Tag Archives: Backpacking India

Beatriz’s One Month Backpacking trip across India
Beatriz’s One Month Backpacking trip across India

A few months ago we planned a month long backpacking trip for one of our Colombian travelers, Beatriz, She was planning to backpack across the country with her friends and had about a month to explore.

Beatriz was traveling to India on an E-visa. Backpacking / Traveling in India for a month has been made easy by the E-visa / Visa on arrival process to make India an accessible destination for travelers from most countries

Since Beatriz had a month to explore the country she wanted to experience a bit of both North and South India.  She was flying in to Delhi so it made sense to start her trip  in Delhi and make her way south.

Since Beatriz was a backpacker and North India in specific is home to a lot of great backpacker hostels, Beatriz and her friends stayed mostly in hostels on her trip. However some home-stays and guest houses are also very pocket friendly and especially if you are sharing a room with your friends and gives you a great perspective of living like a local.  Beatriz stayed in a combination of backpacker hostels, home-stays and guesthouses

Beatriz started her trip in Delhi before moving east to Varanasi and then traveling west to Agra followed by Jaipur and the rest of Rajasthan.  She then took a flight from Udaipur to Mumbai ( flights between Udaipur and Mumbai are inexpensive if you book them in advance) and continued on her way to Goa, Hampi  and the beautiful state of Kerala.

This trip was executed on a backpacking budget and meant staying in a lot of budget accommodations and using a lot of trains and buses (albeit the ones with Air conditioning). A similar itinerary can be modified to a slightly higher budget and if you have more or less time can be modified accordingly.

If you would like help with planning your backpacking trip across India get in touch with us now


Backpacking in India – Here’s what you need to know!
Backpacking in India – Here’s what you need to know!

India is a dream destination for backpackers! You can easily travel on a low budget and experience a distinctive culture unlike any other. From staying with friendly families in homestays or other backpackers in dorms of hostels to travelling like a local on inexpensive train journeys, Backpacking in India will offer you an adventure of a lifetime.

 

Why is India so inexpensive?

There are multiple reasons as to why traveling in India is so inexpensive.  A not so strong currency, a great network of public transport and cheap food options make India such a low budget travel destination.

Hostel stay in India should not cost more than 6 – 8 Dollars a night. Even transport on  A/C trains and buses will not set you back by more than 15-20 dollars a journey.

India is a food haven for vegetarian and has a few interesting options for meat eaters too.  The meal costs in India are ridiculously low and a budget of USD 15 should be enough for all meals. For more infos on costs of travelling in India here.

 

How Tough is it to do Backpacking in India?

A lot of backpacker hostels, budget home-stays and economic public transport makes India a very backpacker-friendly destination. However backpacking in India is cheaper/more expensive based on the region you would be visiting.  For example Rajasthan is easier to backpack in than the North-east or on unbeaten paths in central India. South India has a great infrastructure and local transport but accommodations are more expensive. Hotels in Mumbai are expensive too but the food is very cheap.

 

Why should you choose India for your backpacking adventure?

Of course one of the main benefits of backpacking in India is the fact that one doesn’t need to break the bank for a satisfying journey. But there is so much more to the travel experience in India . You can experience a very distinctive culture unlike anything you find elsewhere. The bright colours and interesting details of everyday life , the variety of religions and respective customs, the landscapes and nature, the traditional architecture and interesting stories behind it, the dynamics of the young generations and the wisdom of the elderly – this all makes India an experience of a lifetime. Furthermore, travelling in India definitely pushes you out of your comfort zone and makes you run into situations you never thought you would be in: Dancing and singing with locals on a night train, eating spicy food you actually enjoy,  being the centre of a selfie with local kids or sleeping under detailed wall decorations which are centuries old. Many of our guests had the time of their lives in India. Read their testimonials here. 

 

How much can you see in two weeks of backpacking in India?

Two weeks in India is ample time to explore one region well.  On a fast paced trip you could see a little more.  In North India you could explore Delhi,  Rajasthan and Agra (Taj Mahal). This is probably the most popular tourist circuit in the country.   Start off in the capital, followed by a visit to the Taj Mahal and the culturally rich cities of Rajasthan.

The places you would be visiting on this route are rich in history, culture and architecture.  Great rail and road network and abundance of budget hotels, home-stays and hostels make North India a backpacker friendly region. Find an example tour with details here.

Rajasthan_fort Explore the massive forts and beautiful palaces of Rajasthan.

North India is also home to places of spiritual importance.  You could start this route in Delhi and visit Amritsar which is home to the Golden Temple. The Golden Temple is the most important site of worship in Sikhism.  You can then make your way north to Dharamshala which is home to the Dalai Lama and the in-exile Tibetan government.  From Dharamshala travel to Rishikesh, the Yoga capital of the world and home to a lot of adventurous activities like river-rafting and bungee jumping.

