To pick up a free map of Delhi or to get up-to-date information on sights, city tours, and taxi/rickshaw prices, head for the India Tourism Office at 88 Janpath (near Connaught Place; tel. 011/2332-0005 or -0008; www.incredibleindia.org; Mon-Fri 9am-6pm, Sat 9am-2pm). You will also find Government of India Tourist offices at both airports (open 24 hr.). Do not confuse these with so-called "government authorized" tourist offices, which are not authorized by anyone and are very adept at fleecing the unsuspecting. You will find these fakes particularly along Janpath and at the New Delhi railway station; make sure you seek assistance only at 88 Janpath or from one of the recommended tour operators . If you intend to travel anywhere during your sojourn in India by train, you may choose to make all your reservations in Delhi (though these are just as easily available in other big cities). You can make bookings at the helpful Indian Railways Counter at the airport or any of the reservation counters in the city. Alternatively, for information, visit the Delhi Tourism and Transport Development Corporation (DTTDC; 18A D.D.A SCO Complex, Defence Colony; tel. 011/2464-7005 or 011/2336-5358; www.delhitourism.nic.in; Mon-Sat 9:30am-6pm).
By Air -- Most major international airlines operate in what is one of the best-connected cities in south Asia. Delhi has separate domestic and international airports that lie 8km (5 miles) apart; a free hourly shuttle bus runs between them. Tip: During high inflow periods the shuttle times may be increased but bear in mind that, should you merely be in transit ie arriving at international terminal and due to connect with a domestic flight somewhere in India, you will have to factor in enough time to wait for this shuttle bus to transfer you. Alternatively, make sure you have enough time to draw money from an ATM and catch a cab between the two terminals; cost is around Rs 250. Also, note that the domestic airport has two terminals, 1A and 1B, also connected by free shuttle bus; check which one you need to be at before leaving. Indira Gandhi International Airport (tel. 011/2560-2000; www.delhiairport.com) lies 20km (12 miles) southwest of Connaught Place (the city center), 40 minutes to an hour away. The cheapest way (but one to be avoided) to get into town is to catch a State Transport bus (Rs 50 plus luggage fee), but if you've just crossed time zones you'll want to opt for a taxi: Choosing, let alone negotiating with, a taxi driver is likely to make your head spin, so we recommend you prebook with Easycabs (tel. 011/4343-4343; www.easycabs.com). You can do this on their website; the driver will wait for you in case of flight delay, though waiting charges are applicable. If you don't want to prebook, find the Easycab counter at the airport where you can pay on pre-paid basis by cash or credit card; rates range from Rs 300 to Rs 600 for rides from the airport to the main hotels in town. If you want to do it for less it's best to book a taxi at the official prepaid taxi kiosk (just outside the arrivals hall; ask for directions, and don't be sidelined by those who claim they will take you at the same price). It offers fixed rates, with a small fee for each piece of large luggage, but expect to pay between Rs 200 and Rs 300 (25% more from 11pm-5am); these government-monitored cabs are not in as good condition as the private companies. Note that if you've just arrived in India, it's not worthwhile to hire an auto-rickshaw; they may be cheaper than taxis, but they're very slow and bound to be uncomfortable if you're burdened with luggage -- plus, you will almost certainly be pressured into handing over more money even if the price has been discussed upfront. You can of course ask your hotel to arrange the transfer, though this will more than likely double the price (we've included these in reviews of recommended accommodations throughout); some room categories at upmarket chains include chauffeured transfers in the rate. Note that you can change money at the international airport at the State Bank of India or Thomas Cook counters (both 24 hr.).
By Train -- Of the five stations, most trains arrive at either New Delhi Station, a 10-minute walk from Connaught Place, or at Old Delhi Station in Shahjahanabad. (Note that if you're traveling on to Agra, you may need to catch the passenger train that leaves from Nizamuddin Station, south of Connaught Place.) For rail inquiries and reservations, call tel. 131 from 8am to 8pm. All stations are well-serviced by taxis and auto-rickshaws. Again, head for the prepaid auto-rickshaw and taxi counters or negotiate the fare upfront -- expect to pay Rs 50 to Connaught Place, slightly more to Shahjahanabad/Old Delhi -- or insist on using the meter, although there is no guarantee they haven't been rigged. Note that if you plan to travel elsewhere in India by train, you don't necessarily need to prebook all your train trips in Delhi but you may prefer to get organized here. It's still easiest to do this with a recommended travel agent -- while it's become easier to book independently thanks to the Internet, there are complication such as foreigner quotas and not being able to choose your berth, as well as sometime difficulties with credit card payments; unless you're familiar with the system you can save yourself these headaches by using the services of a professional for very little additional money! Sadhana Travel (tel. 011/2646-5312, 011/4161-8278, or 98-1005-2471; www.sadhanatravels.com) offer professional assistance with air travel and tour itineraries; or work with a travel agent attached to your hotel. However, keep in mind that on some trains a small quota of seats is set aside for foreign travelers. A travel agent cannot book these seats; you will need to go to the station to a special counter to book them.
The Delhi Metro (www.delhimetrorail.com) is increasingly useful, particularly for covering longer distance (like getting to Oberoi Maidens in the north), but as is the case elsewhere, subways also provide no sense of the city layout or passing sights. During peak hours, the tube can also get overcrowded and claustrophobic, and women traveling alone may get unwelcome attention. Ticketing agents are still not very clued in or helpful, either. However, it's a very cheap and effective way of getting around, particularly if your lodgings are near a station, in which case you should definitely purchase a 1-day card (Rs70), or a 3-day (Rs200) if you're staying longer.
