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Before travelling to Delhi, finding the right travel guide to Delhi is crucial. This city, the heart of India, is always awake, has a mishmash of people, cultures and has so much to offer! It's easy to get overwhelmed on your first visit to Delhi. therefore, this Delhi travel guide will help you plan out your travel, step by step, covering every aspect of the city.
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Table of Contents
New Delhi Travel Guide: Expertly Navigating Through India’s Crazy Capital City!
I'd be lying if I said travelling to Delhi will be a piece of cake and that you won't encounter hurdles along the way - because you will. While India's chaotic capital city is endearing, it can be quite trying at times. The traffic, pollution, stares and the sheer stress of navigating through New Delhi can get on the nerves of even the most seasoned travellers. Therefore, I've put together this Delhi travel guide to take some of that stress off of you.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Why Should You Visit New Delhi?
- When to Visit Delhi
- How to Reach Delhi
- Arriving in Delhi
- Getting Around Delhi
- New Delhi Safety Tips
- General Safety Tips
- Safety Tips for Foreigners in Delhi
- Safety Tips for Solo Female Travellers in Delhi
- What to Wear in Delhi
- New Delhi Food Guide
- Where to Stay in Delhi
- Best Places to Visit in Delhi
- Shopping to Visit in Delhi
- Weekend Getaways from Delhi
Why Should You Visit New Delhi?
Granted that Delhi is messy, chaotic and difficult (at times), the city does give a person many reasons to fall in love with it. With bucket-loads of history, historical monuments and architectural marvels, there's SO much to see in Delhi. Additionally, if you're a foodie, you'll have a gala in Delhi. With lip smacking street food and lots of regional specialities, Delhi is any gastronomer's paradise. For those with an artistic bend of mind, Delhi offers a whole art district, a National Gallery of Modern Art, and plenty of other galleries and museums.
When to Visit Delhi
- Spring (March-April) : These months bring a pleasant weather to Delhi with the temperature being neither too hot nor too cold. It's definitely a good time to visit Delhi.
- Summer (May-June) : The summer months in Delhi are the hottest time of the year with the heat getting overbearing.
- Monsoon (July-September) : The rainy months in Delhi bring add humidity to the already existing heat. It's best to avoid travelling to Delhi during the monsoon.
- Autumn (October-November) : This is the shoulder season for visiting New Delhi. This is the time of the year when the weather is perfect and the crowds aren't as bad as any other month. undoubtedly it's the best time of the year to visit Delhi.
- Winter (December-February) : Winters in Delhi can get really cold as compared to other parts of India. The winters also bring fog which delays flights and excessive air pollution. It's best to avoid a Delhi trip during winters.
How to Reach New Delhi
New Delhi, being the capital of India, is well-connected to other Indian cities as well as lots of international destinations. Here are some of the best ways to reach Delhi, described in detail below.
Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport is one of the finest airports in the world. Well designed, spacious, decorated tastefully and containing lots of amenities, Delhi airport is a sight in itself! There are lots of direct flights between Delhi and other Indian cities such as Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Goa, Srinagar, Dharamshala, Jaipur and many more cities. Furthermore, there are many flights between Delhi and international destinations.
Train travel in India is a popular and affordable option. Delhi has two major railway stations - Hazrat Nizamuddin Railway Station and New Delhi Railway Station. There are countless trains plying between Delhi and almost every other place in India. Book your train tickets by visiting the IRCTC website or go to the reservation office at the nearest railway station to buy a train ticket.
Bus travel is another common way to travel to New Delhi, India. You'll find a variety of buses ranging from volvo, sleeper, semi-sleeper, air conditioned with amenities like live tracking etc using the website redbus. Book buses to Agra, Jaipur, Manali and other nearby places using this website.
Arriving in New Delhi
There are two things to do the moment you arrive in New Delhi - find the best, cheapest way to reach your place of stay and avoid falling prey to scams or traps. The best and the most cost effective way to go from either the Delhi airport or railway station to the city is taking a ride in Uber or Ola (the Indian equivalent of Uber). The moment you step out of the airport or station in Delhi, you'll be swarmed by taxi drivers offering to take you to a nearby nice hotel. It's usually a scam where they're working for commission. They'll tell you that your hotel is too far or that it closed down or something else happened but don't fall prey to this scam. Be firm, say no and keep walking away from them.
