A survival practical guide to Delhi
March 1, 2019
by Alice Pontini
Delhi or better New Delhi as per its urban district name is one of those places that requires few visits to make you fall in love with it or at least like it.
The fifth most populous city on earth it is also one of the most polluted and trafficked not just of Asia but of the entire world. these are probably the aspects you will mostly remember after your first visit.
It took me fourth visits to finally starting appreciated this chaotic mix of people, cultures, architecture, moments and stories…
Delhi is something else, it is not ‘British’ as Kolkata, not cosmopolitan as Bombay, not relaxed and chilled as Chennai.
Delhi is externe alive, under every point of you. The past, the present and the future coexist together to create something unique, something that will probably shock you at the beginning but then you will start appreciate slowly.
There are thousands of articles and post about New Delhi, what to do, what to see etc… Here you will find something different, something a little bit out of the main beaten tracks, something to keep on your list for maybe your second, third or fourth visit. All of us know about the main attractions, the Red Fort and Chandni Chowk but no many know what’s the easiest way to get a metro ticket, how do no get ripped off by Tuk Tuk drivers or the best Sikh Gurudwara to visit…
How to get there
First of all… Visa, our favourite. If you are planning to visit India for not more than two months this is your option. https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/evisa/tvoa.html works, for real. It has all the answers to your questions, it is easy to use and even the ‘Helpdesk information’ email has someone who actually will reply to your enquiries. All you need to do is submit your application, pay the fee ($ 80 for a double entry one) and wait for the confirmation. Once you have it you have 120 days to enter India and you can ask for a double entry option if you are also planning to visit one of the neighbouring countries.
If you are planning longer stay you should apply to the Indian embassy. The duration of the visa will depend on which country you are applying, but you should get at least six months duration.
Finally, you are holding your visa and it is time to fly to the subcontinent!
Flying into Delhi is a delightful experience, especially if you arrive with an early morning flight which will give you the opportunity to witnesses my favourite moment of the day. The city is slowing waking up in the mist and timid, warm sunlight. The streets Wallah (vendors) start making Chai and frying samosa. The traffic is still relatively quiet and Auto rickshas are hitting the roads.
Indira Gandhi National airport is one of the pride of the city and one of the most efficient airports in the whole world. The custom process is very fast and efficient, remember to fill the arrival custom form.
From the airport to the city centre is around 15 km but it could take you an hour because of the traffic.
you can take a taxi (400/500 Rupees, 300R with Uber). Remember to get an official taxi just outside the arrival in order to avoid a scam. Set the price before you leave or make sure they use the meter.
Another option, cheap and quick, especially if you are travelling by yourself is the Airport Express metro line which could take you directly to the centre.
You are still at the airport and you are already fighting with your phone plan and the neve ending and painful roaming issue. Getting a sim card and having data in India is very cheap. At the arrival, there is a Sim card desk (next to the money exchange one). To get a Sim card you will need to show your passport and visa. A monthly plan with data, local calls and messages will cost you around 300/400 R. It is quite easy to top up the phone, you can also download the app and charge your phone from there. Airtel is a good option and it works all over India.
And now that you have data you can look into some apps which will make your life easier in the city:
Yes, you can use the same account you set in your home country. The only difference here is that would be extremely cheap and you will also have the Auto rickshas option (my fav and the most fun one) and the pool option (if you have time and want to go for the best value option).
Bargain the prices are always fun but if you are just landed and you don’t have an idea of the prices, you will most likely get ripped off by drivers, food and street Wallah.
is another app, similar to uber and maybe even cheaper.
Delhi Metro App
Download the Delhi Metro app so you can plan your movements around the city and use the metro map, super useful!
Little Black Book. There is so much going on in Delhi: Events, festival, parties, celebrations, openings… This app will give you great ideas on what’s going on, what’s new and what’s interesting to see and to do in those days you are around.
Old Delhi and its monuments are the Jewels of this city but understanding what is actually going on nowadays and what this city has to offer now it will give you a better idea of understanding the city and its people. (The App also works for other seven Indian cities)
How to get around
We already mentioned the Delhi Metro. This is the masterpiece of the transportation system of Delhi! It Is the second oldest metro in India and with its 8 lines one of the busiest.
It is extremely cheap, the fare depends on the length of your journey and at the entrance of the station, you will find a map that shows you the exact amount you will need from one station to the next.
How to get tickets
If you go with the single journey ticket you will need to get to the counter and tell your destination, otherwise, you could use the machines. For both options, there would be a long queue of not very patient locals constantly trying to step in front of you.
The best possible option is to get a Travelcard. You will get it at the counter and It will cost 150R with 100 R of credit already in. I suggest you top it up with a few hundred in order to avoid to queue up again for recharging.
With the travel card, the cost of the journeys is even cheaper and you won’t need to queue all the time. You can also easily top it up at the machines at every station.
Avoid the rush hours and remember the Delhi metro has got women carriages, always the first two at the very beginning of the train. It is absolutely worth it to use if you want to avoid unpleasant encounters. I would recommend it even if you are travelling in a mixed group. Always use it. It will be still busy during rush hours but way better than the mixed one and maybe a little fewer eyes on you.