Lal Qila

Backpacking Delhi: Where to stay

Backpacking Delhi: Where to stay

It’s a mad city. Crowds, pollution, aggravating, with street-side salesmen who don’t know where to stop, if Delhi is your entry point into India; take it easy. Give it time and the city grows on you. After a first night of restful sleep, when the first morning light appears over last night’s dew, and the bustle of the city hasn’t yet begun, the capital of India is quite stunning. The majestic India Gate top’s Delhi’s architectural portfolio, while the lavish and gigantic shopping malls, crazy parties & Delhi bellies, and thriving city pub culture of Gurgaon (suburb) will make you feel right at home. The tiny and beautiful Italian village Hauz Kauz is the party place with pubs, bars and very western quick bite grabs lining the streets.

Lal Qila
Lal Qila

Delhi is much more than just its first chaotic impression. And if you give it a chance, it will show you. Delhi has temples of old, and opulent mosques, lush gardens & parks carpeted with soft green grass, and spectacular ruins; residues of lost empires. Scroll down for accommodation types and options for the backpacker in Delhi.

Humayun's Tomb
Humayun’s Tomb

Delhi for Backpackers: Where to stay

Landing in Delhi: Through local guides who crowd outside buses as you disembark, most people find themselves conveniently at Pahargunj, the backpacker area of New Delhi, close to its center. Rikshaw (tuk tuk) and taxi drivers do the rest. So, head to Pahargunj if you’re looking for something cheap. Also, due to its central location and good connectivity, getting around is pretty easy from Pahargunj.

Stay: You will find plenty of stay options at Pahargunj which are simple enough to explore upon arrival. Walk in also usually means a slightly cheaper price than an online booking. I have stayed at Pahargunj plenty of times, and its ok-ish. You should be able to get a room (for two) within 600 INR, but hygiene standards at most of the cheaper Pahargunj hotels aren’t the best.

Hotels & B n Bs

On the other hand, book your first night in advance at a good place. It will save you the trouble of having to search after a long journey (given the heavy backpack on your back). This is especially true for a place as large and exhausting as Delhi.

There are a few places online which offer good prices. For hotels and B n Bs. TripAdvisor has the best coverage, and a good after sales support system. Click here to browse hotels on TripAdvisor.

Hostels

As a backpacker, you must lean toward hostels for various reasons. Staying is hostels is of great benefit to the backpacker. Especially if you are traveling alone, hostel adds a social dimension to your trip. Hostels are usually furnished with a common room, and are structured to facilitate meeting new and interesting travellers from around the world. Most hostels offer accommodation in dormitory, single, double and luxury room structures. Unlike at a lot of less developed cities or towns, there are plenty of hostels in Delhi.

The Zostel chain is furiously building up everywhere in India and have superb quality. The Delhi Zostel is located near the New Delhi Railway station, a stone’s throw from Pahargunj. At round 600 INR, you will  get a bed at a really clean and well maintained hostel. For Zostels, you can book directly on their website. Note: You cannot walk into a Zostel without reservation. You must pre book online for a reservation.

If you want other hostel options, Hostelbookers (click here to browse) is THE place. I love this site. They are a lot more diversified have better hostel options for India than TripAdvisor, or any other hostel booking portal I’ve used.

Common room at the Delhi Zostel
Common room at the Delhi Zostel

 

There is plenty to do in Delhi. There are museums, and shops and a very healthy cultural scene which includes arts and theater, street plays and orchestras. Read all about off the beaten track places to go in Delhi here. Delhi has it all, waiting to be discovered by the traveler after a good night’s sleep.

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