Dealing With Touts in India
Wondering how problematic it is to deal with touts in India? Picture this: you’re off on a trip to Delhi. The capital of India, a land of historic value and great energy, the kind of city that gets your heart pumping. Weeks, maybe even months of planning have finally reached their fruition. You have arrived. You can’t wait to explore Delhi and make this another memorable trip. But, the minute you step off the train, someone runs up to you, clings to your sleeve and smooth talks you out of your hard earned money. What a way to start the trip!
Sadly, this is an unfortunate aspect of travelling to India, the touts. They are people who will do anything to make a quick buck out of vulnerable first-time travellers. Those experienced can easily deal with it, usually learning from their mistakes or by reading up enough. The problem is, sometimes, no matter how much knowledge you may have, you can never be too prepared for these fraudsters. They’ll come at you from all sides, offering everything from hotels and taxis at ‘Cheap’ ‘Special’ or ‘Discount’ rates to hats, sweaters and keychains. Our guide on dealing with touts in India has come to the rescue; read up and laugh your anxieties away.
Heed the signs – Beware of touts in India (Photo Credits – sanjayausta.photoshelter.com)
Where do you find Touts in india?
You may think you will find touts only at crowded stations or monuments, but it’s much more widespread than that. A tout could be just about anybody, your taxi/ auto-rickshaw driver or your hotel manager. Anybody who is earning a commission or even a direct profit from getting you to part with your money is a tout.
You will find people trying to charge you extra for entrance at monuments, temples and mosques. The key is to avoid or ignore them, though your patience will be sorely tested. Their initial aim is for you to respond to them. Once done, they’ll dive straight into their sales pitch and bait you into buying something.
They will cling to you doggedly if you try to walk away. If you ignore them long enough, they’ll eventually turn their attention to somebody else. Make sure you buy your tickets at designated counters with prominent signs displaying entrance fees, and whenever possible try to dish out exact change. You would be surprised at how even the employees working for authorities like the railways or the bus services will try to short-change you.
If you take a cab or an auto-rickshaw from the railway station, a good chance is that the driver will tell you that your hotel is already fully booked or in some cases even shut down to try and entice you toward a ‘cheap’ hotel of his choice. Firmly tell them you’ve paid in advance, or call up the hotel and ask for a landmark. This is a common scam in India that you can easily get out of.
Always buy your ticket from the booking office
New Delhi is a city of warm, generous people who are very upset by their city’s reputation as a haven for touts. You will find a lot of people who genuinely want to help you without asking for anything in return. Thus, being too cautious might keep you from connecting with some truly lovely people.
A common scam is the train ticket scam at New Delhi. An official-looking person comes up to you, informing you that your train has been cancelled. Be careful when boarding a train from Delhi, your tickets are NOT cancelled, unless your tour operators tell you so! If anyone tries to tell you otherwise just laugh them off and carry on with your journey. Always ring your tour operator to clear any doubt before giving in to this trick, as the solution offered by touts is buying a much more expensive train ticket.
New Delhi is full of bustle and charm, don’t let the touts ruin the experience (Photo Credit – Grant Matthews)
Pushkar is a holy city, home to a place of worship of great importance to Hindus. You’ll find the place packed with travellers. Both explorers and pilgrims making their way to ‘Tirth Raj’, the king of pilgrimage sites. The irony is that this land of goodness, godliness and devotion, has become a hotbed for mischief-makers.
The most common scam you will encounter is the form of paid blessings. Touts in India can indeed take on amusing disguises. When you wander across the town or the small lake, you will come across smiling priests (touts, yes that’s what they are, touts). They will ask you if you want to be blessed, after which they will pray for you, make you chant a few words and then demand outrageously large sums of money.
The best way to avoid them is to say upfront exactly how much you’re willing to pay (nothing more than INR 50-100) and then watch how they don’t want to give you ‘special blessings’ anymore.
Pushkar is gorgeous but notorious for ‘Priest’ touts (Photo Credit – Francisco Anzola, Flickr)
The land of the Taj Mahal, draws in tourists from around the world and quick on their heels, the touts.
The touts in Agra have a very mind-blowing capacity for being irritating. Yes, all touts in India and over the world are irritating, but these guys are exceptionally good at pestering people. They will want to sell you little Taj Mahal replicas, ‘authentic’ pashmina shawls, and will tell you that your hotel or the Taj is far away and ask you to take the Tanga rickshaw (carriage) to a place that is quite literally 500 meters away.
The best way to deal with touts in Delhi, Agra or all over in India, in general, is to just ignore them, never run out of patience, and do a little bit of research about the place you are visiting. Just to reiterate, you will find a lot of genuinely helpful people who will help you. Indians are very welcoming people. Some might even help you negotiate with the touts!
Be firm with the touts around the Taj Mahal so you can truly appreciate its beauty in peace
We understand that no matter how much you read, dealing with touts in India can be intimidating. If you want to avoid a sticky situation, feel free to contact us!
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