Getting Around Delhi
I found the best way to get around Delhi was by using the Delhi metro. The metro is dirt cheap, super fast, clean and efficient. Besides, anyone can figure out how to navigate using the metro quite easily. Just download a free Delhi metro map and you'll see that the metro is connected to all major sights and important points of interest in Delhi. Another way to get around Delhi is by hailing a cab using Uber or Ola. Rates for using the cab services and fair and minimal.
New Delhi Safety Tips
General Safety Tips
There are a few basic but important safety tips that need to be following during a Delhi trip. Firstly, try to avoid taking a tuk-tuk or auto rickshaw in the night and definitely steer clear of the shady parts of the city. Chances are high that the driver may take you through an isolated place where his accomplice will be waiting to mug you. Secondly, take a hotel in the nicer parts of the city and only use cab services (again, stay alert) and the metro at night.
Safety Tips for Foreigners in Delhi
It's important to address the safety aspect for foreign tourists in this Delhi travel guide.. There's a big difference between the way domestic and international tourists are treated in India. While foreigners will get attention and special treatment from shop owners, hotels and the likes, a lot of locals will be filled with curiosity. White skin, blonde hair and blue or green eyes are a subject of utmost curiosity. This is why you'll see many locals come up to foreigners for a picture. While this is okay, especially since the ones who ask for a picture haven't gotten a lot of exposure and are doing this out of sheer curiosity, touching or persisting to take a picture even after declining the request is not acceptable. If you find someone following you or trying to touch you or repeatedly insisting to take a picture, say no to them firmly and loudly.
Safety Tips for Solo Female Travellers in Delhi
No Delhi travel guide would be complete without addressing the giant in the room. Delhi is known for the many incidents of sexual violence against women. Thus women solo travellers need to be especially vigilant and alert while travelling to Delhi. Firstly, book a stay in a safe neighbourhood even if it means paying a little more. Secondly, try not to wander alone at night. I've been to Delhi many times and I've made a personal rule for myself to be back inside my place of stay (if I'm alone) before sundown. It may seem unnecessary but I've never had an incident in Delhi to date because I prioritise my safety. Thirdly, dress modestly in Delhi. There are parts of India where women can dress however they want without getting unwanted stares but Delhi is no such place. Fourth and most important, while getting into a cab, share the details with a close friend or family member. Make sure the driver is following the correct route and that he doesn't make a phone call to share his location details with anyone else.
What to Wear in Delhi
Like I mentioned earlier, it's best to dress modestly in Delhi. I found, from personal experience, that clothes that reveal anything other than arms and ankles attract unwanted attention from men. Clothes that are completely okay to wear in Goa did not go down well in Delhi. Thus, loose fitting garments that cover the knees and chest area are to be preferred. Jeans, trousers, loose t-shirts, maxi skirts, maxi dresses will work very well.
New Delhi Food Guide
How to Avoid Delhi Belly
Stomach upsets aka Delhi belly are a common problem faced by both first-time as well as seasoned visitors to Delhi. It's important for foreign tourists to note that tap water in India is not meant for drinking purposes. That being said, keep hygiene in mind when choosing a restaurant to eat at in Delhi. If you have a sensitive stomach then avoid eating at street food stalls while visiting New Delhi.
What to Eat in Delhi - Food You MUST Try!
No Delhi travel guide would be complete without mentioning the galore of street food in Delhi and all the other food to try in Delhi, India. When it comes to the must-try food in Delhi, chole bhature, momos and various chaat items like tikki chaat, pani puri etc top the list. Moreover, there are lots of delicious and popular Indian dishes like chicken gravy and paneer gravy items that are well-made in Delhi.
Where to Eat in Delhi - Restaurants and Cafes
Delhi is home to some of the finest restaurants and cafes in India. You'll find all sorts of places serving a variety of cuisines in Delhi. Take a look at some places in Delhi that made an impression on me:
1. Sitaram Diwan Chand: Chole Bhature
No travel to Delhi is complete if you haven't tasted chole bhature at one of the finest restaurants in Delhi that serves this dish. Sitaram Diwan Chand located in Paharganj near the New Delhi railway station specialises in chole bhature and damn do they know what they're doing. For dirt cheap price, you'll get the tastiest chole bhature you'll ever eat in your life. Whats more, it comes with extra servings of chole and side accompaniments like onions, carrots and masala chili.
2. Imly: Thali
If you're a solo traveller in Delhi and you want to try a variety of Indian dishes but have no one to share it with, thali is the answer. A thali is a big plate that comes with an assortment of Indian gravy dishes, a roti bread, rice, desert and other accompaniments like raita and salad. While I've had a lot of thalis, the one at Imly restaurant in Rajendra Place, Delhi was by-far the best I've ever had. The thali consisted of 2 starters, 3 gravy items, 1 dry item, 2 types of naan, 1 papad, rice, 1 gulab jamun in deserts, raita and salad. All of this came at a very minimal price. I highly recommend this restaurant to eat a thali dish in Delhi!
