Tag Archives: money exchange

India Journal: New Delhi Textile Shopping Guide

New Delhi is a whirlwind city filled with honking cars, traffic congestion, auto rickshaws that zoom in and out inches from the next vehicle and an efficient, safe metro system. I never saw an accident but thought we would surely collide on multiple occasions. Traffic lanes do not exist although the roads are marked.

Curated textile choices at Kamayani, New Delhi

On a good day the air pollution is passable. On a good day, I could muster the stamina to visit two or three places — a museum or two, a textile boutique or emporium or folk art exposition.

Where To Shop for Textiles in New Delhi

Based on recommendations from my textile expert friends, Nidhi Khurana and Aditi Prakash and what I discovered on my journey, here is my list of where to shop for great cloth in New Delhi, India.

  • Fab India*, retail shops with fine Indian clothing and silver jewelry
  • Crafts Museum* Gift Shop, near Connaught Place
  • Kamayani* (private boutique), 16 Anandlok, Khel Gaon Marg, New Delhi. Tel. 011-262-58680
  • Kamala*, opposite Hanuman Mandir near Connaught Circus
  • Khadi*, A-1, Baba Kharak Singh Marg, New Delhi, Delhi 110001, Tel: +91 11 2334 3741
  • Anokhi Clothing and Outlet*
  • Nature Bazaar*, Andheria Mor, Kisan Haat, near Chattarpur Metro stop. A curated, rotating artisans exhibition that features vendors from throughout India. Wonderful!
  • Raj Creations, 30 Hauz Khas Village, Tel. 91-11-26963602. Clothing gallery owner Sunaina “Dimple” Suneja curates a stunning textile collection from throughout India. Don’t miss the historic archeological site at the far end of the village.

*Takes international credit cards.

Embroidery on pashmina (cashmere) shawl, Craft Museum, Delhi

Shopping Tips

  1. If you like it, buy it. You will likely never see the same thing again.
  2. Once more, if you like it, buy it. Each textile in India is unique.
  3. Fixed prices in retail shops. Don’t bargain.
  4. You can bargain in big local markets, if you wish. I didn’t. Exchange rate is 70 rupees to the US dollar.
  5. Get rupees at the airport or from your bank before you leave the USA. There’s a big cash crunch. You need cash to pay taxis and vendors. Still no $$ in ATMs throughout India.
  6. Many shops that “take credit cards” are not set up to accept international credit cards, only those issued in India
  7. Sign up for Transferwise, an easy way to wire transfer funds from your bank account to a hotel or textile artisan
  8. Ask your hotel if you can charge the car/driver to your room to save spending rupees

Bhuj bandhani and mirror work embroidery at Kamayani, Delhi

How To Get Around

The best way to get around is to hire a car and driver for the entire day at around 1200-1800 rupees (about $17-25 USD). The downside is you can sit in traffic for an hour (or more) to go a few miles. But the driver takes you door-to-door and waits for you. For intrepid travelers who like an independent approach, I say, try to adapt.

If you use the Metro, you still need to get from the Metro stop to your destination, a challenge in and of itself. Sure, you can save a few dollars but you’ve spent time trying to find a vehicle and then communicating where you want to go. It’s always a choice about how to spend your time.

Walking is impossible.

Indigo block print and shibori fashion, Nature Bazaar, New Delhi

Where To Stay

Saket Bed and Breakfast, extraordinary hospitality and accommodations, walkable to Saket metro stop. French press coffee. Great food. Dinner available. Accepts credit cards. Easy to arrange car/driver services. Clean and comfy. Currency exchange services available. Close to Nature Bazaar, Sanskriti Museum and Hauz Khas Village.

If you have any other recommendations, please add them in the COMMENTS section!

hand-woven, embroidered mirror shawl from Bhuj at Craft Museum, Delhi

From Dollars to Pesos: Changing Money in Oaxaca

What to do?

First, before you leave the U.S., call your bank and tell them you are traveling to Mexico and not to block your credit card!  You will give them departure and return dates.

Now, you have in your pocket a handful of dollars, a credit or debit card and you are flying direct from Houston to Oaxaca.  If you plan to take a taxi or shuttle van from the Oaxaca airport to your hotel in the city or to Teotitlan del Valle, you will need pesos to pay for the ride.  In this case, you will need use a money exchange service at the Houston airport.  It will cost you a little more in the exchange rate (fewer pesos) but you will not be inconvenienced.  I recommend changing $50 USD this way to get you started until you can get to an ATM.

The Oaxaca airport ATM is on the second floor mezzanine. 

There is no ATM in Teotitlan del Valle!

There are plenty of ATM’s in Oaxaca city!

ATM’s give you the best exchange rate.  Do not use Traveler’s Checks.  They are useless.  No one accepts them.

If you use a money changer or bank — to change dollars to pesos — you will need to present your Passport.

If you are connecting in Mexico City, be sure to use one of the many ATMs there in the international airport to get pesos.  I only use ATMs and avoid the money exchanges.  It cost more to change dollars to pesos from a money exchange than it does to withdraw pesos from an ATM.  Leave your dollars in your checking account and use ATMs.

If you are a Bank of America customer, there is no service/transaction fee charged when you withdraw cash from a Santander Bank ATM.  B of A owns 50% of them!

Where to Find ATM’s in Oaxaca city? These are clustered on Av. Independencia across from the Zocalo between Macedonio Alcala and Av. Garcia Virgil.  There are also banks on Garcia Virgil between Independencia and Morelos.  Banks with ATMs can also be found on the Periferico in the major shopping center that houses Fabricas de Francia and Soriana,  and on Heros de Chapultepec on MEX 190 as you head out of the historic district toward Teotitlan del Valle.

Mexican banks are Santander, Bansefi, Banamex, Bancomer, HSBC, ScotiaBank, and Banorte.  Santander is partly owned by Bank of America.  If you are a Bank of America customer there are no service fees to use the ATM.

Rural Mexico is a cash economy. Only larger merchants take credit cards (along with hotels and restaurants) because it costs so much (over five percent) for them to pay the fees.  Many shops will offer a 10% discount if you use cash.

If you are traveling to Teotitlan del Valle and staying there, you can either get pesos at an ATM in Oaxaca city before you leave town, in Santa Maria Tule on your way to the village, or at the ATM in Tlacolula the following day, which is 10 minutes away by taxi or car.  There is a Bansefi in Teotitlan del Valle, but is is used by locals who stand in long lines to get money wired to them from relatives living and working in the U.S.A.  There is not an ATM there.

Concerning personal checks: I always bring a couple of checks.  Small rug merchants in Teotitlan del Valle may take a personal check rather than waiting for you to go to an ATM to get cash If they don’t take a credit card (most don’t).  Make sure your checks are not creased and that there are no tears or folds on the edges.  The money changers are very particular.

Mexperience has a useful description of Mexican banks and how to do banking business in Mexico.