Welcome to the India Budget Travel Guide! This is an India travel blog about how to take your first visit to India. Whether you are a first time traveler or experienced pro we have something for everyone. India is one of those countries that simply must be on any globetrotter’s ‘top places to visit’ list.
Before going into that list we want to caution you to buy a sim card as soon as you arrive. You don’t want to be caught on a street in India without one and this is one of the important things to do before even leaving the airport. Sure – it’s challenging – and one of the few remaining destinations where no matter what scale of budget you enjoy, you simply cannot insulate yourself from the staggering differentials in wealth you’ll see throughout this country.
‘Delhi belly’ does exist and most visitors will endure it as they acclimatize, there are occasional flashes of political instability, and you ought to thoroughly read up on the many spoken and unspoken local customs well before you plan to visit.
Just remember that terms like culture shock and sensory overload were invented to describe an Indian adventure. It is the not the easiest place to visit even for lifetime nomads like us.
But if you get it right – and everyone can do so – India is perhaps the most rewarding country in the world to visit. The world’s oldest democracy has a plethora of rightly world-famous sights to explore, as well as no end of astonishing cultural and artistic depths that are enough to make other countries just look on with awe. From staggering mountains through to rich jungle, endless tea plantations, tranquil islands, and pretty much everything in-between, the landscape and palm trees are enough is to keep even the most demanding visitor enthralled for months.
Discovering the Golden Triangle of India. The Golden Triangle of India is a tourism route in India that links the country’s largest city in North India, New Delhi, with the cities of Agra and Jaipur. The Golden Triangle has been so named because the sites of Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, and Rajasthan on a map make a triangular shape. The journeys normally begin in Delhi and move south to Agra, where the Taj Mahal can be seen, and then westward to Rajasthan’s desert vistas like the Jaipur red fort. Many trip providers can arrange for you to go by bus or on a personal excursion.
The Golden Triangle is currently a very well travelled and offers three popular place diversions along the road that offers a diverse representation of the nation’s scenery. By road, the circuit is around 720 kilometers long. Each segment takes 4 to 6 hours to complete. New Delhi is also connected to Agra and Jaipur by the Shatabdi commuter train.
The Ultimate India Travel Guide will discuss some of the many sights worth seeing, explore some ide as of how to spend your time, and explain many of the practicalities you ought to understand before visiting this frankly unbelievably exciting destination. The natural beauty in these are our other main sections give you all of the information for truly unforgettable trip whether this is your first trip or if you have been to India before we are your best option Consider adding this circuit with one of the Madhya Pradesh region of India.
What Are the Best Places to Visit in India?
Most visitors ought to already be aware that India is large – and unless you are fortunate enough to have a few months spare you are going to need to focus your trip onto specific regions according to what sights you wish to explore. There is a lot to be said for spending as many weeks in India as possible – it is incredibly cheap – but the good news for visitors limited in timescales is that the country is surprisingly easy to get around once you have managed to get used to the crowds! For the easiest trip we advise you to use a tour guide in the cities you visit. This is much simpler than going it alone and can be booked for your hotel or hostel
Of course the temples are a big part of any visit to India and one of our favorites was the Tamil Nadu state in southern India. They offer some of the best temples and oldest cities in the country to visit. Perhaps the best known are is the Meenaskshi Amman Temple in Madurai. It has some of the best gold figures of any of the temples in India that I visited and are long time favorites of most travelers. The Andaman Islands are another
Plenty has been written about the majesty of the Taj Mahal and yet it remains one fo a handful of globally famous sights that worlds alone cannot properly describe. You simply have to visit this enormous testimony of love and make sure to arrive and/or depart around dawn and dusk to enjoy the beauty at its most atmospherically best. Quite a few visitors to the The Taj Mahal, a Unesco World Heritage Site used to be put off by the endless procession of touts and pop-up markets – these have, for better or worse, mostly been moved along nowadays.
Thanks to the sheer enormity of the grounds if you time your arrival right you can actually enjoy it in some level of solitude – which is exactly how Emperor Shah Jahan intended it to be.
