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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. 

Two week travel routes for North India
Two week travel routes for North India

Looking at visiting India? Can’t get more than two weeks leave for it? This article outlines multiple two week travel routes/itineraries that you can follow when visiting India. We give you an overview of the routes you can follow/ destinations, the highlights of each route and modes of travel that you would have to use.

Enjoying the views from Meherangarh Fort Jodhpur (Photo Credits) Enjoying the views from Meherangarh Fort Jodhpur
(Photo Credits)

We have also tried to give you the cons of each option, this is more to help you compare routes and show you what you would be missing out on should you pick another route. In general the routes explained are moderate to quick paced trips, moving from destination to destination every other day. We have explained an estimated budget for each route too, ranging from backpacker to luxury travelers.

At India Someday, we work closely with our clients to plan and book their holiday according to their individual needs.  Should you need our help or have any questions feel free to contact us.

Note: Something we tell all our guests right at the onset, If your two week trip can be seventeen or eighteen days instead, always make the trip longer as there is a lot to see and India is a great value for money destination so adding a few days will not break the bank.

Route 1 – Varanasi, Agra and Rajasthan

If you want to visit the spiritual Varanasi, see the Taj Mahal, the deserts of Rajasthan (camp in the desert perhaps) and explore other smaller towns in Rajasthan then this route is for you!

Travel Route – Delhi – Varanasi – Agra – Jaipur – Jaisalmer – Jodhpur – Udaipur – Delhi (Route on googlemaps)

Highlights of this tour

You would be visiting some amazing and very diverse places during this trip. Varanasi is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. It leaves you with sights and experiences that you will remember for a lifetime. In Rajasthan, the desert town of Jaisalmer is almost like somehing out of a fairytale and you can spend an exciting night in the desert. Udaipur is a charming city of palaces and lakes and Jodhpur is home to perhaps the most impressive fort in all of India.

Read a detailed tour explanation of this tour.

Jaisalmer Fort

What do you miss on this tour?

It is a quick paced trip to include all the cities, no stop will be more than two nights. You would not be visiting any national parks (North India offers some great ones). For budget travelers including a stop at a National Park makes your trip expensive. Rishikesh and Amritsar are fabulous towns and experiences; given a two week time frame you cannot include either of these two towns.

IMG_20140914_095705439 Cost of two week North India Tour with Varanasi

A tour like this would cost you anywhere between 500/600 (Euros/USD) per head for two weeks staying at budget places/hotels to 900/1000 (Euros/USD), if you prefer a private room and small, clean guest houses/heritage hotels. If you choose to indulge in some of the Palace hotels in Rajasthan you would spend upwards of 1800/2000 (Euros/USD) per head.

Route 2 –Starting in Delhi, moving across Rajasthan including Ranthambore National Park.

This tour is similar to the one above, but does not include Varanasi. This makes the trip a little slower, fewer internal flights and includes a wildlife stop at Ranthambore National Park.  We recommend trying to end this tour in Mumbai as you get to explore another city (entirely different from Delhi) and most international airlines offer an open jaw flight into Delhi and out of Mumbai for a similar price.

SONY DSC Amer Fort in Jaipur

Route Delhi – Agra – Ranthambore – Jaipur – Jaisalmer – Jodhpur – Udaipur – Mumbai (Route on googlemaps)

Highlights of this tour

 By limiting yourself to one region you would be exploring it extensively. Rajasthan is a wonderful state in terms of landscape, colour, architecture, food and hospitality. You’d visit a national park and if you’re lucky maybe spot a tiger, have the chance to stay at some lovely heritage hotels, spend a night in the desert and visit the beautiful town of Udaipur.

Cons of this tour

Rajasthan, beautiful and interesting as it is, does receive a lot of tourists. Be prepared for that or travel in August and September, when it’s less likely to be crowded

Note: The Ranthambore National Park is closed during the rains, usually around mid June to the end of September. 

Cost of a Rajasthan Tour

Despite being touristy, Rajasthan has plenty of inexpensive hotel accommodation and some lovely hostels. It would fit the pocket of a budget traveler (looking at spending as little as 350/450 USD/Euros) and at the upper end, Rajasthan has some of the most stunning and expensive hotels in all of India so you could spend above 1800/2000 Euros/USD per head if you’d rather live in luxury.

Route 3 – Yoga, Trekking and the Golden temple, including Rishikesh, Amritsar and Dharmshala

If you’re a fan of trekking, yoga, a mix of nature, fitness and spirituality, you would love this route, a personal favourite of mine. While Rajasthan explodes with architecture, it lacks good adventure options.

Rishikesh is a beautiful multi-faceted stop, it is a bit of Varanasi (Ganges, funeral pyres, temples and ganga arti), some amazing adventure sports (great white water rafting, pristine river beaches, trekking and bungee jumping) and a distinct hippie vibe that ages ago dragged the Beatles and Steve jobs here.

Amritsar is home to the moving Golden Temple, people who visit it equal it to the experience of seeing Taj Mahal and some even place it above. Finally you spend time in the Himalayas, in the beautiful Buddhist town of Dharmshala and beyond.

Golden Temple, Amritsar, India Golden Temple, Amritsar, India

Route – Delhi – Rishikesh – Amritsar – Dharmshala – Delhi – Agra – Delhi (Route on googlemaps)

Highlights of this tour

This tour is a wonderful mix of culture, adventure and spirituality. Rishikesh will immerse you in adventure, yoga and temples, Amritsar in its food, the golden temple and the change of guards ceremony at the Wagah Border. Your affair with nature would continue in the Himalayas, with opportunities for some great day hikes and mountain vistas.

