15 Things You should NOT do on Your Solo Trip to Delhi, India
I bet you would be as excited as me when it comes to travelling. Delhi, the heart of India, is one of the most preferred states by travellers. Many tourists choose Delhi as their destination for the first solo trip as it is in a prime location and have all the facilities that one could ask. The cultural shock is minimum in Delhi as it is the melting point for all the cultures and traditions. Due to its diversity, people from all social, economic, and political backgrounds are here.
No matter if it is the capital of India, we cannot deny the fact that the more the state progresses, the rate of crimes rises as well. There is nothing to worry about if you take precautions and are alert. Here are a few hacks that I found during my solo trips to avoid unlikely circumstances.
1. Do not go to secluded places at night.
Delhi has innumerable sights that look beautiful under the stars, but if you are travelling solo, then resist the temptation and have a day tour only of the place. Even if there are few people, still you cannot be sure if they are of your kind. In case of emergency, you will have no one to run. Delhi is a great place to visit educational institutions, libraries, forts, malls, and cafes. So just find your kind of interest and head there. All these places are wide open during the daytime, giving you a convenient option of returning to your hotel by night.
2. Avoid street food
As much as I am a foodie and love trying local roadside food, I stay conscious at the same time. We all have different body cycles and digestion methods. At times our body clocks take their own sweet time to adjust to the new environment and place during travel. I will advise you to go slow. In the first few days, focus on keeping yourself hydrated, taking fruits and berries. Since the Indian cooking style involves lots of spices and oil, try eating only those that are easily digestible. To add taste to your palette, you must try the desserts. India has a wide range of finger-licking and mouthwatering desserts. Read How to deal with the infamous Delhi Belly | Solo Female Travel
3. Do not drink tap water
As opposed to the culture in the West, where tap water is fresh and applicable to drink, India has a different scenario. It is unsafe to drink tap water as it is not filtered and purified. Even while brushing or washing off the dust of the day, avoid consuming direct water, unless, of course, you want to spend the rest of your holidays in the hotel only. Even the raw salad that just has been rinsed-off in water should be avoided or requested separately to wash with steaming water. Another thing to look out for is the ice cubes. You will find them in mocktails, cocktails, juices, or buttermilk. Strict No! It is way better to avoid cold drinks from street shops than to suffer throughout the trip.
4. Do not run short of cash.
So this comes from a personal experience and, I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to carry extra cash and distribute it safely amongst your belongings. First, check the website of RBI (Reserve Bank of India) on how much cash is allowed to carry depending on the country you are travelling from. Usually, they are allowed to carry Rs 25,000 to 75,000. Alternatively, you can get the currency exchanged from any airport in India or through any reliable agent.
5. Avoid public display of affection
India has always been a country of great values and morals. There are things where people are still conservative, and public display of affection or PDA is looked down on in India. Ironically you can piss in public but not kiss! However, since we cannot change the perception of all, I would suggest to be careful and maintain the dignity and sanctity of the place. People may not harass you or say anything on your face, but the stare and the stern look will be enough to make you conscious. Save your special moments from your solo trip to be celebrated in private!
6. Avoid wearing exposed clothing
The concept and idea of clothing go hand in hand. India is a mix of urban and rural crowd. While travelling to cities like Delhi, Mumbai, and Goa, you will not have to double-check your wardrobe. On the other hand, if you visit a beautiful yet a little orthodox city like Banaras or Kerala, you would want to throw on a scarf or wear a shrug. It is recommended to keep yourself covered at these places as it will not only ward off the unnecessary stares but also will help you to merge and interact with the locals. You can read more about it at What to wear in India: 15 Outfit Ideas for Solo Women Travellers
7. Do not be offended
Much like me, most of the Indians are inquisitive souls. You will not feel as if you are meeting them for the first time. At times it gets a little too overwhelming as you build the connection. They might ask you about family, job, income, and personal interests, do not be offended if they cross their boundaries. Better decline and leave politely. It is not always the intention to dig for the details but just a way of connecting by knowing the background. So wear thick skin while you travel in India.
8. Do not wear shoes inside the home or a temple.
It is customary in India to remove your footwear while you visit someone’s home or any religious space. It is believed that you should not bring the dust from outside to the sacred abode. Be prepared to do that and walk barefoot. In case you see shoes outside the shop or any other place, you should remove yours as well. In case you are planning for a longer trip to India, you can keep separate slippers for indoor and outside use at your home and offer the same when someone visits you. It is a common practice in India.
