Delhi is a chaotic city. It’s huge, it’s busy, it’s loud, it’s often very polluted. Yet most backpackers, travellers and visitors to India will start their India itinerary in Delhi.
And that makes sense because Delhi it’s centrally located to Rajasthan– a popular area of India for tourists to explore, Agra which is home to the Taj Mahal and just an overnight train or short flight away from one of the oldest cities in the world- Varanasi.
I don’t think that starting a trip to India in Delhi is a bad thing but to really enjoy Delhi and to leave not feeling scammed, overwhelmed and with the opinion that you’ll never go back (as some tourists to Delhi do!) there are certain Delhi Travel Tips that you need to know and that’s what I’m going to share with you in this Delhi Travel Blog and Delhi Travel Guide. Here are 10 Delhi Travel Tips for Foreigners!
Delhi Travel Tips
Best time to visit Delhi
Before we get into some top Delhi travel tips, it’s worth thinking about the best time to visit Delhi or any city of India, as the country get’s very hot and wet in the middle of the year. November to March are the best times to visit both North & South India. As Delhi is in north-central India, consider the colder months of the year to visit here so you don’t have to deal with the scorching sun.
South India will be warmer than North India in the winter months of December and January, Delhi and further North actually get cold in these months but are still enjoyable to visit with the right clothing.
Outside these months, you can still visit but you’ll find that the heat and humidity will be much higher, especially as you go further South.
SIM CARD FOR INDIA
I really recommend having a sim card in India as it makes travel in India so much easier! You may have heard that it’s hard to get a sim card in India but you can get a sim card in Delhi Airport, read this post to see how to buy a sim card in Delhi Airport or if you fly in elsewhere 3 ways to buy a sim card in India and you’ll be connected in just a few hours!
WHAT TO WEAR IN INDIA
If you are a woman, here’s what I recommend you pack and wear in India. Technically you can wear what you like in India in most places but to get fewer stares and feel more comfortable, read my post!
DON’T GET SCAMMED IN DELHI
1 – Go with an Open Mind
I’m sure you’ve been told horror stories about Delhi and I’m sure you’ve read horror stories about Delhi!
My top Delhi travel tip is to forget all of that! Firstly because you’re going to arrive in Delhi with a bad and negative mindset whereas arriving with an open mind will enable you to enjoy Delhi much more.
Secondly, Delhi and India in general, has changed so much in the last few years, if you know someone who had a bad experience in Delhi 10 years ago, chances are, if they went back now they wouldn’t even recognise the city.
The city has modernised and the generations of India have modernised too making Delhi tourism that bit easier. Read this post if you’re questioning, is Delhi Safe??
2 – Stay in a Good Area of Delhi
It took me 3 visits to Delhi to realise this important Delhi travel tip so I’m going to tell you now, so you don’t make the same mistake.
There’s an area in Delhi called ‘Paharganj‘ which is located close to New Delhi Train Station. This may seem like a popular area of Delhi to stay in because it’s well located to the train station and it has a huge concentration of accommodation on the likes of Booking.com, in fact, it’s known as the backpacker area of Delhi. However, Paharganj isn’t a nice area.
Paharganj has a busy main bazaar with many shops aimed at tourists but it is too overwhelming. It has budget accommodation and from my experience, the hotels are budget quality and will leave you disappointed. Therefore, I really do not recommend you stay in this area of Delhi.
Old Delhi is another popular area of Delhi to visit (more on that below) but staying here is a big mistake too.
So where is the best place to stay in Delhi in a safe hotel in Delhi? Well, either Central or in South Delhi.
Central Delhi is a good area of Delhi to stay in for tourists because it’s well located to Delhi monuments like the India Gate and the Jantar Mantar but it’s also close to Connaught Place (CP as it’s known to the locals) which is pretty much the very centre of Delhi.
Lots of metro stations meet here meaning it’s easy for everyone in Delhi to get to, Connaught Place itself has a nice park to sit in, and there are higher-end shops and restaurants here too.