3. The All American Diner: Breakfast
The All American Diner located on Lodhi Road in New Delhi is the city's take on an American diner. This restaurant has an impressive menu consisting of all sorts of breakfast combos, steaks, hot dogs and burgers. The attentive staff, groovy music and retro ambience are just what's needed to enjoy a nice meal at a nice restaurant in Delhi.
Where to Stay in Delhi
When deciding where to stay in Delhi, it's crucial to choose a safe neighbourhood. South Delhi is one of the nicest areas in Delhi whereas East Delhi is known to be unsafe. On the other hand, while there are lots of places to stay in Paharganj, an area near the New Delhi railway station, I did not feel safe in that neighbourhood at all. It's best to avoid staying there.
During my second visit to Delhi, I stayed at Zostel, South Delhi which was located in such a nice housing complex! The hostel was spacious, the staff was warm and welcoming and I met so many fellow backpackers while staying at the hostel.
Best Places to Visit in Delhi
Delhi has been the capital of many kingdoms since aeons. Because the city has seen many-a-rulers call this city home, there are numerous monuments scattered across the city. Humayun's tomb, Safdarjung tomb and Qutub Minar are three of the most impressive monuments in Delhi.
If you head towards Old Delhi, Khari Baori (spice market), Red Fort and Jama Masjid are worth checking out.
Coming to modern marvels, Lodhi art district is a well-known art district famous for the art work that's been painted on the walls of buildings there. The Lotus temple is a very impressive structure that can't be missed. Speaking of temples, the Akshardham temple is one of the most striking temples you'll ever see in India.
Ofcourse, India Gate is a must-visit place to see in Delhi. While you're there, also checkout Rashtrapati Bhavan, home of the president of India that was built during the British rule in India.
Shopping in Delhi
New Delhi is a haven for shopping enthusiasts. You'll find all sorts of clothing and handicraft items in Delhi. If you wish to shop for local specialities from each state in India, visit Dilli Haat at INA. This open air complex contains shopping stalls set up by representatives from every state in India. Here you'll find regional weaves and handicraft items. Moreover there are food stalls selling cuisines from different parts of India at Dilli Haat.
Apart from this, there are many more markets in Delhi. Sarojini Nagar, Janpath and Khan Market are other markets in Delhi where you can shop for clothing as well as accessories like bags, belts, footwear and jewellery.
Chandni Chowk is one of the biggest markets in Delhi. There are a range of markets within Chandni Chowk specilising in different things such as wedding items, electronics and silver jewellery. Furthermore, Khari Baori in Chandni Chowk is Asia's largest spice market.
Weekend Getaways from Delhi
While you're in Delhi, it's worth checking out some of the incredible places that are merely a few hours away from Delhi. So take a look at the best weekend getaways from Delhi:
1. Taj Mahal, Agra
Taking a day trip to the Taj Mahal from Delhi is one of the most popular things to do in Delhi. To take a day trip to Agra, you can book a one-day tour through any reputable travel agency. Alternatively, do a self-guided tour by taking either a bus or train early and in morning, seeing the Taj Mahal and a few nearby attractions and returning back to Delhi in the evening. Read my post on the top tips to visit the Taj Mahal to help plan your trip to this wonder of the world.
2. Manali, Himachal Pradesh
Whether you're looking for a nice family vacation, a quick escape to the mountains or craving to indulge in the hippie lifestyle, Manali has something for everyone. Apart from the temples, stunning landscape, lot of adventure activities, Manali even has a popular hippie culture. Read this article on the complete Manali travel guide to find something that suits you!
3. Jaipur, Rajasthan
The "golden triangle" of India is made up of three places - Delhi, Agra and Jaipur. For anyone visiting India for a quick short trip, covering these 3 places is a must. Jaipur or the pink city is famous for the many forts, the delightful Rajasthani food, the beautiful culture and all the many places to visit in the city.
4. Varanasi, U.P.
Varanasi, in the state of Uttar Pradesh is an ancient holy city located on the banks of the river Ganga. Varanasi is famous for it's ghats - with the evening aarti at Dashashwamedha ghat being the highlight of the many things to do in Varanasi. Apart from that, the city is known for the numerous temples and various delicious street food items! Read this guide to Varanasi city to help plan your trip.