Planning a trip to India? You might have heard a lot of stories about India, so I’m going to present you with some insider India travel tips for your first time travel to India and Delhi.
I feel you! Finally, you’ve decided to visit Taj Mahal & cross off from your India travel bucket list. Every Taj Mahal related travel to India post refers to “The Golden Triangle of India” which includes Delhi Agra Jaipur tour package. In most probability, you’ll travel to New Delhi and will keep it as a base.
Although, most of you might have heard Delhi is a chaotic city with a mad rush in the metro, mad rush on road and precisely everywhere. But we Delhites are still super proud of Delhi despite its flaws and why shouldn’t we, we are in the capital of the largest democracy in the world with a vivid history.
So, all of you lovely people who are planning a trip to India and also Delhi might be wondering how to commute in Delhi without cursing their way around. Being someone who has traveled in practically all the transport mediums of the city, I’m going to present my India travel tips with some inside information and I’m guarantying you will avoid most of the mad rush during Delhi travel. Even if you’re planning a solo travel in Delhi, these Delhi travel tips and guide will make your India travel a memorable one.
Here are my best India travel tips
#First things first, How to travel in Delhi?
Back in the 2000s when Delhi only had the option of buses, auto rickshaws, and taxis to commute in Delhi, DMRC launched Delhi Metro in 2002 as a rescue for the Delhiites. And so now 16 years later, Delhi metro is Delhi’s lifeline and one of my top tips for Delhi travel starts from commuting through Delhi Metro.
1. Delhi Metro
Metro – short for Delhi Metro – are the trains which run in Delhi NCR including all major areas in Delhi and Noida, Ghaziabad & Gurgaon. Metro is the best & most efficient way to move around in the capital because of the quick service and fast speed. The trains connect all probable corners in the city now and are also expanding quickly to the remaining parts. Also because of these reasons most of the office goers & practically anyone who needs to go around use metro and hence mad rush in trains!! Another major reason to use Delhi Metro is that it is one of cheapest medium for Delhi travel. This Delhi travel guide will help you commute hassle free in Delhi.
#How to reach your hotel
If you’re reaching Delhi by flight, then I recommend using Delhi Metro’s Airport Express line which starts from the Terminal 3 (T3) International Airport till New Delhi Railway Station Metro. If you are landing at the domestic airport, then you’ll have to take a cab or autorickshaw to the Delhi Aerocity metro station. To date, there’s no direct connection of metro lines between the international airport and the domestic airport.
If you’re traveling to Delhi by trains, there are a number of railway stations in Delhi. The main station is New Delhi Railway station which is till date the largest one. Then comes the Old Delhi Railway Station which is the second most used station in Delhi. One railway station also opened recently is the Anand Vihar one which connects to mainly Uttar Pradesh and nearby Northen states. If you’re coming or heading to Udaipur in Rajasthan, you might use the Sarai Rohilla station which is a very small station as compared to all others. All these stations are well connected through Delhi Metro with stations in close proximity.
If you’ve buses to commute to Delhi, then in most probability you’ll reach Kashmere Gate which again is another major interchange station of Delhi Metro.
Moving on to the next big question on how to avoid rush while your travels in Delhi?? If you’re traveling for leisure or historical monuments of Delhi then you may find these Delhi metro travel tips really helpful. Most importantly, you might want to set travel time as per seasons –
#Winters (November – February)
- Start the day late – Winters are cozy, so people (lazy people like me) prefer to wake up late. I would advise boarding metro probably after 9:30 AM so as to avoid office rush which usually lightens up the peak hours and you may travel in Delhi comfortably.
- End the day in late evenings – Evenings are equally maddening as people are keen to reach home. I would suggest to roam & eat around, then head back to hotel/Air Bnb after 7:30 PM.
#Summers (Ideally rest of the year)
I would anyway suggest avoiding Delhi as it gets super hot in summers & really humid in monsoons. If you’re still keen on visiting Delhi around this time of year, then you must know most people prefer metro as a mode of commute to beat the heat.
- Start the day early – Catch the metro between 7:30 AM to avoid peak rush joining in after 8:00 AM.
- End day in late evenings – Evenings are equally bad throughout the year, so prefer to use metro after 7:30 PM – just like winters.
Ever wondered if India in too conservative or what options you have to choose from your wardrobe for your India trip? Read this practical guide on what to wear in India from Natalia.
*Pro Delhi Travel Tips*
Tourists traveling to Delhi complain a lot while commuting in Delhi metro. I’m going to present some of the best Delhi travel tips with which you’ll find your way easily.
– There’s an all women’s coach for ladies to travel safely and some dedicated seats available for women in all other coaches.