I have stayed at Bloom Rooms Hotel Janpath in Central Delhi which I love and really recommend to you. It’s in the area of Janpath which has its own metro station, Janpath Market is close by which is a nice place to shop, it’s two stops from Khan Market (more on that below) and a short walk from Connaught Place.
Not only that but the hotel is beautifully designed, the staff are welcoming, it has a great cafe on-site and generally, it’s a nice place to recuperate in after sightseeing in Delhi whilst still staying in Central Delhi.
If you’d prefer staying in South Delhi, this is possible too. I also stayed at Prakash Kutir B&B in South Delhi in Hauz Khas. Staying here means it takes a bit longer to get into Central and Old Delhi however there are Delhi monuments to visit such as the Lotus Temple and Qutub Minar nearby and from staying here you get a much more residential and local look at Delhi. Prakash Kutir B&B is more like a homestay to be honest as the building is part family home, part hotel.
Being in local areas is another one of my top Delhi travel tips for tourists to Delhi!
Look for the best flights to India here!
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3 – Know that Delhi is NOT JUST Old Delhi
What do you know about the best areas in Delhi to visit and what to see in Delhi?
Old Delhi is probably what comes to mind first and that’s understandable, as a tourist this part of the city is what we are drawn to and told so much about in Delhi travel guides etc, but Delhi is so much more than just Old Delhi!
By all means, go there, there are things to do in Old Delhi such as the Red Fort, Chandni Chowk street and Jama Masjid- the biggest mosque in India but do not think that this is Delhi. Old Delhi is also an intense area to see alone as a tourist to Delhi, which leads me onto the next point of my Delhi travel tips…
4 – Make Use of Delhi Tours
There are so many tours in Delhi on offer like full city tours, street food tours, slum tours, cycling tours and free walking tours.
These tours will help you explore the city and live in Delhi like a local – Book now!
Going on a tour of Delhi not only helps you learn more about the area, and ensures you see the key places to visit in Delhi but having a guide to follow is priceless, especially in Old Delhi.
Old Delhi is chaotic, it’s everything you probably had in mind of India and of Delhi, it’s also very old with pavements missing, potholes, wires everywhere, dust everywhere and a whole lot of people!
I went on two tours around Old Delhi that I’d recommend to you to help you enjoy Delhi and therefore this is one of my biggest Delhi travel tips!
Old Delhi Street Food Tour
Last year when I was in Mumbai I went on a slum tour in Mumbai with Reality Tours, they are a company that has been designed with an incredible mission and values to give back to local communities. I left their Mumbai Tour thinking highly of them so I was happy to see they offer a Street Food Tour in Old Delhi.
I met my guide Sagar in Connaught Place before getting the metro together to Old Delhi, we had 5 delicious food stops, visited the Sikh Temple on Chandni Chowk, the Spice Market- Asia’s largest Spice Market and we also took multiple rickshaws throughout Old Delhi from place to place so I could soak up the pure craziness of this area!
Not only did I eat a lot of nice foods but I learnt so much about the area, about life in India and even picked up a few Hindi words. It was so amazing being able to see Delhi like this as well as certain tourist places in Delhi, but not feel overwhelmed about trying to navigate Old Delhi’s little streets and the traffic on my own.
I 100% recommend this Delhi Street Food Tour to you and it’s 2000Rs / £23.00 / $28.00 which is a reasonable price for the quality and to give back to a community through the tour.
BOOKING TRAINS IN INDIA
India is best travelled by train because its the quickest, cheapest and best way of getting to know the country. For an EASY option of booking trains in India use 12GO to search and book trains really easily. If you’ll be in India for awhile, you can use the local booking system, it’s a bit tricker but possible, here’s my post on how to book trains in India as a tourist.
BEST ACCOMMODATION IN INDIA
I always use Booking.com to book my hotels in India and Hostelworld to book my hostels. India has a great range of accommodation with brilliant hostel chains like Moustache, Zostel and Backpacker Panda as well as homestays to luxury hotels.
GUIDED TOURS IN INDIA
Many cities in India are best seen with a guide, even if it’s just a half day tour on your first day. Cities in India are chaotic and complex and what better way to taste the food and get to know the city than with a local. I recommend Get Your Guide & Viator for the best tours in India!