The ancient city of Varanasi is another of the great tourist areas that must be included on any visit to India. You need to allow for at least a couple of days to explore and absorb this sometimes rather eye opening religious site – and be prepared for an endless procession of stunningly beautiful temples, shrines, and ghats. We’d advise trying to avoid exploring the Ganges too much before visiting the Bharat Kala Bhavan museum which does a superb job of explaining the sensibilities and cultural significance of the area.
Most global travelers will agree that at night this is one of the most incredible places to visit in the world – and as with much of India, it is something best worked up towards rather than just leaping in at the deep end.
You’ll notice that India rather likes its gold – and the Golden Temple and Golden City (Jaisalmer) are again essential for any tour of India. The Golden Fort makes for a rather nice change from the sometimes quite overwhelming religious culture found throughout these sites. It is absolutely massive and you should make sure to walk the fortification walls and enjoy the refreshing coolness within the depths of the castle during the peak of the summer heat. The Maharaja’s Palace is another of those destinations that cannot be adequately described in just a sentence or so.
Make sure to visit and allow for as much time as possible – you will not want to feel remotely rushed during your time exploring and on your first visit stick with the larger tourist sights and away from the rural areas.! A good deal of time can be spent visiting a Hindu temple, Hindu festivals and adventure on every street corner.
Mumbai is perhaps the most ‘overwhelming’ Indian city of all – yet still worth a visit especially to experience a little of the more contemporary colonial history that you’ll find dotted routinely throughout the country. We would recommend taking on of the many India tours for this city. The Gateway of India is peculiar because no photographs really do it justice. Check it out for yourself – and try and prove us wrong. Needless to say, you should expect to take a lot of photographs during your visit to India – it is probably otherwise the most photogenic country in the world for those who like their colors.
Be sure to check out the Amer and Jaigahr Forts in Jaipur (a brilliant city!) if that is your kind of history – they both double up as excellent museums with especially colorful walls and ceilings.
Feeling those troubling senses of ‘cultural overload’? Honestly, most people who explore India in its fullness will experience this at some stage, and the best solution of them all is to hop on a plane or ferry to Goa. Famed for its gorgeous beaches, you’ll quickly learn that it takes just a little effort and exploration to find one or two that you’ll enjoy pretty much entirely to yourself. Not many beach focused paradises are so affordable, so rest your feet for a few days and soak up the peace and quiet.
We have barely even managed to discuss the scenic and wildlife splendors you’ll find in India – and frankly, they probably deserve an entire guide of their own. Do not be fooled into thinking India is all about massive cities and rather psychedelic cultural magnificence – the countryside and nature are essential aspects to appreciate when touring this amazing country.
From popular tourist destinations like the Ellora Caves (much of which doubles up as temples and shrines), through to the Periyar National Park, where may even see one of the snow leopards of India. This with a good number of other world-class nature reserves and numerous national parks can all offer you some of the best experiences India can offer- our pick would be the ones you’ll find here, some a little off of the beaten track – you simply cannot run out of amazing things and historic sites to see in India. Plan in terms of what interests you the most about Indian culture and plan your trip around them., Try to enjoy some variety in your exploration wherever possible.
Oh, and we haven’t even mentioned the Himalayas yet…!
Budget India Travel Guide – What Are the Best Things to Do in India?
One of the best aspects of touring India is the simple experiences of everyday life will keep you pretty busy – at least during the first few days of your stay. When you look at India from a ‘bigger picture’ perspective – and this is something we strongly recommend – it is quite miraculously efficient. Sure, it is not unheard of for people to need to sit on the roof of trains, but if you actually buy a ticket you can have a designated seat and enjoy endless cups of chai over the course of your journey.
Even haggling – something you should prepare yourself for – has guidelines and ‘rules’ whereby what constitutes a fair and respectable deal. It is actually pretty difficult to be ripped off in India providing you play the game a little!
