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How Risky is Couch Surfing in India?

By June 11, 2012

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Couch Surfing.
Getty Images/Zubin Shroff

Couch surfing, the worldwide concept of offering travelers a bed or couch for free, has caught on in a huge way in India. Have a look on the Couch Surfing website and you'll find tens of thousands of people ready to welcome guests all over the country. What's interesting to note though, is that the majority of them are single males aged around 30 or under.

This recent article in the Times of India asserts that, "For many Indian men, couch surfing -- a platform that allows travellers to offer free accommodation -- is an excuse for asking women out on a date".

The female author of this article about couch surfing in India confirms that it's easy to find a host in India, but it is a bit tricky to find a good one. And, she says that speaking from experience, some have ulterior motives.

To be fair, she also enthuses that she got to meet and stay with a fabulous variety of people from all social classes in India while couch surfing. They included a flight attendant, an elephant rider, and a son of a wealthy family.

When it comes to couch surfing, the issue in India is that females generally don't live alone independently or travel alone. Society is conservative and it's often frowned upon. Hence, there can be misconceptions about foreign women who are willing to stay in the homes of strangers, particularly men, India. Single women who offer accommodations to strangers are also often perceived the wrong way.

Although this doesn't mean that you shouldn't couch surf if you're a woman, extra precautions should be taken. This includes checking the references on everyone's profiles and reading them carefully. It's also safer to choose hosts that are still living with their parents, or families, and exchange a couple of e-mails with them in advance.

What are your thoughts about couch surfing in India? Are Indians really ready for the concept? Any experiences to share?

Do check out the discussion on this post on Facebook and Google+ as well.

More About Accommodations in India:

June 11, 2012 at 11:15 am
(1) Anu says:

I agree to the extent that as females we constantly get these strange requests from men that are definitely not in the spirit of CS. But, if you are careful and if you choose to ignore obvious crap, it is a wonderful site to connect with like minded travellers and to see how the locals live by sharing few days with you.

It has sometimes been advertised as the cheap or free way to travel, which has led many people to join in. A few years earlier it had only travellers and it was and it still is a beautiful community

I have been on it for 6+ years and have hosted people from across the world as single woman in Bangalore and have been hosted in and outside India and I cherish each of those experience and friends.

June 11, 2012 at 11:23 am
(2) goindia says:

Thanks so much for your feedback, Anu. Glad to hear that on the whole, you’ve had success with it.

June 11, 2012 at 8:00 pm
(3) Tom Saji says:

The risk factor in surfing or hosting in India is the same as compared anywhere in the world. I had heard how german or Italian or Brazilian dudes being too ‘affectionate’ to female surfers that made them uncomfortable. Also, single woman hosts are being pushed for partying and more by the guests in other nations. Both surfers and hosts have to check references and friends, also look for how many times host/surfer had been ‘vouched’ whether they want to surf in India or in any nation..

I have been hosting travelers at my home in Washington dc, and as well in my home in Kerala. I have had numeorus surfing experience in the US, India, Europe, South America and Middle east.

In my personal experience, ndian hosts are found to be better hosts compared to other hosts in other nations. Indian men hosts may offer breakfast lunch, may invite guests to local festivals or sightseeing places even if guest is a guy. These benefits are provided by hosts in other nations only to females surfers. They wont give much welcoming to guys. But Indian hosts does it very well even if guest is man or woman. Also,Indian hosts are very sincere to their guests and may be the importance westerners give to ‘Space’ may be a factor that may not go well in India. But still I had met wonderful hosts and surfers in many parts of India, and still CS is a great place to meet like minded people and stay in India.

December 3, 2012 at 7:50 am
(4) Mihir Naik says:

There might be some bad experiences, but we can say that the whole India is not ready for CouchSurfing.!