Click here for a detailed list of options on traveling for two weeks in North India.

South India is very different from the North, beautiful in every sense of the word. South India is  blessed  with beautiful beaches,  forests and  great food. It is also a great region for backpacking despite higher accommodation rates.

You can fly into Mumbai  and start your trip there. It is possibly the most expensive city in the country and a not a very touristic city. There aren’t many budget accommodation options in Mumbai. Backpackers tend to like it due to its authenticity.  From Mumbai make your way south to Goa.  Goa is full of beautiful beaches, gorgeous churches and Portuguese colonial architecture. Inexpensive alcohol, great sea-food and relaxed laws are the reasons why Goa is extremely popular among Indian and international travellers.  A bus ride later you can be in Hampi, a relaxed backpacker town known for it’s ruins and interesting rock formations. Hampi is a great place to bike around. You can then travel to Kerala with a stop in Mysore (known for it’s palace and great food). Find out more about this trip here. 

goa_backpacking Enjoy the beaches of Goa without spending a fortune.

Kerala is one of the most visited states in South India blessed with hill-stations amidst tea plantations, waterfalls, national parks and the backwaters.  You can take the state bus/trains in Kerala to travel and most places have enough budget accommodation options. There aren’t many hostels but low priced homestays make up for it. Tamil Nadu, their neighbouring state has great Tempel complexes and colonial cities. Click here for a detailed list of options on traveling for two weeks in South India.

How much can you see in four weeks backpacking in India?

The rise of e-visa has led to a lot of travelers visiting India for a month since Backpacking in India is extremely inexpensive compared to some other countries.

You could either choose to spend your month in North India and explore Delhi, Rajasthan, Agra and places like Dharamshala, Amritsar and Rishikesh.  This route is extremely popular among backpackers visiting India for a month because of easy travel connections and budget accommodation options.

A lot of travelers also choose to combine North and South India.  Flying into Delhi, visit Agra and make their way south to Rajasthan, Mumbai, Hampi, Goa and Kerala.  If you have a month and would like to experience the cultural richness of the north and the great landscapes of the south, this is the route we recommend. Click here for a detailed list of options on traveling to India for 4 weeks.

 

Why should a backpacker like you pay for the services of India Someday?

Being such a unique place, travel planning can be quite an overwhelming challenge in India. Even the most experienced traveler reaches its limits in India due to the vast selection of places to visit, travel routes, accommodations, experiences and the complexity of transport.

With India Someday you can get the right amount of assistance to help you plan your backpacking adventure in India without breaking the bank. With no hidden costs and a highly personalised service, we can make sure that your Indian adventure is well thought out as well as cost-effective. We guarantee you that we won’t charge more for the hostels and hotels than the rates you can find online and due to our extensive knowledge and experience we know the most inexpensive route and transport options for you.

This is how we can support your backpacking adventure:

  • Travel planning according to your budget
  • Transparent Pricing with detailed cost break down
  • Flexible travel planning with you in control
  • Fast & immediate support during your travels
  • Tips for sightseeing & experiences

If you want to get the best out of your backpacking adventure in India plan your trip with us now. 


Seeing India by train—Five great routes
Seeing India by train—Five great routes

 

India has the largest rail network for a single country in the entire world. Every single major metro is connected and a couple of million unknown villages as well. It costs a fraction of what you’d pay an airline. A space that big is bound to breed a culture of its own and so it does. With its intriguing meal-order system, the instant bonds that spring up with your co-passengers, lining up to spit out your toothpaste in the tiny metal sink in the corridor—it’s all part of the Great Indian Rail Adventure. There’s no better way to watch the Indian public in their element, and you’re sure to meet a lovely family that’ll take you under their wing and stuff you full of their tiffin snacks. You can find out more about the classes and food and planning the route from our other posts.

Traveling in India is incomplete without a train journey. Traveling in India is incomplete without a train journey.

We’ve put together five Indian travel routes that rely heavily on trains to get you between places. It’s advisable to have all your train tickets booked in advance, and you can feel free to contact us for help with that!

1. Classic North India

Delhi – Varanasi – Agra – Jaipur – Jaisalmer – Jodhpur – Udaipur – Delhi 

(Route on GoogleMaps)

Start from Delhi, the teeming capital and branch out first toward the ancient spiritual town of Varanasi. From here, you have all f Rajasthan’s vast deserts ahead of you, so a little meditation now will do you good. Meander through Rajasthan’s most beautiful cities, Agra, Jaipur, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur and Udaipur. Each city is a backpackers dream, and will require a minimum of a few days to explore all their colourful alleyways. The best part though, is sailing through the sand in your (preferably A/C) sleeper car, buying pyaaz ki kachori (onion stuffed fried snack) and tomato chaat from the vendors that pop up outside your window. You can also be sure to meet a lot of fellow travellers long the route, all the better to swap stories with over a game of cards on a long night on the train.

