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Located to the west of the city of New Delhi is the Indira Gandhi International Airport, which now is the busiest airport in South Asia. There are now two termimals T3 and T1D which are eight kilometers apart. So budget at least 30 additonal minutes to the time required for full fresh security and check-in drill to get to T1D if you have to catch a connecting flight within India.
You can either take the free shuttle if you are transferring from T3 to T1 from the new international terminal, nicknamed T3, near Pillar 9 or take a pre-paid taxi from the same location and vice -versa. There is also a paid shuttle from T3 to T1 and vice-versa for 25/- rupees.
T3, the brand new international terminal built in 2011, is equipped with all the amenities an international traveler needs - a huge variety of duty-free shopping that is available to inbound travelers as well as to outbound, currency exchanges offering reasonably good rates, mobile phone sim cards in case you want to turn your unlocked overseas cell phone into an Indian cell phone while in India, little rooms for sleeping off your jet lag, even "wave chairs" on which you can recline almost 180 degrees and catch a nap, and loads of restaurants catering to all tastes. Please ensure that any local SIM card you use in India is legitimate and issued to you in your name under proper documentation.
Currently, international visitors will arrive at the Delhi International T3. This terminal also has a domestic wing catering to flights inside India. In case you have a direct flight to catch within India post your arrival, you can transfer immediately from International Arrivals to Domestic departures. However only the following domestic airlines operate from T3 (Jet Airways, Jet Konnect, Vistara, Air Asia India and Air India)
This will not work if your domestic flight within India is with a low cost carrier such as Indigo, Spice Jet and Go Air. All these airlines operate their domestic services from the old terminal T1D. Getting from T3 to T1D will take around 30-40 mins depending on traffic and a full fresh security check drill.
Note: Indigo and Spice Jet are primarily domestic operators running some international routes. So in case you have an Indigo or SpiceJet international flight, you will have to take it to and from T3 and in case you have an Indigo or SpiceJet domestic flight, you will have to take it from T1D. The basic logic being that T1D does not support any international traffic and has no immegration facilities.
There are various modes of transportation from T3 to the city:
1. The very efficient Delhi Metro Airport Express Line (operates from about 0500 through to about 2300) now connects the airport to the heart of the city as well as neighbouring suburban towns like Faridabad, NOIDA, Ghaziabad and in a very roundabout way from the Airport, also the neighbouring Gurgaon. The Airport line is fully integrated now with the local Delhi Metro and the same Smart Card works on both. Once you arrive at a Delhi Metro station in the city, you can coordinate an Uber or Ola or hail a radio or black and yellow cab or catch an auto (tuktuk) or even a battery or cycle rickshaw to wherever you need to go. If you are carrying no more than a suitcase and a handbag then feel free to walk the last few kilometres. The Delhi Metro is a smart way to get to the city for less than a dollar though it also makes sense to buy a day-card or a regular smart card, both of which are available from the Airport Metro station itself at prices which are very reasonable. From any Metro station in Delhi, a 3-wheeler to anywhere within 2 or 3 kilometers is probably less than Rs. 100 (about USD 1.50) so knowing the closest Metro station to your eventual destination is a good idea and the best way to learn how to travel in and around Delhi faster than by road options.
The returnable deposit for a Delhi Metro Smart Card is all of 50 rupees (about 75 cents USD) and if you load it with a few hundred rupees worth of pre-paid "charge", you will also get 10% off on each ride and be saved the trouble of standing in lines to buy tokens or worry about getting off at the wrong stations. You can buy the Delhi Metro Smart Card at the Airport Express station underground as you exit T3, please have some Indian rupee currency ready, this will be the best investment you make for moving in and around Delhi.
