India is an intense and vibrant country. There is a learning curve to traveling it, and negotiating rickshaws will become an everyday task. Here I have listed 6 tips for negotiating a rickshaw in India.
I am by no means an expert on this topic, but I did used to negotiate prices for a living. I thought it would be helpful to pass my rickshaw negotiating tips on to you. Traveling India is very inexpensive, but the days do add up, and rickshaws will become a part of your everyday life in India. Negotiating a good rate is important for those of you on extended trips. So let’s get started helping you save some travel money.
Tip #1 – Have the transport to your first hotel booked ahead of time.
I know this isn’t a negotiating tip, but your mind will be blown when arriving to India. Nothing can prepare you for the chaos. Upon arriving in New Delhi at 2 am, we were bombarded with drivers looking to take us to our hotel. We accidentally decided to go with a guy that proceeded to take us on a wild goose chase for the next 4 hours. I’m not sure how much money was spent between countless drivers who refused to take us to our hotel, but it was a nightmare. So make sure and have your transport from the airport pre-arranged.
Tip #2 – Never take a rickshaw at night.
Each rickshaw driver will insist on a “night-time” rate, which can be extortionate. If your bus, train, or plane arrives in the middle of the night,wait until the sun comes up to hop in a rickshaw. This will mean sitting around for a couple of hours, but it is much easier and safer than trying to get a rickshaw at night.
Tip #3 – Always know the distance to your destination.
Before jumping in a rickshaw, make sure to know the approximate distance to your destination. You will also find that every driver “knows” exactly where you are going, but unless you are going to a major destination he will not. It’s good to have an idea of what direction you are supposed to be headed in case you get a driver that has no idea of where to take you.
Tip #4 – Negotiate hard for rickshaw rates.
You will definitely be charged a tourist price, usually starting around 250rs no matter how far you are going. This is where it becomes crucial to know the distance of your destination. Locals will be paying around 15rs per kilometer. Negotiate hard, and you’ll be able to get the driver down to at least 20rs per kilometer.
Tip #5 – Walk away.
It’s perfectly acceptable to walk away from a negotiation. When you first approach a rickshaw driver, you will likely be bombarded by at least a handful of other drivers to get your business. Know what you are willing to pay for the ride, say that price, and then walk away. One of the drivers will most likely follow you and take you for the price you requested.
Tip #6 – Make sure everyone is on the same page.
When negotiating a rate with a group, make sure everyone is on the same page. Rickshaw drivers are skilled negotiators looking to make a living for their families. At the first sign of weakness they will stop their negotiation, and remain firm on their price. Designate one person to be the negotiator, and have everyone else stand-off to the side.
Don’t be scared of rickshaw drivers. They are just hard-working men trying to earn a living for their families. During my 2 months spent in India I only encountered one horrific ride, the first one. After that it was all down hill. Be safe and have fun! Ride in a rickshaw!