We’d highly recommend visitors try and spend their downtime between all the incredible sights getting to understand Indan culture a little better. To complicate things a little further(!) India is very different depending on where you are visiting so do not expect the locals to behave in any kind of uniform pattern throughout your travels.
What you may start to notice is that the entire country is obsessed with cricket. First introduced back in the colonial times, the national sport is by far the most popular throughout the country and you’ll see impromptu games taking place in the most bizarre locations. Try and get tickets for a match at some stage – they are cheap, last for hours, and often have an atmosphere more like a rock festival.
Earlier in the India Travel Guide, we briefly alluded to how photogenic this country is, and you really should consider taking a good camera (and perhaps some basic lessons before you visit). Do not expect to just be taking the typical photos that you’d find on any tourism website or travel book. The most interesting photos can be taken in the most unexpected circumstances.
The wildlife and scenery up in the Himalayas are some of the most amazing on the globe, and the cityscapes offer unflinching portraiture of the country embracing modernity at breathtaking speed. Just be careful to ask for permission before objectively photographing anyone especially around religious sites. Indians are very big on their manners!
India ensures some of the worst congestion you’ll ever experience – which rather handily makes it an ideal destination for cycling. We at the Ultimate India travel Guide highly recommend you try and cycle wherever possible.
Daunting as it may seem at first, you’ll soon get used to the perpetual horn-honking and abstract driving techniques shared by your fellow road users. It is a wonderful way of getting about small patches of the countryside – the only drawback is that bikes can be tricky to squeeze on the trains.
Tours are genuinely your friend when it comes to exploring large parts of India. Pick them carefully and trust a little to your gut instinct. The best are those who are going to offer you a personal tour of the local wonders and well versed in explaining the significance, history, and the local’s take on what they mean to them.
You will have very few problems understanding the locals (English is widely spoken) but this is an excellent way for the inquisitive visitor to get to learn about things from the Indian perspective. We’d especially recommend that when touring colonial-era sites as some of the opinions may be rather different from what you’d expect (the British are still surprisingly close to most people’s hearts for a myriad of historical and cultural reasons).
You really should try and explore the countryside – just do not take the easy option of visiting a zoo to see India’s ‘Big Five’ animals. The snow leopard, Bengal, clouded and Indian tiger, and Asiatic lion are still roaming throughout sanctuaries across the country. Sadly they can be rather difficult to spot as they are rightfully a little worried about the presence of people, although a good quality safari (see the section below regarding responsible tourism) can make this one of the most memorable experiences you’ll ever enjoy.
The Himalayas are – needless to say – staggeringly beautiful and considerably more accessible compared to other countries that fall within this region. Do not expect to just find snowy mountain landscapes – the lowlands and jungles are arguably more interesting for their flora, fauna, and wildlife.
Try and time your visit to coincide with one of the countless regional and national festivals if you are prepared to be blown away by how full-on people tend to celebrate these. We’ll leave you to choose which suits you best depending on where you are visiting – just make sure you have booked your accommodation well in advance!
Budget India Travel Guide – When is The Best Time to Visit India?
Needless to say, India is always busy although you are generally well-advised to visit during the peak tourist season that runs between December and March. This offers coolers temperatures and you miss the infamous monsoon season. You wan to cover as much ground as possible on your trip and don’ want weather slowing you down. These months are as close as it gets to winter throughout most of India, and temperatures are far more bearable on the whole. You should expect pretty extreme cold around the mountains – so perhaps aim towards visiting these more towards March time. Prices are higher over this period but that is relative to the overall affordability of the destination. You shouldn’t worry too much about inflated prices, but be sure to book decent accommodation well in advance.
The low season directly follows the end of high season – mostly because the heat and humidity peaks between April – July and can make urban exploration almost unbearable. Expect heavy downpours and monsoons that only make the humidity even worse. If you are brave enough to try India during this time of year, we’d recommend heading to the foothills for a hefty dose of tranquility. The only drawback is that several hundred million Indians will have the same idea!
