India Travel Budget: The Costs

India Travel Budget

So you want to visit India but do not have any idea of the costs? Do not worry, in this India travel budget guide we will tell you all you need to know. Also if you want a step by step guide on how to plan your trip to India, we have you sorted. step by step: how to plan your trip to india

First of all, let’s just start by saying India is cheap, dirt cheap. You can live well in India for one month on what you would spend in a week in the UK or Australia. Don’t believe us? Then let’s start.

Monthly Budget

For £450/$600 a month you can live very comfortably in India and not have to worry about your costs spiraling. This is a budget where you can eat, drink, sleep in nice places and do all of the activities that you would like. You are traveling to make memories, not to save every penny. 

Many people travel through India on far less than this. Some people can travel on just £10/$14 a day, £300/$420 a month, some people can even do it on less than this. India is the no.1 country in the world for budget travel. 

Daily Budget

So what should your daily India travel budget be? It is possible to travel through this amazing country on as little as £10/$14 a day but it does take some work. Push your budget up to £15/$20 a day and you can pretty much forget about watching every penny. For this you will be able to afford nice rooms, eat out at delicious restaurants and pretty much do whatever it is that you would like. 

We will get into the costs in a moment. First let us just show you this: Backpacker Tips, How To Travel On The Cheap. Here are some great tips on how to travel the world on the cheap. If you use these tips you will definitely keep your budget low. 

sadu-baba-india-india travel budget

Current Exchange Rate

USD = 64 Rupees

GBP = 85 Rupees

EUR= 70 Rupees

Transportation Costs

Transportation costs are the smallest factor in your India travel budget. The prices of buses, trains and Tuk-Tuks in India are mind-bogglingly cheap. Flying is the most expensive way to travel. However it is still far cheaper than in the likes of Europe or the US. When traveling on a budget it is best to stick to the Indian trains and buses as these are by far one of the cheapest ways to travel on the planet.

Tuk-Tuks

Tuk-Tuks are the easiest way to travel around the cities. Darting in and out of the traffic on the crazy roads of India is an experience in itself. The sheer chaos of it all is enough to make you get back on your plane. However after a while you do not even notice all of the craziness, it becomes the norm. 

Tuk-Tuks are a great way to see all the sites of a city. You can hire a Tuk-Tuk for the day (as almost every driver will tell you). For $20/£15 a day you can hire your own personal Tuk-Tuk to drive you about the city. If you are traveling on a budget however, especially trying to travel on £10 a day, then stay away from these unless you can split the fare with a few others. It is amazing how many people can fit inside of a Tuk-Tuk. 

One thing to watch out for with Tuk-Tuk drivers however, is that they will often try to take you on a spontaneous shopping trip. It is amazing how many Tuk-Tuk drivers know where the best place to buy kashmere is. The drivers earn commission from every item that you purchase. Just politely tell them that you are not buying anything today. 

You should definitely read up about all of the scams that you are going to be hit with once you land in India. Read here everything that you should watch out for.  Scams in India to watch out for

Trains

The trains in India are among the cheapest in the world and also a great way to travel through the country. To travel India by train is something that you will never forget. However at first site, the class system can seem a bit baffling, sometimes including up to ten classes. 1A, 2A, 3A, 3E, EC, CC, DD, FC, SL, and 2S. Just a little bit crazy? For the sake of this article we will simplify things a bit. Notice how in the classes there are only the numbers 1, 2 and 3? That is how we shall define them for now to make things easier. 

India travel budget-train-rajasthan-jaisalmer

3rd Class

3rd class is normally a non-reserved ticket. If you can get a third class where you have to buy a ticket in advance, then this is okay to travel. You can check at the ticket booth when you go to the train station to buy your ticket. Some 3rd classes however are non-reserved open tickets. These are the carriages that you should stay away from. Costing just a few rupees, these train carriages are packed to the rim. You will often have to sit on the floor, with people climbing over you every so often. This is a cramped smelly and seriously uncomfortable way to travel. Stay away!

