Suvival Guide - Arriving in India
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A Suvival Guide to arriving in Delhi

Ok, most of what I'm going to say here is in all of the good travel books, but so far, virtually everybody who I've met who has travelled to India for the first time has gotten caught out. Failing to follow this advice may cost you anything in the region of between 50 and 100, enough for you to live on in India for about two or three weeks.

Delhi is a great, lively, busy cosmopolitan city with lots of things to buy and many wonderful people, but not at the airport.

Rules

  1. Pre-book, reserve and confirm a place in a hotel before you leave the UK.
  2. When you get off the plane, have picked up your backage, and changed some money, just sit down and relax for a few minutes. Go and chat with a couple of people and ideally see if you can find anybody to share a taxi with (preferably someone who has been to India before!). You will need your energy for the battle that is about to commence!
  3. When you are ready, head through the exit (you give in your arrival card to a security guard) and you'll be spat out into a large, incredibly noisy, arrivals hall. What you are looking for is the Delhi Traffic Police pre-pay taxi booth. It's over to your left, a small glass fronted booth, and I think that the sign is yellow. Anyway, it doesn't particularly stand out, so look for it.
    Important: Do not go any were else, it will be more expensive.
  4. Tell the gentlemen where you want to go and pay him. Pre-pay, means exactly what it says, you pay for the taxi / rickshaw up-front. You don't have to pay the driver, unless you want to give him a tip of course.
    Warning:If you've chosen a hotel in the Parg Gange area (the cheapest and most popular) you are the most likely to get ripped off. One way to avoid this may be to ask to be taken to "New Delhi Train Station". Make up some story about having pre-booked train tickets out of Delhi that morning, and you do not need a hotel. The station is just across the road from the parg gange market, and all the hotels are within walking distance.
  5. The correct answer to the question, "Have you been to India before?" is not, "Oh no, it's my/our fist time". The question is not being asked out of politeness, they want to know if they are going to earn more than a week's wages in commission this evening.
  6. The correct answer to the question, "Have you been to India before?" is not, "Oh no, it's my/our fist time". The question is not being asked out of politeness, they want to know if they are going to earn more than a week's wages in commission this evening.
  7. Do not believe any stories like, "there are riots in town...", "I don't know where .... is.", etc. Do not let him take you to a 'Tourist Information Office' (or con artist's shop) so that you can 'check your reservation (or speak to the guy in the next room who will tell you that your hotel is full).
  8. Insist on going straight to the place where you want to go, and check when you arrive that it is in fact the right location. Do not tip him until you have confirmed that you are indeed in the right place!
  9. Finally, make sure you have a note of the taxi number, and if the driver starts getting a bit 'funny', threaten to complain, take his name... You never know, it might just work!

The other option that the travel guides recommend is to sit it out and wait in the airport until morning - which may not be such a bad thing, just make sure that you have something comfy to sit / lie on! As a final note, a couple of people have told me that their hotel was willing to provide a pick-up service from the airport. This has got to be the best solution, so ask because it's unlikely that the hotel will offer!?

Finally, don't worry exessively about it all, India's a wonderful country, and you'll more than likely love it. You just have to remember that you are very, very rich compared to virtually every Indian that you will meet, and the temptation to try and take some of your money is just too much for some people. The other 99.9% of people in India are some of the most friendly, kind, generous people in the world.


Serious bit. I wrote this advice for a reason. India has a massive problem with poverty - you will not need me to tell you this, you will see it for yourself. If my advice saves you from being ripped off, then please spend some of that money anyway - find a charity while you're there, be it the Salvation Army, The Gandhi Peace Foundation, or a miriad of other organisation and give them a generous donation. It is possible to survive on less than 50 rupees a day - many people have much less than this, so your one night getting ripped off (or not) could be converted into providing food for twenty people for a week.

I'd also welcome an email if you found the above useful - or if you have any comments or critisisms. Please remember that it is only what I think, and after all, who am I? ;)

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Created by Dan Leigh 5/10/01