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How Much it Really Costs to Backpack Around Northern India!

December 20, 2018

At the end of all of my backpacking trips I have written posts on how much I spent on the trip. I like keeping track of my own money and I like being able to share what I have spent backpacking as I know that this is the kind of information I want when planning my trip- The real, true, money facts!

I have just finished travelling Northern India for 2 months. I started in Mumbai ending in Varanasi visiting 13 Cities/Towns in between.

I knew India would be cheap, well at least I assumed it would be cheap, and I knew my bank balance was going down quite slowly but even I was surprised when I realised just how much money I had spent travelling India for 2 months!

In this post I’ll share exactly how much money I spent and what the general costs for things are in Northern India so you know how much money you’ll need on a trip to India and how much it costs to backpack around India!

My Travel Costs!

In 2 Months Backpacking India I Spent…

.

.

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£1384!

Yes, that’s it! This includes everything to get me from Mumbai to Varanasi! I know! That’s not bad is it?

And guess what? I could have done it even cheaper… here’s why and how:


Blogger Honestly –  I did have 2 nights out of the 2 months complimentary in a hotel and you may have seen that I worked with a brand called India Someday whilst in India for one week. I paid for all the activities myself during this week which they paid me back for, so these costs were already included in my travel costs and I have added the accommodation costs on top. So as a travel blogger travelling India, I actually spent less than this! Even better hey!


Cost of Accommodation in India.

My Costs- I stayed mainly in private rooms on my own which meant I paid the whole cost myself, I did stay in a few hostel rooms where private room costs were more or I wanted to meet people and had I have stayed in all hostel rooms I would have spent a lot less, however my sanity would have been compromised because I need my sleep!

I paid about £10.00 per night for a private room on average in India. Some have been £8.00, others £12.00. Don’t get me wrong, not all of them have been nice, sometimes a cheap private room is worse than a dorm room in a decent hostel! And when I’ve stayed in a hostel I’ve stayed in a female dorm, usually a deluxe or slight nicer room for about £4.00-£5.00 a night.

 

Your Costs- If you’re on budget in India you’ll be happy to know that India is fully set up these days for backpackers with so many hostels and really good quality hostels too!

Hostel dorm rooms start from £3.00 a night and these can be found all over Northern India. A dorm room costing £3.00 will be a mixed dorm with 6-8 beds and if you want a smaller dorm or a female dorm you’re looking at £4.00-£5.00. I paid £6.00 a night in Mumbai but accommodation is more expensive in Mumbai so expect this.

Private rooms in hostels can be quite expensive, up to £25.00+ a night so this is where you’ll have to look for a guest house instead to get a private room at a lower price, but if you’re a couple backpacking India or 2 friends then you can halve these prices which will help a lot! (Be sure to read to the bottom to see how much my friend and her boyfriend spent in one month in India!)

If you want a good hostel in India be sure to look out for the chains like Zostel, Backpacker Panda, Moustache and Madpackers.

Note: I’ve been booking all of accommodation on Booking.com. I’ve used Booking.com for years and I’m now a genius member which means I do get discounts on a lot of my bookings and a few pounds off each stay really adds up, so I’d recommend using them around India! To get 10% back off of your booking if your booking is over £40.00 use this link!

Related Post: Are you going to India for One Month and need ideas on where to visit? Check out my 4 Awesome and Different Northern India One Month Itineraries!

India dorm room accommodation costs

Moustache Hostel Dorm Rooms are really good, and so cheap!

Private room costs in northern india.

Private room in McLeod Ganj with balcony for such a good price!


Cost of Food and Drink in India.

My Costs- Generally I was eating 2 meals a day in Northern India, usually buying fruit for breakfast from sellers on the street from as little as 10p for 2 x banana’s and eating lunch and dinner out.

I started off my trip in Mumbai eating in very local places and paying 70p for Dosa and £1.50 for mixed curry and rice, so when I got to Rajasthan and saw curries for £1.80, rice for 80p and naan for 50p, I wasn’t too happy that my meals could cost up to £3.00. However I soon worked out where to eat and what to order so I didn’t pay high tourist prices all of the time.

Generally my meals cost between £1.20-£2.00. £2.50 got me a Western meal in a fancier cafe (which they have plenty of in India), and I rarely spent more than £3.00 in Northern India on just one meal.

I will say that the above total cost of how much I spent in India includes about 5 beers, drinking was not a priority for me in India. Beers are not that cheap, or as cheap as you may think either- £2.00-£2.50 for a big bottle of King Fisher.

Drinks have varied. I’ve had a lot of chai from the streets for just 10p, but I’ve also spent £1.50 on a green tea in a chain coffee cafe just to get wifi. Generally a green tea, coffee, ginger lemon honey, cost about 60p each. I haven’t had many Lassi’s but these are 80p-£1.00.