Shoulder season is a little ambiguous in India and depends really on where you plan on visiting. In the mountains, July-September is probably the best time to visit if you are aiming for altitude and visibility. On the flip side, you can expect plenty of heavy rain around some coastal areas between October and December.
Overall we’d suggest that most visitors should stick to the peak season, especially if they are experiencing India for the first time. Travel during the rest of the year has its advantages and drawbacks, although there are always ways to enjoy the country regardless of the weather.
Budget India Travel Guide – Do I Need A Tourist Visa in India?
The Indian government is famous for its bureaucracy, and the visa process is perhaps the shining beacon when it comes to demonstrating how efficient this process can actually be. Besides a handful of local exemptions, everyone is going to require a visa to enter India. The good news is that 60-day e-tourist visa is available to over 150 nationalities via https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/evisa/tvoa.html. Apply a couple of weeks beforehand to be on the safe side but we doubt anyone will have many problems being accepted. Follow the rules carefully – and make sure you arrive in one of the 26 approved airports – and you should be fine. This e-visa has made travel to India much easier during recent years.
Visas allowing longer stays in India are much easier to obtain than they used to be – although that does not necessarily mean you should expect to stay indefinitely. You can now ‘leave’ the country and reenter the same day providing you follow the rules to the letter, although be aware that is rarely available more than once meaning most visitors will be capped at a maximum of 120 consecutive days in the country. If you need to stay longer you are likely going to be called for an interview and will be required to provide a pretty watertight reason alongside proof of funds. Most people fail this unless they are conducting business.
In some parts of India, access is restricted – usually along the Pakistani border in disputed territories. You can still visit these and gaining a permit is usually just a cursory passport stamp – just make sure you have this in order beforehand. Expect your documents to be inspected quite often as you travel throughout the country.
What Kind Of Budget Do I Need In India?
How long is a piece of string? The days when you could literally travel through India on a few dollars a day have mostly been consigned to history, although it is still possible to travel the country on a very modest budget – certainly far less than what you’d expect to pay in Western Europe or some parts of Asia. Remember that many millions of Indians subsist on less than $2/day so you ought to anticipate pretty good quality for not a whole lot of cash.
That being said, India is a very difficult country to generalize and the prices you pay in some cities will be far greater than what you will expect in the more remote regions. A bottle of beer in a Mumbai bar can quite realistically cost ten times more than one in a Himalayan boarding house.
Here is what the Ultimate India Travel Guide would roughly estimate you should expect from your daily budget. Allow for plenty of leeways according to where you happen to be visiting, as well as how far you book ahead of arrival and the time of year.
We’ve pushed this budget considerably further north than it needs to be, simply because prices will be higher for most people new to India than they will after a little while of ‘learning the ropes’. Still, you should be able to live comfortably and well on a $40/day budget. Good quality hostel beds as well as great Indian cuisine will cost no more than a quarter of that budget – and you will find cheaper and more exclusive options in both directions.
Indian hostel accommodation tends to vary in quality. Popular hotspots such as Goa can fetch higher prices but be far better quality than those you’ll find in central Hyderabad. We recommend booking your Indian hostel well in advance regardless of what time you are visiting. The best book out months in advance – and hotels are often available for a little more and can offer considerably superior quality.
Indian food is both affordable and superb quality – especially if you steer clear of the noticeably more expensive meat-based options on the menu. We’ll discuss food later in the Ultimate India Travel Guide, but expect to eat a substantial meal for no more than ₹300/time (and often much less). Many of the most famous sights are free or operate on a donations-only basis – so give generously when you can. Guided tours are highly recommended and cost very little.
Budget travelers will appreciate the very low train fares and once again we’ll discuss in further detail later on. Trains and buses are the way to get about India. So overall, budget travelers are still going to find that India can be a very affordable country to visit with very little in the way of unexpected surprises. Providing you are careful to watch your money you can spend very little on a daily basis without needing to ‘rough it’ too much.
Mid-level visitors will account for a large proportion of the Indian tourism industry and you should expect to enjoy a considerable ‘upgrade’ compared to the budget experience. The Indian hotel sector is enormous and you’ll find bargains (and rip-offs) throughout. The good news is that you’ll always find somewhere to stay even during the busiest times of year – but the savvy visitor should conduct plenty of research and book in advance where possible.
