India is one of those developing countries where people fear to travel before even planning a trip here. One of the scariest part are the scams stories other than food or hygiene. But I think scams nowadays are pretty much common everywhere around the world. I mean sometimes I believe, being an Indian benefits myself to be prepare for both good and bad side to experience around the world. I think its always easy to learn a system but difficult to learn a chaos, but when you get the hand on both, you always know whats going to happen out the every situation in your travels.
Being lived in Delhi most of my life and grown up here, I am going to share today some common facts on scams and their possible alternatives to get around easily when you are in New Delhi, India. (and most of it applies everywhere around other cities as well).
- Taxi Scams : When you arrive at airport, cross immigration and move towards fetching a cab to your hotel , then random taxi drivers may approach you and ask you where you want to go and offer you a cheap price. Kindly ignore them as they can never be trusted. Second option, there are pre-paid booths just outside arrivals, although they are pre-paid but usually they are rip-offs. There is indeed an authorized government taxi pre-paid counter but even if you opt for that, the cab conditions are not so great sometimes. So what to do then and what is also safest option? …well 2 straight answers, if you are arriving during the day, Uber is definitely the best option .but you need a local number, not for booking – for that you can use your own account, but for reaching the driver, he will understand English but rather for understanding the right location or lane where he would meet you. If you are arriving at night, I will definitely recommend asking your hotel to arrange pick-up because anyway its hard to find the right pre-paid taxi counters because unless you are not with a local, you cant really negotiate with them and for tourist, taxi drivers can always play games to fool them around and for solo female travelers, safety is always concern!
- Fake travel agents : There are plenty of small travel agent shops you can find across Delhi but most of them are fake or not really authorized. What should you do? Well the best is find the government authorized tourist information center (http://delhi.gov.in/wps/wcm/connect/doit_tourism/Tourism/Home/Tourist+Information+Centers) OR best is to book online! Well for flights its easy. For trains, you have to buy a local number because when you go to the train reservation website (https://www.irctc.co.in/eticketing/loginHome.jsf) for making an account it is usually required to send an OTP (one time password) on the registered Indian number. For buses you can use website (www.redbus.com). But its always better to travel in train as an alternative to buses! Otherwise, flights are the best to opt for.
- Fake Sim Cards : If you go to shop and they offer you sim cards without asking for you passport and 2 passport size photographs, then its definitely fake! Its better not to use them because you never know for what purpose that number has been used for earlier! So always check for document verification.
- Tuk-Tuk Negotiations : Well first of all Tuk-Tuk are called “Auto-Rikshaw” here in India. They are cheap to use when traveling across Delhi. But they can also be rip-off especially when they know you are outsider! Always negotiate! How? well first, if you stop a Tuk-tuk ask them to use registered meters. If they deny or say its not working, then know beforehand how much it would cost. There is a Delhi traffic police website where you can simple go and enter the kilometers from point A to B, and select Auto as an option (it will give you approx fare). Tell them the destination and ask for fare. If they tell you added +10 to +20 Rs max, take the ride, else tell them your last price and if they dont agree then let them go. They will probably agree in the last moment or if not, stop another one and try the same. It will eventually work! (For night charges add another 50-70 Rs maximum to that amount)
- Commission agents : Wherever you go, airports, train stations, streets, shopping places, markets etc. there will be people who can approach you or taxi/tuk-tuk drivers who can fool you out telling you the places you are meant to go or wish to go is not the right one or is closed due to some XYZ reasons, and they will take you to the ones where their commissions are fixed. So kindly ignore them, trust your guts, research a bit and find the things yourself. Its always better to ask young people, couples or families around you for help. There are many good people here who will always be willing to offer you help as well!
Well there are many others scams as you travel around the country (like not to give anything to road-side beggars as there is mafia who force them, bargaining at shops etc) but the one written above are very common ones that you may encounter specially in Delhi when it comes to travel. But would be similar elsewhere in other cities as well. So know them, keep yourself aware and rest be assured, traveling here is not that complicated!
Have you traveled to India before? Did you experience any scams? Or what was your last experience where you come across a particular scam when you traveled to a new country? Feel free to share your comments as I would love to read them!