Date of stay: Aug 2013
Tour or pre planned: Pre planned
I had never been to India before but I’ve always wanted to go. For years, it’s always been a place romanticised in my mind through books and movies and many stories from other travellers. So when I finally planned the trip with one of my best friends, it felt like I was finally getting my chance after a long wait. My buddy, Tim, and I flew into Delhi at 6am to begin our adventure.
We’d been travelling through the night and, needless to say, we were exhausted. Enter Delhi, which hits you in the face like a hot samosa. Indian people are some of the most generous; giving people I’ve ever met anywhere. But there are also plenty that see you as a walking ATM. From the airport, we’d get our first experience of this as we stepped into an unregistered cab.
It would be two tuk tuk rides and three hours later that we finally reached our hotel. Each person wanted to take us to a fake tourist information center and they wanted to sell us tours. It was pretty ruthless, we were told there were fake holidays, our hotel was shut down, and that streets were shut down. The whole lot was tryed. We didn’t buy any tours and actually it was the cheapest ride into the city but it took a couple hours. It was almost more exhausting than the plane ride.
People will constantly shoot questions at you. After a while, I just ignored them. We learnt the game. I think perhaps I was too cynical, I always ignored people that came up to me especially in Delhi but later I would have some of the best experiences from these touts (other travellers I met would stop and talk to them). So it’s a fine line.
There is a real tourist information centre opposite the Imperial police station just off Connaught Place on Baba Kharak Singh Marg. You can arrange a hop on hop off city tour, day trips to Agra (Taj Mahal) or longer trips to see the golden triangle (Dehli – Agra – Jaipur). And it’s all reasonably priced. In Dehli, we saw the National Museum, Indira Gandi Museum and Humayun’s Tomb. I’d definitely recommend Humanyun’s Tomb. It’s quite peaceful after the craziness of the city. We also took a tour of the Hope project which was an experience. It’s a charity that helps people in the slums.
The Taj Mahal is so beautiful, everyone should see it at least once while you’re in India. It’s such a classic icon of India, don’t miss it out. The day trip was quite arduous from Delhi and we got back late. So if you can, I’d probably recommend seeing it while you’re on your way into Rajasthan or somewhere else south.
Our hotel the Smyle Inn was really good and I would stay there again. The breakfast is quite simple but they’ve got free wi-fi and friendly staff.
Dehli was almost traumatic but I would still recommend it as a place to see. It’s utter chaos but there’s something beautiful about that. Yes, you do need to keep a careful eye about you but I never felt physically threatened. It’s more that millions of people around you are trying to go about their daily lives all at once and hey, you got shit to do as well!
Top Tips For Survival In Delhi:
1. NEVER say that you want to go to a tourist information centre. They’ll take you to a fake one where they’ll get a cut if you buy a tour. Instead, say you want to go to the Imperial police station near Connaught Place, that works FAR better.
2. When looking for a tuk tuk, try to avoid people that approach you. Go for the guys just waiting around. Always agree on a price beforehand. You can always barter and don’t be afraid to walk away.
3. Bartering is a whole skill in itself. Do a little research beforehand so you know what the going prices are, get interested in the product, and ask where it’s made and where the materials are from. If the guy offers you tea, take it because it shows he’s enjoying himself. Offering to buy more than one can often get you better prices as well.
4. Eat vegetarian if you want to avoid getting sick for longer. I completely ignored this advice and found out that it’s not the first bug that gets you, it’s the tenth or twelfth time that it really starts wearing your body down.
5. Trains are freaking awesome. Travel by train is my preferred method of transport. They’ll never sell general class to tourists so unless you’re looking for quiet time, booking 3 weeks ahead for 1AC isn’t really necessary. You’ve got 1AC, 2AC, 3AC, Sleeper, Chair class, they’ll generally have tickets for you up to 2-3 days before.
Would you recommend this destination: Yes
Would you recommend your hotel: Yes – Smyle Inn
Overall rating destination: 4 out of 5