A Month of Budget Travel in India
Food/Chai/Beer – 5951 INR (average meal with non-alcoholic drink = 80 rupees, Chai = 5 to 10 rupees, Beer = 180 rupees)
Water – 172 INR (average cost per 1 litre bottle = 15 rupees, the average cost of filtered water = free)
Accommodation – 2075 INR (average cost of a double room = 100 rupees per person, the average cost per single room = 150 rupees)
Site Seeing and Activities – 4030 INR
Transportation – 6497 INR
Souvenirs/Gifts – 1600 INR
Other – 2165 INR (i.e. cell phone, sim card, internet)
Total = 22490 INR ($511 CAD)
One of the best reasons to consider budget travel in India is the food, because it’s absolutely fantastic! It is so good that I don’t think I have eaten so much in my entire life the way I do in India. Not only is the food full of flavor but it is very easy to live a very healthy lifestyle with a very healthy diet here. For all of you vegetarians out there, India is paradise! For all of you meat lovers, you may be converted. In most restaurants all over India, you have the option of India, Chinese, Italian and Israeli food. However, I have stuck with only India food the entire time I have been in India because well…I just can’t seem to get enough. A typical India dish in a restaurant consisting of vegetarian with spices and gravy along with naan and chai will cost you no more than 100 INR (just over $2 CAD). If you are up for getting a real experience at a local darbar (local hangout that serves Indian food), then you can get the same dish mentioned above for $1 CAD. Darbars also serve the best thalis (a selection of different dishes, usually served in small bowls on a round tray) for as little as 20 INR (that’s 45 cents).
Chai, chai, chai! Drinking chai or masala chai (a beverage made with black teas, steamed milk, and sweet spices) becomes part of your daily routine in India. The best chai can be found on the streets sold by local vendors called chai wallahs. You can get a cup of chai for 5 INR (11 cents) where chai in a restaurant will cost you 10-15 INR (23-34 cents).
As for alcoholic beverages, don’t expect to find them in most places. Many places don’t offer them throughout the entire city, but on the bright side, a lack of alcohol only makes budget travel in India that much easier.
As most of us are aware, it’s highly recommended to NOT drink the tap water in most foreign countries as the chances for most people to end up puking their brains out is highly likely. Bottled water is a so-so option; I would recommend bringing a water canteen with a filter on your trip. For the first part of my trip, I didn’t do this, but it is much more affordable and better for your health. Bottled water in India, as well as the rest of the world, is expensive and contains many harmful chemicals that can be destructive to your health. When you’re going for budget travel in India, another option is to re-use the same bottle and fill it up with filtered water at “westernized restaurant.” The restaurants will most likely fill it up for you for free or charge you as little as 5 rupees each time.
There are plenty of options when it comes to hotels and hostels (guesthouses) in India. For single travelers, expect to pay anywhere from 100 – 500 INR ($2 – $11 CAD) for a single room in a guesthouse during tourist season depending on where in India you are traveling. If you find a travel buddy, then you can spend as little as 50 INR a night for a basic room (2 single beds with an attached washroom). To sum it up, you can find accommodations in India anywhere for very cheap. I have spent an average of 150 INR a night for a basic room over the past month. You can also try couching surfing, staying with a friend, staying in an ashram or living with a local family on an organic farm. All of these options will cost you as little as nothing to no more than 200 INR (just over $4 CAD).
If you’re into visiting the main tourist attractions, then traveling through India can be costly. Take the Taj Mahal for example: although locals pay 20 IRN ($.45 cents CAD), foreigners need to 750 INR ($17 CAD) to enter the palace. Tourist’s sites are nice and all, after all, that’s what makes them the main attractions, but it is not the best way to really experience a culture. If you are more into walking the streets, talking with locals, hiking, etc. then traveling through India is very affordable.
The transportation system in India is very convenient and gives you many options. You can travel by air, bus, train, taxi, and rickshaw but, the cheap and fun way is definitely by train. India has one of the best train systems in the world. Although, trips can be long and mostly always delayed, the experience makes it well worthwhile. You can get berths that are very basic to very luxurious. Depending on the type of traveler you are, and your budget, traveling from the South all the way to the North (Bangalore to Delhi) can cost you as little as 550 INR ($12 CAD). This is also a great way to meet locals, who will be excited and eager to strike up a conversation with you. It’s a good idea to bring some pictures of your family back home to share with them. They will really appreciate this.
India is a shopper’s haven. Well, at least, I think so. The fabrics, jewelry, shoes, cosmetics, are cheap and good quality (for the most part). Of course, every item comes with both a local price and a foreigner price. Don’t be afraid to bargain. The best way to get a good deal is to ask the price then to divide it in half. You might not get that 50% discount, but you may be able to work out a good deal with the merchant. If the merchant isn’t bugging with the price, walk away. The merchant will most likely yell after you that you can have the item for the last price you offered.
How much it cost to costs to travel to India depends largely on what you’re willing to spend. Budget travel in India isn’t hard to achieve if you’re coming from the U.S or Canada as the conversion rate should favor your currency.