If you want to connect to a long distance train one option is to catch the Airport Express Metro from T3 Delhi airport and get off at New Delhi. As you walk out of the Metro you will sight the New Delhi train station, ignore the touts and others firmly. Walk and enter. Turn to left and climb the stairs. Turn right and you are on the overhead bridge that connects all 16 platforms of the station. You have entered from the No.16 end so walk to the other end to get at No.1. Exit for Paharganj is from here. As you look out with the Delhi Airport Express and Delhi Metro stations at your back you will see Paharganj on the other side of the road. The International Tourist Bureau for Indian Railways is also at New Delhi Railway Station on the First Floor - be very careful of scam artistes trying to con you to go to some other office please.
If your train is from any of the other main railway stations or the Inter-State Bus terminals, then you have to switch from the Airport Express line to the normal Delhi Metro lines. Do read up on how to do this on the Delhi Metro website or follow the signage which is very intuitive or best of all, whether at Airport or at any Metro station, ask the Indian Government CISF (Central Industrial Security Force) security for help - they are the best and always helpful. The same CISF soldiers, usually wearing disruptive pattern uniforms and with the CISF logo on their shoulder pads, work at Delhi Airport and Metro Stations, and so they know what and how to guide and if you are in need of female help, they always have female soldiers nearby.
2. Prepaid taxis (Black and Yellow colored non AC) are available at a booth inside the arrival as well as also at another booth outside on Taxi bay of T3, the international terminal, as well as from the domestic terminal T1D. These taxis will drop you at the doorstep anywhere in Delhi but you need to beware of some scams like telling you that your hotel is full or them getting another person to ride with them or engaging the child lock so that you are stuck inside. The prepaid taxi booth has a menu of all the major destinations with the approved and fixed fare for each. There is no risk of a rip off because you are charged a fixed government approved fare for the trip. Also note that between 23:00 hr to morning 05:00 Hrs there is 25% extra night charge added on to the coupons.
There is a pre-paid taxi counter inside the arrival lounge to the extreme left when you are arriving from the international terminal. (This is after customs. This lounge serves as an intermediate space between the final arrivals area). They will ask you for the adress of the place and give you two receipts, one green and one pink. You can then leave the building and go to pillar 34-40 when you leave the terminal building. There is an additional counter here, in case you miss it inside, and all the yellow-black taxis are parked here. Once here, you can tell the drivers the address you need to go to, and they will guide you to the black and yellow that they want you to take. You are supposed to finally hand over one reciept (green) to the driver only after you reach the destination, so you can ask to have it back if they need to check it, and keep the red for your records. This is definitely a very conveinient and a cheap option. It is a good idea to take a photo of the receipt and send it by MMS or email to your trusted people as a safety measure, as well as photo of taxi and driver.
Avoid the dinky small Maruti Omni and Maruti 800 vehicles, they are usually old and uncomfortable. You are at liberty to pick and choose a vehicle and driver, do not be rushed, do not take vehicles with darkened glasses and feel free to reject unsafe vehicles or unsavoury looking drivers. Tell the driver do drive carefully right at the start and if he is not wearing a grey unfirom, then switch to another black-and-yellow cab.
Just before leaving the airport the black-and-yellow taxi drivers have to go past a Delhi Traffic Police check-post where they will give their name, number and passenger's name and destination. If you have ANY doubts then this is the point at which you clarify them or if you feel you got into a wrong vehicle for any reason, then ask for a change of vehicle. There will be yet another CISF checkpost on the way out of the Airport about a kilometre down the road, and you can clear your doubts there too.