2nd Class

You will find that most of your train journeys are long ones. For that reason you will most of the time travel on a sleep train. 2S is the class that you should choose. Every passenger is assigned their own bunk to sleep on and it is also a great way to meet and interact with the locals. 2nd class sleepers (2s) are the train class of choice for most travelers, so you should always be able to find other travelers if you are feeling homesick. A twelve hour train journey in a 2nd class sleeper will cost you under 400 rupees. That is less than $6/£4. 

1st class

For those of you who wish to travel in a bit of style,  then 1A is for you. These luxury carriages come fully furnished with all of the mod cons. Air-conditioned, power-points, bedding and food all included in the price. However the fares for these carriages are on a par with airfare so this is truly a luxury. If you have the money to spare this could be a wonderful experience. 

Train Food

Food is one thing that you do not have to worry about when traveling on the trains in India. Food wallahs walk the aisles selling everything from chai tea to rice biryani. If it is not the wallahs feeding you it is the locals, you will always have some nice old Indian lady offering you food. On an Indian train you will never go hungry. 

With all the locals chattering away as the country zips past the window, you are sure to make memories that will stay with you for a lifetime. 

Buses

We said transportation would just be a fraction of your India travel budget, and buses are no different. Sometimes you will be forced to take a bus rather than a train and although they are not as comfortable, they are just as cheap. When you are traveling through the foothills and mountains of the Himalayas you will use the buses. They can get a little tiresome but the views alone are worth the ten hours sat riding the bus. 

The cheapest buses are the local government run buses. However for cheapness you give up a little of your time. These government buses are a few hours slower when traveling long distances. If you are backpacking or on a tight budget, then these are the buses for you. When traveling in a city always take these buses as they cost just a few rupees and take just as long as other buses. 

When you are traveling long distances, private AC buses are available, however they cost a little bit more than the government buses. These buses are recommended for the longer journeys which you will take. For just 400 rupees $6/£4, you get your own seat and air-con … if it works. For the grueling long haul journeys these buses are definitely worth it. 

One of the rules that you will learn when traveling India is that any journey under twelve hours is a short journey.

Flights

If you would like to take a flight at anytime, you will pay between $80/£60 and $100/£77. In recent years, budget airline travel in India has really taken off.

Before we continue, here is a list of all the apps and websites that we use to book everything from our flights to accommodation. Also many other little apps that will come in handy when traveling. Using these secrets you could save yourselves hundreds of dollars on airfare alone. The Secrets Of Budget Travel, The Websites And Apps That You Need To Be Using!

Accommodation Costs

Budget accommodation in India is widely available in every town and village that you will come across. It is a little more difficult to find clean budget rooms in some of the less popular cities, but if you keep looking you will find a room for less than 700 rupees, 10$/8£. We say “clean” as near most stations there are rooms to stay, however if you are a little fussy you may have trouble sleeping in one.

The average price of a clean, mid range room in India with its own private (european) bathroom, will cost around 450 rupees, 6$/4£. Quite a lot of the time you will find rooms at a cheaper price. As you can see, India is the home of budget travelers.

beach hut-goa-india

It is a little difficult to set out the accommodation costs as a set scale. You must remember that when you travel through India, you will barter/haggle for everything. Where one day you pay 400 rupees for a room, the next guest could pay 200. ALWAYS haggle and barter. However as you can see, if your haggling skills are not up to scratch, you will still be paying pennies for accommodation. Many times we have found rooms for 150 rupees. 

Hostel dorm rooms are quite rare outside of the main cities but unlike other countries, in India this does not hurt your budget. The price of your own private room is the price of a dorm in some most other countries. Just like transportation, accommodation costs will not hurt your India travel budget.

Accommodation tips

If you are traveling alone and would like to meet fellow travelers, hostels are your best bet. Hostels are like beacons for travelers. Many times we have stayed in one and left with a group to travel with. If you are landing in New Delhi and wish to meet people, there is a hostel there called the Moustache Hostel. Although a little expensive for Indian accomodation, this is a great place to meet and find people to travel with. 

