Backpacking in India

backpacking in india

India is a heaven for backpackers. You can practically travel for months, without spending much money or running out of places to see and things to do. It is great for backpackers because you have so many places where you can stay for long periods and you can get an intimate look at locales and the people who live there. In some places, there are a lot of things that you can do while staying there, such as taking courses (Yoga, meditation, Ayurveda, food, learning the Local language, mountaineering – you name it…), or just laying back and reading a book. Of course, backpacking in India allows traveling at the speed of light, too, well not exactly so fast until the transportation infrastructure improves. Anyways, even if you are a runner/traveler/backpacker, remember one thing: India offers much more than coverable!On-the-road_backpaking

Backpacking in India is a very fluid way of traveling, socially speaking. While backpacking in India you will meet up with so many backpackers like yourself, traveling with them from one place to another sharing so many experiences together. Then one day, you might find yourself traveling with others in a whole different direction. Naturally, you may find someone to travel with for longer, maybe until your backpacks are deep back in your closet. Who knows? India has a lot of “backpacker centers” (See the section below) so even if you travel alone you’ll always have someone to travel with if you only choose to.

In this post we will cover some of the basic info that can provide you a better idea for what is backpacking in India.

Travel Budget

Indiatravelz_TollywoodAlthough costs in India are getting more and more expensive, one of the best things about backpacking in India is it that is relatively cheap, and cheap means staying longer. How much cheaper is also a relative question. Like everywhere, it depends on three major factors – let’s break them down:

1) Food

2) Accommodations

3) Transport

These 3 components have a wide range even within a low budget trip.

Let’s take these components and check them out to give you a feeling for how much it could cost you to travel in India for a month. Of course, prices are changing all the time with the seasons; here on this table, we’ll go for the averages.

 Accommodation expenses table  for the low budget traveler in India

Location Level Cost per Night (in Rupees) Number of nights Total in Rupee Total in US Dollar
Guesthouse In the city Extremely low budget 350 3 1050 19
Average 500 3 1500 28
A little bit above Average 800 3 2400 44
Guesthouse In Rural area Extremely low budget 150 27 4050 75
Average 250 27 6750 125
A little bit above Average 400 27 10800 200

As you can see we arrive at the sum of 244$ for accommodations at the highest end for low budget travelers.

From-the-Guesthouse
You are looking at the best room ever in the state of Himachal Pradesh

FOOD AND DRINKS

What’s on the menu? cost/ item total a month in India Rupees in $
breakfast 50 1500 $28
lunch 60 1800 $33
dinner 60 1800 $33
mineral water ( 3 Bottles a day) 50 1500 $28
others 50 1500 $28
$150
A perfect meal in 40 Rupees

TRANSPORT COST

We assume that transport per month for a low budget traveler will cost approximately around 100$. We have included here inner-city transport (Rickshaws and metro), trains, tourist buses, and local buses.

Total cost for a low budget backpacker in India for one month: 394$ you can add to this calculation 15% just in case and you’ll end up with 453$ a month.

That is the average cost for the low budget traveler. On top of that, you may pay some entrance fees for heritage sites, museums, national parks, the internet, etc. It won’t be much. Also, we didn’t include shopping that you might do while traveling.

Pack list for backpackers

Unlike what you may think you need to pack for long travel, backpacking in India requires a different approach. The less you pack the better. We recommend you to buy whatever you can in India. In the big cities, everything is available and probably you can purchase it for much less money.

If you plan to trek in India I would advise you not to wait to buy the gear in India because it is not in the best quality. For the complete trekking, pack list click here.

Basics

Passport Toothpaste and brush can get Glasses / contact lenses
Visas Sun cream Sunglasses
Immunization record Sleeping bag Medical kit (see below)
Travel tickets Sleeping sheet Medications
Insurance Head torch Prescriptions
Traveler’s cheques All emergency numbers  glasses
Photocopies of documents Guide books Camera + Memory card + spear one
Cell Phone + battery+Charger

Clothes

 Underwear Belt Thermal underwear
Shorts Swimming clothes Light waterproof top
T-shirts – long/short sleeves Jumper/fleece Scarf and gloves
Cotton shirts – long/short sleeves Sun hat Shoes/sandals
trekking pants Woolly hat