I haven’t eaten really cheaply in India and I’ve been happy to pay more for food in a nice cafe, especially at lunchtime. I’m not a foodie though and like I said, most days have been just 2 meals a day with minimal snacks.

 

Your Costs- Food in India can be really really really cheap if you stick to the local places and local Indian restaurants are pretty easy to find.

Places like Pushkar and Rishikesh may draw you into their fancier cafes with international menus which is where you will spend more (but still the costs above like me), and rooftops in Udaipur and Jodhpur will cost you more too, especially if you want to have a few beers.

I’d say you could spend as little as £5.00 on food in India per day or up to £9.00 quite easily if you eat out for all meals and eat whatever you want from a menu.


NEED MORE TRAVEL ADVICE ON INDIA? INDIA BY BACKPACK IS A WEBSITE I HAVE CREATED TO HELP OTHER TRAVELLERS AND BACKPACKERS TO INDIA- CHECK IT OUT HERE!


cost of food in India.

Dal is a good choice for a cheaper Indian meal in a fancier restaurant.

cost of food in India.

Small, local restaurants are the best for price and taste!


Cost of Activities in India.

My Costs- Daily costs for activities changed a lot for me in Northern India. Somedays they were quite high, for example on my first day in a city where I’ve wanted to see all of the must see places I’ve paid for a tuk tuk driver (around £6.00-10.00), entrance fee’s into a fort or palace plus into a museum or temple or something (anywhere from £4.00-£8.00 each). I have easily spend £20.00-£25.00 just on activities per day in India.

Other days though I haven’t spent any money or just a small amount like £2.00 on activities as I’ve walked around the city or town and not paid to get into places.

 

Your Costs- If you decide to visit every tourist place in the cities in Northern India I can assure you that you will end up spending more money than you thought. A lot of places are worth visiting for sure but my biggest tip to budget your money in India but also not to burn out and get ‘over’ India is not to do everything.

See a few places in each city and spend the rest of your time walking about, checking out the street food, cafes and restaurants for good Indian food, and people watching from a rooftop above.

cost of activities in India.

Walking to free sunset spots is a good way of saving money in India!

cost of activities in India.

Palaces can cost a lot to enter in India, but most of them are worth it!


Cost of Transport in India.

My Costs- Trains are by far the best and easiest way to get around India and what I love about India is that I can book this myself, choose the time of day and choose the class which alters the price.

I only did 2 overnight trains in Northern India in 2 months, I went 2AC in both of them and they cost £26.00 for one and £12.00 for another.

Day Trains varied between £4.00-£10.00 for a journey of 2-8 hours. I have booked all AC Chair Car Day Trains but the one time I booked Second Seating as that was all that was available it cost me £1.50 for a 4 hour journey!

Tuk Tuk’s and Rickshaws are cheap in India too and there are plenty of taxi’s. I haven’t taken that many but often in big cities in Northern India it’s much more pleasant to get a tuk tuk over walking a short distance because of the traffic  and I haven’t held back on this or been too ‘tight’ and budget conscious, I have spent money quite freely on transport in Cities.

 

Your Costs- As I said above, the best thing about transport in India for backpackers and travellers is that you have so much choice! Trains and Buses are readily available and you can choose whether you go by local bus or tourist bus and trains can be chosen from 1AC, 2AC, 3AC & sleeper (sleeper is the lowest class) on overnight trains and AC Exec Chair, AC Chair Chair and Second Seating on Day Trains.

Of course the prices also depend on availability (it is always good to book tickets in advance for the trains in India as they can get booked up very quickly due to the amount of Indian’s that travel) but when there is availability you can choose how much you want to spend on transport yourself by which class you go, and which times. Often for short journeys there are day trains and overnight trains which take longer, this will save you a nights accommodation and probably be cheaper than a day train ticket.

cost of transport in India.

2AC is a good class, it’s more expensive but worth it I think for overnight journeys.


ATM’s in India.

In some ways I felt like I was spending a lot of money in India because I had to use the ATM a lot!

I ended up using the ATM 8 times in 2 months which is high I think however this is because the maximum amount you can withdraw from an ATM in India is 10,000Rs which right now with my banks conversion is £111.00-£115.00, plus about a £2.00 fee each time.

I am using my WESWAP card for ATM transactions in India which I like using because it’s a travel card which I top up using an app so I can easily keep track of my money and if I was to lose it or it was cloned I can just freeze the account really easily. (If you want to get one too, when you sign up, use the promo code THEWAN10 and you’ll get £10.00 credit when you top up by £50.00!)

