New Delhi seems to be a place that most visitors to India pass right on through to get to the Taj Mahal or the Rajasthan area. But Delhi is definitely worth spending a few days in if you can add it into your itinerary. You only need about 2 days in Delhi to see most of the main sights.
While you could easily to see during a short stay in this bustling city.
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1. Hauz Khas Village
Located in South Delhi, this affluent village is an escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. Situated in a quiet area it is easy to get lost amongst the narrow streets.
There are many cute boutique shops just off of the main road (put Beast Craft into your GPS) where you may find something beautiful to take home with you. Give yourself about 1.5 hours to wander around and enjoy the peacefulness of this place.
There are also some trendy restaurants and cafes where you can stop to have a bite before heading off to the next thing on your list!
2. India Gate
The India Gate is an important monument in New Delhi. Made out of natural sandstone, this famous arch serves as a memorial to the lives that were lost during the wars fought from 1914 to 1919.
Head to the India Gate for sunset and enjoy watching all the locals gather together for a fun evening of socializing. There are street food carts, fire paan and much more!
There is no fee to enter and view the India Gate. It is located on the Raj Path in the center of the round-about.
3. Agrasen ki Baoli
This 10th century step well is located in the heart of New Delhi. The 103 steps descend below the earths surface where it leads to what was once a water reservoir. Since the water has now dried up you are able to walk all the way down to the bottom.
There are 3 different levels to the step well, with stunning architecture unlike anything we’ve seen before. The place can get pretty crowded but since we visited during the off season there were very few people. The gate to the step well is open from 9AM to 5:30PM and there is no fee to enter.
4. Chandni Chowk
This is the famous Spice Market located in Old Delhi. We had seen many pictures from the rooftop of this market but without a guide I think it is quite difficult to find a way up to the top. We arrived here just before sunrise and honestly it was a bit too hectic and chaotic for us so we left pretty quickly.
If you have a local guide or driver it might be worth going only if they know how to get to the rooftop. The inside of the market is a bit dirty and smelly, not at all what we had expected.
5. Humayun’s Tomb
One of the most popular places to visit in Delhi is Humayun’s Tomb. Built in the 1560’s, this is the tomb of Mughal Emperor Humayun and was commissioned by his first wife. This is one of India’s first built garden tombs and is made up of mostly red sandstone.
Be sure to wander around the grounds and also visit some of the other 150 tombs that lie within the complex. The most popular and recognizable is the tomb of Isa Khan. Humayun’s Tomb is typically open from 6AM to 6PM and it is best to visit early in the morning to avoid the crowds and the heat.
Foreign Tourist: 600 INR
Indian, SAARC countries: 40 INR
The Akshardham Temple, or Swaminarayan Akshardham, is a massive Hindu Temple and Spiritual campus in Delhi. It is free to visit unless you wanted to see the exhibitions or the water show.
There is no photography allowed inside and you are required to check all personal belongings including your backpack, phone and camera in the cloak room. We decided not to go inside but enjoyed viewing the Hindu Temple from the exterior.
The Temple is open Tuesday thru Sunday from 9:30AM to last entry at 6:30PM. However, the grounds stay open till after 8PM.
7. Red Fort
One of the other most popular places to visit in New Delhi is the towering red sandstone structure located in the heart of the city. The Red Fort has a long history and is where emperors of the Mughal dynasty resided for nearly 200 years.
There are many other important structures within these massive walls which you can see as you walk around the grounds. There are the buildings that were used for the hammam, the Moti Masjid (Mosque), the Nahr-i-Bihisht, the Sawan & Bhadon Pavilions and much more!
Give yourself a few hours here to wander around here and admire all the stunning architecture.
Foreign Tourist: 600 INR (monument only) or 950 INR (monument & museum)
Indian, SAARC countries: 50 INR ( monument only) or 80 INR (monument & museum)
There is a cheaper price if you pay with card but none of the card machines were working while we were in Delhi. Also, most of these places didn’t have change so bring the exact amount.
