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New Delhi City Guide





After 25 years on this earth, I finally took the time out to explore my beautiful home country. My parents hail from the South, so while I have explored some bits of South India, I have ignored the Capital of the country until now, and have completely fallen in love with North India and its historic architecture. A lot of people are clueless about how to travel in India, and since I took upon the duty to research everything for my boyfriend who was visiting India for the first time I have learned a lot which I think I could be useful for others.

PLANNING A TRIP TO INDIA

Being an Indian passport holder I could skip visas, but did a lot of planning for my boyfriend while he was working (all written up on Microsoft One Note, which has been an excellent planning tool for travel) and looked up on everything possible which I hope will be useful to you peeps!

Visas
This is a super easy but essential step for anyone traveling to India. Passport holders of certain countries can skip out on an E-Visa and opt for visa on arrival, but GB passport holders have to apply for it atleast 6 days before departure. A tourist visa costs approximately 70 GBP, and a standard passport size photo taken from a photobooth in the UK wouldn't suffice, so you need to get a passport photo with square dimensions (all the details should be in the link below, but incorrect photos can result in outright rejection).

APPLY HERE | https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/visa/tvoa.html

Safety & Insurance - Medical & Theft
I would highly recommend anyone traveling to India to sign up to a plan with good coverage for theft and loss. India isn't the safest place to travel in (will get to that below), so it'd be best to sign up for an insurance plan and make sure to have it with you all the time (locked up in the Hotel room preferably).  Make sure that you don't travel late at night in remote areas, and avoid tuk tuks or taxis late at night, and stick to hotel drivers or Ubers. Its pricier, but definitely worth it. Avoid walking alone at night and if you're using Ubers make sure to track it all the time to ensure you're arriving at your destination. 

Immunizations (Jabs)
If you're from the United Kingdom , Home Office has a recommended list of jabs to take before you travel to India (Three main jabs, with the third one being a combination of three - best to speak to your GP about it. It also depends on the area you'll be traveling in). You'd have to pay £200 for these (Three main jabs listed above) if you havent booked your appointment in advance, so try to call up your GP and book these asap.

Foreign Travel Advice | https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/india


Tipping 
If you're at a restaurant or at a bar, check out the bill to see if service charge is included. I would suggest leaving a 10-20% tip in most instances (hand it directly to the waiter that served you and do not leave it behind on the table as it'll be taken by the restaurant),  round up your taxi charge or give a Rs 50 tip to taxis when the service has been really good.

Money
Head to your local Thomas Cook for Indian Rupees, as most foreign exchanges in the airports do not carry Rupees. Also let your bank know beforehand about your travel so that you'd be able to withdraw money in India which comes at a service charge of Rs 200 per withdrawal (your card could get blocked if you do not let them know beforehand).
I'd also suggest to not give money to beggars on the streets (especially children, since there's a risk that they could run by gangs), but please do try to feed them if you can by nipping to the local store as its heartbreaking to watch people starve.

Best Time To Travel
Summer is off season, so you'll get a good deal on hotel rooms, however flights tend to be very expensive due to school holidays worldwide. Winter is peak season (September- Early December, January - February), so you'll pay a lot for hotel rooms, but flights tend to be cheaper. Emirates run sales around Christmas for flights to India which are usually on for a few weeks, so make sure to book your flights to India for summer when there are sales going on. If you're not used to the heat and want to pack in a lot of sightseeing during the day, I'd suggest that you travel in the winter, as climbing Amber Fort in Jaipur in the sun nearly gave me a heatstroke.

Other Tips 
Always drink packaged water, and ensure that the seal is not broken. Avoid gift shops if you can, and if you do not have someone who can bargain and speak Hindi, it'd be best to avoid bazaars as well since you'll be ripped off ( if the cost doesn't matter to you, I'd suggest you do go to the bazaars as the mark up you pay for the product, would hopefully help the vendors feed their family, since a lot of them are poor). If you do want to get something from India and don't want to pay a lot of money or be stuck in the heat bargaining, I'd recommend visiting Shoppers Stop in local shopping malls.

WHERE TO STAY

There are plenty of options in New Delhi, and I cannot vouch for hostels (I'm sure there are good ones - check out tripadvisor for the best rated hostels, and check reviews from international guests if you can especially if you want a place that would be up to your standards if you're from overseas). We had to stay at Gurgaon which is 40 minutes away from New Delhi, but I cannot recommend the Taj Hotels enough. It is on the pricier end, and is an indulgence, but they did absolutely everything to make sure I was alright when I got ill and their customer service is unrivalled to any other International hotel chain I've been to.
If you are staying as an unmarried couple I'd recommend staying at a chain hotel rated 3* and above. The costs varies in accordance with the month you are traveling in, but expect to pay minimum of Rs 3500 to Rs 14,000  per night for Mid Range to Higher End Hotels. There are additional hefty taxes such as the GST (28%) so keep that in mind when you budget.