9. Do not forget bargaining when shopping from local markets.
Shopping in India is like a paradise lost. You will be tempted to buy and explore a lot of things. From clothes to antiques, from jewellery to home décor, buy everything that pleases your heart but do not forget to bargain. The local vendors tend to state higher prices than the actual value. You can always negotiate or bid the price and get it down by Rs 100 to Rs 200. Do your homework and get an idea of how much it ideally should cost. You can do this by either checking online or having an idea from different shops. Also, being a solo traveller or a foreigner, the shopkeepers will try to sell it for a higher value. Be alert and shop smart. You can read more about it How to Bargain Like a Local on Your Solo Trip to India | 25 Pro Tips
10. Be aware of the scams
Due to the huge population of India, scams and scammers are common here. You can find them commonly in taxis, shops, cafes or while booking the ticket. Once I was travelling to Delhi, and I took the prepaid taxi from the airport. I was yet to book my hotel, so the driver suggested me a place in Paharganj. Upon arriving, I could see that he took me to this shady and dingy place just to earn his commission from the hotel owner. You can book great accommodations in hotels and hostels online at affordable prices.
You may find poor looking people approaching you and asking for money, so beware of them. Know the difference between lending money for help or giving it away to a fraud. The best thing to do when in doubt is to simply walk away. Go and talk to locals around and share your concern with them. Or even better, you can raise the concern online through Twitter or related FB pages.
11. Do not befriend a stranger
As much as Delhi is commemorating people from all cultures and economically diverse backgrounds, keep in mind that the sharpest mind only plans for a larger ransom. ‘A stranger in need is a friend indeed’ does not apply and prove to be correct in every situation. There have been instances where strangers wear the cape of goodness and offer help with the route and while travelling. They mostly target foreigners and solo travellers, as they are easy to persuade. These strangers can turn out to be sex offenders and criminals who can trap you in serious situations. If you feel any red flag around a person, it is always better to excuse yourself. Do a background check, find about them through social media platforms, and prefer to travel in a group while going on long journeys.
12. Do not get over-intoxicated
You must stay conscious while partying. As much as it is about losing yourself and being in the moment, it is imperative to be in your senses while partying. Either you can keep a tab of your drinks or have a party smart tablet that doesn’t let you in the state of hangover. Also, always keep your belongings in front of your eyes. At an unfortunate moment in the club, my DSLR was stolen, and even the CCTVs could not point out as it was all very crowded and dark.
13. Do not forget to carry bug spray
Let the bug not bother your travel plans. Bugs are not only going to cause you irritation or redness but Malaria and Dengue as well. If you catch any sickness, then you might regret travelling solo to India. Knowing that Delhi is not one of the cleanest cities, dirt and litter will be around nicks and corners. Along with mosquito repellant, body scratch stickers are also available at chemists. You can paste one such on your clothes or bags and be carefree from this tension.
14. Count your change
Do not forget to count your change. The first thing is to sit down and familiarize yourself with the currency and its denominations. It consists of notes and coins of different values, colours, and sizes. I will recommend first taking out the exact amount in hand while paying, and if you do not have it, then stay in front of the counter and count your change patiently. No one will question you if you ask them again. Be smart and alert but do not be fooled by any scammers.
15. Do not rely on everything that you see on the Internet
It is a constant love-hate relation between the online and traditional way of commuting. Sometimes it can make your trip, and at times it can give you the best horror stories to live with. Either way, double-check. On my trip to Delhi, I wanted to go to a nursery to spend time with nature. I checked the pictures online, and they looked very appealing. Upon arriving, all I could see was a pool of swamp and animals lurking. I could not believe this was the place that was once a beautiful little butterfly nursery in the pictures. The locals told me that it was in this way for years, and the website must not have been updated. So I learned my lesson, and now I double-check every place I visit.
I always feel that one must not listen and live by others’ stories. You should instead go and experience them yourself. You may be lost, tricked, or stumble on the way. But is it not what makes it more interesting? To live by your own rules and learn from your own mistakes. Leap of faith, have an extra dose of confidence and plan your wonderful solo trip to Delhi. You will be amazed by how a place and its people can change you for good!
An introverted blogger who is looking to make unforgettable solo travel memories with one short life.