There are three lines along which the Delhi Metro operates. To make it easier for you to understand which to opt for, we have clubbed places of interest, restaurants and hotels next to each metro option (Note: This refers only to those that lie along the metro routes).
Line 1: Dilshad Garden -- Rithala (Rajghat, Akshardham)
Line 2: Jehangirpuri -- Central Secretariat (Oberoi Maidens, Master Paying Residential Guest Accommodation, Chor Bizarre, Karim, and Old Delhi sites such as Red Fort, India Gate)
Line 3: Indraprastha -- Barakhamba Road -- Dwarka (Shangri-La, The Imperial, The Park, Shanti Home, Hans Plaza, Hotel Palace Heights, Veda, Jantar Mantar, National Museum, Pragati Maidan)
The best way to get around while orienting yourself is still in Delhi's black-and-yellow taxis or, for short distances, auto-rickshaws (run on eco-friendly CNG -- compressed natural gas), but be sure to agree on the price upfront. For instance, traveling from Connaught Place to Red Fort shouldn't cost more than Rs 50 by auto-rickshaw, Rs 150 by taxi. Delhi has the most complacent auto-rickshaw drivers in the country; if they don't feel like going where you're asking, they'll simply refuse you service. Often, this is a ploy to press you for more money (official rates are Rs 10 for the first kilometer, and Rs 4.50 for every kilometer thereafter). If you feel you're being overcharged, accuse the driver of cheating and threaten to report him (often simply pretending to dial the police on your mobile phone does the trick); to really complain, dial tel. 011/2301-0101 or 011/4340-0400 (24 hr.). If the idea of having to haggle like this turns your stomach, Mega Cab (tel. 011/4141-4141; www.megacabs.com) is a radio taxi outfit that offers a convenient, marginally more expensive alternative, with a fleet of air-conditioned cars outfitted with working meters (Rs 15 per kilometer) available around-the-clock; their drivers usually keep you abreast of their arrival via cellphone. In case you cant get through, similar outfits like Delhi Cab (tel. 011/44-333-222) and the reliable Meru Cabs (tel. 011/4422-4422; www.merucabs.com) are also recommended, as are Easycabs.
If you'd prefer to hire a car and driver for a half- or full day, arrange this through your hotel or, for better rates (and reliable drivers), through Sunrise Car Rental (tel. 011/2687-7434) or Aelpe Services (tel. 93-1374-1072).
If you plan to tour North India by car, setting off from Delhi, contact the excellent Khaver who will put you in touch with one of his travel experts at Tushita Travels, and you can create a custom tour within any budget (tel. 011-2573-0256 or 2573-3652; email@example.com; www.tushita-india.com). Also look into what Greaves Travels India (tel. 011/2437-3523 or -3528; www.greavesindia.com) can offer, another reputable operator with good drivers.
Note: It is inadvisable to travel anywhere during rush hour -- you will almost certainly find yourself in a traffic jam in one of the most polluted cities in the world.
You can book an air-conditioned bus tour of New Delhi (daily 9am-2pm) and/or Old Delhi (daily 2:15-5:15pm) through Delhi Tourism. Tours cost Rs 100 each, or Rs 195 for both; monument admission fees are extra. Also offered are long-distance tours that include trips to Agra, Jaipur, and Rishikesh, but we definitely recommend you opt for a private operator. Two of the most popular are Go Delhi Luxury Tours (tel. 98-9988-8207; www.godelhi.net), and TCI (tel. 011/2331-5834 or -5838; www.tcindia.com). Their tours are more personal, and the higher tariff (upward of Rs 1,000 per person, excluding monument entry) ensures that you get a decent English-speaking guide and an air-conditioned vehicle. Another reliable option which comes highly recommended is Le Passage to India (tel. 011/4165-3100; www.lepassagetoindia.com) -- it would be best to check with all three for the best rate available. But if you're tired of predictable presentations of history, we urge you to book a tour with the unusual Blowhorn Travel (tel. 0124/410-1328; www.blowhorntravel.com) who provide a series of innovative itineraries, keeping the idiosyncrasies of Indian culture in mind, and often studying it through the eyes of interesting personalities such as Lucy Peck, architectural historian and Khushwant Singh, son of a builder; truly a breath of fresh air to tourism gone stale, and catering to one to eight persons max. If Old Delhi (and really, this should be your first port of call) is your focus, we also recommend Tallis & Company tel. 0124/400-4458; www.tallisandco.com) whose services and guides are extremely professional and thorough.
For an excellent introduction to Hinduism, as well as visits to some of the lesser-known sights in Old and New Delhi, book into Master Paying Residential Guest Accommodation -- the erudite proprietor gives one of the best tours we've had in India, and runs the best-value guesthouse in Delhi, too.
If you'd care to learn more about life on the streets of Delhi, and fancy a walking tour, contact Salaam Baalak Trust City Walk (tel. 011/2358-4164; www.salaambaalaktrust.com), although you'd better be prepared to have your heart broken. The daily walks through the city's hodgepodge of streets and back alleys are led by street children who will share views on life that will possibly change your reality forever, but the initiative is well worth supporting as it makes a real difference to these children's lives to be gainfully employed in this manner. Alternatively INTACH (The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage; 71 Lodhi Estate; tel. 011/2464-1304; www.intach.org) conducts 2-hour morning walks through Chandni Chowk on Saturdays.
Another company worth highlighting is Exotic Journeys -- all you need to do is supply proprietor Raj Singh with your budget (as low as $100 per day, including car, driver, and accommodations -- or higher, of course), number of days, and area of interest, and he will customize an excellent trip, kicking off with 2 days of sightseeing in Delhi. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com, or call tel. 011/2612-4069.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.