 

WHERE TO EAT


Lodi Garden Bar & Kitchen | We stopped by here after reading rave reviews on Trip Advisor, as it is next door to the Lodi Gardens. The food was divine but on the pricier end for an Indian eatery. My boyfriend and I shared mezze and had two cocktails and it came upto just over £25 . The cuisine was varied, and I think it was worth every penny as the ambience and the food in the restaurant was excellent.

Olive Garden Bar & Kitchen | We stopped by here for a drink after being tired from the scorching heat at the Qutub Minar, and fell in love with the restaurant. Its right next to a lot of High End Indian Designers (that I couldn't afford - a shoe I fell in love with cost £4000). I can't really rate the food, but it does have good reviews on Trip Advisors so I would suggest you check this out along with Dramz Whiskey Bar & Restaurant if you're tired from a long day near the Qutub Minar

Soapbottleopenerwala | The biggest food highlight throughout the whole trip was Soapbottleopenerwala - the food was amazing, and its a chain restaurant in India that serves Parsi food . I couldn't take any photos at this place as I was with family and didn't want to bother them with flatlays, but I couldn't recommend this place enough for its Berry Pulao and Irani Chai (they served excellent beers too). We got three mains, two desserts, a bottle of wine, an Irani chai and a beer for approximately 

Dum Pukht at ITC Maurya  | We had to skip out on this as we couldn't make it in time for the booking, but I've heard amazing things about this place - which is famed especially for its Dum Biryani. If you're on the hunt for a good Biryani I would suggest you take the time to stop here.

Thai Pavillion | I got to eat one of the best meals I've had in my entire life at the Thai Paviliion which was in the hotel we were residing at. It puts even Chaophraya (which is my favourite Thai Restaurant in Birmingham) to shame with its green curry (which is the perfect balance between spicy and sweet) and coconut desserts. I'll be doing an in depth review of the restaurant and its menu this Monday, and will link it here when its live.

SIGHTSEEING 

Qutub Minar



This stunning tower was built in the 12th century (and is in excellent condition for its age), by the founder of the Mamluk Dynasty (originated from Central Asia, but established in North India/Delhi),and is one of Delhi's UNESCO Heritage Sites. Within the complex you'll encounter multiple red stone buildings with arabic inscriptures and marble floors, and its known for the being one of the finest pieces of Islamic Architecture in the world. We did not hire a guide, but they're pretty much everywhere around the complex. Its best to get hold of an approved guide at the Ticket Office and they cost approximately Rs 200-300 (approx. £4). 

Entry Fee For Indians : Rs 30

Entry Fee For Foreigners : Rs 500 (approximately £6)

Lodhi Gardens
This is possibly one of my favourite spots in New Delhi and is the perfect spot to go to if you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Its a city park containing the tombs of some of the rulers of (then) Pakistan and North India, and a must see if you love architecture and plants.  I'd suggest you look up more about the Lodi Dynasty before you visit the garden, since I couldn't find any guides.
Entry Fee : Zero!

India Gate
One of the most iconic spots in Delhi - this is a war memorial which was first built for the fallen soldiers of WWI during the British Raj. This was a quick visit, as it was rush hour, but its best visited during 7-9 PM in the evenings since its illuminated. Its a really popular tourist spot, but I didn't enjoy it as much as I do not enjoy big crowds.

The Taj Mahal 






Possibly one of the most iconic spots in India - this is a long drive from Delhi and even further from our place in Gurgaon. We left the trip to be organised to a company - who organised the ride from our place to Agra (and back), with a guide included, lunch included at an amazing barbecue place (a buffet!!), and entry tickets all included. It all came in for approximately £80 per person after tax.
The company I used was 'Driver India Private Tours' - it was safe, the driver ensured to stay within the speed limit, and the guide was really good. I would recommend that you stay away from the Gift Shop at all costs, since they mark up the price by approximately 500%, and bargain the price in line with the quote that you will be initially offered for the whole tour package, as the driver tried to charge us a lot more (got it down to the original quoted price after a long time arguing about it - so get the original email with the quote in front of you!). If you know of a better service please do comment on the post below!

Website | http://www.driverindiatour.com


Other Spots : Humayun's Tomb, Red Fort, Rashtrapati Bhavan, Bahai Lotus Temple and Connaught Place 

We unfortunately had to miss on these spots as we didn't have a lot of time, and I was gutted to miss out on Humayun's Tomb and Red Fort. I cannot say a lot about my experience at these spots - but I would recommend that people do visit it as its meant to be exceptionally beautiful. Connaught Place is good for high end shopping, and the Dili Haat and the Main Bazaar are some of the best spots for bargaining with local vendors and to shop for handicrafts.

Please do leave a comment below if you have found this post to be useful, or add some more tips that could be useful for prospective travellers, or please let me know about your experience traveling in India so far!

I've posted a fair bit about India on my Instagram (follow me here). Please follow me on twitter and Pinterest , and Bloglovin if possible.

Mischa xxxx




This post first appeared on The Mischa Diaries, please read the originial post: here

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