Cons of this tour

Apart from the fact that you would be missing beautiful Rajasthan and that there is not much architecture besides the Taj Mahal and Golden Temple, we cannot think of any cons to this tour.

Note: Mid December onwards the Himalayas can get pretty cold and parts of the trekking trails are closed.

Cost of a Rishikesh, Amritsar and Dharmshala Tour

This can be a very economical tour as you can take trains and buses to get between stops. As a luxury traveler, your options in terms of stay are limited. Rishikesh has the beautiful Ananda Spa and Amritsar has a  few five star hotels, but on the whole budget accommodation options are more popular. As a budget traveller you could travel for two weeks for around 400 USD/ 350 Euros and at around 1000/900 Euros you can stay at very comfortable hotels.

Route 4 – Delhi to Darjeeling

This tour is across the heart of India. You would visit places along the river Ganges (Ganga) and its tributaries and end your trip in the beautiful hills of Darjeeling. Gwalior, Orchha (and Khajuraho) are wonderful non-touristy stops on this tour that offer ancient architecture and a glimpse of the countryside. Also included are the regular suspects Delhi, Agra and Varanasi.

Photo Credit Samuel Cleminca (https://flic.kr/p/hwaqp8) Photo Credit Samuel Cleminca (https://flic.kr/p/hwaqp8)

Route – Delhi – Agra – Gwalior – Orchha – Khajuraho – Varanasi – Darjeeling (Route on googlemaps)

Highlights of this tour

You would be visiting a wonderful mix of touristy (but un-missible) towns and also some equally lovely non-touristy towns. A history and architecture buff will love the ancient ruins of Orchha, the Fort of Gwalior and the mesmerizing and rich temples of Khajuraho, all enmeshed in the gentle pace of rural life in India. Varanasi offers an intense spiritual experience and Darjeeling ends with nature, light treks and tea plantations.

Lakshmi_Temple,_Orchha Photo Credits Wikicommons

Cons of this tour

You see none of the bigger cities in Rajasthan, the smaller towns of Orchha and Gwalior can mean virtually no other tourists, so if backpacking you may not meet many fellow travellers. You have to rely on multiple train rides for this route. Indian trains while an incredible experience, are notorious for running late and do not have the cleanest restrooms. Not all the towns have high quality accommodation on offer.

Note: The mountain state of Sikkim is gorgeous and it’s worth considering spending an extra week to explore the beautiful Buddhist state.

Cost of a Delhi to Darjeeling tour

As a budget traveller one can travel this route fairly inexpensively, the only trick is securing your train tickets. Expect the tour to cost you anywhere between 400 Euros/ 450 USD to 800 Euros/900 USD per head depending on your preferred level of comfort.

Route 5 – Little Tibet bound (Ladakh)

If the majestic cold mountains get your heart racing, this is probably your tour.

To quote from our blog “Ladakh is straight out of a fairy tale. A place of purple mountains where there’s something new to view with every turn the road takes. The landscape is dotted with typical white Chortens (small stupas built by locals) as you get near Leh and the views themselves are an overwhelming experience”

Leh Ladakh, As Idyllic as they come (Photo Credits) Leh Ladakh, as idyllic as they come (Photo Credits)

A few points you should bear in mind
  • A favorable time to visit Ladakh is from June to early October. You need to wait until the snow on the high passes melts for the roads to be motorable.
  • Visiting Ladakh makes your India trip a little expensive. To save time guests usually fly one way or both ways (Leh to Delhi, or Delhi to Leh). Also transport/ accommodation and stay is more expensive in Leh and Ladakh. Backpackers beware!

Route Delhi – Manali – Leh – Nubra Valley – Leh – Delhi

Highlights of this tour

Incredibly beautiful landscape (like none other), charming yet stunning Buddhist monasteries, warm locals and delightful villages, Tibetan food, clear mountain lakes, great hikes (but you need to be quite fit!), jaw-dropping drives and crisp mountain air. All of Leh and Ladakh is one endless highlight.

Worth the drive, Beautiful Nubra Valley (Photo Credits) Well worth the drive, the beautiful Nubra Valley (Photo Credits)

Cons of this tour

Leh and Ladakh are so remote that getting there takes time and is pretty expensive. The easiest way is to take a flight from Delhi to Leh, but that can cost a hefty sum and you may have to deal with altitude sickness as you travel from sea level to over 4000 meters.

The recommend mode of travel is by road so you gradually adjust to the altitude. However, this takes over three days. You need to take a bus to Shimla and then a two day car ride to Leh (with an overnight halt in Keylong). Although the drive is gorgeous you also have the additional expense of the high cost of living in this area.

Cost of a Delhi – Leh & Ladakh tour

Even as a budget traveler you would spend more than what you would during a two week tour elsewhere in India. Expect the tour to cost you anywhere between 700 Euros/ 800 USD to 800 Euros/900 USD per head. If you plan to fly into Leh and stay at the limited comfortable to upper end hotels then you would spend 1500 Euros/ 1600 USD per head.

Nubra Valley with Double Humped Camels (Photo Credits) Nubra Valley with Double Humped Camels (Photo Credits)