Image Courtesy: Amit Rawat.
New Delhi is one of the most lively, diverse, and strangely wonderful cities in which you can choose to stay comfortably. But in the face of an entirely different culture, it can also seem chaotic and intimidating to the first time visitor. Fear not, however – acclimatizing is half the fun. Eventually you will come to feel oddly at home walking down those bustling streets, but in the meantime here are some quick survival tips to help you get by. If by the end of this list you are not scared off, then the adventure of a lifetime may be just around the corner.
1. Don’t ever trust a stranger:
Remember the times when your parents asked you to stay away from strangers? We may have ignored the warning over time, but don’t make that mistake here in Delhi. Chances are that you might be interacting with a professional crook or someone from a small town trying to make a fast buck. There are all sorts of people in the capital city—be wary of whom you interact with!.
- Take a break- On that same note, just give yourself a break some days and enjoy the little things in the capital. Watch a movie in a hall, check out the bookstores, enjoy a nice meal or go to a parlor for some pampering (many parlors and spas in Delhi offer packaged deals).
2. Don’t get your hair beaded in Dilli Haat:
Yes, the idea of getting your hair beaded with various colors at Dilli Haat might be appealing—but it is not worth it! The ladies at Dilli Haat might promise how easy it would be to remove the beads later, but it really isn’t. Several tourists like to get it done and keep it on for a few days, but get hassled at the end of it all by the endless hair knots. Not something you’d want to remember! Divide major areas and markets you want to visit and explore one every day. Try to relax and enjoy every place you visit. Chances are, things won’t go according to plan in this chaotic city, so adapt and go with the flow.
- Make a list of must-see places (a few suggestions: Red Fort, Chandni Chowk, India Gate, Humayun’s Tomb, Connaught Place, Khan Market) and enjoy the city, one day at a time.
3. Don’t skip Big Chill:
Yes! Delhi has a number of cafes and restaurants all over, but if you plan to give Big Chill a miss, your trip will remain incomplete.
- Some say it is overrated and overpriced, but we know that their desserts are absolutely worth dying for. The pizzas and pastas too are recommended by most foodies!.
4. Don’t run for a metro:
If you’re visiting Delhi on a budget, you ought to use the metro. And if you have done a bit of research, you’ll know exactly how crowded it is at times! While most Delhiites would suggest you ‘push your way through’ to get in or get out, we suggest that you don’t. You won’t just risk getting hurt, but you will also have to deal with way too many (sweaty) people around you!.
- Trust us, the Delhi metro frequency is pretty high—you’ll get where you want to on time, even if you miss a few.
5. Beware of the Delhi Belly:
Like we mentioned before, Delhi will tempt you into trying out the delicious street food. But while you indulge your taste buds, make sure not to overdo it or eat at the wrong places. You really don’t want to return with the infamous Delhi Belly.
- Be wary of where you eat your food or drink water from—no matter how hungry or thirsty you are.
6. Avoid Monsoon season:
The best months to visit Delhi are November–March, especially for people who can’t bear the scorching sun, humidity or the water-logged roads of Delhi monsoons. Delhi winters are both pleasant and amazing, particularly in the mornings. Enjoy the morning breeze of Delhi winters with some kulharwaali chai (hot tea served in handcrafted clay cups) at The Singing Tree, an amazing tea house with a variety of teas and coffees in Chittaranjan Park area of South Delhi.
- Not every bathroom in India is equipped with toilet paper, so it’s a good idea to carry some while travelling. Even though the condition of public bathrooms has improved, the ones in restaurants tend to be better options.
7. Drink bottled water:
The tap water in Delhi is not fit to drink from the source, so – unless you are a guest of someone who has a water purifier – make it a rule to only drink bottled water and avoid ice in drinks at bars and restaurants. The practice will reduce your chances of feeling unwell and not enjoying your trip.
- Never take drinks from strangers, and don’t leave drinks unattended.Stay away from open street food.
8. Carry a can of bug spray and pepper spray:
There is no harm in staying a little cautious in the capital.
- An easy way to get rid of pests (of any sorts), both bug and pepper spray will help you stay safe in Delhi.
9. Don’t book the first accommodation you find:
The Paharganj area is a tried and tested option for accommodation in Delhi, especially Arakashaa Road.
- Be sure to check out options in posh areas, like South Delhi, which offer good prices for upscale amenities.
10. Dress somewhat modestly:
This is advice suited more to women: dress a bit modestly when exploring the capital.
- Still, make sure to be comfortable, and pick up some amazing Indian pieces from brands like Lakshita, FabIndia and Anokhi.
Except the above points there are some more facts which you should keep in mind while travelling to Delhi.The number one rule to shopping and bargaining in Delhi is to know your options, so take time and see what the other vendors, just ten steps away, are offering. The sad truth remains that tourists are often exploited to a certain degree, but skillful bargaining can help save some money. (Also, the practice is fun.) Markets to bargain in are Sarojini Nagar, Janpath, GK M Block market, and Chandni Chowk.
Delhi may not be perfect, but it is an amazing place to be. The key to a great experience in the capital is embracing the unique, weird and exceptional city and its people. Go with the flow, change and adapt your plans, and forget about the concept of personal space for a little while.
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