Backpackers Paradise: Is it cheap to travel in India?

is it cheap to travel in india

Introduction to „Is it cheap to travel in India?“

When it comes to exploring exotic destinations, India consistently ranks as a must-visit destination on the bucket lists of many travelers. Known for its vibrant culture, diverse landscapes, and rich history, India promises an adventure like no other.

However, a common question that often arises among budget-conscious travelers is, „Is it cheap to travel in India?“

This blog post digs deeper into budget traveling in India. We’ll explore various aspects that influence travel expenses in this huge and varied country, from accommodation and food costs to transportation and beyond.

Whether you’re a backpacker on a budget or a traveler seeking comfortable yet affordable options, this guide aims to provide valuable insights to help you plan your Indian adventure wisely.

In the following sections, we’ll break down the costs associated with traveling in India, offer cost-saving tips, and answer some frequently asked questions.

We’ll also touch on specific topics like vegetarian dining options, outlined in our India Veggie Food Guide, and how to navigate the country efficiently, as detailed in our comprehensive 4-weeks India Travel Guide.

Additionally, we want to prepare you in avoiding tourist scams, an aspect to consider for a hassle-free experience, which you can read more about in our section Tourist Scams in India. But now let’s answer the question you’re burning for – Is it cheap to travel in India?

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Accommodation Costs in India

India’s accommodation options are as diverse as its landscapes, offering everything from luxurious palaces to modest hostels. The choice of where to stay can significantly affect your travel budget, but the good news is that India offers a range of options to suit every pocket.

Budget Accommodations

For backpackers and budget travelers, hostels and guesthouses are the go-to options. Prices for a bed in a shared dormitory can start as low as 6€ per night. These accommodations often come with basic amenities but offer the charm of community living and opportunities to meet fellow travelers.

In cities like Goa and Jaipur, you’ll find hostels with vibrant atmospheres, often featuring communal kitchens and social events.

Mid-Range Hotels

For those seeking a bit more comfort, India’s mid-range hotels offer great value. Prices typically range from 10€ to 40€ per night. These hotels often provide amenities like air conditioning, private bathrooms, and free Wi-Fi.

Chains like OYO Rooms have revolutionized this segment, offering standardized services across the country. But be careful, as to my knowledge some of these OYO’s are fake in India! Make sure to read reviews first before booking and look for reviews that were not written by locals!

Luxury Stays

India is home to some of the world’s most luxurious hotels and resorts, including heritage palaces converted into 5-star accommodations. Prices for these lavish stays start at around 60€ per night, offering an experience of opulence and royal treatment. While they are a splurge compared to budget options, they offer unparalleled luxury and service.

Homestays and Airbnb

A growing trend in India is homestays and Airbnb rentals. These options provide a homely experience and a chance to interact with locals. Prices vary widely based on location and amenities, but they typically offer more space and privacy than hotels in the same price range.

Choosing the Right Accommodation

Selecting the right accommodation depends on your budget, travel style, and the experiences you seek. When it comes to finding a budget stay, Hostelworld has got you covered.! Explore a variety of accommodations, from cozy guesthouses to hostels, making your journey even more comfortable.

Food Costs in India

India is a paradise for food lovers, offering an astonishing variety of flavors and dishes. The cost of eating in India can vary greatly, but it remains one of the most affordable aspects of traveling in this country.

Street Food

Street food is an integral part of the Indian culinary experience. It’s not only incredibly cheap but also offers a taste of authentic local flavors. You can enjoy snacks like samosas, chaat, and dosas for less than 1.5€ each. Street food markets are prevalent in every city, providing an economical and delicious dining option.

Mid-Range Dining

For those who prefer sitting down in a restaurant, India’s mid-range dining options offer great value. An average meal in an air-conditioned restaurant costs about 3 – 6€ per person. These establishments provide a comfortable environment and a wider variety of dishes, including both Indian and international cuisines.

Fine Dining

India also boasts a range of high-end restaurants, especially in metropolitan cities like Delhi, Mumbai, and Bangalore. Here, you can expect to pay around 10 – 15€ per person for a meal. These restaurants offer a fine dining experience with exquisite food, ambiance, and service.

