bathe, so.... – cacahuate talk 23:17, 25 February 2009 (EST)
JUST READ THE GANGA ARTICLE: ...As it flows through highly populous areas the Ganges collects large amounts of human pollutants, e.g., Schistosoma mansoni and faecal coliforms, and drinking and bathing in its waters therefore carries a high risk of infection. While proposals have been made for remediating this condition, little progress has been achieved. Along the 4 miles (6.4 kilometres) stretch of terraced bathing ghats in the holy city of Varanasi, the water of the Ganges is a "brown soup of excrement and industrial effluents." The water there contains 60,000 faecal coliform bacteria per 100 ml, 120 times the official limit of 500 faecal coliforms/100ml that is considered safe for bathing...ANY QUESTIONS ??? so,when your not born and raised in varanasi...and even your mother drank that brew while pregnant...do not even think to bathe...it definitely gives you the shits...minimum...HARRY
- I wouldn't do it, but many do.... I know several westerners that have, with no problems. But yes, what you say is true :) – cacahuate talk 22:14, 10 June 2009 (EDT)
- You need to differntiate between "swimming" and "bathing". I would not SWIM in Varanasi but I would definitely BATHE there. And by "bathe" I mean stand in ankle-deep water and pour a little water over myself being careful to keep my eyes and mouth closed! One acceptable definition of "bathe" is to simply apply a little Ganges water to your head, arms, chest and feet. Remember that Hindus consider just being there to be a huge blessing and if you have the faith to bathe there, you are blessed that much more. BTW, you can also bathe in the Ganges at Rishikesh or Haridwar which are very clean but the significance of the Ganges at Varanasi is, among other things, that it auspiciously flows north here instead of southeast like the rest of the river.
I DO NOT AGREE WITH THIS ADVICE
Rickshaw/taxi scams are a norm in Varanasi, and the driver will inevitably tell you that the hotel that you wish to go to has burned down, is flooded, or closed. Don't believe him. Drivers receive commission from hotels for bringing in new guests, and this is one way to trick newcomers to going to these places. Don't get annoyed, but see the exchange as playful banter and part of the Varanasi experience. However, if the driver continuously refuses to follow your instructions, threaten to get out of the rickshaw. If after all this you still end up to a different place, just refuse to pay until you arrive at your hotel. The same procedure will need to be followed when sight seeing, as drivers will inevitably try to take you to handicraft stores, from which they receive commission. If calling for a pickup from a more resepctable hostel, be wary that other taxi drivers may listen in to your phone conversation then tell another taxi driver who will pick you up pretending to be your hostel, then take you to a commision charging hostel.
I think the best way to deal with these people is a zero tolerance policy. If a driver does anything other than take you to your hotel, immediately get out and do not pay the driver. I have kicked the shit out of a bicycle rickshaw, to good effect. These people are the scum of the earth. They ruin people's vacations. They must be dealt with decisively and harshly.
 "One of the most impressive sights in the world"
I think very few non-Hindus would consider people bathing in the Ganges to be "one of the most impressive sights in the world." Indeed, Google searches reveal that many people who visit Varanasi are not enthralled. I personally thought Varanasi was a sewer, and would not recommend that others visit it. Unless someone can give me a good reason to maintain the language in the current article that seems like a travel agent touting Varanasi, I believe the article should include my edits, which Ikan deleted. I will revert back to them tomorrow. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by 188.8.131.52 (talk • contribs)
- I'm not a Hindu nor even less a travel agent, and I found the view from a boat on the Ganges amazing and my visit to Varanasi perhaps the most fascinating of any of the places in India I visited (the others were Delhi, Agra, Fatehpur, Khajuraho, Sarnath, Srinagar, and Amritsar, and all of them had merit). That was in 1977, and I doubt the river was clean then, though it wouldn't surprise me if it's dirtier now. But in any case, I think we need to establish a consensus, not engage in a continued edit war. Let's wait for the comments of other people and see what they think. Also, it's traditional to sign posts on "talk" pages by typing 4 tildes (the "~" key) in a row at the end.
- All the best,
- Ikan Kekek 03:48, 11 October 2011 (EDT)
It's not an issue of who's right and who's wrong. It's a matter of neutrality. There is no consensus that Varanasi has "one of the most impressive sights in the world" or that it is a "must visit." Many people feel differently. Regards. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by 184.108.40.206 (talk • contribs)
- Wikitravel does not follow Wikipedia's policy on neutrality - see Wikitravel:Be fair for the appropriate guideline. Per Wikitravel:Consensus, if an edit is in dispute please leave the original text in place and discuss the change rather than changing and re-changing it. -- wrh2 11:45, 11 October 2011 (EDT)