– Metro card comes to your rescue from the huge line for tokens. Buy a card from any ticket counter at as low as 150 INR and recharge it later from the ticket kiosks which are now functional at most stations.
– Use Paytm to recharge metro card remotely without even going to a kiosk. Sometimes, the card doesn’t work post recharge, simply head to ticket counter stating you used Paytm for recharge, they’ll fix it in a minute.
– Use metro stations to cross major road junctions. I know traffic is a mess here, and nobody really follows zebra crossing, so why not use metro stations to cross the road safely.
– There are various lines – Red, Blue, Yellow, Violet, Orange and many more. Most crowded routes are now being upgraded from 4 to 6 or 8 coaches which means more space. If traveling on the Yellow line for Gurgaon – being mostly used – have a maximum of 8 coaches. Rest is also catching up except the ones which don’t require the Red Line.
2. Rented Car/Cab
OK, so you have decided to skip metro and drive around the city!! Let me tell you, it is not going to be easy also as the city is heavily under construction and Delhiites have a bad traffic sense. Most of the times the roads are jam-packed, still, the non-office timings will give you some relief from slow-paced traffic. I’ll brief with some major routes with tourists spots around and these Delhi, India travel tips will help in case you’ve chosen to drive around Delhi city –
1. National Highway (NH8) – Delhi to Gurgaon – Although Gurgaon is really outer of the city not many historical sites to see there, it has the most important to reach Delhi – Airport (International & Domestic). How will you feel if you’re stuck in a miles-long jam and you have a flight to catch…Not great..right??
So, first & foremost avoid peak hours in Delhi starting 8:00 AM – 12:00 AM in morning and in evenings strictly avoid 5:00 PM – 8:00 PM. How about when you have to reach airport around (& after) these slots? I would say leave early – wouldn’t it be better to reach airport little early rather than missing your flight altogether. Also, IGI T3 was ranked World Best Airports No 1 (2016) in 25-40 MPPA category so it would be nice to explore the airport. Secondly, if you’re reading this which I hope you do then plan your flights accordingly 🙂
2. India Gate – Humayun Tomb or ITO – The traffic at the India Gate roundabout moves almost smoothly but to arrive at a bottleneck either via Pragati Maidan towards Humayun Tomb or going to ITO. Avoid these routes to being stuck in traffic and long red lights.
3. Sarai Kale Khan – Akshardham Temple – The railway station at Sarai Kale Khan is a driver of messy traffic and going towards another iconic landmark of the city could land you in a huge mess.
4. Gurgaon – Vasant Kunj – IIT – AIIMS and till India Gate – Another major stretch which has not more than 2-3 lanes and the influx of traffic is relatively very high, better to avoid the stretch in peak hours. Also, this is the longest route from central Delhi to South Delhi/Gurgaon.
In Delhi, Hindi is the most commonly spoken language and you’ll also find a lot of people speaking good English. Before traveling to Delhi, it’s nice to know a few Hindi phrases like –
- “Namaste” meaning “Hello”.
- “……… kidhar hai” meaning “where is ……” (replace ….. with places like hotel/sightseeing places).
- “Mera Naam hai ……” meaning “My name is ….”.
- “Kya Aap English Bolte hai?” meaning “Do you speak English?”.
- “Ye kitney ka hai?” meaning “How much is this for?”
- “Aap Kaise hai?” meaning “How are you?
- “Aap se milke Khushi hui.” meaning “Nice to meet you.”
#Delhi Food – Where to Eat in Delhi
Delhi is a foodie’s paradise, you will find a variety of options, be it vegan, vegetarian, non-vegetarian or even international cuisine. Still where to eat in Delhi is one hell of a question. You will find street food in most places, including in all the top places to see in Delhi. But if you have a weak stomach, I will not vouch for street food and would advise opting for decent dine in restaurants. Places like Hauz Khaz village, Pandara Road, Khan Market, Satya Niketan will give you amazing dine in restaurants and cafes(not to forget some of these are Instagram worthy cafes in Delhi). If you visit any malls in Delhi, you find overwhelming options for restaurants ranging from Punjabi, South Indian, or simply international ones like Chilis as well. If still confused, try Zomato app to find a restaurant’s review by users and then choose accordingly. One more tip for Delhi – Only drink *sealed* Bottled water in Delhi.
Suggested Read – Wondering where to eat in Delhi? Head to Farzi Cafe to try Indian flavors with a twist!!
Being the capital of India, Delhi has a mix of all the cultures, be it north India, or South or even the eastern India. The juxtaposition of high class and severe poverty is clearly visible in most parts of the city, so be prepared to accept it. Most of the people in Delhi are friendly and ready to help any foreign nationals traveling to their city. Yet people here are also impatient and tend to get into fights easily. So, it’s best not to get into one of those. If you’re white with blonde hairs, you’ll probably attract a lot of attention, I’m not being racist here but Indians do have this obsession white color. You might find people trying to get a picture with you, but if you’re not comfortable, decline them humbly, they’ll accept it.