Vegetarian Delights

India is a haven for vegetarian food, with a vast array of dishes that are both flavorful and affordable. From thalis (a platter of various dishes) to a variety of lentil-based curries, vegetarian options are plentiful and pocket-friendly. For an extensive guide on vegetarian eating in India, check out our India Veggie Food Guide.

Transportation Costs in India

Transportation in India is as varied as its geography, offering several options to suit different budgets and travel styles. Understanding these options and their costs is crucial for budget-friendly travel.

Public Transport – Buses and Trains

India’s public transportation network is extensive and incredibly affordable. Buses and trains are the lifelines for locals and travelers alike. For seamless travel across the country, consider using 12AsiaGo and Busbud to book your transportation. Whether it’s trains, or buses, these platforms offer convenient options to ensure you reach your destinations comfortably and on time.


Local bus fares can be as low as 50 cents, making them the cheapest mode of transport within cities. For long-distance travel, state-run and private buses offer services ranging from basic to luxurious sleeper buses.

A long-distance bus journey, for example from Bangalore to Chennai, can cost around 10€.


Train travel is an iconic Indian experience and is very cost-effective. Prices vary based on the class of travel, with basic non-AC seating starting at just a few euros for a several-hour journey.

Sleeper classes offer an affordable way to cover long distances while saving on a night’s accommodation, but I won’t recommend them. Make sure to travel with AC1 or AC2 for long-distance and Chair Class (CC) for short distances.


With the rise of budget airlines in India, flying can be a surprisingly affordable option, especially if booked in advance. For example, a domestic flight can cost as little as 30-60€ .

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Taxis and Auto-Rickshaws

Taxis and auto-rickshaws are widely available and offer more convenience and flexibility than buses or trains. However, they are more expensive. Ride-sharing apps like Uber and Ola have made city travel more affordable and transparent in terms of pricing. In Goa you need to use GoaMiles instead.

Transportation Tips

  • Booking train and bus tickets in advance can save money.
  • Using ride-sharing apps can help avoid overpaying for taxis and auto-rickshaws.
  • For intercity travel, consider overnight trains or buses to save on accommodation costs.

We booked all our train rides with 12AsiaGo, our go-to platform for any travels in Asia! Click the link or use the tool for a quick search.

Our Travel Expenses for 4 Weeks in India

To give you a practical perspective on budgeting for a trip to India, let’s take a look at the actual expenses from our own 4-week journey through this incredible country. This breakdown will provide a realistic idea of what you can expect to spend per person for a month-long adventure in India.

Hostels, Hotels, and Guesthouses: We opted for budget-friendly accommodations including hostels, hotels, and guesthouses. Our average cost was about €9.20 per night.

Food: Our food expenses primarily involved eating at restaurants, both street food and sit-down eateries, amounting to an average of €7.66 per day.

Public Transport (Inter and Intra-City): We spent an average of €5 per day on various modes of public transport for both intercity and intracity travel.

Domestic Flights: We took two domestic flights during our trip, totaling €170. We need to add that the flights took place at December 25th and December 31th which is high season for traveling in India due to holidays!

Entry Fees: We visited numerous temples and historical sites, with entry fees ranging from €5 to €10 per visit.

Guided Tours: Our experiences included a safari, a day tour in Varanasi, an Indian cooking class, a desert safari in Jaisalmer, and a street food tour in Jodhpur. The total cost for these tours was €150 per person.

Shopping, Laundry, etc. : We spent around €50 per person on souvenirs, laundry, SIM cards, tips, and similar expenses.

Total Expense Breakdown (Per Person)

  • Accommodation: €267 (29 days x €9.20 per night)
  • Food: €230 (€7.66 per day)
  • Transportation: €340
  • Activities and Sightseeing: €170
  • Miscellaneous: €50

1057€ per person for 4 weeks!

This budget reflects a balanced approach to traveling in India, mixing budget-conscious choices with occasional splurges for comfort and experiences. It demonstrates that with careful planning and smart choices, exploring India can be both affordable and enriching.

