Backpacking India, The Ultimate Guide

Backpacking India, Why should you do it?      

Backpacking India will change your outlook on life forever. It is not a myth that people travel to this mystical country “to find themselves”. We absolutely love this country, and it is not only because the cost of travel is so small. India is a vast country, filled with a wide variety of different landscapes. So many, that you could not even begin to imagine. Backpacking India will change your life.

There are deep snake filled jungles where ancient temples lay in ruins. Vast dry deserts where you can hire a guide and ride camels over the great sand dunes. Beautiful rolling hills, where every inch of the ground is covered with dark green tea bushes. So many white sandy beaches, that all you need to do is hire a kayak, paddle out onto the beautiful waters of the Arabian Sea and set off in search of your own private stretch of paradise. There are mountains that pierce the clouds and touch the stars. Holy rivers that carve their way through the earth like veins giving life to the many different peoples who inhabit this mystical wondrous god filled place. 

The Ganges River at Rishikesh in the foothills of the Himalayas

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The rivers of India are the lifeline of the people, often used for both drinking and daily chores. Many Indians are born and raised in these waters the same way that their ancestors have been, for thousands of years. They live their lives on the river’s edge and when the time comes, that which gives them life. Also carries them off to death.

The Burning Ghats of the Ganges

The most holy river in India is the Ganga River, or the Ganges River, as it is known in English. When a Hindu dies, their bodies are transported from across the country and brought to Varanasi, to be cremated on the banks of the Ganges. The ashes are then cast into the river to ensure that the departed are re-born into the cycle of life.

Reincarnation is a big part of the Hindu religion. However there is also a macabre side to the cremations. Sometimes, by the laws of the religion, some bodies may not be cremated and are wrapped in shrouds and sunk beneath the glistening waters of the river. Not a nice place for a swim then. We will go into this in more detail in another article that we plan to write about this strange and mystical place, Varanasi. But if you can not wait until then and would like to see some pictures of the cremation ceremony and the burning ghats of Varanasi, check out the slideshow below.

Pictures of the burning ghats of the Ganges . At Varanasi, India.

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Before you set off

Before you set off on your adventure you are going to need to read up about the country. Here is our guide so that you can have everything planned before you leave. step by step: how to plan your trip to india.

Another great article that you will also want to read up on, is all of the tricks and scams that get pulled in India. Scams in India to watch out for. You can never be to prepared for arriving in a new country. 

Decide where is the country that you would like to visit. Do not have a set route in stone, but do have a good idea of all of the best places to visit so that you do not miss anything. If you are going to visit the state of Rajasthan, (we seriously recommend that you do). Here are some of the highlights of the state. Rajasthan: Where to visit 

One of the highlights of our time in India was taking a camel safari through the desert in Rajasthan. This is something that you should also do as it is a incredible experience. HeTo learn everything that you need to know check out our Jaisalmer camel safari guide

One last thing you will need to do before you set off is check what will be the best time to visit. Really anytime is a good time to visit India as the country is so vast. However if you do not like searing heat or monsoon rains, read up about the best time to visit India.

To Find all of our articles on this incredible country, visit our India Hub . The home of all of our articles on this incredible place.

What to expect when you first arrive

So after that beautiful introduction let us just say that to travel India is not for the faint hearted. If you travel here for a two-week holiday, and if you are not careful. You will most likely spend a great deal of your time in the bathroom and leave with horrible memories and an unrivaled hatred. However, Backpacking India for a month, or even six months,if you learn about the cultures and traditions your trip will be unforgettable. Teach yourself to see the beauty that seeps from every inch of this land and you will leave with a passion and love that will never diminish.

The first thing you will notice on arriving in New Delhi, is the poverty and pollution. Do not let this get to you. We know that this sounds bad, but the longer that you stay in India, the more you will become accustomed to all of the poverty. You are here to travel and experience, not to save the world. This should not be forgotten, otherwise before you know it, you will have given hundreds of dollars away in a few short days. You have saved for a long time for this trip. Yes give a few Rupees every so often but be aware of your budget.

A bustling New Delhi street


Where to visit?

The noise and sites of New Delhi completely overpower all of your senses and you will think “what the hell am I doing here”? To describe India is to describe heaven and hell in the same sentence. It is both the most wondrous and soul shattering place in the world, its beauty and awe rivaled only by its misery and decay. Not what you expected to hear? In this ultimate guide we will tell you only the truth.

The cities of India are dirty places and also more expensive than the more rural areas. Try to spend as little time there as possible.