Trains – You have four overnight trains and two short day trains. Jodhpur to Udaipur can also be travelled by bus

When to go – August to April

2. All along the coastline

Goa is a popular vacation spot among Indian and international travelers alike Goa is a popular vacation spot among Indian and international travelers alike

Mumbai – Goa – Gokarna – Wayanad – Calicut –  Cochin – Varkala 

(Route on GoogleMaps)

This is a slow approach across India’s beautiful western coastline. Your trains will pass over great wide rivers and palm-fringed fishing villages, with all the land to one side of you suddenly giving way to the endless ocean. Make pit stops at some of India’s most famous beaches on your way.

Catch your first train in Mumbai city, a façade of business and bustle that hides a sleepily beautiful history. Next stop, party central! Take your time in Goa making sure to hit all the great raves but to also understand the mysteries of its natural bounties. Take a breather a Gokarna, every bit as beautiful as Goa, but a lot less busy. Finally crawl your way across Kerala from top to bottom, stopping wherever you feel, because you really can’t go wrong in God’s own country. North Kerala is often ignored, but is a beautiful non-touristy region of Kerala. Pristine beaches, hills, and forests.

This route takes you mainly on the Konkan railway belt, one of the most beautiful railways routes in India, relaxed, tropical, hassle-free and safe.

Trains – Can be done with a mix of day and overnight trains. However, it is recommended to take as many day trains as possible as the routes are very scenic.

When to go – October to April to enjoy sunshine on the beach. The monsoon months have their own charm, and the landscape reaches peak greenness in September.

3. North to South

The scene Konkan Railway Route in the Monsoons. Runs from Mumbai to Kerala (passing Goa enroute) The scene Konkan Railway Route in the Monsoons. Runs from Mumbai to Kerala (passing Goa enroute)

Delhi – Amritsar – Dharmshala – Agra – Udaipur – Mumbai – Goa – Kerala

(Route on GoogleMaps)

Take it all in in one shot! Right from Delhi, the home of the Punjabis, stronghold of the North, all the way down to beautiful Kerala ripe with bananas, beef and South Indian pride. This will be one of your best opportunities to really compare the often starkly different cultures of the country, and long distance trains have a tendency to get people talking! Watch the scenery unfold from the Golden Temples of Amritsar to the rubber forests of the ghats as you pass through some of the nation’s most vibrant cities. Delhi is only a teaser of the Punjabi culture that will grab you up in a hearty bear hug in Amritsar. Head up to Dharmshala for spiritual guidance as much as for the view. Agra and Udaipur will shower you in gorgeous architecture and Mumbai will hustle you up the greatest food you ever dreamt of. Then it’s a downward spiral through the ever blossoming beauty of Goa into the sunshine soaked-backwaters of Kerala. Give this route time, at least 3 to 4 weeks. You’re going to want to add more stops in between.

Trains – rely mainly on overnight trains, some journeys may last up to 20 hours without a break.

When to go – August to Aprli

4. Heading East

Your Varanasi experience is incomplete without a sunrise boat ride to the Ganges Your Varanasi experience is incomplete without a sunrise boat ride to the Ganges

Delhi – Agra – Khajuraho – Varanasi – Darjeeling – Kolkata 

(Route on GoogleMaps)

Follow the mighty Ganges! Hit up the unmissable Delhi and Agra before steeping back in time at the temple town of Khajuraho.Take the toy train up to Darjeeling for some quiet time in the tea capital of the world before moving on to Kolkata. Point of interest—Kolkata is rumoured to have some of the best railway-side fast food in the country. That means steaming hot earthenware cups of chai, sticky, sugary sweets, overstuffed kathi rolls and spicy aloo chat. Take full advantage.

Trains – Again a mix of overnight and day trains

When to go– August to April

5. North India via short day trains

Delhi – Amritsar – Rishikesh – Agra – Jaipur – Jodhpur – Udaipur

(Route on GoogleMaps)

If you’re not up for the overnight long hauls, here’s a way to take in the scenic route in small doses. Each journey varies from 4-7 hours, so it’s a great chance to sneak in some nap-time, too. Most of the cities are in the Punjab-Rajasthan belt, except for Rishikesh. Nestled in the foothills of the Himalyas in Uttarakhand, it’s a deeply spiritual city perched on the banks of the Ganges and a good place to visit if you’re travelling to find yourself.

When to go– August to April


Hostel-hopping through Rajasthan
Hostel-hopping through Rajasthan

A true Backpacking Experience in India

Another blog entry written by Nicky Millar, for more about who she is, and about her awesome travel/volunteering adventure check her blog.

