Whether you just want useful phrases or a complete language course, these five books are the best in Hindi language resources.
Lonely Planet Hindi, Urdu & Bengali Phrase Book
The Lonely Planet books are all incredibly useful resources. For a treasure chest of useful and practical Hindi phrases, presented in a logical and easy-to-learn manner, you can’t beat Lonely Planet Hindi. It’s the perfect pocket-sized resource – even if you are learning Hindi more formally, this is a good idea to carry around with you just in case you get into something over your head.
Say It in Hindi
A basic phrasebook that gives you thousands of useful phrases you can pull out in a variety of situations. You won’t learn a thing beyond a few sentences, but sometimes that’s all you want or need.
Colloquial Hindi by Tej K. Bhatia
If you want to be independent of the phrasebook but don’t have time or patience for a formal language course, this book will teach you some basic Hindi, leaving you with a vocabulary of about 200 words and the ability to combine them into something coherent. Easily one of the most useful Hindi books for the casual traveller.
Teach Yourself Hindi by Rupert Snell
This is a complete and formal language course in book form, and if you stick with it you will be able to speak and read Hindi by the end. However, it’s only for the serious as its tone is academic and there is a lot of Hindi script in it. Not for casual travellers looking for phrases.
Hindi: A Complete Course for Beginners by Living Language
This is a huge language course with a book and several audio CDs of lessons. If you have time to learn before your trip and want to really know the language, this is a great starting point for beginners with no background in Hindi. There is also a great section on Indian culture which is very, very useful for tourists.
I heartily endorse any effort to learn a language when visiting a foreign country – don’t be one of those bellowing tourists shouting in English! Even in India where English is fairly common. SO whichever of these resources or approaches you choose – you have my admiration!