Delhi is most likely your point of entry into India, and you are probably flying into the bustling Indira Gandhi International Airport, which will welcome you with a warm Namastey.
If flying in from abroad, you will reach the swanky Terminal T3, built in 2011. The airport offers a wide range of duty-free shopping facilities (should you want to stock up on your favourite tipple for the journey ahead) as well as currency exchange counters (ideal for changing just a bit of currency for immediate needs – airport exchange counters don’t give the best rates).
If you arrived late at night, as many international flights do and expect your hotel to check you in only mid-morning, you you can head straight to the little rooms or the ‘sleeping pods’, chairs that recline up to 180 degrees, to sleep off your jet lag. You can also choose to indulge your taste buds from the wide variety of restaurants offering various cuisines.
The airport is also a good place to get yourself a local mobile sim card from the airport store so you can continue using your cell phone in India. It is important to have a legal local sim card issued in your name against proper documentation during your visit.
You should have your hotel booking sorted before you step out of the airport – that way the various scams and tricks you have read about will not bother you much. If possible, have your hotel arrange a pick up for this one trip – nothing wrong in slowly easing into the chaos of Delhi one step at a time.
If catching a connecting domestic flight, check the terminal number on your ticket. Terminal T3 has both an international and a domestic wing. If however, your connecting flight is to leave from terminal T1D, you will need to take a connecting shuttle bus to T1, a terminal located 8KM (5 miles) from T3.
If you are heading out to the city from the T3 terminal, there are several modes of reaching your destination. You can read in more detail about the options in our Getting Around in Delhi article.
You can book a pre-paid taxi from inside the arrival lounge as well as from a booth outside in the taxi bay. Right after your customs check, you can go the extreme left of the arrival lounge to find the pre-paid taxi booth. Since this is run by the government, there is no chance of a rip off and it is comparatively safe to avail this service. Although out of fashion, these black and yellow color taxis have a certain old world charm about them. Besides, they have to pass through the traffic police check post where they need to submit their details along with your name and destination. For further security, you may want to avoid the taxis with tinted glasses and ask for a change of vehicle if you feel unsafe. The rates start at Rs 25 for the first KM and then INR 16/KM, with a 25% surcharge at night. There are a few additional surcharges as well but you pay in advance.
You can also travel by metered radio taxis run by private operators like MERU CABS, EASY CABS, MAGIC SEVA etc. which are more expensive at about INR 23/km but will allow a more comfortable ride. You can choose a later model car with air-con through this service by shelling out a bit extra
If you use Uber in your country, and if you have taken a local data connection for your mobile, you can try calling an Uber to take you to your destination as well. A local alternative to Uber – Ola Cabs, have a similar service too.
To the extreme right of the arrival area, you can also find A/C local buses which stop at major railway stations and bus stops. However, it is better to avoid this if it is your first visit to Delhi and you are unsure about the route to your destination.
The Delhi Metro
Last but not least, there is the Delhi Metro Airport Express Line which will take you directly to the New Delhi railway station with just a couple of stops in between. The efficient metro service connects the entire city as well as the suburbs. You would however want to first refer to the Delhi Metro Map and spot your destination before changing lines at the New Delhi metro station.