3. Metered Radio taxis are a little more expensive than prepaid taxis described in option #2 ad are lined up in front of the terminal building as in any airport in the world. They are run by some private companies such as MERU, EASYCABS, MEGACABS, MAGIC SEWA etc. One is told prepaid averages Rs 14 per km for Non AC & Rs 16/- per KM for AC one vs. Rs 20 of metered cars. Regardless of the slightly higher cost, these metered cars are later model cars with AC and probably worth the few extra dollars in the searing heat of a Delhi summer. There is a official Rs. 80 airport parking charge that the Radio taxis have to pay which in turn you have to shell out, but Rs. 80 for parking (about USD 1.90) isn't going to break your budget. This will be a government imposed service tax of about 5% over and above the number you see on your meter at the end of the ride. So grin and bear it. If you spend USD 7 on a pre-paid taxi, you might spend USD 12 on a metered cab - not a big deal by global standards. You can also compare the prices of taxi and check for offers at http://www.taxiclues.com before booking a cab. You will get a printed receipt on demand at the end of the journey and if you don't then go on their website later on and ask for it. Radio taxi companies have frequent specials and deals online, so do check their websites.
4. There are A/C "local" buses available to a few destinations including the major railway stations and bus stops and suburbs. These buses have few stops, so they are a good way to travel, but you may need some guidance as the drivers and conductors here from DTC can often be a bit "different". The Inter State Bus Terminus (ISBT) at Kashmiri Gate is well connected by A/C "local" buses too. The tickets can be a little pricey thouhg, and for 3 people, a pre-paid taxi may work out about the same cost. These buses are available towards the extreme right of the arrivals area. These AC buses connecting the airport to all the major railway stations as well as bus terminal are a great way to see Delhi but be aware that traffic jams are not unknown.
5) Of late, long distance buses to some cities in Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarkhand and Rajasthan have started operating from the airport itself. These are both private as well as Government State Roadways buses and are usually high end Volvo, Mercedes-Benz and similar buses. Tickets can be bought online or on the spot. Some of the bus service companies operate from the Airport terminal itself, others use a feeder bus to the main Bus Terminal also known as "AeroCity" in the Airport Hotel area complex. Almost all of them have their counters inside the airport and their own usually liveried staff will guide you to the bus, usually in a group, so safety is in numbers. You can also take a one-stop Airport Express Metro ride from T3 to Aerocity for long distance and city buses from there. T1 is also connected to T3 and Aerocity by paid shuttle buses. Once again, if in doubt, look for the nearest CISF soldier for help.
Options to the airport are as follows:
1. Of course, the cheap metro option still applies whether departing or arriving, direct Metro to T3 and add shuttle bus from T3 to T1.
2. The pre-paid black-and-yellow option does not exist from the city to the airport.
3. The metered "radio"" taxis as described above can be called anytime, anywhere. Try Meru cabs 011-44224422 or Mega cabs 011-41414141 or EasyCabs 011-43434343 or MagicSewa 011-43333333. It is cheaper to book them online website or app than using their call-centre.
Try not to use the transportation so courteously "arranged" by the hotel. They are horrendously expensive. Unless it is a free transfer.
Getting to New Delhi Railway Station from T1D
This option would be required if you arrive in Delhi in a low cost carrier on a domestic route (Indigo, Spicejet and GoAir). Once you land at T1D, there is a Pre Paid Taxi counter (Black and Yellow cabs). The process to get the reciept is the same as decsribed above and you can book the taxi to New Delhi Metro station directly.
There is also a booth outside the main terminal building which sells the Metro Tickets for the Airport Link to New Delhi. However, note that the Metro Station is at T3 while you are at T1D. if you buy the ticket from this booth, you are eligible to board a shuttle which will take you from T1D to T3 (around 8kms and 20-30mins) free of cost
Once you get to T3, follow the instructions to reach the Metro station and then find yourself on your way to New Delhi Railway Station Metro Station. Geographically, this is the long way around, as the Delhi Metro Airport Express passes right in front of T1 of Delhi Airport on its way to New Delhi Railway Station and nobody can explain why they did not build a small station outside T1.
Getting into the Airport - Ticket Printouts Update
The Indian Government has recently passed a resolution aimed at saving paper. As part of this resolution, across all airports in India, you no longer require a paper printout of your itinerary. The itinerary document on your smartphone, ipad, kindle, etc will be sufficient to get you inside the airport when paired with the correct ID Proof.
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