A classic dorm set up (this is the 8 person one in Stops) A classic dorm set-up (this is the 8 person one in Stops)

Bizarrely, despite the large backpacker contingency in India the idea of hostels is still relatively new. In fact, I am hard pressed to think of any dormitory-type options when I was traveling in the south! In saying that though, the places we did stay at were truly exceptional and I think that it is a concept that will grow exponentially in the coming years.

When it comes to travelling on a Budget, hostels  in North India can be a great option

Travelling on a budget, myself and two other girls opted to stay in the cheapest options available (mixed/female only large dormitories) and throughout the adventure we felt completely safe and never once did I worry about my possessions as there were always secure lockers available! The biggest “problem” (if you can even call it that) was the limited hot water, as geysers tended to be small and you had to constantly turn the water on and off to wait for it to heat up again. Other than that I would, without hesitation, stay at these places again were I given the choice! This is even despite the fact that it was sometimes actually more expensive (when traveling in a group, one can tend to get a room for Rs 600 that you can then split whereas the bunks were about Rs 450 to Rs 550 on average) because for me, the atmosphere of communal areas and being able to meet like-minded travelers is priceless!

The Hostels we stayed at

While traveling in the north we were lucky enough to stay at (in my opinion) the three leading hostel chains in the country, therefore I will try give a brief summary of each and their specific standout features.

ZOSTEL (Jodhpur)

Impromptu drinks at Zostel in Jodhpur! Impromptu drinks at Zostel in Jodhpur!

Perhaps the smallest of the three, it was a great introduction to the hostel scene! All the facilities were completely up to scratch and the common room, right slap bang as you walked in, was particularly inviting. It did not take much to feel like you were at home and between socialising with other travelers and needing to use their main computer for personal reasons (for a really long time), the staff were always super helpful and accommodating!

    • Side note: if you are unable/unwilling to go to this hostel I would recommend Yogi’s Guest House. Although we did not stay there, the lady was exceptionally helpful and provided some amazing advice for planning our camel safari. Having only spent a couple of hours there, in addition to the wonderful owner, I can vouch for an amazing rooftop restaurant and a prime location!

THE HOSTELLER (Jaipur)

Shree - the manager at The Hosteller, one of the most friendliest and helpful people I have met to date! Shree, the manager at The Hosteller, one of the most friendliest and helpful people I have met to date!

Opening a mere 3 weeks before our arrival, the staff were truly outstanding! Not only were the ensuite rooms comfortable and the breakfasts sublime, but everyone went out of their way to make our stay the most enjoyable it could be! From planning 3 separate itineraries for us (we were all parting ways at some point and needed to make individual travel arrangements), organising an auto to pick us from the bus stand/show us around the city, to socialising with us in the evenings—they were a top notch team!

Breakfast of champions at The Hosteller - endless chai, eggs, toast and a hearty bowl of poha! Breakfast of champions at The Hosteller – endless chai, eggs, toast and a hearty bowl of poha!

STOPS (Varanasi)

One of the plenty common rooms in Stops - this one is where you tend to have breakfast (there is a proper table behind where the photograph has been taken) One of the plenty common rooms in Stops – this one is where you tend to have breakfast (there is a proper table behind where the photograph has been taken)

By far the most organised hostel we stayed at, with a daily itinerary of tours (small additional costs) and nightly events from boat cruises to Bollywood nights, this is easily the best place to meet people! The common areas are vast, funky and always busy while also maintaining a sense of calm and a lovely homey feel! Breakfasts and evening chai are included and make for great debrief/planning sessions with fellow travelers. Whats more, there is an “intern program” where foreigners work here for a couple of hours a day and receive free board—which, in addition to being something that one can consider doing yourself, means that there are travelers like you who have been in Varanasi for at least 1 month and have some fabulous tips and tricks to share!

Conclusion: Our take on staying in Hostels in India

Overall, I genuinely enjoyed all of these places and as implied before, would not hesitate to recommend them (and even though I didn’t stay in their other counterparts, I can only imagine that that the Zostel in Udaipur, for example, is just as great)! The only drawback that I can think of, and it is common for all the hostels, is that they tend to be further out of the city than other guest houses. So on average you will have to spend about Rs 100 to get an auto into the centre, which is easy enough of course but just something to bear in mind.

While we traveled independently the help provided by my travel companion’s friends travel agency India Someday was invaluable. Booking our Varanasi to Agra train ticket, putting on a comfortable bus from Mumbai to Udaipur, recommending this awesome new hostel in Jaipur. If you are pressed for time and wish to have a security net while travelling in India we can highly recommend them. They are unlike the traditional travel agencies you’d find.