A very good mid-level hotel room should be clean and comfortable with air conditioning and ensuite facilities. Expect to pay around ₹4000/night for a double and perhaps 25% more for a similar quality room in a branded chain. Overall, these are hardly ‘cheap’ compared to other expenses but they ought to be well located and provide plenty of creature comforts.
Organized tours of the highest standard ought to be well within this budget and we’d advise most people to take a look towards this direction. There are literally hundreds – if not thousands – of official, semi-official, and private tours throughout India and the best will offer a truly excellent experience. Once again – research is your friend and make plenty of effort finding a well-reviewed tour that matches your interests. A full-day excursion will cost between ₹1000-2000 depending on distances and whether or not it includes entry fees and so forth. Walking/cycling tours of cities are much cheaper (and often just as interesting).
You can really spend big at Indian restaurants on this budget and we thoroughly suggest that you do so! Top-quality restaurant meals rarely head far north of ₹2500/person and you should expect really high standards. Make the most of the local cuisine and check out some of the premium fish restaurants around Goa in particular. Cricket tickets are very cheap although those new to Indian cricket may want to splash out on seats in more refined parts of the stadium.
If you really go for it you could spend double this budget on a hotel room/suite alone throughout all of the major Indian cities. Expect absolute opulence, concierge services, spas, pools, and often ‘free’ restaurant meals. The very finest restaurants – and we’re talking the best in the country – will cost about ₹5000/person. Remember to tip generously!
Should you have the luxury of this kind of budget then India really is entirely your oyster. We’d suggest well-heeled visitors look towards very high standard private tours that usually also include a personal driver retained on a daily basis. You should anticipate spending ₹3000/person/ each day for this level of quality, plus extra for a dedicated specialist guide. In the grand scheme of things that is not actually very expensive and without doubt the best way of seeing most of the accessible parts of the country in comfort and in your own time.
The same can be said for travel expenses. India may rightly be famed for the quality and affordability of their rail network, but the first-class experience is something from another planet (and some may say ‘time’). Fancy watching India slowly slide by while enjoying five-star food served around the clock? Perhaps even in your own private compartment? Yours for around ₹10,000/day.
Overall, while India is not quite as cheap as it used to be it still ranks as one of the best countries in the world for value. That is the keyword and will be relative to pretty much everything you do in the country. An enormous $1 bowl of daal and rice is undoubtedly fantastic value, and so – in very different ways – is the couple of hundred dollars you’ll spend enjoying first-class rail travel.
There is no end in ways to spend and save your money while in India and it can take several trips before you really appreciate that while something is always going to be ‘better’ value elsewhere, in comparative senses you can’t really beat the country overall. It’ll infuriate penny-pinchers, and delight those who amaze in seeing how far they can casually stretch a reasonable daily budget.
Budget India Travel Guide – What Languages Are Spoken in India?
India has several hundred different languages and dialects – although only Hindi and English are considered applicable for official ‘governmental’ purposes. About 600m Indians speak Hindi and a good proportion – although far from all others – will speak it to some level as a second language. Urdu, Tamil, Bengali, Marathi, and many more are the first languages in their specific regions and do not count on everyone understanding even basic words of Hindi.
You may assume that English is spoken quite widely because it helps such a diverse country to operate – much as how Latin dominated the ancient world. That is not really the case – as only around 10% of the population actually speaks English to a conversational standard. An inestimable further number will know basic words but that’s about it.
Yet from a visitor’s perspective, you’ll have next to no problems being understood in most parts of India. While the tourist industry is not quite as developed in the sense you’d find in western countries, those who work in it (and many other administrative agencies) will speak good English. As with pretty much everywhere, younger people are more likely to speak English and be more open to chatting confidently with a visitor.
Nobody is saying you ought to leave Western sensibilities at the door – but just be assured that there are aspects of the country that you may have believed were left behind hundreds of years ago.
