A Backpacker’s Guide to India

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Large numbers of backpackers visit India every year for it’s a country that offers a number of attractions to the tourists. There are a number of places known for the thrill of adventure, natural beauty, wonders both ancient and modern, as well as the cost effective accommodations and a widely spread commuters’ network.

The diversity is so great that it adds to the charms of wandering around in India. Read on to get acquainted with various ways if you are planning backpacking for a trip to India within an economical budget,

Logistics

India is among the cost effective destinations to be visited across the globe. So, it is highly suitable for backpackers.

Getting to India

Flights would be incurring most of the costs. You may travel off-season i.e., Jan to May or Sept to Oct. August, apart from November 15 to December 10 might also be considered.

If you visit India during the peak seasons i.e., December to January or June to July, the expenses might be heavy. Be attentive to the flash sales. Besides, midweek flights are economical. However, getting the tickets booked 2-4 months before the trip is a good idea. It would help you pay almost 50% less for the airline(s) ticket.

Getting Around India

While navigating within India, you may opt for the flights, trains, and/or buses. If you find it feasible, you may make use of hitch hiking.

Flights: The huge geographical area of India makes travelling by air a good option. However, make sure that you book in advance and book for the right flight. That is to say, it’s better to opt for the connecting flights rather than the direct flights. Also it would be better to travel mid-week and at the off-peak time of the day such as the dawn or the late evening hours. Besides, use incognito tab/window while checking for the details for a flight, otherwise there would be a rise in the fare for every click on the web page is recorded.

You may use the aggregators including Award Wallet, Skyscanner, Kayak, etc., to get economical tickets as you will be able to compare the airfares.

Trains: Travelling through the trains allows you to experience the real India within the budget. The sleeper class or the general ticket is usually suitable for brief journeys. However, if you have to travel a longer than usual distance, you may choose AC 3-tier. Senior citizens are usually eligible for a discount in the fare. You may use the IRCTC App, apart from the official websites to get to know the details. The ‘Tatkal booking’ usually speeds up the booking process. However, login at time to get the booking done.

Tip: Safeguard your luggage by means of a padlock and chain.

Public transport: The right choice of the public transport depends on the kind of the travel involved. If you are travelling from a city to another, opting for the buses and /or Volvos would be more convenient. However, Metro would be more economical, apart from being faster for travelling within the cities including Delhi, Bangalore, Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai, Jaipur, Gurugram, Kochi etc. The Metro cards can be purchased at the Metro stations. The shared autos and/or Gramin Sevas are frequently travelled in by the people across India, though for little distances. And the local train is usually referred to as the lifeline in Mumbai. 

However, if you enjoy driving and possess a license, rent a vehicle. You may opt for a bike or car. However, exploring the near about areas on cycle is not a bad idea either. Or simply download one of the suitable apps to get the details of the cab agencies including Ola or Taxi For Sure etc.

Accommodation

Though various accommodation options are available, a backpackers’ hostel is likely to be the most suitable option for it would be far from burning a hole in your pocket. Besides, you may interact with the visitors from across the world.

A number of cities are known to have backpackers’ hostels such as Zostel (Pan India), Jugaad  and Madpackers Hostel at Delhi, Bunkyard Hostel at Udaipur, Roadhouse Hostel and Wanderers’ Hostel at Goa etc. A backpackers’ hostel usually costs approximately INR 300-600/person. Besides, the backpackers can also look for accommodation at a guest house or a low budget hotel.

Food

There is a great variety of Indian food available that is always a great joy to be relished. A delicious meal can be enjoyed for $1-2 and that includes a bottle of water. You may enjoy a 3 course meal at a middle range restaurant for around $5. Beer in a bar or restaurant may charge approximately $1.50. It’s advisable to opt for the local eateries rather than the posh restaurants, bistros or cafes. You would find yourself enjoying delicious food at economical prices by doing so.

Activities

Visiting most of the tourist attractions in India, once you have reached the city concerned, costs in between INR 200 to INR 1000. For example, visiting Taj Mahal, Agra would cost around INR 1,000 for one day; Qutub Minar, Delhi would require you to pay approximately INR 500; Amer Fort, Jaipur would charge around INR 200 etc. Besides, indulging in activities for the spirit of adventure would charge you a little more.

Daily Budget: 

If you stay at a low budget hotel or a backpackers’ hostel, travel in the local transport and take your meals at economical eateries and restaurants, a visitor to India would need to spend approximately INR 900 – INR 1200.

Tourist Trails

India is a country where you can go visiting one place after another for a long time. India is known for the never ending list for tourist attractions.

The Golden Triangle: It encompasses the capital of India, Delhi; home to the fascinatingly attractive Taj Mahal, Agra; and the Pink City, Jaipur.  The Golden Triangle offers the tourist trail that should not be missed.

Southern Odyssey: It comprises Karnataka (Goa, Gokarna, Hampi, Coorg, Nandi Hills, Mysore, Chikkamagaluru), Tamil Nadu (Madurai, Kodaikanal, Pondicherry, Mahabalipuram,  Ooty, Valparai, Yercaud) Andhra Pradesh (Araku Valley, Horsley Hills, Vizag RajahmundryTirupati), and Kerala (Thiruvananthapuram, Alleppey, Thekkady, Vythiri, Munnar, Devikulam, Kochi, Idukki, Ponmudi).

Jammu and Kashmir (Heaven on Earth): The trail comprises Jammu, Srinagar, Gulmarg, Pahalgam, Patnitop, Leh, Kargil, Pangong Lake, Pahalgam, Nubra Valley, Drass, and Katra, etc. Kashmir is known as Heaven on the Earth.

Magnificent Himachal: The trail is extremely popular among the backpackers and trackers. It comprises Kullu-Manali, Dharamshala, Kasauli, Shimla, Bir Billing, Malana, Dalhousie, Kasol, Spiti Valley, and Khajjiar.

Rajasthan – The Land of Maharajas: There are Ajmer, Alwar, Amer, Ranthambhore National Park, Puskhar, Jaisalmer, Ranakpur, Udaipur and Jodhpur etc.

Seven Sister States of India (North East): The trail comprises Sikkim (Yuksom, Gangtok, Lachung, Pelling, Kalimpong, Darjeeling), Arunachal Pradesh (Tawang, Ziro Valley), Mizoram (Champhai), Assam (Majuli, Haflong, Guwahati), Meghalaya (Cherrapunji, Shillong,) etc.  You would not find it easy to choose the destination to be visited as there are a great many.

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