There is also a free bathroom within the grounds. But, like always, I would recommend you bring your own toilet paper or tissues.
8. Qutub Minar
This massive tower reaches heights of nearly 240 ft and was used as a watch tower over Delhi. There are 5 different stories on this minaret, all with different designs. The tower is so tall that it requires 379 stairs to reach the top.
This site is one of the most visited attractions in Delhi, attracting almost 4 million visitors yearly. We arrived here later in the evening around closing time and didn’t want to pay the entrance fee for such a limited time. We also didn’t make it back the next day but I’m sure it would be worth checking out if you timed the entrance right!
The Qutub Minar is open from 10AM to 5PM and costs 500 INR per person to enter. There are reduced fees for locals and SAARC Country visitors.
How to Get Around & Important Things to Know
Once you have arrived in Delhi the easiest and cheapest way to get around the city is by using either UBER or the local version called OLA. It is best to set up the UBER app prior to your arrival as they will need confirmation via a text through your mobile number.
You will also need to add the cash option to your UBER because most of the drivers will not accept credit card. They do however have an app here called PAYTM which can be used for taxis, UBER, street food and more but we didn’t set that up.
If you choose to take a rickshaw, or tuk tuk, be sure to haggle them to get the best price. UBER was always cheaper than a rickshaw so we mainly used that for the duration of our travels within the cities.
Now, when you arrive at the airport you may not have any wifi or data which means that you can’t use UBER. Therefore, the best cab option is MERU. Just outside the airport exit they have a stand where you can order your taxi and we found them to be honest and fair with prices.
Getting a SIM in India
There are two main cell providers here in India, Vodaphone and Airtel. If you choose Airtel they may be slightly cheaper than Vodaphone but the SIM takes 12-24 hours to activate. We choose to use Vodaphone and the SIM was activated before we left the store. It cost 495 INR (~7.25 USD) for unlimited calls and text, 1.5 GB data daily and is good for 28 days.
Trabug: A rental phone in India
This is essentially a rent a phone in India. It takes the hassle out of trying to find a phone store and purchasing a SIM because the phone can be delivered right to your hotel. The phones are immediately activated and have all the apps installed that you will typically use. After each use the phones are wiped clean and ready for the next user.
We chose not to use Trabug because of the duration of our stay in India. It costs $5.99 a day for 2.5 GB of data plus calls and texts. For us, it would have ended up costing way too much but if you are only in India for a short duration it may be worth it. They also charge a $9.99 fee for drop off and return unless your bill is over $50 then the fee is waived. You can find more information about Trabug here.
Visas and Vaccinations
An eVisa to India is required for most international travelers. Unless you belong to a SAARC Country you will most likely need to apply online for the eVisa. Luckily it is a fairly easy process. I applied through ivisa.com which is slightly more expensive due to processing fees but is completely stress free.
I tried to do it through the government site first and it was a bit complicated and extensive. You will need to upload a picture of your passport and a passport sized photo for your application.
Be sure to apply about 7-10 days prior to your arrival in India as the processing time could take a few days!
First and foremost check with your local heath care professional about which vaccinations are required for India. Besides your routine vaccines it is recommended to get Hepatitis A and Typhoid as the main ones. You will also need proof of a Yellow Fever vaccine only if you’ve come from a country where Yellow Fever is present.
Medications that are recommended are anti-malarial as malaria is common in India (especially during monsoon season). Dengue Fever is also present in India, however there is no vaccination nor treatment so it is best to use insect repellent with DEET. I got Dengue Fever last year in the Maldives and let me tell you that it is horrible and you do not want to get it. I know some of you may be against using DEET or other chemicals but I can guarantee you’ll be more unhappy if you contract Dengue.
It is also recommended to get the Rabies vaccination. We did not and if you are like us then just be very careful around some of the stray dogs as they can sometimes get aggressive like they did for us in Varansi.
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