Backpacking in India: How to get From New Delhi International Airport to the City Centre

Backpacking in India: How to get From New Delhi International Airport to the City Centre

Backpacking in India: How to get From New Delhi International Airport to the City Centre

The reason for this article is to help out fellow travellers and backpackers. I never thought I’d have to write an article so simple but it needs to be done. As a long term traveller, I’m always looking for the cheapest and safest way from an airport to the city centre. When I booked a flight from Bishkek to New Delhi for February 2016, I had a quick check online and it became obvious that using the New Delhi Metro would be both the safest and cheapest way to get to the city centre. It was a no-brainer for me really. I wrongly assumed that every other backpacker would have done the same.

Arrival in New Delhi, India

Arrival in New Delhi, India

However, I was wrong, other tourists found other ways. While the Metro is easy to find, easy to use, safe and clean and costs just 40 Rupees, I met so so many tourists that ended up paying for taxis and tuk tuks from the airport, which is a ridiculous decision, trust me. I even met a German couple who recommended me to get a taxi to the airport “because it’s really cheap”. Wow, I was so shocked! “Really?” I asked? “Cheaper than 40 Rupees??” “No, 350 Rupees” they said. “You’ve been ripped off!!” I said. It got crazy and I hated the preaching, it was as if I was an arrogant travel expert now and I didn’t want to be that. But I ended up helping other travellers with it, so it was all good.

Getting the metro from the airport to New Delhi train station

Getting the metro from the airport to New Delhi train station

You see, I heard stories from three female backpackers who decided to get a taxi from the airport. But beware – it’s an age old scam and I’m disappointed that people still fall for it, and even worse, that buck eejits in India actually do this every day. What I’m talking about is taxi drivers who lie to their passengers and rip them off. The girls I met, their taxis drivers made up the usual guff about hostels being closed, streets being closed with riots etc. then took them to a fake tourist information centre and forced them to book hotels and trains for their trip. Ouch!

Easy option - get the metro

Easy option – get the metro

While it did upset me that these girls believed this garbage, then I realised that new travellers may not be fully aware of these types of scams. So please please be aware. Taxi drivers in India (New Delhi in particular) are not to be trusted, neither are tuk tuk or rickshaw drivers. Take the hint and use the fast, cheap, safe and clean Metro system. There is a metro straight from the airport to New Delhi station, which is less than a 10 minute walk to the Smyle Inn hostel.

Take the airport metro express

Take the airport metro express

Getting to New Delhi Central from New Delhi International Airport
Come out of the terminal and follow the signs for Airport Metro Express. The Metro is at international arrivals. If you have arrived on a domestic/local flight then you need to get a bus from the Domestic to the International terminal first, the bus is free. Once you are at the international arrivals, head down to the metro and for tickets you have two options, you will be going onto the orange coloured Airport Metro Express line:

1.A single ticket
You can buy a single one off ticket for a single journey, which costs 46 Rupees (as of May 2016). Pay in cash at the booth and the price. You get a blue token to enter the gate with.

The blue 46rupee token

The blue 46rupee token

2.A New Delhi Metro Card
I decided to get a New Delhi Metro Card, which costs 150 Rupees (which includes a deposit) and can be used as a swipe card. You can just top it up anytime you like, same as a Hong Kong Octopus Card or a London Oyster Card. I spent a total of 8 days in New Delhi and topped up with 200 Rupees only, still had some left over. This was a bargain when I heard that a fellow tourist had paid a whopping 300 Rupees for a single tuk tuk. So I recommend getting the card.

The More Delhi Metro card

The More Delhi Metro card

Timings of the New Delhi Airport Metro Express
The New Delhi Airport Metro Express runs from 5 am until just after midnight, so it’s a pretty consistent service. Even if your flight arrives at 1 am, you only have to wait four hours until the next metro and there are some 24 hour coffee shops to sit at (free Wi-Fi for 30 minutes).

The New Delhi Airport Express

The New Delhi Airport Express

And finally, as for New Delhi’s claim that it is the world’s best airport, I’ve travelled a fair bit through airports, and this is one of the worst. You’re not allowed into the arrivals area, not even to buy a coffee or use the ATM, there is no free Wi-Fi, the two terminals are miles apart and the domestic terminal doesn’t have a metro link. I’m not moaning here, just trying to ridicule the fact they claim it’s world number one. Move over Delhi, say hello to Singapore, Hong Kong, Sydney, Belfast, Bournemouth – much better airports. Sort it out, India. Please, sort it out!

“World number one? You’re having a laugh!”

World Number One, You're Having a Laugh

World Number One, You’re Having a Laugh

Here are some videos of my time on the New Delhi metro in India:

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