The crowded city of Delhi can be a bit overwhelming for first-time visitors. First impressions of Delhi can make or break an entire trip, so we have collected the top practical know-hows to get around like a pro.
The best months to visit Delhi are November–March, especially for people who can’t bear the scorching sun, humidity or the water-logged roads of Delhi monsoons. Delhi winters are both pleasant and amazing, particularly in the mornings. Enjoy the morning breeze of Delhi winters with some khullad waali chai (hot tea served in handcrafted clay cups) at The Singing Tree, an amazing tea house with a variety of teas and coffees in Chittaranjan Park area of South Delhi.
The tap water in Delhi is not fit to drink from the source, so – unless you are a guest of someone who has a water purifier – make it a rule to only drink bottled water and avoid ice in drinks at bars and restaurants. The practice will reduce your chances of feeling unwell and not enjoying your trip. Plus, never take drinks from strangers, and don’t leave drinks unattended.
There is no harm in staying a little cautious in the capital. An easy way to get rid of pests (of any sorts), both bug and pepper spray will help you stay safe in Delhi.
Delhi Metro is an easy and cheap way to get around the city. Metro cards make journeys even more convenient and are available at any station for ₹200 (£2.41/$3.14), ₹50 (£0.60/$0.79) of which is refundable when the card is returned. Minimum recharge value is ₹200, and fares tend to cost ₹10–₹50. Tip: Metros are usually crowded during working hours, so the best times to board are 12–4:30pm and 8–11pm. If planning to travel in a cab, opt for pre-paid cab services like Ola and Uber. Prices are reflected before the start of the journey, trip details are easily shareable.
The Paharganj area is a tried and true option for accommodation in Delhi. Be sure check out options in posh areas, like South Delhi, which offer good prices for upscale amenities.
This is advice suited more to women: dress a bit modestly when exploring the capital. Still, make sure to be comfortable, and pick up some amazing Indian pieces from brands like Lakshita, FabIndia and Anokhi.
The number one rule to shopping and bargaining in Delhi is to known your options, so take time and see what the other vendors, just ten steps away, are offering. The sad truth remains that tourists are often exploited to a certain degree, but skilful bargaining can help save some money. (Also, the practice is fun.) Markets to bargain in are Sarojini Nagar, Janpath, GK M Block market, and Chandni Chowk.
A language barrier isn’t too much an issue in the metropolitan area, but knowing a few important words from the language can still be helpful. Here are just few to start with:
‘Na-hi cha-hi-ye’ (‘I don’t want it’)
‘Kit-na?’ (‘How much?’)
‘Pai-se kam ka-ro’ (‘Reduce the price’)
‘___ ka -ha hain?’ (‘Where is ___?’)
Not every bathroom in India is equipped with toilet paper, so it’s a good idea to carry some while travelling. Even though the condition of public bathrooms has improved, the ones in restaurants tend to be better options.
Eating out in Delhi is an experience everyone should have. From street food that can be enjoyed throughout the day in a budget of ₹1,200 (£14.46/$18.85) or less per day to meals costing around ₹1,200 per person, Delhi offers great flavors for both spend and splurge options. Use a food app like Zomato to explore the restaurant directory of Delhi.
Divide major areas and markets you want to visit and explore one every day. Try to relax and enjoy every place you visit. Chances are, things won’t go according to plan in the chaotic city, so adapt and go with the flow. Make a list of must-see places (a few suggestions: Red Fort, Chandni Chowk, India Gate, Humayun’s Tomb, Connaught Place, Khan Market) and enjoy the city, one day at a time.
On that same note, just give yourself a break some days and enjoy the little things in the capital. Watch a movie in a hall, check out the bookstores, enjoy a nice meal or go to a parlour for some pampering (many parlours and spas in Delhi offer packaged deals).
Delhi may not perfect, but it is an amazing place to be. The key to a great experience in the capital is embracing the unique, weird and exceptional city and its people. Go with the flow, change and adapt your plans, and forget about the concept of personal space for a little.