So if you aren't interested in what they have to say or sell, here are some tips on how to handle them:
What Are The Touts Selling?
In short: Anything and Everything. You’ll find them at all the travel and tourism spots in India. They will offer to get you anything, at the best price, skipping ahead of queues, and better than everything else, of course.
Touts are less concerned about invading your "personal space", which may scare some travelers to India, but the touts just want your business more than the next guy does. Be aware though that sometimes it is in their interest to lie to you. So it may come as a shock to hear that the hotel you were booked into has burnt down (but the touts conveniently have a ‘setting’ at a ‘better’ hotel), or that the railway booking office is shut (but, no worries, they can hook you up with a travel agent across the road). So, you may want to check the hotel or reservation office out for yourself rather than listen to these guys.
Should You Buy What They're Selling?
It depends. Possibly, if you do want what they have to sell, as you might find it fun to see what they’re offering. Just don’t let them bully you into going anywhere or meeting someone you don’t want to. You can live without meeting their guru, or their boss at the marble artifact shop. And you really don’t need to buy flowers as offerings for the temple or mosque you are visiting. If you walk far enough away from the site or station, you will eventually find someone who will take you where you want to go without the hassle (although haggling a fare with taxi or auto drivers may be another matter).
Also, know that at major tourist attractions, the official guides have IDs that identify them as certified guides and have more-or-less fixed rates. They’ll also hassle you, but they may be slightly more knowledgeable than the average tout, and employing them at least serves to keep the other touts away. Be aware that the smaller tourist areas are not as organized as the larger ones, and "official IDs" may not be worth more than the paper they're printed on. When in doubt, check with the local tourist office or the police for details of where official guides are available.
So, How To Handle Touts?
With civility – and humor if you can muster it. Granted, it’s hard to keep a smile on your face when 5 men are pushing and shoving and trying to grab your hand to take you to their rickshaw/restaurant/emporium/camel, but disengage.
What works nicely is if you avoid eye contact as much as possible, join your palms in a polite Namaste, and keep shaking your head as you edge your way out. Or if you’re tall enough, focus on a point above and beyond them and silently make your way to it.
The key, though, seems to be to try and take it lightly. And most IM-ers have found that speaking to them is not a good option. Even saying, “Nahin,” or “No, thank you,” is construed as an opening and touts will then run behind you for long distances, continuing to get in your way. Whilst others believe that a firm "No" can do the trick if you say it with confidence. Don’t worry, they will eventually get bored and move onto another unsuspecting soul.
One last option: you could make like IM-er Avril and take a picture of the people bothering you, she found that to be the best way to handle touts. Say cheese!
How do you deal with touts? Why not share your tips on what to do to shake them off.
Is your taxi driver a tout?
In some cities, some taxi drivers act as touts, and since you are in their vehicle, you are somewhat trapped into listening to their story and allowing them to take you somewhere other than you wanted. A common ruse in Delhi to get newly arrived first time travelers at the airport to go to an overpriced run down hotel. First the driver asks if you have a reservation for the hotel you have asked him to take you to. If you say no, he suggests a "better" one. If you say yes, you have a reservation, he may say that it is not possible to go there due to fire, riots, VIP roadblocks, etc. It is not uncommon for him to make a call to an associate and put you on the phone. The person at the other end claims to be from your hotel and advises you to go to another place as recommended by your driver.
The driver gets a kickback for taking you to a bad hotel that cannot get enough paying guests through the normal routes of positive reviews and word of mouth.
Latest comments for How to Handle Touts in India
- Join Date:
- Jun 2014
- Bangalore - India
How to Handle Touts in India
Is your taxi driver a tout?
The answer is may or may not be. You can find lot of helpful people. But for your safety reason any service you are looking you can call Just dial 08888888888 which one of the convenient way to get any any information. If you are near Railway station just book prepaid Taxi or auto.
For any airline or travel related book your ticket at Yatra.com or makemy trip. This 2 are popular and convenient portal of India.
Try to avoid buying from roadside venders. For any major help or any type of confusion ask to Traffic police or Duty police
- Join Date:
- Oct 2004
- Chennai, India
- Join Date:
- Jan 2010
- London (UK) (Current) & Pali Hill, Bombay (IN)
The number I use is a Bombay number: +91 22 2888 8888
I just called the Bombay number above and they said that the 088888 88888 number (10 x 8) is the national number. Using my registered mobile number I can call this number from anywhere in India and not incur roaming charges as the call would be diverted to the nearest call-centre.
I highly recommend the service.
You can ignore them, but what fun is that? Actually, ignoring people is quite rude, I think. Everyone I meet on the street deserves a nod or an 'hello'. The trick is to quickly take control of the interaction to head off any dreary pestering. I like to do psychology experiments on them. If they are going to follow me down the street, they are going to have to deal with my goofy head along the way. Typical interactions:
"I am not from this planet. Can you direct me to the spaceship port?"
"Time and space are an illusion, my friend. Don't be fooled, all roads lead to the same place. You and I are quickly going nowhere."
or my ready answer to this ubiquitous question:
"This way." and point the direction I am currently walking.
"Taxi, tuktuck, rickshaw, boat"
"I need to get to California. I have 50 rupees"
"Silk shop, only looking."
"Do they have silk made out of rubber? I need some rubber silk."
"Very cheap price"
"Money is imaginary. It doesn't exist."
"Peace, love and understanding. Empathy, compassion, amazement, wonder. Do you have some? Can you show me?"
"OK, how much do you want? I sell it to you. The best. Very cheap price. How much you pay?"
So, at this point they either bugger off, or you get a nice, funny conversation.
When I'm carrying the Nikon, touts are also often a good source of closeup portraits. Stop walking, turn and point the camera at them from two feet away. "OK, wait. Don't move. Do that face again. No, no, the half-smile. Like this. OK, now turn toward me, and look very surprised." Etc.
The beauty of India is that all of this seems quite normal. Anything goes. Touts aren't so bad. Indian streets are life's rich pageant.. enjoy. Have fun with it.