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Delhi – How to Experience the Best of Delhi

WHAT TO EXPECT FROM DELHI

Delhi is a city and union territory in northern India, containing the national capital, New Delhi. You will often hear Delhi and New Delhi used internchangablely, and most locals will just call the whole area “Delhi” (pronounced “Dilli”). Delhi is a vibrant and bustling city filled with markets, historic monuments, delicious food, and lovely people. There is so much to see and explore in Delhi – it’s has to be on your list when you plan a trip to India!

Need to Know:

Currency: Indian Rupee (check exchange rate here)

Language: Hindi and English

Airports:

Delhi – DEL

Electrical Outlets: 230V supply voltage and 50Hz, plug types C, D and M.

Planning Your Trip

Accommodation: My partner is Indian, so when we were visiting we stayed with family. A couple good central areas to stay in Delhi are Nehru Place, Connaught Place, or near Lodhi Garden. You should be able to stay at a very nice hotel for $100 per night or less.

Getting Around: We mostly used Uber to get around in Delhi. A few things to know about Uber that are different from the USA are:

  1. Drivers will almost always call you to confirm where you are and where you’re going before they come to pick you up. It is common for them to cancel the trip if they don’t want to go where you’re going.
  2. Many cars in Delhi run on compressed natural gas “CNG.” The CNG tank takes up the whole trunk, so if you have a lot of luggage, it might be difficult to fit unless you get an Uber XL.
  3. They often ask for extra money. The drivers could ask you for cash for various reasons (that may or may not be true) such as tolls, parking fees, or other charges. We usually just said we didn’t have cash, hence why we booked an Uber.

Another way to get around shorter distances is taking an auto rickshaw – or just “auto.” As a foreigner, the drivers will always try to upcharge you, by a lot. I recommend looking at your Uber app and checking the rate for an auto. You can either book through Uber or use that price to negotiate and decide how much you’re willing to pay.

Delhi has an extensive metro system that a majority of people use to get around. We didn’t use this while we were visiting, but it is an efficient and affordable way to get around! Check out this blog on navigating the metro.

These forms of transportation can be a little intimidating to foreigners because they do involve negotiation with locals. If you’d prefer, ask your hotel to call you a car or hire you a driver for the day. This is usually more affordable than you’d expect, so check it out and see if it seems worth it to you.

Language: There are 121 languages spoken in India alone, and people from all over come to live and work in Delhi. The majority of people speak Hindi on a day-to-day basis, but most people will also speak English. The phrase I used the most in Hindi was “nahi chahiye” which means “I don’t want.” I just used this when street vendors would be asking me 10+ times if I wanted to buy their trinket, get my photo taken, etc. If you say this sternly, they’ll usually leave you alone.

Safety: When I told my friends and family I was going to India, a lot of people asked, “Is it safe?” My answer to that is simple, like anywhere, it’s safe if you use common sense and keep yourself safe. One thing to know as a foreigner is that the police have really cracked down on harassment and scamming of foreigners, so people are generally more hesitant to approach you (instead you just get a lot of stares). The other unique thing about India is there is safety in numbers. Delhi is incredibly busy, so if someone tries to steal from you or hurt you, just yell and people will come to help you. Other common sense travel safety rules to follow in India would be:

  1. Don’t roam around outside at night
  2. Travel in small groups
  3. Share your location and itinerary with someone you trust
  4. Have a working phone on you
  5. Don’t go to someone’s house or trust strangers (unless it’s through a trusted service like Airbnb).
Delhi Streets
Auto in Delhi
India Gate Delhi

Things to See and Do in Delhi

India Gate: This iconic monument is a war memorial for 84,000 of the Indian British Army soldiers who died in WWI and the Third Afghan War. The monument was built in an Arc-de-triomphe and style unveiled in 1931. Now you can also visit the National War Memorial directly behind India Gate and see Amar Jawan Jyoti (formerly located at India Gate, but now merged with the Eternal Flame at the National War Memorial) lit in 1971 in honor of the end of the India Pakistan War. 

  Rajpath: This is a 2.5km long path from the President’s Estate to India Gate. I recommend walking along this peaceful road with the towering monuments on either end. This path is famous for the January 26th Republic Day Parade that happens every year. 

  Rashtrapati Bhavan (President’s Estate): You need tickets to get close to and inside the President’s Estate so we just viewed the building from the exterior. If you are interested in going inside this famous estate, buy tickets well in advance here. 

India Gate Rajpath
Eternal Flame National War Memorial Delhi
President's Estate Delhi
Connaught Place: Also known as Rajiv Chowk, CP is a central commercial and financial district of Delhi. The center of CP revolves around a big roundabout with bustling shops and restaurants all around. You will see many international brands and British influence in this area. We grabbed a coffee and then roamed around, buying gifts for family at Khadi (popular Indian store that is known for Ayurvedic skin care products).

Lodhi Garden: Come check out this massive park and garden with a river running through the center and multiple mosque structures standing in the park. This park is known for being a place where you can often spot high up government officials out on their morning walk. There are also big lawns where you will see kids playing and families enjoying the outdoors. 

  Khan Market: Come check out this U-shaped marked lined with upscale stores and shops. Known as one of the most expensive commercial real estate areas in the city, this is a popular market for fashion, jewelry, electronics, books, and more.

CP Delhi
Lodhi Garden Delhi
Khan Market Delhi
Qutub MinarThis monument complex surrounds the Qutb Minar Victory Tower named after the religious figure Sufi Saint Khwaja Qutbuddin Bakhtiar Kaki. Construction was started by the first Sultan of Delhi in the Mamluk dynasty and finished by the Sultan of Delhi from the Tughlaq dynasty in 1368 AD. The Victory Tower in the center was used as a watch tower, surrounded by other structures such as mausoleums, tombs, and the first ever mosque built in Delhi. You do have to buy a ticket to enter this complex and the line can be long on weekends. Foreigner tickets are 550 INR ($6.65 USD with conversion rate Dec 2022). You can also hire a guide right outside the entrance. There are plenty of them that will come up and ask you if you want a guide. There is a lot of history to this place and it’s kinda confusing if you don’t know much about pre-British Indian history. If you want to actually understand the monument, I do recommend a guide.

Other places on our list that we didn’t make it to: Humayun’s tomb, Red Fort, Lotus Temple, Jama Masjid. 

 

Qutub Minar
Qutub Minar
Qutub Minar

Another great option for foreigners is to book a tour through Airbnb! We didn’t do this, but after some quick research, these two look like great options to experience Delhi.

Old Delhi’s Food, Temples & Spice Market

Delhi Full Day Tour

Also check out heading to Agra for a day!

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