Yes, see the great Taj Mahal. Walk the alleys of holy Varanasi. But for a more beautiful experience of India, head to the beaches of Goa. Climb up into the Himalayan mountains and stay a short time in Manali, a backpackers paradise nestled in the high hills. Visit Rajasthan, to see the desert forts, that look like a scene from Game of Thrones. Ride Camels over the dunes and sleep under the stars. Soak up the culture, eat the most beautiful food and experience what countless travelers have before you. India is waiting.


When many people are backpacking India they decide to learn Yoga. A great place for this is in the foothills of the himalayas at a place called Rishikesh. This is a city nestled in the high valleys where the beautiful Ganges river flows out of the mountains. At this point of the river, it is still a clean and nice place to take a dip.

Rishikesh is known for its spiritual temples and Yoga ashrams. Here you can learn to master both your mind and body and also cleanse your soul. 

The town of Jaisalmer, underneath the ancient Jaisalmer Fort.


How much does India cost?

India is known throughout the world as one of the least expensive destinations for travelers, especially for those on a tight budget. Prices here can often seem shockingly low for anyone who has spent much of their time in Europe, Australia or the United States. Even for those that have traveled to other inexpensive regions of the world, India still seems like an incredible bargain.

When Backpacking India your expenses will be low, this is probably going to be the cheapest country that you ever visit. In fact it recently made our list as one of the cheapest countries to travel in the entire world. To keep your travel costs even lower, we have written these two guides. Backpacking tips, how to travel on the cheap. This guide speaks for itself. Have a read and learn how to travel the world on the cheap. Next we have our secrets of budget travel guide. Here you will learn about all of the apps and websites that you should be using to both book your trip and also how to find the cheapest tickets and hotels once you are traveling. This guide could cut hundreds off of your trip. 

Daily Budget in India

If you are careful with your money and stay in hostels, guesthouses and cheap basic rooms. Also, eat out at simple restaurants, eat street food and drink only one or two beers a night. You can get by on 10$ US / 7£ UK a day in most places in India and still enjoy most of the activities that you choose.

There are people who travel India for less but you are travelling to make memories not to spend your time counting every penny.

Push your budget up to 20$/15£ a day and you will have a more enjoyable time. Have a monthly budget of 600$/450£ and you could eat and drink until you explode. Experience all of the temples and ashrams that you desire. Stay in nice clean rooms and even splurge on a nice beach hut or luxurious room every now and again. You will also be able to afford any, and all of the many activities that India has to offer. 

For an indepth look at all of the prices of Backpacking India, here is our India travel budget. Take a look and see, just how cheap this country really is. Included are all of the transportation, accommodation, food and entrance fee costs. 

Also if you are traveling you may want to earn a bit of extra money to keep you on the road longer, Want to get paid to travel? Here is 22 ways that you can.

Dave catching a train in Rajasthan. This the best way to travel through India.


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A basic beach hut in Arambol, Goa which cost only 4$/3£ a night.




The correct way to eat a thali in India, is with your hands





It is always a good idea to read up on the scams of any country before you arrive.Just in case you missed the article at the top, here are are the tricks and scams to watch out for when backpacking India.

Unfortunately you will run into these a lot, Maybe even as soon as you leave the airport. Make sure that you know what is going to happen so you can avoid them. 

A few final tips

ATM :   You will have no trouble finding an ATM. They are in most towns and villages and every city, but it is smart to always have some spare dollars stashed away just in case. Indian banks charge foreigners 200 Rupees for each transaction. 

Tipping :  Tipping is expected. If you stick to the 10% rule you will be fine. Do make sure on your final bills that there are no hidden charges, only then hand over the tip.

Bargain / Haggling :   When you are backpacking India, unless the price is displayed, you must haggle for everything. Normally, if you bargain well you can drop the cost by up to 80%. We normally aim for a 50% drop. If you find that the vendor will not drop the cost, politely decline his offer and walk away, nine times out of ten they will call you back and sell for the price that you wanted.

Stay calm :  Try to stay calm and friendly at all times. You will be hassled often by taxi drivers, shop keepers, beggars and even the locals. Travellers are quite rare in some parts of India so many people will want to speak to you. Just stay calm and polite and remember, anger won’t get you anywhere.

Thank you for reading our article. And remember, if you have any more questions or need help with your budget to travel india. Do not hesitate to ask. Send us a message and we will be happy to help. We hope that this has give you all the knowledge that you will need to get out and travel India.

Other Great Articles 

If you found this Backpacking India guide helpful. Have a read of some of other great Backpacking guides and see what other countries you could travel. Get inspired and then head out to see the world.

Backpacking Sri Lanka: The Ultimate Guide

Backpacking Thailand: The Ultimate Guide

Colombia Guide: By Indie traveller

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