First aid kit

Medical sterile kit Medic Alert ID if necessary Water purification tablets
Rehydration solutions / spoon Adhesive bandages Antibiotic cream
Anti-diarrhea medication Antifungal foot powder Anti-inflammatory e.g. ibuprofen
Motion sickness medication Throat lozenges Analgesia e.g paracetamol
Thermometer

Backpacker’s centers in India

Firstly we would like to clarify that the places mentioned below are not only touristic destinations, but a major backpacker’s scene which has developed over for their locations and various facilities that meet the needs of backpackers in India. So not every tourist destination in India fits the backpackers’ needs and it doesn’t matter how popular they may be. Take Agra for example, almost everyone visits the Taj Mahal, whether backpacking in India or just a vacationer. However, although Agra is such a popular tourist destination, it has nothing to do with the backpacking scene. This list, however, includes places where backpackers stay for long periods, get regrouped, take care of their travel logistics, meet up with people, chill out, take courses, etc. or simply stay there because it is a hub.

FROM NORTH TO SOUTH:

1) Leh, Ladakh

2) Manali Himachal Pradesh

3) Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh

4) Rishikesh, Uttarkhand

5) Delhi, Main Bazar 6)Pushkar, Rajasthan

And… 

7) Udaipur, Rajasthan 8) Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh 9) Hampi, Karnataka 10) Kolkata, Sudder Street

Internet

Almost everywhere in India, you can find internet cafés. In big cities, you will pay approximately 20 rupees per hour, while in remote areas the prices will be higher (up to 40 rupees an hour). Internet connections in many places in India aren’t that stable, so don’t get frustrated because everything will take more time than what you’re used to.

Drugs

For some reason, there is an impression that using drugs in India is allowed. That is wrong! Although there is a tremendously huge drug industry in India and some Sadhus will be smoking hash publicly you don’t want to do the same. Not only will you insult the locals for smoking and violate core values of social behavior, but you will also put yourself at great risk. Indian police forces show no tolerance for foreign tourists when it comes to drugs. Again do not assume that if you see Sadhus ( Babas) smoking it is allowed – they play different games there.

If you so badly want to smoke, keep that private.

Transportation

INNER CITY

Here’s a brief review of the means of transport you may use while backpacking in India. Inside the cities, you can use the Auto Rickshaw. It’s fun and you’ll get to your destination with no fuss at all. The downside is A) it’s not so cheap and B) You can get stuck in the traffic jams.

Alternatively, in the big Metros, you can travel to the city on the Metros. It is super fast and extremely cheap! The downside of the Metros is when you’re traveling in the rush hour it can get so busy you can hardly breathe.

OUT OF THE CITY

Local buses in India are the cheapest option you can have. There is a bus going to every corner in India, even the most remote. So the lack of transport is never excused not to go somewhere, ha?

Local buses are very cheap and, as we said, take you everywhere. It is also quite an experience to travel, sometimes with goats on the next seat, sometimes chickens, and even one time we got a cow in the corridor. The downside is: A) It is uncomfortable by definition. B) it is the slowest mean of transport ever invented by mankind. C) it can be a little bit unsafe for women traveling alone.

Trains in India; so much to say about trains in India, forgetting all the info you need about trains in India to click here. We have dedicated two posts for that. By train you can have long-distance travels very easily; it is comfortable and fun! The downside?… none. ( if you insist then I wouldn’t say that the Indian train system is the most accurate in the world).

Accommodations

First and foremost, if you are backpacking in India for the first time you need to know that the overall standard of hotels and guesthouses in India is not the same as in the west- at least when it comes to low budget accommodations – luxury hotels are a whole of a different league. Keep in mind that the prices for a room are not an indication of the quality. That means that if you want to stay for a few days or so in a certain place, you will have to check out a few guesthouses before you decide where to stay. When we say ‘quality’ we mean; if it is clean, if it is well located, if the hotel owner or management is nice if there is hot water in the shower and if it is not too busy so you won’t be able to sleep at night – then the guesthouse is fit for you.

About India Travelz

We at India Travelz have one thing in common: love for India and passion for traveling. We have been living & traveling in India for long periods, have guided geographical tours to India, studied and taught many academic courses about Indian culture, history, religion, and languages; now we are excited to take this opportunity to share our insights and experience!"

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