Another good reason to find people to travel with is to split your bills. Not only will you share accommodation costs, you will also share all of your Tuk-Tuk costs and anything else that you can split. A twin bedroom which costs 500 rupees can be split between the both of you, so that you only have to pay 250 rupees each. 

Just to let you know, an Indian bathroom is a hole in the ground. Yes, you read that correctly. However before you cancel your travel plans, in most, if not all of your accommodation there will be a western toilet. Also the number one golden rule of travelling …. always carry toilet paper. You can thank us for this tip later.

Food costs

Restaurants

India is an absolute dream when it comes to food.  You can not walk five meters without being confronted by another street stall or restaurant serving up some kind of delicious snack or dish that you just have to devour. Whether it be samosas, pakoras, or momos in the north, or masala dosas in the south. Indian cuisine is mouth-wateringly good. It is also incredibly cheap. 

Eating out in a nice rooftop restaurant will only cost you 200 – 300 rupees, 3$/2£ to 4$/3£. Normally we would tell you to always eat where the locals eat, but in India even the tourist restaurants are cheap. In Goa for example, the restaurants are on the beach itself. You can sit with your feet in the sand and enjoy a fresh tuna steak, vegetables and a beer for a cost of 300 rupees. 

Street Food

For those who wish to keep their India travel budget in check, Street Food is the way that you should go. Unfortunately, when most travel through India they steer clear of the food on the streets, thinking that it will strike them down with the dreaded Delhi Belly. 

This is a terrible mistake, as the Street Food in India is the cheapest in the world costing only 10 – 20 rupees for a snack like a samosa or a pakora. Or 80 rupees for a meal like a thali, a vegetable dish made from dhal, rice, roti and many other different ingredients, depending upon which part of the country that you are in. Thalis are the food that you should be looking out for. In some restaurants for only 100 rupees, you can have unlimited refills and eat until you are fit to burst.

India-street-food-samosas

Keep in mind, what the world knows as Indian food is often based on the food of the northern parts of the country. Depending upon which region you are in, the food varies quite a lot. In the south it is more dosas, uttapams and coconut curries. In the north, samosas, pakoras and the tasty malai kofta curry. Every inch of India is filled with delicious food. 

Entrance Fees

Entrance fees are what every traveller tries to avoid. India is no different to any other country when it comes to charging a fee. Also like most Asian countries, India charges foreigners more than they charge the locals to enter its tourism sites. If you compare the average salary of a tourist from the US to the average Indian, you can understand why.

The most expensive site fee that you will pay is for the famous Taj Mahal in Agra. Seeing this wonder of the world will cost you 700 rupees, 11$/8£. The Red Fort, which is also in Agra, will cost you 250 rupees, so for 1,000 rupees you can spend a day walking around these beautiful creations. On average, entrance fees throughout the country are 200 rupees which is literally nothing.

Sometimes all that is asked for is a donation. On these occasions 10 or 20 rupees will be enough. All in all, apart from the Taj, entrance fees will not hurt your budget.

 Your India Travel Budget

So now we hope that you have a good idea of the costs involved in traveling through this wonderful country. If you get a room for 300 rupees, eat breakfast for 100 rupees and then have lunch and dinner for 200 rupees each, this comes to only 800 rupees. That is less than £10 a day right there. See how incredibly cheap this country is to travel. If you would like to learn more about India have a read of Backpacking India, The Ultimate Guide or visit our India Hub to see all of our articles on this mystical land.

To find the best time of year to visit the country, have a read of this article: Best time to visit India: The Weather

Also if this part of the world fascinates you as much as it does us, here are some articles on India’s little island neighbour, Sri Lanka. The gem of the indian ocean.

India-travel-budget

Backpacking Sri Lanka. The Ultimate Guide

The Land of Elephants: Udawalawe National Park Sri Lanka

Sigiriya, The Ruins In The Sky

22 ways to get paid for traveling

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