India Cost of Travel – What is a typical Backpacker Budget?

India cost of travel

This post looks at the estimated cost of travel in India. Read our suggested shoestring and more comfortable backpacking budgets for this mystical land. We also have some typical travel expenses and info on using the Indian currency.

India cost of travel and backpacking budget
Map of India from wikitravel, can be re-used under CC BY-SA 3.0

India Cost of Travel in 2023

Shoestring Backpacker Budget

  • US$20/day | 1630 Indian Rupees

While real hardcore budget types may be able to get by on even less, just over 1600 Rupees per day is a realistic India backpacking budget for most travellers. This covers all your daily travel expenses including the cost of budget accommodation, transport and meals. You’ll still need to be a bit selective when choosing your daytime activities in India and evening entertainment to stick to this budget.

An India backpacker budget of $20/day will allow you to travel in one of the better classes on the country’s extensive but crowded rail network. You should also be able to afford to dine in perfectly nice local restaurants each night. Accommodation is very good value as a rule so there’s not much danger of you going over that budget if you’re sensible.

That said, one or two of the major attractions can be relatively pricey, with foreigners charged as much as 20 times more than Indians in some cases so those costs can add up a little. There will be days when you go over $20 as a result, but overall India is not at all expensive to visit.

More Comfortable India Backpacking Budget

  • US$30/day | 2450 Indian Rupees

On $30 per day you can travel very comfortably indeed on our India backpacking route and if you have some cash saved up, you are likely to have a much more enjoyable trip on this kind of budget. You would find yourself suddenly able to stay in decent 2 or 3 star hotels, eat all your meals in good restaurants and be able to afford the odd flight to save time on the longer journeys.

You won’t have to worry so much about the cost of entering temples or forts eating into your budget and the fact you are eating in better places, should increase your chances of avoiding the dreaded Delhi belly. Don’t count on that though!

Travelling around India costs
Kerala Backwaters Boat Trip – A costly extra that is popular with backpackers but will see you go over the budgets above.

How much do things cost in India?

Approximate Price in USD
Flight from Mumbai to Goa (1 hour)$25-35 + Baggage Fees
Train from Delhi to Agra (2 hours)$2-10 (depending on class/train)
Meal in a local restuarant$2-4
Local beer in bar/restaurant$1.50-2.50
Dorm bed in a hostelFrom $4
Budget private roomFrom $5
Entrance to Taj Mahal (foreigner rate)$13.50
Travel insurance for backpacking IndiaDepends on age, length of trip & other factors – Get a quote from Heymondo in less than a minute!

The cost of food in India per day can be cut down to just a few hundred Rupees and that’s with at least one meal out in a relatively decent restaurant. Eating street food is even cheaper but not advisable in most cases. When it comes to accommodation, you can often find basic private rooms in guesthouses for the same price as a dorm bed but they may not have many of the same facilities as a hostel.

Compare Indian prices with the cost of travel in New Zealand and the cost of travel in China for an idea of how it compares to other countries in the Asia/Pacific region. Spoiler, it’s a lot cheaper than most!

India Budget Travel Tips

  • Bargain in markets and some shops to get better prices. Some kind of bartering is the norm in many Indian retail settings unless prices are clearly marked. You can also bargain prices down with taxi drivers who will often try to charge foreigners higher fares.
  • Travel in the off season to get the very best deals on accommodation, transportation and potentially activities. While there is some regional variation, May to September is loosely considered to be the off season for travel in India with the monsoon season lasting from July to September.
  • If you’re intent on saving every last Rupee, book tickets in the cheapest train classes. It might not be comfortable, but you’ll certainly have an experience to remember!
  • If you’re looking at internal flights, booking early or waiting for the last minute deals may be the way to go. However it’s usually cheaper to travel by train.
  • Carry a reusable, filtered water bottle to save money on buying bottled water. It’s not advisable to drink water straight from the tap in India.

Money – Indian Rupee

£1 = 95 Rupees

€1 = 81 Rupees

US$1 = 71 Rupees

These exchange rates are correct as of January 2023. Other currencies such as the US Dollar are rarely accepted in India so you’ll need some Rupees to get by. It’s also worth noting that the Indian Rupee is a closed currency meaning it’s hard to buy outside of India. Your best option is either to enter India with another currency and exchange it on arrival or use an ATM to withdraw cash.

These estimates for the cost of travel were last updated in January 2023.

India Cost of Travel – What is a typical Backpacker Budget?

One thought on “India Cost of Travel – What is a typical Backpacker Budget?

  1. Agree to this discussion. In India, we have numerous options to backpack in various terrains without compromise in safety or time. And duration can be as short or long as we want. From 3 to 10 days, any part of India , say North , South , East or west can be easily planned out. I did something similar. And I want to encourage you to read it and try one yourself. My first back back trip . It was in Rajasthan. Here’s the link.

    Above photo was taken by me in City Palace while attending the evening light and sound show.

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