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Is India Safe?

Dear readers,

We are well aware that India has a reputation for being unsafe and that women in particular should not travel alone. However, this is not the full picture. India is a country replete with culture, experiences and, of course, people.

People, people everywhere. This means that you’ll be hard pressed to find yourself alone when travelling. Plenty of people does mean that there will be those who are not so friendly, those who may not have the best intentions. Here are few common conceptions that we’ve heard about travelling around India:

1. “But there are pickpockets, bag snatching, and scams everywhere!”-  Unfortunately, this can happen everywhere you go not just in India; any traveller can be a victim of theft or scams. The main way to prevent this is by being mindful of your surroundings and avoid flashing/carrying too much cash on you at once, ensure you keep money in different places (don’t put all of it in your wallet or bag for example), and stay vigilant of your bag and wallet. That being said, I’ve been travelling solo around India and have never had an issue. In crowded areas I put my bag and belongings in front of me and hold onto it tight.

Avoid talking to people who aren’t official guides, people who approach you and claim to know the best hotel/shop/restaurant (could be getting commission for bringing you).

2. “I’m a woman and I’m afraid of being sexually harassed…I’ve heard that India is the worst!” – We completely understand the fears and reservations women have regarding safety in India. The news is constantly showcasing events and cases; India’s treatment of women has been condemned not only internationally but also within the nation. Protests against sexual harassment, rape and more have drawn widespread attention subsequent legal changes over the years.

This means that if ever you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation, do not be afraid to make noise and get peoples’ attention. There will always be others to step in and help when needed. Also, be sure to let people know where you’re going if you’re heading somewhere alone. Ensure to respect dress codes and be mindful of attire; many parts of India are conservative, so ensure to dress accordingly to avoid unwanted attention. Do research about where to stay, which neighbourhoods are safe and well connected. India’s a place where you’ll quickly learn the balance of being assertive and being open, especially when travelling alone.

3. “I couldn’t manage taking public transport, rickshaws, and local trains myself” – This is a huge misconception! Train travel is seamless, comfortable and fun. We’re talking about the overnight train journeys or shorter train rides between neighbouring cities. For example, I took the train to get from Udaipur back to Delhi. The train ride was a fun experience, as I had the company of a large family travelling with kids. The kids were curious and playful and I found myself entertained for most of the ride. The family insisted I sample all the delicious homemade food and snacks they had.

Public transportation in  metropolitan cities is generally easy to use and easy on the pocket. Delhi has a reliable, clean and safe metro system to take you all over the city. (Did we mention it’s air conditioned?)

Mumbai has local trains that offer respite from hours of being stuck in traffic. You can get around almost every large city in India via public transport.

Rickshaw rides are also fast and easy to navigate. Know the average prices and route between locations beforehand so you can effectively haggle. But sometimes you don’t feel like engaging in the haggling process with taxi or rickshaw drivers (yes, we understand as it can be intimidating). Luckily, Uber and Ola operates in most cities here in India. Simply download the mobile application and input your destination and go at a pre-determined price.

The points above are, however, applicable to anywhere you travel. No matter where you go, where you stay, any traveller–and even local–may face these issues. Indeed, safety issues are not unique to India and common-sense precautions should be taken. Be vigilant, wary, but also open to new experiences along the way. You’ll realise that most people you encounter are warm, helpful, and hospitable.

We hope this helps clarify a few things about travelling around India!

Planning Your Trip to India?

Happy New Year everyone! A new year means more opportunities to explore, new destinations to visit. And of course, India should be on your list!

To make your trip to India easier, we’ve put together a few helpful resources to aid you in choosing transportation, finding accommodation, and more nitty-gritty elements needed to build the perfect itinerary.

1) This is not a secret but we love Lonely Planet. Use this as a guide to learn about different cities, the must-see attractions, the best restaurants and more.

2) What’s our favourite, affordable way of interstate travel in India? Travelling by train! Train travel in India is organized, reliable and fairly simple to navigate. This is a great way to experience typical local means of transportation as well. Avoid paying extra to booking agents and book your train tickets directly here.

3) Looking for the lowest flight rates within India? Make My Trip is our search engine of choice here in India. They always have promo codes you can take advantage of at any time of year.

