India is one of the most interesting countries in the world. With over 1.25 billion people, 29 states, and 22 official languages, it’s a place unlike any other.
New Delhi is the primary entry point to India, and at first glance travel in Delhi ca be intense and overwhelming. We spent 10 days in Delhi to really understand and explore the city, and compiled our top tips into this post. Here’s everything you need to know about travel in Delhi, India.
At the Airport
After going through security, you’ll need to pass through the visa checkpoints. They’ll ask you to fill out a form with information about your stay, so be sure to have access to the following information:
- Personal details like passport number, visa number, contact information
- Full address of the hotel, hostel, or Airbnb you’re staying at
- Contact number for someone in India (can be your hotel)
After filling out the form and answering arrival questions, you’re good to go! When you walk outside you’ll see endless taxis. Walk past all of them, and the people who approach you asking if you want a ride.
Find the pre-paid taxi stand, or ask if you don’t see it. This stand is run by the government, so prices to travel in Delhi are fair and inexpensive. Simply tell them the area you wish to go, and pay at the booth in full.
The ticket agent will give you a receipt and direct you to a driver who will take you wherever you need to be. The most you should end up paying at the airport is 500 rupees ($7).
Where to Stay
Choosing a place to stay in Delhi is different than other cities in India. Because the city is so huge and spread out, there is no traditional “city center”. It is instead broken up into Old Delhi, New Delhi, and the surrounding Delhi metropolitan area.
While a number of Delhi’s highlight attractions lie in Old Delhi, it’s the most jam-packed, dirty, and polluted area of India. Because transport options to travel in Delhi are so cheap, and the rest of the attractions are spread out around the city, we’d advise first timers to not stay in Old Delhi.
A better option is to choose anything in the South Delhi area. It’s a cleaner, nicer, more residential area and gives a much kinder introduction to both India and Delhi as a whole. Two great areas to find accommodation are Hauz Khas Village and Greater Kailash.
What to See
There are endless things to see, do and experience in Delhi, so we’ve listed just a few of the highlights below. In general, it’s not advisable to try and pack more than two or three things into one day purely because of the hectic nature of the city.
Try to choose one area that you want to explore each day, and choose things that are close to each other to minimize time looking at maps and flagging down drivers.
Sights in North/Old Delhi
Qutub Minar – The Qutub Minar is the tallest brick minaret (part of a mosque) in the world. Entry for non residents is 500 rupees, and the mosque can also be seen from the nearby Archaeological park just a 5 minute walk away.
Mehrauli Archaeological Park – This park is filled with over 100 historical monuments. It’s a nice quiet place to walk around and explore old ruins.
Janpath Street Market – Janpath is a busy market near Connaught place and the India gate. There are a variety of textile goods and trinkets that can purchased for low prices.
Red Fort – The Red Fort is a symbol of India and massive sandstone fortress. Many movies are shot on the premises, and the fort has several museums.
Jama Masjid – This 17th century mosque is one of the largest mosques in India.
Raj Ghat – This park is also the place where Mahatma Gandhi was cremated, and serves as a memorial to his legacy.
Chandni Chowk – Chandni Chowk is one of the oldest and busiest markets in India, and has been around for over 3 centuries. It’s a busy but fun place to walk around sampling street food and window shopping.
Kari Baoli Spice Market – Just at the end of Chandni Chowk begins the spice market. The sight and smells of rows upon rows of spices is definitely worth a visit.
National Gandhi Museum – The Gandhi museum holds collections of books, journals, audio recordings, and other exhibits dedicated to the life of Gandhi.
Garden of 5 Senses – This 20 acre park has a variety of different areas and things to see. It’s an interactive outdoor space and a major part of Delhi tourism.
Sights in Central Delhi
India Gate – The India Gate is a war memorial commemorating Indian soldiers that were killed in the first world war.
Connaught Place – Connaught Place is a large financial and business center in Delhi, and has plenty of western tips and restaurants nearby for those craving a small piece of home.
Humayun’s Tomb – This UNESCO world heritage site is the first garden tomb in India. It marks the site of the Mughal Emperor Humayun and is a distinct example of the Mughal architecture found throughout India.
Lodi Gardens – The Lodi Gardens cover over 90 acres and house several tombs. In the morning, many locals visit here for a walk to start their day because it’s a quiet place to rest from the city chaos.
Akshardham Temple – Over 70% of Delhi tourists visit this temple, which displays years of Hindi and Indian culture. The complex it resides in has water shows, gardens, and multiple exhibitions.
Salaam Baalak City Walk – This two hour guided tour is conducted by Indian citizens who used to live in the streets. They are now trained guides who want to improve their communication skills, and walk guests through inner city streets. Proceeds go back into the program that assists street kids in Delhi.
Sights in South Delhi
Sarojini Nagar Market – This market is a bit calmer than some of the markets in North Delhi, and has plenty of shopping and food options.
Lotus Temple – The Lotus Temple is worth a visit to see its floral shaped structure. The temple has won several architectural awards and is a nice place to walk around.
Hauz Khas Village – This area of South Delhi has a number of restaurants, bars, and boutiques. It’s a good place to find handicrafts and hang out for a while.
Kunzum Travel Cafe – For those traveling solo, the travel cafe is a good place to meet other foreigners in India.
Travel in Delhi
There are a number of navigation options for travel in Delhi. Unfortunately, walking is tough to do because of the lack of sidewalks, heavy smog, massive distances, and congestion of traffic.
On a positive note, transportation is very cheap all through India, so finding rides won’t burn a hole in your pocket. The Delhi metro is always the cheapest option, especially if you’re near a metro stop. It can be a little overwhelming at first but tickets only cost a few rupees.
Another option is to take a tuk-tuk. You’ll find these in abundance, and they can take you anywhere you want to go. You’ll need to negotiate to get a reasonable price, and even then will pay more than the standard rate.
The last and most comfortable option is to use Uber or Ola cabs. Uber is present in most cities throughout India, and Ola cabs is there when Uber is not. Both are easy to use apps that charge fair rates.
For Ola cabs, you’ll need an Indian SIM card, but Uber works with your own cell phone number.
The most important thing to remember in India is to take it slow and bring your patience. Even busy places like Delhi are enjoyable to explore when you have an open mind! These tips should help first time visitors with travel in Delhi, and feel free to comment below on any that we missed.