The caste system is another perilous conversation path to take and one that many people – even those further down the ladder – take as part of the accepted Indian cultural landscape. It isn’t quite as bad/apparent as it was twenty or thirty years ago, but make no mistake it is still a core cultural tenant that many people find rather distasteful. Once again – nobody is going to request that you take part.
What About India Health and Safety, Is It Safe?
India is massive – and large parts are very poor especially in South India- meaning that crime rates are higher than you’d find in many other countries. But by no means is this an unsafe country to visit provided you take basic security precautions. Treat the major cities like you would any other large and unfamiliar city and you’ll be absolutely fine. Naples can be much scarier than Mumbai at nighttime.
A key necessity for every India travelers is a good travel insurance policy. You want to be able to go to the best doctor or hospital if an emergency arises.
Thanks to an enormous and proactive police force tourists are rarely picked out for crime, especially not anything violent. As an American woman one of the other solo female travelers visiting can be a bit more trying. Indian men are known for trying to flirt with women travelers and the unwanted attention can be trying. Adopting a low key dress code will help.You should take precautions against pickpockets and bag theft – money belts are a very good idea – and avoid taking up any unsolicited offers for services or goods. Begging is literally everywhere in some parts and can be difficult to ignore/avoid at first. Sad as it is, you are best off not getting involved.
One unpleasant aspect of Indian travel that should be outlined is the simple fact that women are likely to have a tougher time in the country than men. Harassment – almost always very ‘petty’ – was until recently very common. Attitudes have firmly shifted against this now so do not feel afraid to shout, point, and ask others to intervene on your behalf. LGBT visitors are also advised to try and keep a lower profile in most of the country than they may elsewhere. Pride is not really a well-understood concept in India just yet.
While crime does exist in India a much greater risk that applies to all visitors regards their healthcare. Once again – we are going to have to talk in slightly generalized terms – because the country is so large what applies in one part may not in others. As a general rule, you should not expect very impressive standards of hygiene or food care throughout the country. You need to take care when eating (it is one of the reasons why vegetarian options are often better/safer) and only drink bottled water – and lots of it.
No matter how careful you are, you will be lucky to avoid experiencing some kind of general illness as your body acclimatizes. In almost all cases these will pass within a couple of days – but a well-stocked medical kit is essential for everyone’s luggage list.
Health care in India ranges from world-class in the cities (if you are wealthy) to pretty poor everywhere else. India trains many doctors and nurses but a high proportion leave to work overseas – and while you can expect knowledgeable care, the facilities are likely to be quite lacking. You need to make sure you have watertight medical insurance no matter what else when you visit India – and that should ideally make provisions for upfront payments and repatriation costs.
If you are planning on any ‘extreme’ activities then make certain these are included in your plan. Carry copies of your documents and upload them to the Cloud.
Prescription medications are generally available throughout India, although don’t expect to be issued with many familiar brands – especially antidepressants or more modern medications. Make sure you have copies of your script that outline exactly what you need/take so a pharmacist can assess what they stock that can provide the closest possible match. You will almost always need to visit an Indian doctor for a new prescription. Costs vary depending on ‘quality’ and how quickly you wish to be seen.
You may be surprised to learn that despite the country being a relative hotbed for airborne and waterborne diseases, you only need to make sure you have a vaccination for yellow fever. We’d highly recommend hepatitis, typhoid, varicella, polio, and tetanus just to be on the safer side. Rabies is also worth considering if you are going to be spending plenty of time in poorer areas and the countryside. Meningitis is sensible if you intend on staying for several weeks or longer.
The Ultimate India Travel Guide doesn’t mean to scare anyone off visiting India. Once you are in the country and started to get used to it, you’ll realize that the numerous risks we’ve discussed here are really rather secondary. Precaution is always better than a cure, but providing you are organized and make suitable arrangements beforehand you ought to be fine. India has a scary reputation for diseases but it is no worse than central/south America and large parts of Asia.