4) Don’t feel confident in haggling with auto-rickshaw drivers? Have no idea what is a reasonable rate? Ride-sharing apps such as Uber and Ola are your best friend. Simply download the applications on your phone and you can book a ride in any major city to take your straight to your desired destination:

4) Looking for authentic, locally-guided tours in Mumbai, Delhi, all over India? We have you covered. Not only does your money go to fund our educational programmes via Reality Gives, but also your guides are trained to provide you with the best experience, showing you the real India: www.realitytoursandtravel.com

Should you go North, South, East or West? Have no idea where to even begin? We’re happy to do all the planning, organizing, booking, and more for you. Simply fill out this form–http://realitytoursandtravel.com/plan-your-trip/

We’ll put together your dream itinerary, catering to your tastes, needs, and budget. Let us make your trip to India memorable.

Welcome to New Delhi: Getting to the City Centre from Indira Gandhi International Airport

Photo courtesy of IGIA

New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA) is the nation’s busiest airport. We aren’t surprised by this, as the city boasts a myriad of monuments, markets and food options to discover. We’ve put together a list of ways to make it easy for you to decide how to get into New Delhi:

Metro

We love New Delhi’s metro system. It is air-conditioned (which, during the inferno of summer heat is a lifesaver), cheap, and reliable throughout the day. Within 20-30 minutes, one can get from the airport to the city centre. Upon arrival, follow signs to the Airport Express metro line (“Orange line”). This metro line takes you from IGIA and stops at Dhaula Kuan, Shiavji Stadium, and ends at New Delhi Railway Station. Alternatively, if you arrive in Terminal 1 (domestic terminal), you can take the new “Magenta line” that is directly connected to IGIA Terminal 1.

  • Operating hours: 04:45 am to 11:30 pm, every 10-15 minutes
  • Accessible from both Terminal 1 (Magenta line) and 3 (Orange line)
  • Cost: (IGIA to New Delhi Station) 60 rupees

Ride-sharing apps: Ola and Uber

Uber and Ola have made us lazier beings, as we succumb to the ease of booking a ride to take us directly to our destination. There are designated areas outside of the arrivals area where your Uber or Ola driver can pick you up from. Although there are no official signs to guide you, you can ask travellers or airport staff to point you in the right direction.

  • Cost: Approximately 250 rupees to 400 rupees (fares fluctuate according to demand)
  • Ensure you have data or internet connection, as well as the Uber/Ola app already downloaded on your phone to make your booking experience seamless
  • Note: Traffic at certain times of day in Delhi can cause long delays; thus, if you need to be somewhere at a particular time, do factor this into your plans.

Taxi

One of the most frequented methods of getting to central Delhi from the airport is via prepaid taxi. This service is overseen by the Delhi Traffic Police: taxi drivers are held accountable for their service.

Prepaid taxi are available at both domestic and international arrival areas. Upon arrival at Terminal 3, you’ll find a prepaid taxi counter inside the terminal as well as another one when you exit and head towards the taxi zone. We advise travellers to arrange for their taxi from the counter inside the terminal to avoid being approached by unofficial taxi drivers and touts. Your fare is pre-determined by the government and varies depending on the area you are going.

  • Cost: approximately 400-500 rupees to the city centre (a surcharge of 25% is applicable for late night travel from 11pm to 5am)

Here are few tips to ensure you have a smooth experience:

  • When you pay for your taxi at the counter, you will be handed two receipts (one green and one pink) with taxi’s number.
  • The green receipt is to be handed to the driver at the end of the trip; this is what he needs to show to get paid by the taxi office. Ensure that you do not give the taxi driver this receipt until you arrive at your destination. If your driver is being difficult, this receipt will be useful in navigating negotiations with him.

Bus

Buses are another cheap way to get into the city. Most buses are owned by the State-owned Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) or private companies. DTC runs shuttle services every 30 minutes, taking passengers from Terminal 3 to central New Delhi (for example, Connaught Place and Interstate Bus Terminals). These buses also offer comfort of air conditioning.
  • Pick-up/drop-off point: Terminal 3 “staging area,” across from the Centaur Hotel
  • For detailed routes and schedules visit: http://www.delhi.gov.in/wps/wcm/connect/DOIT_DTC/dtc/all+services/igi+airport+bus+service
  • Note: when on the road in Delhi, traffic can pose a problem so do keep in mind that getting into the city centre may take longer than expected.

Happy travels! We can’t wait to take you around Delhi.