I mainly pay by cash in India but the payments I have made on card were train bookings as these have to be done online using a card. I also paid for accommodation by card if I could so it didn’t use up a chunk of cash. I’ve been using my Monzo card for these transactions as monzo offers free international transactions up to a certain amount and I can approve the online transactions by the app so I know if any fraudulent activities are happening on it.

Related Post: Are you going to India for One Month and need ideas on where to visit? Check out my 4 Awesome and Different Northern India One Month Itineraries!


How Much to Budget for a Trip to India!

Hopefully this has given you a good insight into how much it costs to backpack and travel around India but I know it’s hard to read these amounts and figure out how much you need!

I like to plan my spending costs in terms of months and I think that £750.00 for one month of travel in Northern India is totally enough as long as you have the ‘backpacker’ mindset and don’t go too crazy on accommodation.

My friend and her boyfriend travelled Northern India for 1 month and spent about £1500.00 between them, how good is that and pretty much the same as me on my own. They did a good amount of overnight train journeys which meant they saved on accommodation and of course they could spilt the private room accommodation charge and often shared meals too as the meals in India can be very big! They took an internal flight and did have a few beers whilst here which is something I didn’t do but our costs worked out the same.

I think one of the best things about travelling India really is how cheap it is and it means you don’t always have to think about money or budget hard like so many other Countries, it’s so freeing!

I thought about money in my 2 months in India of course and was careful not to spend too much on accommodation, on food, on entrance fee’s but I really didn’t compromise my trip for it and a lot of the time I was happy to splash money on things (like yoga classes and massages) and not even think about it, and I still spent way less than I thought I would!

(THIS IS BEING WORKED OUT BASED ON £1.00- 88.86RS, GENERALLY I JUST TEND TO ROUND IT UP TO £1.00-100RS WHEN I’M HERE TO MAKE IT EASIER)

india travel costs

Big Smiles for being able to travel here so freely money wise!


If you have any more questions, Let me know in the comments below or by tweeting me @wandering_quinn!


Website’s and App’s to Help Plan Your India Trip!

AccommodationBooking.com – I’ve used Booking.com to book all of my hostels and hotels in India. I love it because of the flexible cancellation and amendment options incase my plans change. To get 10% back off of your booking if your booking is over £40.00 use this link!

BusesRedBus & Via – Whilst train travel is the best way to get around India, buses are popular and common too. If you can’t see the right option for a train, or if it’s just a short journey, check out the buses too!

FlightsKiwi – I tend to use Skyscanner to book my flights but in India the cheapest option is always Kiwi through Skyscanner so why not head there first. Sometimes it is easier and still very cheap to fly internally in India so if it’s a long journey always check out flights to compare!

Organised Tours – Although it is very possible to travel around India by yourself it does take some planning and it does take time too. If you are on a short timeframe or you’d rather travel with people, there are plenty of organised tours around India. From some research that I did I found that Intrepid Tours are really popular tours around India.

Planning Help – If you want to travel around India on your own and not on a tour but would like some India travel assistance, I would recommend India Someday. I tested out their planning services for 1 week in Rajasthan and I really like what they offer. If you are a solo traveller you can get a 25% discount on India Someday’s fees if you book your India travels with them. To get a quote and to get an idea of what they can offer you, fill out the long questionnaire or the short one and mention WANDERINGQUINN5 when they ask how you stumbled upon them to get the discount!

TrainsIRCTC – This is the official site to book trains in India, it can be tricky to work out how to use it but once you’ve got a log in and made a booking it’s easy to use and it’s the best way to book trains in India as it’s direct. This is how Indian’s book their trains, no commission from travel agents needed!

TrainsTrainman – Once you have booked your train, the day before / the day of your booking, get onto Trainman to check its status (on time or delayed), platform number, carriage number and seat number using the helpful map!

Travel Advice – I have created a second website purely about India to help travellers visit, for more tips and advice check out India By Backpack.

Travel Cards – I have been using a WESWAP card whilst travelling around India. I’ve loved it because I top it up with money via the app which helps me keep track of what I’m spending and keeps my money safe if I lose the card. I’ve had zero issues with getting money out of ATM’s with it too which is a big plus when travelling as using general bank cards can be so much hassle! (That’s actually a lie, I have had issues but that’s because of the tempermentual Indian ATM’s not because of the card.)  When you sign up, use the promo code THEWAN10 and you’ll get £10.00 credit when you top up by £50.00.

Travel Insurance – World Nomad’s – You must have travel insurance for India! I am covered by World Nomad’s and they offer such a great cover including the fact that you do not need proof of going home after your trip which a lot of companies want however is impossible for long term travellers to prove, and you can start and renew a cover with them whilst travelling, you do not need to be at home. If you haven’t got insurance yet, get a quote and get it sorted now whilst you think of it.