And like 90% of the world don’t drink the tap water, stay away from public transport and use common sense all for good reason.
Budget India Travel Guide – What is the Best Transportation in India?
India is a breeze to get around in and our favorite travel tool are the auto rickshaws they are easy to find and far cheaper than the prices charged taxi drivers. Bet you didn’t expect to hear that! In all honesty, you should have no problem covering the enormous distances involved in relative ease provided you take the time to plan a little ahead of schedule. We heartily recommend the railways for those who are not in any particular rush and wish to experience some truly classic routes. Trains come in all shapes and sizes – and are almost universally busy – but you can be comfortable enough even in second class carriages.
Tickets vary in cost but are never what anyone would consider being expensive unless you opt for super-comfortable carriages and sleeping cars. Punctuality is pretty good – especially when you factor in the 7000 stations included on the entire network! Book your tickets online and have them issued at the stations for onboard inspection.
E-tickets are slowly catching on but only currently accepted on selected urban-based networks. You can try and get by just showing your seat reservation on your phone but they are not always accepted, so take a minute to get a physical ticket as well. Rather oddly, you can get a refund on most tickets (at a discounted penalty rate) if you miss the train. The rules are rather complicated but it is possible!
Travelers in a hurry – and even those wanting to save some cash – may be surprised at how cheap internal flights can be. India is enjoying a boom in cut-price discount airlines at the moment, and there are very frequent services between all of the major cities and a good proportion of regional airports too. If you fancy hopping from Mumbai to Goa – and can handle the environmental impact – then the plane is the way to go providing you are in a hurry. Shop around for tickets and be aware that airlines routinely overbook – so it a good idea to arrive early and get to the front of the line.
Buses are another classic way of touring India and can open up areas that even the massive railway network cannot reach. The national lines work semi-autonomously and there are countless regional operators too, and literally thousands of private hires to choose between. As you probably guessed you can get amazing value here and see parts of the country that others will not visit very often at all. In urban areas, you may want to split the cost of a cab between your group if you want to get anywhere in some degree of comfort. Indian public urban transit is insanely busy and staggeringly cheap.
Chances are that however you choose to visit India will make a considerable impact upon the quality of your experience – and as ever, there really is no right or wrong way of doing it. We’d suggest that trains offer the quintessential way of seeing the country and offer the best overall value in terms of cost, quality, and experience. Throw in some buses where required and perhaps a plane or ferry to the islands and you are pretty much set. Car hire is possible but really only necessary if you are truly heading out to the unexplored areas. Driving is not easy or especially fun, so factor that into your decision!
What Are the Best Accommodations in India?
We’ve covered large parts of this already throughout the Ultimate India Travel Guide but it is worth outlining the main principles one again. Budget travelers are going to find plenty of cheap places to crash down for the night – just do not expect your hostels to offer a great deal of privacy or comfort. Quality varies so check online reviews and book the best options well ahead of your arrival in the country. Get a good hostel arranged and your stay will be many times better compared to splashing out on a shabby budget hotel room.
Mid-market accommodation varies and this is almost always reflected in the price. Despite the city premium which is the same as what you’d expect pretty much everywhere else, you do tend to get what you pay for in India. A ₹1000 difference in the price of two hotels offering identical rooms may be down to something as simple as the cheaper one laying right next to a six-lane highway, whereas the more expensive option is next to the station. Research is – as always – your friend.
High-end accommodation in India is something that even mid-market budgets can sometimes stretch towards and if that’s your scene then it can certainly be worth the added cost. Little things like international TV and working wi-fi do make the experience a fair amount easier! You may also want to look towards the private accommodation sector, although be careful here and understand that it may not be a sensible call for those entirely new to the country. Living with a family can be fantastic but chances are you’ll end up miles away from the central sites, so once again it really depends on the type of visit you are hoping to enjoy.
What Food Should I Try In India?
Needless to say, if you like curry and spices then you will have a far easier time eating well and cheaply during your time in India! You may find that many curried dishes are actually much drier – often cooked in a Tandoor oven – than what is commonly found in the west. Likewise, curry-style soups are very common and often served with large chunks of deliciously fresh and fragrant naan bread, pitta bread, samosa pockets, fried bhajis, pakoras, and of course, rice.