Old Delhi Cycling Tour
I also love this Cycling Tour of Old Delhi with Spin Monkey, we do it on my India group tours and the guests love it!
You start very early in the morning in Old Delhi while the traffic is quiet, visit some hidden local parts of the area that you would never find alone. Cycle through the maze of small lanes that you would get totally lost in alone, go to the spice market for chai on the rooftop, learn a lot and end by eating a delicious breakfast just as Old Delhi is fully awake!
Old Delhi Free Walking Tour
I also wanted to check out a free walking tour in Delhi, there are a few on offer but I ended up going with Yo Tours Free Walking Tour around Old Delhi, it was just 90 minutes but I considering it’s free with a recommended tip of 400Rs you can’t expect much more.
The guide was lovely, I learnt more about the history and again it was so nice seeing the windy streets of Old Delhi but not on my own and not worrying about where to go.
Plus, being with a guide in Old Delhi really reduces the amount of hassle you get from shop owners etc as they can see you won’t stop as you’re on a tour.
Here are some more Delhi Tours from Get Your Guide which all have good reviews, sometimes I find it reassuring to book tours like this in advance if I have limited time in a city:
5 – Don’t Be Afraid to Sightsee Alone
With the above being said, don’t be afraid to see Delhi alone either. You can get the Metro, Uber and Rickshaws around the city perfectly fine on your own and very cheaply. Central and South Delhi are good areas to explore alone and you can get to many of Delhi’s most popular monuments by metro.
I’d say a good mix of seeing Old Delhi with a guide and other areas on your own is a good way to do your Delhi sightseeing and one of my top Delhi travel tips.
6 – Use the Metro like a Local
The traffic in Delhi can be crazy and although you can walk around parts of Delhi I don’t suggest you try to walk all day because of the noise, heat and pollution. The best way to get around Delhi is by using the metro!
This may surprise you, it may not, but the Delhi Metro is ultra-modern! They have a number of lines connecting the city and places to visit near Delhi. The lines are colour-coded, the signs are in Hindi and English and best of all, the platforms and the carriages are air-conditioned which is bliss when it’s hot in Delhi!
As a solo female in Delhi one of my Delhi travel tips is that I felt very safe on the metro in all carriages but just so you know, the first carriage in the direction the train is going is always a female-only carriage!
7 – Keep Your Wits About you at the Airport
Talking of the airport, this is where you may well experience your first scam in Delhi. Delhi Airport is notorious for this, even these days so note these below Delhi travel tips!
Sim Card in Delhi Airport Scam
For example, Delhi Airport now has an Airtel store which you can buy a sim card and it’s much easier buying a sim card here than in the city (so I’d 100% recommend getting a sim here), however, the staff there are known for not giving the correct change, by a lot!
I’ve had it attempted on me twice and many people have told me it happened, or nearly happened to them too! That’s the worse way to be scammed within 1 hour of landing in Delhi!
Here’s my full post on how to buy a sim card in Delhi Airport. I really recommend you have a sim card or a data device to stay connected in India. If you don’t want to get a sim card, or your phone is locked and you can’t get a local sim, then get a portable device like this instead:
Airport Taxi Scam
Getting a taxi from Delhi Airport into the city is another way people may catch you out by charging you way more than the correct fare.
The best thing to do is to prebook a taxi from Delhi Airport to your hotel which is a reasonable price, or to go to the mini-cab office outside of the airport, they will give you a set price which is the best rate, you pay the guy then and then get the taxi.
I did this and it was the cheapest option. Just make sure you have the address and phone number of your Delhi Hotel on hand so the driver can call them if they can’t find it.
The other option is Uber but your sim card won’t be activated until 2-3 hours after buying it in the airport and the mini-cabs are not much more expensive.
Tourist Office Scam
Either way, I know it’s hard because you’re tired from the flight and the heat when you step outside will probably hit you but a top Delhi travel tip to avoid scams in Delhi is to try and keep your wits about you and keep a level head at the airport.
