• akirahouston

"How to Navigate through one of the Seven Wonders of the World"

Updated: Feb 5, 2019

I have wanted to travel to India for the past two years and I finally decided that this was the birthday to go. First and foremost, you do need a Visa to visit India. I decided 4 days before my journey to check to see if I needed one and turns out I did. Luckily, for the procrastinators of the world they do have an option for an e-visa. I put in all of my passport and other necessary information online and an e-visa was issued to me via email about 4 days later. (Check out the bottom of this post for the website to apply for the e-visa). If it was not for this I might have missed this trip!!

I spent 5 days in Dehli and spent a day in Agra to see the Taj Mahal. I definitely recommend getting set up with a temporary local number so you can navigate more effectively throughout the city. Even at arrival of the Delhi Airport I was unable to connect to the Wifi in certain areas so that forced me to use my international data which can get expensive. Navigating through the airport was pretty easy and for the most part transportation was inexpensive from the airport and in and around the city. I used either Uber for quick pick ups and drop offs, personal driver for the days I wanted to make many stops and still have the same driver, and tuk-tuks for those quick drives to nearby places. Try and keep some cash (Rupees) on you for outdoor food and souvenir vendors and tuck-tuk drivers. Be aware that the traffic is crazy so be cautious of different rules of the road while traveling abroad in this city. Download the app #rome2rio on your phone prior to getting out in the city. Again, this is where it is essential that you have data on your phone so you can get around. This is a good way to navigate different locations and also compares cost between Uber, taxi's, or by bus/train.

My first touristy stop was the Lotus temple and Dillhi Haat, which is an outdoor vendor market they feature in Dehli once a year. The Lotus temple is free of charge and they allow as many pictures as you would like on the outside of the temple. Shoes are taken off upon entry and there are no pictures inside the temple. There is also a free museum at the opposite end that you can visit. Again, transportation was convenient. There are Uber's and Tuk-tuks lined up right outside the entrance. It's a good idea to have anywhere from 50 to 300 rupees on hand for local travel. Usually the Tuk-tuks you can negotiate price depending on your driver. Just to give you an idea of currency conversion $100 USD converts to about 7,000 Rupees.

I must admit that the traffic was a major factor and kind of scary at times. Very quickly, I had to get used to the lack of stop signs and general driving practices that I am used to in the states. I traveled during the winter month in November and the air quality was very poor throughout my entire stay. I suggest a face mask or scarf to cover up your nose and mouth while out. Weather wise it was pleasant this time of year. Even though it is the cooler season mosquitos are still in full effect so bug spray and long pants and sleeves are still highly recommended. I know the potential of how and hot and humid this city can get so it was overall pretty mild in Delhi. A light jacket or sweater was typically needed at night and early mornings.

The highlight of my trip was definitely the food and the drive to Taj Mahal. I steered clear of the street vendor foods to avoid what's commonly referred to as "Delhi belly". I have heard the food can be tasty so just proceed with caution. I did have to keep in mind that this is still technically a 3rd world country so bottle water at ALL times is a must even when brushing my teeth. Also, don't be surprised if you see cows roaming the streets of the city as they are considered a holy and sacred animal in India. The journey from Delhi to Agra took approximately 5 hours driving time. I arranged a driver for the entire day and that cost me about $150 USD for the entire trip including stops along the way for an opportunity to shop at a few local markets. I also booked a tour guide to take me through the Taj Mahal. He did an amazing job of giving me the history of the Taj. The driver could only take me to a certain point then after that we had to arrange a motorized cart to take us the rest of the way. He said they do this to keep the pollution to a minimum around the Taj Mahal.

Ticket prices for the Taj are pretty reasonable. It cost about $17 USD and you can use your debit/credit card to purchase directly at the gate upon arrival. I also received a complimentary bottle of water, shoe covers, the guided tour, and VIP access to avoid the long wait in line. If you have a good camera on your phone you can get away with using your own device to get pics instead of paying for the camera guys out front selling photo packages. My tour guide was amazing and he actually got some amazing photos using my iPhone.

As a solo female traveler I make it a point to be aware of my surroundings. I noticed there were never any women working in the shops I always almost dealt with men. Luckily, I have friends who live in the area so I was able to learn a few tricks of the trade when it came to safety and being able to negotiate fair pricing so I didn't get taken advantage of. Always Bargain! Prices are usually raised when it comes to tourists so if you are dealing with street vendors you can usually get a better price if you can bargain with them. I received a ton of love from the people in New Delhi. I was surprised at how they took notice of my presence. I almost felt like I was famous because there were several requests from people wanting to take photos with me and I kindly obliged:).


All in all, this trip was definitely eye opening for me. I learned a bit more about the culture and I have a new appreciation for traveling abroad!


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