First-time visitors especially should be on their guard against Delhi's touts and tricksters, who are remarkably inventive in their schemes to part tourists from their cash. Touts buzz around tourist honey pots such as Connaught Place, Paharganj and the New Delhi train station. These oh-so-helpful fellows will try to cart you off to shops, travel agencies or 'official' tourist offices, where they earn commission at your expense.
However, you will probably find the scammers pretty innocuous if you follow a policy of ignoring them or calling their bluff. If you do have problems, you should seek out the 'tourist police', who have marked jeeps stationed at tourist centers, including the international airport, New Delhi train station and Janpath.
Taxi-wallahs at the international airport frequently act as touts. These sneaky drivers will try to persuade you that your hotel is full, poor value, overbooked, dangerous, burned down or closed, or even that there are riots in Delhi. There intention is to take you to a hotel where they'll get some commission. Some will even 'kindly' take you to a 'tourist office' where a colleague will phone your hotel on your behalf, and corroborate the driver's story.
In reality, of course, he's talking to his mate in the next room. Alternatively, the driver my claim that he's lost and stop at a travel agency for directions. The agent supposedly dials your hotel and informs you that your room is double-booked, and helpfully finds you another hotel. The taxi-wallah, when he delivers you, gets commission and you get a high room rate.
Tell persistent taxi drivers that you've paid for your hotel in advance, have recently confirmed the booking, or have friends/relatives waiting for you there. If they continue, ask that they stop the car so that you can write down the registration plate number. Just to be sure, call or email to confirm your hotel booking, if possible, 24 hours before check-in.
Travel Agent Touts:
Be cautious with travel agencies, as many travelers every year report being overcharged and under whelmed by unscrupulous agents. To avoid grief, always shop around or ask for traveller recommendations. Choose agents who are members of accredited associations such as the Travel Agents Association of India and the Indian Association of Tour Operators. Don't get talked into something you had no intention of doing prior to the conversation. Finally, before parting with your hard-earned cash, insist on getting what you've been promised in writing - this will be invaluable if you need to lodge a complaint with the tourist office or police.
Be especially careful if booking a multi stop trip out of Delhi. Lonely Planet often gets letters from travelers who've paid upfront for a trip and then found out there are extra expenses, they've been overcharged, or that the accommodation is terrible. Some travelers have arranged have arranged 'northern mountains' or 'lake' trips, then later find that they are headed for Kashmir. Given the number of letters we've received from unhappy travelers, it's also best not to book tours to Kashmir from Delhi.
Train Station Touts:
These touts are at their worst at New Delhi Station. Here they may try to prevent you reaching the upstairs International Tourist Bureau and divert you to a local (overpriced and often unreliable) travel agency. Make the assumption that the office is never closed (outside the official openings hours), is not being renovated and has not shifted.
Other swindlers may insist that your tickets need to be stamped or checked (for a hefty fee) before it is considered valid. Some may try to convince wait-listed passengers that there is a charge to check their reservation status - don't fall for it. Try not to get embroiled in discussion, just politely and firmly make your way to the office. If you are encountering real problems, threaten to fetch the tourist police. Once you are out of the station, avoid overpriced conveyance by heading for the car park's prepaid auto rickshaw booth.
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