Don’t stand for the men trying to confuse you, tell them to leave you alone or walk off never listen to them wanting to take you to a ‘tourist office’ because it’s all a scam. There’s a Costa Coffee in Delhi Airport arrivals so you could grab a coffee, think things through and then start your journey into Delhi.
8 – Be Aware of Scams in Delhi
Let’s touch on more scams in Delhi as knowing these are the top Delhi travel tips!
Other scams in Delhi to be careful of are around the Delhi tourist monuments, not all the men (and I say men as India is male-heavy and you will come in contact with way more men than women in India) will be trying to scam you, some will just ask if you want a guide, a rickshaw/tuk-tuk or if you want photos taken in front of monuments.
But others may try to get you into their friends or uncles shop if you’re on a tour and others will mention a government official tourist office which is a famous Delhi scam, or they’ll talk about government shops. They’re all in it on commission and you will get charged way more for whatever you purchase. Plus, Indian people can be very convincing so you probably won’t even want what you are purchasing!
I really urge you to speak to the locals in Delhi, after all, part of being in India is to talk to Indian’s as many people are very friendly but don’t let any Indian person pressure you into going somewhere and don’t go until you think about it properly and with a level head so you can avoid scams in Delhi.
With that said I have always felt safe in Delhi and felt like my belongings are safe. Of course, you need to keep an eye on your bag like in every big city in the world but in all of India, I have never felt like I may be mugged or robbed and be part of a scam this way, so don’t let this worry you. Be sensible but don’t be over paranoid.
HELP WITH YOUR INDIA ITINERARY
I’ve spent many months travelling India in the last few years visiting over 50 places around the country, here are my recommended itinerary posts for India to help you plan your trip!
9 – Dress Appropriately
This Delhi travel tip is aimed at women and what to wear as a woman in Delhi.
Even though Delhi is a modern and cosmopolitan city in some areas you still need to be careful with what you wear in Delhi. For example, as a woman, I have always, and will always, wear long or 3/4 trousers or a skirt past my knees, I’ll never wear shorts in Delhi, even though you’ll see some local younger girls wearing them.
I have worn a tank top in Delhi with a shawl around me but in all honesty, if I compare the experience to that of wearing a t-shirt, I feel much more comfortable in a t-shirt in Delhi.
Have you booked your flight to India yet??
I use Skyscanner to book all of my flights! I’m a huge fan of Skyscanner because I love how easy it is to compare different dates and routes to help me find the best flight at the best price! Open Skyscanner by clicking here and search for the best flights as you read this post.
10 – Visit Local Places in Delhi, Not Just Tourist Places
Finally, that last of my Delhi travel tips, remember there is so much more to Delhi than it’s tourist monuments!
Yess the Red Fort, the Tombs, the Temples are good to see, especially if this is your first stop in India and you want to soak in the culture, but remember you’ll see plenty more during your India trip whether you’re in India for 2 weeks or 2 months, so be sure to head to some local places in Delhi too.
My main suggestion would be to go to Khan Market during the day or in the evening. During the day Khan Market is full of shops and cafes for lunch and come evening it comes alive with restaurants and bars. Sure the shops like MAC, Starbucks and Hamleys may not seem appealing but this is where locals go on a weekend evening so it’s good to see!
Hauz Khas Village is another great place to visit, again full of restaurants and boutique shops and this is especially good to visit if you are staying in South Delhi.
If you want to get some peace and quiet in Delhi, and you probably will, head to Lodhi Garden which locals visit but it’s also home to some tombs so you can see sights and relax in one go.
- Here are some other blog posts to help you out for the rest of India:
- The Best Way To See Jaipur aka The Pink City of India!
- Is It Worth Visiting The Taj Mahal? And My Top Tips for Visiting!
- 2 Day Itinerary for Varanasi – Will You Love it or Hate it??
- How to get a Sim Card in Delhi Airport.
- How to get the E-Visa for India online, step by step guide.
- ALL INDIA POSTS
Note – I worked with Bloom Hotels on a complimentary stay in return for content but I do truly recommend them as a fantastic hotel to stay at in Delhi.