Did you read the story about our first three days in India? If you did, you probably understand the reasons to write one more article about the scam. This one is going to be specifically about fake tourism offices in New Delhi, and organized travel agencies. The article talks about you as the target, their businesses and how to avoid the scam.
Let’s begin , you are a tourist in Delhi. It’s easy to recognize you. Especially, if you are there for the first time, you will look confused and lost. Trust me, it’s confusing and chaotic there. Typical situation. If you want to book a train ticket, normally you will go to the railway station to the ticket counter. Noooooooooo! It’s not that easy in Delhi. In front of the entrance to the station, a gentleman in the a shirt with a pen in his hand and confidently says:”show me your tickets, where is your ticket?”. Logical answer is “I’m going to the station to buy it”. However, here starts their game! You are as a ball that they throw from one person to another till they got you. First man will tell you “go to the tourist office to buy tickets”. It makes sense. “Tourist office”-okay… You’re in India for the first time, so you think he is helping me. He points out the direction of the railway station. Also, he helpfully shows you the map with marked tourist office. So, you trust him even more, then you go and randomly meet people who are asking you “tourist office?”…this way! and show you the same direction, or you can take the offer for tuktuk (autorickshaw) for 20 Rps. everything happen in like 15 minutes. In the meantime, you are sitting by the table and a guy across with computer smiles and asks “where are you going?”. You have in your mind tickets for train, so you answer. Anyway, the guy is going to make conversation with you about every possibility of your trip and different attractions. Also, he will try to tell you lies about your chosen destination, such are there are fights, trains are canceled, trains are full, there is nothing interesting to see and so on. After awhile talking to you, he may convince you to buy some of his package trip option. Altogether, trips are always overpriced, very poor quality of service, cheap and dirty hotels, and no freedom because the guides will be with you at all time. Even if you stay with your plan and book tickets thru them, count on paying 50% or more on the commission. Look at the video what I’m talking about…..
Let’s briefly explain their game. They are everywhere where tourists are. Places like surrounding of railway station, airport, and center city (specifically a Connaught place alias CP) are their favorite. People who live from commissions are taxi drivers, rickshaws, and randomly helping men in CP. Primarily, those nice looking guys in shirts, with good shoes and well speaking English are pretty friendly and helpful to find you any places around. But, their purpose is to push you to “tourist office” (travel agency). Those spots have big sign “tourism information office” on the door, where touts get high commissions, and you buy pricy trip. All those random people work like a mafia. You don’t know about them but they definitely know about you. They are waiting for opportunity to start conversation with you and gain your trust. Therefore, don’t trust anyone who wants to help you out of blue!!! This is little bit tricky. I don’t want to say don’t trust people because local Indian people are super nice. I’m talking about helping touts. Don’t trust anyone who starts talking to you, speaks well English, is dressed nicely with good shoes and offers you any help or says about tourism information office. Don’t trust neither people on railway station about canceled train or invalid tickets. Don’t trust people in railway station who will tell you that you need a ticket to go inside. It’s not true. Best place where to buy tickets is only inside of the station, so logically you go there without tickets. Only inside of the railway station is international tourist bureau where you book your train. Check the video about it.
The last thing I want to talk about is how to avoid their scam and save your money. Be prepare for them! In general, you meet people who ask you “where are you from”? “how long in India?” Where are you going?”. Additionally, in Delhi they tell you “the tourist office is there”. Do you think it’s coincidence? No, they live from the commission and you are the walking wallet for them. Don’t be the open one. The only way how to avoid all this coincidence is the knowledge. Before you arrive to Delhi, book the hotel ahead. Ask the hotel for pick up service. Have a details (address) of the hotel. Check the road and location on Google maps (after uploading the specific area online, it’s possible to use maps offline). Don’t trust anyone who tells you your reservation was canceled, hotel is full, hotel burn down and others lies. Always be confident and go to the hotel you chose and booked. Scammers will always try to take you away from your booked hotel, and get you into theirs. Be prepared that there is almost no wifi. Also, don’t be afraid to lie to them that you are not there for first time, tell them you work for government, and you know where to go. If you really need help. Try to find it yourself. Mostly people in Delhi know broken English and will help you without scamming. See the video below, where book train tickets and where is the real Information Tourism Office approved by government.
The conclusion, have a plan! Be confident! Be confident, especially when people tells you their beloved lies. We like to safe your money, and have a great experience in India. It’s really incredible country. Our purpose is to inform and prepare you for those situations, because we didn’t know this before our trip. We get scammed. Please, help us to share the information with anyone who likes to visit India.
Everything above is based on our experience and our opinion.