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Cost-Effective Travel Tips in India

This guide about is it travel to cheap to India is complete without some money saving travel tips!!

Traveling in India can be incredibly rewarding and doesn’t have to be expensive. With the right strategies, you can make your travel budget go a long way. Here are some practical tips to help you save money while enjoying the richness of India’s travel experiences.

Book in Advance: Often, booking your stay in advance can get you better deals, especially during peak travel seasons.

Consider Hostels and Guesthouses: These are not only budget-friendly but also great places to meet other travelers.

Opt for Homestays: Staying with locals can be cheaper than hotels and offer a more authentic experience.

Eat Local: Local eateries and street food are not only cheap but also a great way to experience Indian cuisine.

Avoid Tourist Traps: Restaurants in tourist areas tend to be more expensive. Walk a few streets away to find cheaper and more authentic options.

Use Public Transport: Buses and trains are much cheaper than taxis or flights.

Plan in Advance: Book train and bus tickets early to get the best rates.

Share Rides: When using taxis, consider sharing with other travelers.

Bargain: Haggling is part of the shopping culture in India. Don’t be shy to negotiate prices, especially in markets.

Buy Local: Local products and handicrafts are usually cheaper and support the local economy.

Get a Local SIM Card: It’s much cheaper than using international roaming. Local SIMs offer affordable data and call packages. They’re like virtual SIMs, making it simple without dealing with physical cards. Enjoy a stress-free travel experience with the convenience of eSIMs! Airalo offers plans starting from 5$!

Click the link or use the tool down below.

Avoid Peak Travel Times: Traveling during the off-season can significantly reduce the cost of flights and accommodations.

Stay Longer in Fewer Places: Rather than hopping quickly from one place to another, consider staying longer in fewer places to reduce transportation costs and get deeper into the local culture.

By employing these cost-effective strategies, you can enjoy a fulfilling trip to India without overspending. These tips not only help save money but also enhance the travel experience by encouraging deeper engagement with local cultures and environments.

FAQ about „Is it cheap to travel in India?“

Traveling on a budget in India raises many questions, especially for those visiting for the first time. Here are some of the most commonly asked questions and their answers to help you plan your trip more effectively.

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Conclusion on „Is it cheap to travel in India?“

In conclusion, traveling in India can indeed be very affordable, offering a range of experiences that cater to different budgets. Our 4-week journey is a testament to how one can explore the diversity and richness of India without breaking the bank.

Now that we provided you with detailed information on the question „Is it cheap to travel in India?“, here are the key takeaways of this article:

Diverse Accommodation Options: Whether you opt for hostels, guesthouses, or mid-range hotels, there are accommodations to fit every budget.

Affordable and Delicious Food: From street food to local eateries, India offers a culinary adventure at a very reasonable cost.

Cost-Effective Transportation: With an extensive network of buses and trains, plus affordable domestic flights, getting around India is both easy and economical.

Rich Cultural Experiences: India offers a wealth of cultural and historical experiences, many of which are free or have minimal entrance fees.

Budget-Friendly Activities: From exploring bustling markets to enjoying the natural beauty of the countryside, many of India’s best experiences require little to no spending.

Our detailed expense breakdown shows that with thoughtful planning and a willingness to embrace local experiences, you can enjoy a fulfilling trip to India on a budget of around 800 – 1100€ per person for a month.

Whether you are a solo backpacker, a couple, or traveling with friends, India is a destination that promises both affordability and unforgettable experiences. With careful planning and an open mind, your journey through India can be as enriching as it is economical.

So, is it cheap to travel in India? Yes – with the right approach, India is not only affordable but offers incredible value for money. This concludes our comprehensive guide on traveling in India on a budget.

For more insights and tips on exploring India, don’t forget to check out our other resources as well as our socials. Happy travels, and enjoy the incredible journey that India has to offer!

I hope to see you again soon on this blog. Do not forget to share this article about ‚Is it cheap to travel in India‘ with your friends and family too 🙂

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