The people, smells, animals and sounds of Delhi leave no one indifferent. Once you’ve gotten over the culture shock, you will start to really appreciate the city. Tip number one: bring a scarf. As you step outside of the airport, you will notice straight away how different everything is. Not only are there people everywhere, but what strikes you first is how much dust is in the air. Even late at night, there are people working on building sites and you can't exactly say that the streets quiet. So follow the trend and cover your mouth with a scarf, you’ll be grateful that you brought it.
The easiest way to get into town when you arrive is to take a taxi. In India, the traffic regulations are quite different than what we are used to. On Delhi roads, the biggest cars and trucks push their way in front of everyone else (unless you’re so small that you can just slip past, that is). Every single type of vehicle you can possibly imagine pushes its way through the throng, all the while constantly hooting and beeping. In order to get past, drivers beep for slower vehicles ahead of them to move over. A lot of times, cars will even move over to the oncoming lane in order to let faster vehicles pass. The animals drawing wagons on the side of the roads don’t seem to care at all about the hooting, as they just keep trotting along.
Central New Delhi is very beautiful and the contrasts between the areas around it are striking. The big, magnificent Parliament House is surrounded by large parks and so is the royal palace. Many tourists congregate by the Arch of Triumph at the end of the ceremonial avenue, which starts at the royal palace.
Always bring long trousers and a long sleeved top, no matter what the weather forecast is. You will need these items if you want to visit any of the beautiful temples in Delhi. You are not allowed to enter some of them of them if your legs aren’t covered and you must take off your shoes before entering. Some temples charge a small admission fee, but most of them are free. The Lotus Temple, where ceremonies are held every day, is well worth a visit. You should also visit Qutb Minar, south of Delhi, where you’ll find India’s first mosque and a seven meter high iron pillar. Walk around the pillar with your back turned to it – it brings you good luck!
Getting around Delhi is easy. There are taxis, bikes, and autorickshaws (a type of three wheeler) everywhere. Due to the rampant poverty, it's common to get ripped off in Delhi, as ricksha and autoricksha drivers don’t hesitate to take advantage of tourists. It is common for drivers to take customers to a shop in order to receive a commission from the owner. The customers don’t need to buy anything, but the driver still gets a commission. If the customers do buy something from the silk, jewellery, or souvenir shops, the driver will get a larger commission. So, the driver tells the customers, ”Yes, we just go quick stop to shop, only look, no have to buy – just look!”
To avoid this, you can either offer to pay the driver whatever he would have been paid from the shop, or make an agreement with the driver to visit more shops and then split the money. That way, both you and the driver benefit. This might seem ridiculous to you, as we're talking about very small amounts of money (around 30 euro cents), but it is enough to make a difference to the driver. If you want to take a taxi, it is easiest to agree about the price beforehand. You can also rent a driver/guide for a whole day through the tourist information and agree on a route in advance.
There is accommodation in all price ranges. It is easy to spot signs for guest houses, hotels, hostels, etc. We suggest that you look at the room before you make up your mind. In most guest houses, it is possible to get a better deal if you stay for a longer period. Even if it is hot outside, the nights are chilly, and a hot shower might not be as unnecessary as it sounds. The cold water in Delhi is really cold!
Remember, the hotel standard in India is completely different from that at home. A three star hotel could be a real squalid place. It’s a good idea to pay a bit extra for accommodation, or bring a sleeping bag to use in the hotel.
Be careful going out at night, especially if you are a young western woman. Bring some sort of stomach pills just in case, even if you won’t need them! Also, give Delhi some time to sink in, you will appreciate the throng and smells after a while!
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