Travelling to India? Unfortunately, scams are rife. You only need step off a bus to be bombarded with false information, overpriced rickshaws and dodgy deals.
So, before you make the same mistakes as we did, read up on the most common scams in India.
1. Your hotel has burned down/flooded/temporarily closed
It hasn’t. The rickshaw driver is trying to take you to another hotel so he can earn commission. Make sure you have the hostel name and address to hand. Better still, download the local area map to your phone (we use Map.me) so you can keep an eye on where you’re going. Insist you want to go to your hotel, and there will be no payment until he takes you there.
2. ‘There are no trains/buses to/from Delhi airport’
This is a common trick used by rickshaw drivers to prevent backpackers getting cheaper transport. Don’t listen to them. There is a train to/from the airport and it’s approx 50 rupees! You’ll need to go to New Delhi metro stop and get the airport train from there.
3. Bindis/flowers/incense sticks are free
You might think the little old lady outside the temple is just being kind BUT once she’s stamped a colourful bindi on your forehead or passed you an incense stick, she WILL ask for money. Be on guard – they are super quick!
4. Overfriendly locals offering ‘free’ tours
Many people will offer to show you around, whether that’s temples, religious monuments or the city itself. You think it’s locals being friendly, and sometimes it is. But, more often than not, they will ask you for money– and it’s usually a surprising amount! One Australian traveller was asked for 6,000 rupees after chatting with an elderly man in Varanasi for half and hour! A heated argument ensued before the Aussie agreed to give him 1,000 rupees.
If you do something wrong – like take a photo of something you shouldn’t – you may get asked for money. If you encounter this, offer to delete the photo and walk away quietly. Please take extra care at some religious sites and sacred towns, such as Varanasi, where photos aren’t permitted in holy places.