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The Real Cost of Backpacking India On A Budget!

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What is the cost of backpacking India so you can plan your India backpacking budget??

This post was written after I had travelled North India for 2 months starting in Mumbai ending in Varanasi visiting 13 Cities/Towns in between all on a backpacker budget in India!

I knew India would be cheap, well, I assumed it would be cheap, and I knew my bank balance was going down quite slowly over the 2 months but even I was surprised when I realised just how much money I had spent travelling India for 2 months because it was not much at all!

In this post, I share exactly how much money I spent backpacking India for 2 months, what the general costs for accommodation, food, transport and activities are in North India and how to save even more money in India when backpacking India on a budget! 

Cost of Backpacking India

The Wandering Quinn Travel Blog cost of backpacking India
Keep Reading for the real cost of backpacking India!

Best time to visit India

Before we get into this India travel blog, it’s worth thinking about the best time to visit India as the country get’s very hot and wet in the middle of the year. November to March are the best times to visit both North & South India.

South India will be warmer than North India in the winter months of December and January, Delhi and further North actually get cold in these months but are still enjoyable to visit with the right clothing.

Outside these months, you can still visit but you’ll find that the heat and humidity will be much higher, especially as you go further South.


I really recommend having a sim card in India as it makes travel in India so much easier! You may have heard that it’s hard to get a sim card in India but you can get a sim card in Delhi Airport, read this post to see how to buy a sim card in Delhi Airport or if you fly in elsewhere 3 ways to buy a sim card in India and you’ll be connected in just a few hours!


If you are a woman, here’s what I recommend you pack and wear in India. Technically you can wear what you like in India in most places but to get fewer stares and feel more comfortable, read my post!


Most people arrive for the first time into Delhi and get scammed within a few hours! Read my Delhi Travel Tips to help you enjoy Delhi, and the best places to stay in Delhi which is so important!

In 2 Months Backpacking India I Spent = £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, this is how on a backpacking India budget:

Cost of Accommodation in India

My Costs:

I stayed mainly in private rooms on my own which meant I paid the whole cost myself because I was backpacking India solo. I did stay in a few hostel dorm rooms where private room costs were more or I wanted to meet people. Had I stayed in all hostel rooms I would have spent a lot less!

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 so keep that in mind for your cost of backpacking India! 

Costs for Backpacking India on a Budget:

If you’re on a 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 my accommodation on I’ve used 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! 

Related Post: Are you going to India for One Month and need ideas on where to visit? Check out my 4 X 1 Month India Itineraries!

The Wandering Quinn Travel Blog Cost of backpacking India, India dorm room accommodation costs
Moustache Hostel Dorm Rooms are really good, and so cheap!
The Wandering Quinn Travel Blog Cost of backpacking India, 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 ate 2 meals a day in 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 backpacking India for me includes about only 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.


India is best travelled by train because its the quickest, cheapest and best way of getting to know the country. For an EASY option of booking trains in India use 12GO to search and book trains really easily. If you’ll be in India for awhile, you can use the local booking system, it’s a bit tricker but possible, here’s my post on how to book trains in India as a tourist.


I always use to book my hotels in India and Hostelworld to book my hostels. India has a great range of accommodation with brilliant hostel chains like Moustache, Zostel and Backpacker Panda as well as homestays to luxury hotels.


Many cities in India are best seen with a guide, even if it’s just a half day tour on your first day. Cities in India are chaotic and complex and what better way to taste the food and get to know the city than with a local. I recommend Get Your Guide & Viator for the best tours in India!

Costs for Backpacking India on a Budget:

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.

The Wandering Quinn Travel Blog Cost of backpacking India, cost of food in India.
Dal is a good choice for a cheaper Indian meal in a fancier restaurant.
The Wandering Quinn Travel Blog Cost of backpacking India, 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 North 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 spent £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.

Costs for Backpacking India on a Budget:

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 and to keep in mind for the cost of backpacking 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.

The Wandering Quinn Travel Blog Cost of backpacking India, cost of activities in India.
Walking to free sunset spots is a good way of saving money in India!


I’ve spent many months travelling India in the last few years visiting over 50 places around the country, here are my recommended itinerary posts for India to help you plan your trip!








The Wandering Quinn Travel Blog Cost of backpacking 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 taxies. 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.

Uber in Delhi and Mumbai is really cheap with a 20-minute journey costing just £1.00-£1.50!

Costs for Backpacking India on a Budget:

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 Indians 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 if you are travelling India on a backpacker budget.

The Wandering Quinn Travel Blog Cost of backpacking India, cost of transport in India.
2AC is a good class, it’s more expensive but worth it I think for overnight journeys.

Backpacking India Budget – How Much You Need!

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!


Look out my other India-related Blog Posts

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


Monday 18th of December 2023

This is fabulous, thankyou Gerda 😀😊


Thursday 17th of January 2019

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.


Thursday 17th of January 2019

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 :)


Monday 7th of January 2019

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.


Monday 7th of January 2019

I hope it does! I like being really honest because this is exactly what I want to know when planning a trip :D Thanks for reading and commenting Rachel :)


Sunday 30th of December 2018

wow so good to read that you also spend about 1.000 (christmas gifts shiped to germany included) for two months in India :D 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 :D no guilt at all! will read your other blogspost now as my evening program haha.

namaste xo Jasmin (@wanderlust_nimsaj)


Monday 31st of December 2018

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! :)


Sunday 30th of December 2018

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


Sunday 30th of December 2018

Fantastic!! That’s a good time to visit too! Remember Holi is on on 20th March too! :)