Howdy all – the challenge is back and this time it’s Destination Delhi for you! Now, for those who have followed the blog for a few years now you may well know that Delhi is NOT my favourite city in the world. Not by a long stretch I have had some bad experiences in Delhi including being hospitalised, an earthquake, being scammed and being in a taxi when it had an accident. Nevertheless, it’s the capital of India and there are many who really like the place and I would have to say that Delhi – our paths are destined to cross again!
So, the challenge. A quick recap as I’ve done quite a few now. We have $100USD, we arrive Saturday morning (early) and leave Sunday night, we need accommodation for one night, airfares are not included in the $100 (obviously) but transport into, out of and around town IS.
The good news these days with Delhi, along with a newish airport which believe me, is so much better than the previous one that it’s made the crumbling old edifice a distant memory for me. On top of that, the metro system will take you to said airport which means you do not need to haggle with taxis to get you into town. According to the Delhi Metro Website a 3-day Delhi Metro tourist card will set you back 300INR – which works out at JUST over $4USD. That should see you into and out of the city, however getting around you are likely to need to take an auto rickshaw from time to time as the Metro does not cover every corner of the city. I suggest using it as best you can and then doing the last bit say from the Metro station to the Red Fort by auto-rickshaw or rickshaw. An ‘auto’ is what in India people call the three-wheeled tuk-tuk, although the term ‘tuk-tuk’ is used from time to time as well. So on top of the $4 let’s put aside $16 (around 1200 INR) for transport. $80 in our kitty.
The Metro can take you to the Paraganj. This is the tourist epicentre of Delhi and you will find other backpackers there (if you want), tour operators, restaurants aplenty and hotels. This is where we are going to rest our heads for the night. This is also a place to be careful in terms of scammers – shops offering you this and that for inflated costs and the like. I was taken to a hotel I didn’t want to stay at back 1999 by a company when the rickshaw wallah wouldn’t take me where I wanted to go. Whichever end you alight the Metro, go straight to your hotel, don’t listen to anyone telling you it’s closed or has burnt down (seriously it happens).
In the Paraganj, a long street/bazaar full of everything a tourist might need, you will find all sorts of accommodation to suit all budgets. So there is a bit of flexibility here to spend more or less on your hotel. Personally, I would look to not go too budget as sleep quality can often be what you sacrifice, but I’m 46 years old and I like a bit of comfort these days, back in 1999 I went to Ringo Guest House where I stayed in a dorm (this is not Paraganj) for 90INR a night, which at the time was around $3.50.
Online as I write this article you can find very comfortable rooms for around $15USD, with air conditioning, fridge and TV. There is probably a bit of a discount owing to where we are right now in the pandemic and the lack of visitors, so let’s budget $20. We still have $60, but we need to eat.
$30USD for food. Yes, that’s half our remaining budget, and yes, you can eat mega cheap in India – you will be able to spend $5 or so on a meal or less depending on where you go and if you risk the street food, which I’m not keen on but my gut isn’t very tolerant but if you have an iron gut, street food could make eating very affordable. The Paraganj will not be the cheapest food in Delhi, but we have two lunches, two dinners and a breakfast at five bucks a pop, and then $5 for snacks and water. Delhi is definitely a place for bottled water but depending on where you buy your water – get big bottles from corner stores and distribute, you can get 1.5 litres for, at a guess, under 50 cents.
We have $30 left to spend on things to see and do. I would recommend the Red Fort, which is the premier sight I guess in Delhi. That’s 500INR these days, around $7 and perhaps is going to be your biggest touristic expense. The place is huge, you have to line up and there’s a bit of security, but you could easily pass a couple of hours here.
Humayun’s Tomb I have NOT been to, but boy it looks really beautiful and I am kicking myself that I have missed it on the three occasions I have been to Delhi. Oh – it’s more expensive at 550INR, let’s say $8. Qutab Minar is another historic site, an ancient city with a distinctive minaret/tower. It’s a similar fee of 550INR, I would say if you saw all three (and they are spread apart) we are looking at $22USD all up, that just leaves use with $8.
BUT – there are parts of the city to visit and take in like Connaught Place and the India Gate – and take a photo or two – which won’t cost a thing. There is the Ba’hai Lotus Temple, and the Jama Masjid (Friday Mosque) which are also free to visit. Then the National Museum is 350INR (less than $5) and the train museum is pretty cool allowing to hop in and out of engines and that is 100INR on the weekend for adults, less than $1.50 so you can mix and match what you choose to see and do.
And you might want to limit your spending on sights and accommodation and choose to do a little shopping – bargain hard if you shop at the Paraganj, you’ll also find shopping at Connaught Place. Other areas to shop include Chandi Chowk and the Janpath Market, where you could easily shop away a couple of hours.
So there we go. I am actually a little surprised $100 didn’t go a little further in Delhi, but it is the Indian capital (although far cheaper still than Mumbai). What sights have I missed? Do you have a good, budget hotel to recommend? (I couldn’t recommend the place I stayed last time in all fairness). Thanks for reading today, take care – and May the Journey Never End!