As with much of India, you’ll notice that the cuisine tends to vary a great deal depending on which region you are visiting. If we were (rather dangerously!) to pick a national dish it would probably be biryani – whereby curried meat/vegetables are mixed and cooked with rice – often pilau heavily seasoned with turmeric, nuts, and raisins. Visit Assam and you’ll likely notice that foods tend to be considerably more mild and delicate – butter chicken washed down with a cup of their famous tea is a real delicacy.
You will have endless opportunities to try new dishes throughout your time in India – and should not be scared off trying the often exceptional street food stalls that may serve thousands of people every day. Vegetarians – and to an extent vegans – will find no end of wonderful foods that suit their preferences, whereas carnivores may well discover a new found love for vegetable-based dishes.
What Should I Pack for A Trip to India?
You really should pack a decent little medical kit featuring plenty of good quality products that you are already familiar with. Wet wipes, water purification tablets, and good plasters/bandages are also well worth considering depending on how far from the cities you intend on touring. You can buy pretty much anything you may forget in India itself – often at astonishingly low prices – but it makes sense to take some essentials with you. Remember that airlines have restrictions on water-based products so perhaps stock up at the airport when you arrive.
Despite crime being generally pretty rare against tourists, a money belt is a sensible idea. You should also bring a battery pack for your electronic devices and a cross-compatible charger if required. A waterproof is handy at most times of the year.
Budget India Travel Guide – What Clothes Should You Wear In India?
This is a tricky one and will vary on when you intend on visiting. Our best advice at the Budget India Travel Guide would be to try and dress a little more conservatively than you might expect, and to pack clothing suitable for the season. Given that many of the most popular tourist sites are culturally significant and religiously sensitive, you ought to try and stick to very lightweight trousers and dresses as applicable. Headscarves are a reasonable – but not essential option – for women, as are hats (just remember to take them off where appropriate). Men should avoid shorts apart from when enjoying the beach.
The more upmarket side of India expects people to dress well. The rest of the country won’t particularly be bothered providing you are not wearing anything too outrageous or showing too much skin. Generally speaking, we’d suggest trying not too stick out too much and avoid ‘tourist wear’ as much as you can.
What Are Some Interesting & Important Facts About India?
Hopefully, you will have found the India Travel Guide an informative read, and we hope that some of the advice we have provided will serve you well towards exploring this frankly amazing country. Now is a fascinating time to visit India. The country, for better or worse, is going through modernization at a breakneck speed and while plenty of people will be rightly a bit shocked at some aspects of the country, it is one of the most ‘honest’ and upfront countries there are on the map.
If you can get past the difficulties then India is one of the best places in the world when it comes to rewarding persistent and engaging travelers. Many people visit India and expect not to like it much, only to keep returning as often as time allows. It really does get under your skin, and thankfully most of the time that is in the right ways.
We’ll wrap up the India Travel Guide with a handful of fun little facts that will hopefully tempt you further to push your boundaries and get exploring this one-of-a-kind destination. Happy travels!
▸ India has over one hundred thousand post offices – so think of that next time you need to buy a stamp.
▸ The word ‘shampoo’ derives from ‘champu’ which is a word for Indian massage.
▸ India is a nation of innovators and philosophers. You can thank them for both fiber optic cables and the concept of zero.
▸ Cows really are regarded as holy and allowed to roam freely pretty much whenever and wherever they wish.
▸ India has a spa dedicated entirely to elephants.
▸ ‘Flexible vegetarianism’ may as well describe 80% of the population.
▸ The Indian railways employ over one million people.
▸ ‘Monsoon’ is one of the six Seasons listed in the Hindu calendar.
▸ Despite cricket’s popularity, Kabbadi remains the national sport. India has won every single world cup to date.
▸ The Golden Temple attracts the highest number of daily visitors of anywhere on the planet.
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