Here are my Blog Posts on where I visited in Northern India to help you plan your trip further:

Agra7 Ways To See The Taj Mahal Without Going Inside! & My Top Tips for Visiting the Taj Mahal!

Amritsar – Tips for Visiting Amritsar’s Golden Temple and the Wagah Border Ceremony!

Dharamshala – Dharamshala & McLeod Ganj Travel Guide for Travellers!

Jaipur – The Best Way To See Jaipur aka The Pink City of India!

Jodhpur – 6 Of The Best Way’s to See Jodhpur aka The Blue City of India! & Incredible Homestay Experience in Rajasthan at Chhotaram Prajapat’s Homestay!

Kumbhalgarh – Shahpura Kumbhal Villas in Kumbhalgarh Review!

Mumbai – Things To Do in Colaba and How To See Mumbai From Colaba! & Mumbai Slum Tour to Dharavi Slum

Rishikesh – Visiting The Beatles Ashram in Rishikesh!

Pushkar – 12 Things Perfect For Backpacker To Do in Pushkar! & 7 Things To Be Aware Of When Visiting Pushkar!

Udaipur – 12 Unique Activities, Classes and Things To Do in Udaipur! & Tips for Visiting Udaipur’s City Palace & Doing a Boat Trip Around Lake Pichola!

Varanasi2 Day Itinerary for Varanasi – Will you love it or hate it?

General Backpacking posts: 

My 10 Most Useful Travel Items!

A Checklist Of Things You Need To Do Before You Go Backpacking!

What To Look For When Choosing and Buying A Backpack For Travelling!


I really hope this has helped you!

If it has, or you have any questions, let me know in the comments below or by tweeting me @wandering_quinn!

I’m in South India now and there will be a post in a few months for costs there too!


Do you watch YouTube? If so, be sure to subscribe to my channel and have a binge watch of my vlogs to see what India is all about!


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12 responses to “How Much it Really Costs to Backpack Around Northern India!”

  1. Lynn Davis says:

    Really useful info for planning. Thanks. From Sophies mum merry Christmas. I often read your blogs.

  2. Jess says:

    WOW! India really is so affordable. Very tempted to visit on my next trip!

  3. Abbie says:

    This is so helpful Ellie! We are hopefully going to India in March, have saved this one and your itineraries post to help us with planning! Thank you for sharing 🙂 x

    abbiejadewanders.co.uk

  4. Jasmin says:

    wow so good to read that you also spend about 1.000 (christmas gifts shiped to germany included) for two months in India 😀 but for me it was about 1.000 €, don’t know atm if it’s less or more, but anyway it’s good to know haha! Finally I found time to check out your blog by the way 🙂 and this blogpost catched my eye at first sign haha! because I felt a bit guilty and wondered if I could spend less money in India etc. but now I’m okay 😀 no guilt at all! will read your other blogspost now as my evening program haha.

    namaste xo
    Jasmin (@wanderlust_nimsaj)

    • Ahh good to hear!! I think you must have spent less as €1000 is £900 so you did really well!
      I definitely spent more as I paid for private rooms by myself most of the time but it’s great to know you did it on that budget too, well done! And thank you for reading! 🙂

  5. Rachel says:

    So interesting to read your breakdown and hear those useful tips for where to stay, eat and how to save money. I am sure this will be really useful for those planning to visit India.

  6. Madhu says:

    Excellent vlog. It will definitely be very helpful for other travelers.

    One more suggestion is using ‘Couchsurfing’ website. I am not sure if there are any costs associated but you will find lot of people volunteering to share their couch in India. All you need to do is choose a right family (using first hand reviews) and you will definitely save on accommodation costs.

    One general suggestion to all foreigners is to realize that India is a very big country. You need to plan a 2 week trips, targeting few specific cluster of places (Eg. ‘Kerala & Tamilnadu’, ‘Tamilnadu & Karnataka’, Golden triangle, ‘Mumbai-Pune-Goa’, North-east , etc). You cannot cover entire India in a stretch and is also not advisable. Each clusters have a specific culture and a different environment. Spacing out those clusters will help cherish different experiences.

    Even I, staying in India, have not extensively traveled as much as Ellie did :-). Thanks for your insights and great info.

    • Thanks for your thoughts and I totally agree! I think couchsurfing is quite popular here yes although I’ve never done it anywhere. Maybe one day I will.

      I hope you keep seeing more of your country as I do too 🙂

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Hello!
My Name's Ellie Quinn.

I'm a complete travel addict and have been since I took my first backpacking trip in 2010.

Since then I've visited 50+ Countries on various trips! I created this blog to share my travel tips to help you travel better!

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