delhi: backpacking tips for first timers

The beauty of Delhi stretches across the extreme ends of all imaginable continua; peace-chaos, eccentric-conventional, aromatic-stinky and the list goes on. It could be the reason why it is a real challenge for experts to put together a definitive guide to this colorful city.

The City’s reputation among outsiders are somewhat unanimous and they see this place as filthy yet an authentic exotic destination. India is a huge subcontinent but this capital city is pretty difficult to ignore. Most Flights to Delhi are coming from the biggest international hubs and that is why the city became the busiest gateway to travelers in search of an exotic Indian escapade.

But most travelers have the same question in mind before pushing that button and book that flight to Delhi: “Am I ready for it?”

We could not deny the fact that we got retarded tendencies to exaggerate and sensationalize things that we read on forums whenever we do research on a certain destination. I remember going to Wuxi China carrying a huge bottle of water all the way from Shanghai because I read that you can’t trust the water in Wuxi and might end up with some serious poisoning. Turns out, there are mineral and distilled water bottles availabe in 7eleven everywhere. (hand on face!)

Other than the WWW, we gather tips from close friends who have been to a destination and fish some quick and easy infos like in this case, where to stay in Delhi, what to eat in India and what to see other than your hunk Bollywood actor fantasy.

We asked our close friends who happened to be seasoned wanderlusts for advise and tips on backpacking around the capital and these are what they replied us.



1. Pick three words to describe Delhi.
-Life-changing, exotic, blessed.

2. Where did you stay? How much per day?
The cheapest guesthouses and hotels are in Pahar Ganj in Old Delhi. I stayed in Anoop hotel and I paid 600 rupees for the night. The best part is it’s the only hotel within the area where you can check out the same time next day you checked in.

3. what’s the best food you tried in the city?
-I love meat so imagine how weird it is to drink my Kingfisher without my steak. But the best food I’ve eaten is actually a snack called Kuri Kuru. It’s spicy, tangy and uniquely Indian. I love everything about it. I eat it everyday.

4. A picture perfect, must see, must visit in Delhi.
Delhi is divided to two: New Delhi and Old Delhi. One should not miss Qutub Minar, India Gate, Gurudwara Bangla Sahib, Lotus Temple, Main Bazaar, Connaught Palace, etc. But one place that cost me nothing to go to but was more than worth it was Lodi Gardens. It’s not a tourist spot and most of the people you can see in the park are locals. I walked for an hour till I reached a spot I liked. After the chaos and noise of the Delhi streets, I found myself in the middle of a patch of garden and relaxing. I walked barefoot and slowly realized in such a vast and huge city as Delhi, it’s a relatively romantic city. You just have to look for places like this. I saw an old couple, probably in their 70’s kissing so passionately. I knew right there and then, I’ve fallen in love with Delhi

5. What would be your advise to someone who will be going to Delhi for the first time.
Expect the worst in Delhi but be prepared to be overwhelmed. I’ve expected the worst and it felt so good knowing it’s not so bad after all. After a few days roaming around, I’ve slowly become part of their world. Apart from the fact that I look like everyone, it truly feels great knowing i’ve blended in. One day, a couple of Bengali girls came up to me near the train station and gestured to ask for directions, i knew i’ve changed to become part of their world. When you go to Delhi, know that there will come a time where you will get tired and you might become unhealthy because of the air pollution and dubious food preparation. Embrace it, don’t compare, and never ever complain. Even if I like to hate it for all the obvious reason, it’s actually a beautiful place to get lost to. I am so proud to have traveled to India’s famous capital.


Dispatch Magazine


1. Pick three words to describe Delhi.
-shopping haven. eccentric. mystical.

2. Where did you stay? How much per day?
-Ajay’s Guesthouse, Paharganj District ( Rs 360)
3. What’s the best food you tried in the city?
-Chinese food in Nirvana Cafe on Paharganj District. After weeks of eating Indian grub, it was bliss to chow on Chinese food! While the Best Biryani that I’ve tried from South to north India was from Ajay’s Guesthouse. Makes my mouth water just by thinking of it! haha!
4. A picture perfect, must see, must visit in Delhi.
-Red Fort, Akshardam Temple and Chawri Bazaar
5. What would be your advise to someone who will be going to Delhi for the first time?
-Expect the unexpected. Beware of touts! Dirtcheap shopping and sell it back home. Delhi is beautiful crazy.