December 15, 2012 at 5:46 am
(5) Hans Beyhs says:

I am a German and have couchsurfed in India together with another female German. My personal experiences were just great. I have met a swiss girl couchsurfing India with some less pleasant experiences. But she herself said, that it was partly her own fault.
So… couchsurfing in India is (still) a bit different from other nations. As is it’s traffic, its food and custums. Westeners (specially female ones) that go couchsurfing in India should LEARN about India, its culture and its society BEFORE they start travelling.
If Indian men approach western female tourists in an offensiv way, it is mostly also the fault of the tourists themselfs. Too often THEY send out signals, that MUST be mistaken by Indians.
So… Couchsurfing itself is a great way to grow understanding and tolerance among the different cultures of this world. But: Do it the RIGHT way. Use your brain before you act.

January 10, 2013 at 1:59 am
(6) Sushil Gupta says:

This articles just misses the good point!

Well, good and bad is everywhere. And it is true to some extent that “asking out women on Couchsurfing” can be seen somewhat, but the important thing is to ask, “really?”

So far, as of my feelings, Indians are the perfect host as the saying goes, ‘Guest is God’. And you say ‘are Indians ready for the concept?” LOL.

It’s always good to be wary of guests/hosts all the time, no matter where you go or where you are and there are lots of ways you can make yourself sure.

January 10, 2013 at 10:17 am
(7) goindia says:

Oh, it’s fine if they actually do treat the guests like God, not like a potential sex partner (which is unfortunately the experience of many couch surfers)! :-o

January 20, 2013 at 12:34 am
(8) deepak says:


January 28, 2013 at 8:39 pm
(9) Swamy says:

Even though I don’t have any experience, as an Indian, I think Indian male should grow up and be more matured to accept open minded western female. so better to be careful with single couch surfing males. So, It’s better to stay with a family if you want. Of course there are good people too, you may find a very good guy…so do a bit of research before you go with a single male.

February 19, 2013 at 7:38 am
(10) jay says:

India is dangerous place for western women ,people think all western women are hollywood style sexy stereotypes with loose character.But some parts of india like the ladakh region in the himalayas and north eastern areas of india near burma are much better.

February 28, 2013 at 3:58 pm
(11) Lakshya says:

This is still bit of Alien concept for most of the Indian People.
Indian’s are great host’s , but before moving in please do some research. Look’s are deceptive.
Have a backround check , meet him once after then decide.

March 7, 2013 at 3:44 pm
(12) Lisa says:

Couch Surfing in India has become platform for men in India to hit on female tourist.

March 19, 2013 at 8:30 am
(13) mohit says:

I suppose the problem is pretty much the same. Its the age old , there are good people and there are bad people. if you cant do your research about the person you are going to be staying with , then its just silly.
I have heard of people with great experiences and ones with not so great experiences. Its always good to get to know your host before you decide to live with them!

March 26, 2013 at 5:51 am
(14) wen says:

I(a girl) have used the cs in india for over 20 days when i was travelling there, I found that the female host there are so great, which made me like india so much, but at the same time, most male hosts are too dangerous for single girls, and I have several uncomfortable expereience, but there are still some nice guys, so if you want to use cs in india, just be cautious and chose female host as possible as you can.

April 1, 2013 at 2:30 am

Concepts like couch surfing are stuffs for open minded people and society, so it doesn’t map with “India” where people know only one relationship between a man and a woman. There is so much division in India based on religion, caste, creed, ethnicity etc. that these concepts are not taken sportingly by people. Also beware of Indian males who are hungry for money, lust etc. You can very well make out by looking into the greedy eyes of such men. Also another tip is see how the guy behaves with poor people and with animals. This is very important to judge the character of a man. True manhood is achieved by winning a woman’s soul and not her body. Also concepts like ployamory, living together etc. are coming up in India but still the narrow and conservative outlook of Indians prohibit such concepts being a success. But if you guys check out history polyamory existed in the ages of Lord Krishna and found in the pages of the Mahabharata. So we had a strong base ruined through ages by male chauvinism and greed.

