Scroll down for my 8 top tips on how to get from New Delhi airport to your hotel safely.
My story about arriving into New Delhi Airport
Before going to India I felt like I had never really traveled before, this was different from the short overseas holidays I'd been on before. There's a feeling about a backpack that a suitcase just doesn't give you. I'll be honest, I was freaking out before my trip. I had only traveled solo once before and that was to Japan (in my opinion one of the safest places on earth!) …and I chose New Delhi as my first stop. Naturally, I was full of fear, anxiety, and doubt.
In hindsight, I wish I had booked a service like this one to safely get me from the airport to my hotel. It would have taken much of the stress and anxiety out of the beginning of my trip.
The Etihad flight to Abu Dhabi was the same as any other, but then I boarded the flight to Indira Gandhi International Airport. This plane was not like any I had been on before. Business class was full of fair-skinned mature men dressed in their corporate attire and I was the only Caucasian in economy, and almost the only woman. We were squished into the smallest seats imaginable and I sat timidly trying not to be noticed. I was right in the middle of all the Delhi locals talking loudly over one another and to whoever was on the other end of their mobile phones.
When we landed I got off the plane as soon as I could, on guard as I was uncomfortable being stared at the whole flight. (I was obviously not prepared for what was to come in India!)
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Approaching 35 hours of no sleep, despite getting through customs smoothly, I was becoming increasingly on edge. I had heard about the airport taxi scams and was feeling very conscious of my next move. I stuffed my brand new bright white sneakers, jumper (don’t need that anymore!) and typical tourist neck pillow in my bag, threw on my sandals and cotton scarf then tried to look as least foreign as I could. (I’m white as milk with red hair… let’s face it, I had no chance!).
I went to the pre-paid taxi booth just outside of New Delhi Airport like I had read to do on Trip Advisor, bought a ticket and they gave me a voucher, then was allocated a driver who seemed very confident about his navigating ability. I still wanted to make sure he knew where my hotel was before accepting him. In preparation, I had printed off the details for my hotel, but they were only in English. He said he knew where we were going and so I had no choice but to trust him. Cautiously, I gave him the voucher and got in the backseat with my pack, I wanted it close to me so didn’t put it in the boot.
The taxi driver put on his seat belt and I go to put on mine "no no you don't seat belt" he says but I go to put it on anyway. Of course, there was no buckle to clip it in to… great. Hoping the driving techniques of taxi drivers aren't actually as bad as I've seen on TV we set off down the freeway. The next half hour was one of the most stressful things I have ever experienced. Cars, buses, trucks, and motorbikes were flying down the freeway driving more than 30km/h over the speed limit. Honking their horns, swerving in and out of each other with no indicators and very narrowly missing one another. The whole time I kept thinking "why do they bother putting lines on the road?!?"
Once we reached the heart of town it was apparent the driver didn’t know where my hotel was. I wasn’t completely surprised, there are over 2,500 hotels alone in the city. After stopping multiple times for directions we finally made it to the right place. Despite pre-paying the fare he insisted I tip him as it took so long to find my hotel. I began to argue seeing as it wasn’t my fault he couldn’t get there but I was so thankful to finally arrive safely that I just gave him the extra 100 rupees (AUD$2). I don’t feel like I was scammed on this trip, but I don’t think it was completely legitimate either.
How to get from New Delhi Airport to your hotel safely:
- Book your flight to arrive at New Delhi Airport during daylight
- Make sure that the immigration officer has stamped your passport with an arrival stamp. This will help avoid issues later when you are leaving the country
- Pre-book your hotel for the first night and print off the address and other information in English and Hindi. A map is a bonus
- Before flying in organize an airport transfer, taxi2airport service, or a pick up through your hotel (if they offer it).
- If you do take the pre-paid taxi from New Delhi Airport, don’t give them your voucher up front like I did. Wait until you reach your destination as he requires this voucher to receive his payment from the taxi office
- Download maps.me (I personally use this every country I go to as it doesn’t require internet, just the GPS on your phone). Then pre-download the country’s map and drop a pin at your hotel’s address before leaving home
- For regular taxis, avoid paying upfront, pay attention to what size notes you’re paying with and always count your change
- And finally, always clearly agree on a price before getting in a rickshaw or taxi
Do you have any tips for getting to your destination from the airport safely? Comment below!
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