1. Pick three words to describe Delhi
dirty. crazy. magical.

2. Where did you stay? How much per day?
-In the Paharganj area close to the train station. It cost us 500 Rupees for the room per night

3. What’s the best food you tried in the city?
-I mostly ate street food or at small restaurants because we were on a poorpacker’s budget. But what I would really recommend is asking for the thali, the Indian buffet. Most restaurants offer this ‘bottomless’ meal. You usually get rice, dal (lentil soup), 3-5 different vegetable dishes, nan and chapatti. They servers will keep refilling your plate until you’re about to burst! And trust me, you wouldn’t mind bursting with all these savory dishes!

You should also try eating at the Gurdwara Bangla Sahib temple. Anyone can just east here for free every day for lunch and dinner. It’s staffed 100% by volunteers! Bring a scarf or hat to cover head and expect to help out in the kitchen.

4. A picture perfect, must see, must visit in Delhi.
-Check out the beautiful Sikh temple in Old Delhi near the parliament. India gate, Delhi’s Arc de Triomphe is where where all the locals go for afternoon walks and snacks. Come here right before sunset to catch the golden light. Have a cup of chai and wait for another hour and capture the India gate while it’s well-lit and majestic. The Qtub Minar is also a great spot to take photos against the backdrop of the minaret made of red sandstone and marble.

5. What would be your advise to someone who will be going to Delhi for the first time.
-Always keep your wits about you. Don’t go wandering by yourself in dark alleys. Don’t drink tap water or iced drinks or smoothies. (You’ll regret it if you do. Explore the suburb areas in New Delhi near Nehru place because that’s where you can find great deals for fabrics and clothes. Always haggle with the auto rickshaw drivers and make sure they put the meter on.

Video by Jerik De Guzman

And to reiterate, yes they are our CLOSE FRIENDS, and we know they will only give us the brutally honest opinions and never direct us to those headquarters of organized crime syndicate for us to end up with an amputated leg begging alms on the street. (Man I hate stereotyping! Sorry)

So, are you ready for Delhi?

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  • Mervin

    November 23, 2011 at 11:55 am

    Best time to visit Delhi is winter time. Nov-January. Worst is summertime you go figure why. hehehe

  • Stephanie - The Travel Chica

    November 23, 2011 at 3:41 pm

    Expect the worst?!! But I am a reformed-pessimist.

  • Eileen/ Possibly Pinay

    November 23, 2011 at 10:28 pm

    I love Upper’s pants – want one NOW!
    Great video din – kalurkey – is that a video treatment or a compilation of burst shot photos? danda danda but bitin! talk about teaser.

    —was going to make an analogy to foreplay but then i regress 😀

  • Journeys and Travels

    November 24, 2011 at 12:33 am

    I’d love to go India and exotic blessings of travels in an exotic land means tranquil life, even for a brief moment.

    gusto ko na tuloy talaga pumunta hahaha

  • chyng

    November 24, 2011 at 12:47 am

    so Upper didnt mention about her seeing the Dalai Lama upclose kasi madaming mamatay sa inggit.
    ps: the dalai lama is a young cute man. ^_^

  • Marky

    November 24, 2011 at 5:50 am

    A friend also said (about India) that it’ll eat all your senses and it’ll show to you what you’re really capable of bearing while traveling, but reading Jerik, Upper and Lois’ answers gives a method to that madness and an inspiring and a must experience journey…

  • joan | the backpack chronicles

    November 27, 2011 at 5:11 am

    I’d love to go to India, especially when I saw the Slamdog Millionaire. Napakaexotic na culture!

  • Win Breaker

    September 6, 2013 at 5:02 pm

    Like it

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