June 11, 2013 at 4:37 am
(16) Nandini says:

One’s good or bad experience should never be generalized. If you call yourself an open minded person, you should be open to listen and research other’s views before making a common perception.

I am an Indian woman, living alone in a city. I have hosted many people (also have couch surfed with Indian men few times) at my place and every time it has been a memorable experience. When you send someone a request, make it very clear what do you expect from a host, your language will make them taking a decision accordingly. Also, I agree that not many women are into hosting but there are few who you can always approach. Always choose a host who has strong profile, good references. Donít stay with someone who has never hosted anyone and prefers to host only females!! Someone who has already couch surfed will be a good choice as he already will be familiar with the concept.

One more thing, follow your instinct, I hope every traveler would agree on that. If you do that, nobody/nothing can be a trouble for you.

June 11, 2013 at 8:22 pm
(17) goindia says:

Great tips! Thank you for sharing, Nandini.

July 11, 2013 at 8:45 am
(18) Harsh says:

I guess its all about perspectives. It would be wrong to pin-point and aggrevate personal grievances coz of one bad instance. May be ” You allowed it to happen ” or may be you didnt. ( Would agree with the words” make it very clear what do you expect from a host ” )

Another aspect is based on one’s due diligence of how he/she chooses a host ( research, backround check, reviews ) There are bad people everywhere but if the basics of CS is right, one can surely avoid bad experience.

Would not deny the fact that whole of India is not ready for CouchSurfing, at the same time many of them are !!

CS has a immense platform and has a great future for many travelers, if taken positively.

Instead of criticizing each others nationality and characteristics, it is better to go for an instinctive and cautious approach

Leave silly things aside, and for heaven sakes, Grow Up, will ya !!

August 27, 2013 at 8:17 am
(19) george says:

Its time to think beyond bounderies.In europe this is a very common way to travel on weekends.This is how we can make travel affordable to students and middle class.I never heard anyone talks about safty issues,and this is not a way to find someone to sleep with.Even i saw a indian guy shareing cycles through CS.If somebody is thinking i am a women,i am special ,i have to take care about myself…and all,better stay away from CS.If you are really partying type,fun loving,and a traveller then go for CS.IT can give you new experiences -there are only experiences-weather it is good or bad ,depends on your perceptions and believes.I dont prefer people who are orthodox,aged more than 30 and people who can accomedate only females as they cannot rise to the broad thinking level of CS.

October 13, 2013 at 10:41 am
(20) Ani says:

im new to the concept of couch surfing..How to get started on it..?

October 14, 2013 at 1:42 am
(21) goindia says:

Hi Ani, sign up here to get started: https://www.couchsurfing.org/

November 13, 2013 at 2:25 pm
(22) shashank says:

a friend (cs) brought my attention to this article.

This article borderlines on ignorance and sheer stupidity. long story short. (hey, my views are mine to keep right?)

The author has obviously never cs’ed in NYC, or any other large metropolitan city.

If you have and still you still have the same concerns, then I think you might be offended by the guy who hit on you.. and you write this article.

plus wouldn’t anyone, regardless of gender – read references and do a bit more research on the person they would be surfing/hosting.

There are cultural oddities or ‘nuisances’ .. I don’t deny that.. but it’s a different country, what is so hard to understand? – you either adapt to their beliefs, or stop crying about it.

November 28, 2013 at 8:42 am
(23) shreya says:

I am a single woman staying alone in the metro city and i have hosted quite few people. I have had pleasant experiences with each of the surfers. I am doing this because i also travel a lot and had nice experience with couchsurfing. However, i must mention india is not the only country to be scared of men. I had quite requests from men when i was in hongkong and in malaysia, these men were from UK and US. And i also know my friend had quite a bad experience being hosted by 35+ guy in prague. She left the home middle of the night to a hostel. So lets not generalize on this. We think western world is great, but not always.

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