#Shopping in Delhi
Delhi is a shopper’s dream, with high-end malls to flee markets, Delhi has it all. If you have some spare time, visit the malls in Delhi, and you’ll find a lot of international brands and you can literally shop till you drop 😀 Delhi has a lot of flee markets, starting from Janpath in Connaught Place, Lajpat Nagar, Sarojini Nagar. While shopping in the flee markets, directly negotiate the price to 50% and the shopkeepers will bring the price to a decent 60-70% of the initial price.
I’m going to present some of the top things to do in Delhi, India and also offer some of my best Delhi travel tips with some bonus travel tips on how to travel to these locations in Delhi –
Qutub Minar ~ located in Mehrauli, with the nearest metro station of Qutub Minar and in the heavily congested area. So if you plan to drive till there, cross the main red light junction before, else you’ll keep on waiting to turn that light green 😉 One of the well-known historical places in Delhi, Qutub Minar shouldn’t be missed in your Delhi city tour.
Related Read – Qutub Minar – Photo Gallery!!
Agrasen Ki Baoli – A step-well and another one of renowned historical places in Delhi, the baoli is a must-see for people traveling to Delhi. Located in Connaught place, the baoli can be easily reached through Rajiv Chowk aka C.P. metro station and a walk or autorickshaw.
India Gate – India Gate is in center of Delhi and the roundabout is usually filled with cars yet the traffic is moving. If planning to go via metro, the nearest station is Pragati Maidan and from there you might either walk or hire an auto-rickshaw. One of the top places to visit in Delhi, it is one of the must-see historical places in Delhi to be included in your Delhi tour.
The National Gallery of Modern Art – If you think your Delhi travel only have to include the historical places in Delhi, you’re about to be proved otherwise. I highly recommend visiting the contemporary art gallery in Delhi with over 14000 artworks. Located at the India Gate’s roundabout and easily accessible through cabs. Although no metro will take you directly to the gallery, but get down at Pragati Maidan station of Delhi metro and walk through the beautiful lanes of Delhi. This walk will make your Delhi tour a lifetime memory.
Purana Qila – Another one of the famous historical places from Delhi, almost adjacent to India gate with the close proximity of 2.5 km and lies on way towards Humayun Tomb. Although not much maintained unlike its counterparts, it’s still nice to visit the Fort on your Delhi trip.
Humayun Tomb & Nizammudin Dargah – One of the most famous historical places in Delhi and also the most photographed location from Delhi, the tomb is a must-see. Both the locations can be clubbed with India Gate as it falls under 5 miles from here. Although I would advise visiting Humayun Tomb in morning hours to get the best pictures of this beautiful tomb without crowd blocking your way. Just 10 mins from the Tomb is the iconic Nizammudin Dargah which is one of the most sacred Mosques in the country with huge religious value. A number of Bollywood movies are also shot in the mosque so it can add to your Delhi trip memories.
Safdar Jang Tomb – One of most underrated historical places in Delhi, the tomb is a major landmark in Delhi’s history marking the end of Mughal Empire. The tomb is within walking distance from Jor Bagh station of Delhi metro and closely located to Lodhi Gardens. Once out of the station, you’ll see various autorickshaws lined up to take you to the tomb. If you’re too tired to walk or not in the mood to walk, you can hop on to one of them with as low as 50INR. Else, walking through the lanes of that side of Delhi will present you with some amazing houses.
Red Fort – This iconic monument lies in old Delhi (locally called Dilli) which is little far from the center of the city and located closely to Chandni Chowk and Khari Bawri ~ the largest spice market in Asia.
Jama Masjid – The largest mosque in India lies in close proximity to Red Fort and comes under Chandni Chowk. Being largest in the country, the mosque has respective religious values. The mosque can be reached either from Chandni Chowk Delhi metro station or the recently opened Jama Masjid station from the violet line of Delhi metro.
Know more about the unheard Tughlaqabad Fort from Delhi.
#Old Delhi, India Travel Tips
1. Old Delhi is hugely congested as its name suggest it’s relatively old with narrow alleys. Prefer using metro for here, or you’ll be stuck in a traffic mess which is much worse than routine Delhi traffic.
2. Chandni Chowk one of the largest cloth markets is closed on Sundays, so plan accordingly. Yet on Sundays some of the shops are open, so it’s can be nice to explore the busiest and one of best places to visit in Delhi with fewer crowds.
Have you visited any of these in Delhi in your trip to India?? How was your experience?? Do share your thoughts with me!!
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– The Wanderer