India is one of the cheapest countries I’ve ever travelled to.
But not only that, it’s one of the best value places I’ve visited.
Value is important when it comes to travel. There’s no joy in spending $5 on a dorm bed if it’s frequented by cockroaches and dengue-carrying mosquitoes and leads to nothing but stress. Similarly, paying $100 a night for a basic guesthouse with few amenities is never going to be a highlight of any adventure.
In India, I couldn’t stop talking about how much value I was getting for my rupees. Whether it was paying $29 a night to stay in one of the best guesthouses ever or $18 to marvel at the magnificent Taj Mahal, I never once felt like I was being ripped off.
Which is not at all what I expected when I decided to travel to India.
Today, I want to share just how much you can expect to spend if you plan on travelling around the country on a mid-range budget.
Let’s get started!
Here’s a brief rundown of where I visited over my three weeks in India.
New Delhi: 4 nights
Agra: 1 night
Jaipur: 2 nights
Bundi: 1 night
Kota: 1 night
Pushkar: 3 nights
Udaipur: 4 nights
Jodhpur: 3 nights
Jaisalmer: 4 nights
I also spent time in Fatehpur Sikir, Abhaneri, Chittorgarh, Kumbhalgarh, and Ranakpur.
What’s Included in this Post
This budget breakdown covers how much I spent on accommodation, transportation, activities, food, and whichever miscellaneous items popped up while I was in country.
I’ve not included my flights into and out of India as this is going to vary significantly based on where you’ll be arriving from.
The amounts in this guide are listed in Indian Rupees and U.S. dollars, simply because the vast majority of my readers are from the U.S. And, as always, I do not accept comps or press trips, so everything listed in this post is something I personally paid for with my own money.
Okay — let’s dive in!
The Cost of Accommodation in India
One of the joys from my time in India was the accommodation. I stayed in some truly wonderful places.
Indian hospitality is known for being on another level to the rest of the world, and if you opt to stay in homestays, you’ll definitely get to experience it. There was the owner of the Delhi homestay who made a whopping eight phone calls in order to get my SIM card working, showed us around the local night market, and drove us to the Lotus Temple so we didn’t have to take a rickshaw when the pollution was particularly bad. There was the owner of the Pushkar homestay who went out of their way to buy us dairy-free food when they learned my partner and I are lactose-intolerant. Everywhere we stayed, we were shown kindness and hospitality.
India is also a great destination to splurge, as accommodation is seriously inexpensive compared to much of the rest of the world. Sure, you can spend $1 a night on a dorm bed if you want — and there are plenty of those around — but if you decide to pay $40 a night, you’ll find yourself staying in some seriously luxurious spots.
Here’s where I stayed in India:
New Delhi: I already mentioned above the sheer number of things our guesthouse owner did for us while we were in New Delhi, which is why this guesthouse is my number one choice in India. I can’t recommend it enough. It’s located in South Delhi in a safe, quiet neighbourhood with plenty of restaurants and markets around. The room is clean and comfortable, and the owner is just the absolute best. You’ve got to stay here if you’re going to New Delhi — we paid $38 a night.
Agra: I stayed in a private room in a gorgeous homestay in Agra for $28 a night. It was within walking distance to the Taj Mahal and the lovely family who owns it had so much helpful advice for making the most of our short stay in the city. The rooms were bright, clean, and airy, and the grounds were full of lush plants. The owners also helped us arrange a driver from Agra to Jaipur via Fatehpur Sikri and Abhaneri to ensure we wouldn’t get ripped off. I definitely recommend staying here while you’re in town.
Jaipur: I opted for this private room in a quiet location at a cost of $24 a night. There were fantastic breakfasts up for grabs, the hotel was next to some great restaurants, and the owner was so helpful in the loveliest kind of way. The guesthouse is built right up against a fort, which made for a particularly cool location. I didn’t like the more touristy parts of Jaipur, so staying in a more local neighbourhood made our experience so much more enjoyable.
Bundi: I loved our accommodation in Bundi! We booked at this homestay at a cost of $19 a night, I was sold. We had a beautiful room with an incredible view over the fort and palace. The owners were so welcoming and it was in a perfect location. Bundi is home to uniformly terrible accommodation, so this homestay is basically the only decent place in town. And the homemade dinners? Phenomenal!
Pushkar: I absolutely adored the owners of our homestay in Pushkar, where we paid $25 a night. They were some of the loveliest people I think I’ve ever met. They greeted us with cups of chai and plates full of food, and every breakfast was all about sampling the dozens of freshly-baked options. The room was clean and airy, and it was great to be staying a 5-minute walk from the centre of Pushkar.
Udaipur: I splurged on this beautiful guesthouse — pictured above — in Udaipur at a cost of $79 a night. It’s definitely pricey for India, but if you feel like treating yourself, I can highly recommend it. In chaotic Rajasthan, it was so wonderful to take a break from the pandemonium and stay in such a calming environment. The guesthouse had friendly staff, beautifully decorated rooms, and a fabulous breakfast.
Jodhpur: I opted for this beautiful guesthouse in Jodhpur at a cost of $29 a night and I’d say it was the best-value place of anywhere we stayed in India. The Indian breakfasts were delicious and enormous, the owner helped us out with seeing the best things in the city, and the views from the rooftop terrace over Jodhpur were incredible. Finally, the rooms were so cool! I loved the furnishings and vibe of the place, and easily could have stayed for a month.
Jaisalmer: I chose this wonderful guesthouse in Jaisalmer at a cost of $45 a night. Jaisalmer is home to a living fort, which means you can stay inside its walls. As cool as that sounds, I strenuously recommend not doing so. The hotels are damaging the walls of the fort due to excessive water usage, and the Indian government is even trying to pay hotel owners to leave in order to protect the complex. The guesthouse we stayed in was a 5-minute walk to the fort and I loved being able to look out on to it. The staff were so chilled-out and kind, and they helped us book a kickass tour to the desert and ghost town. Our room was gorgeous and spacious, and the rooftop terrace had a great view of the city. I loved it.
Our total cost of accommodation in India came to an average of $40 per day, or $20 each.
The Cost of Transportation in India
I loved travelling around India! I thought that transportation would be the worst aspect of my time in the country, but it was actually one of the best.
If you can afford to splurge a little, you’ll have a much more enjoyable time. But again, if you’re on a tight budget, you can get around for just a few dollars per journey.
12Go Asia and Uber and have been such game-changers in the India transportation game.
12Go Asia is my favourite travel discovery from the trip, as it made booking trains online so easy! My tip is to aim to book the most important and longest legs of your trip three months in advance, which is when tickets are released. I waited until several weeks before my departure date to book the trains and all of the ones I wanted to take were fully booked.
Uber and Ola (the Indian version of Uber) are also game-changers for India travel. They also make haggling with rickshaw drivers so easy. Just open up Uber to see what the cost would be, and then you have a maximum price for the journey. Just showing the rickshaw drivers that it was 200 rupees on Uber made a huge difference and had them dropping their prices immediately. Or, of course, you can just take Ubers around the cities, as keep you isolated from the pollution for a while.
And Uber is so cheap in India! As in, a one-hour drive across Delhi cost $7. The vast majority of our rides cost a dollar or two. When it’s so affordable, there’s no reason for walking around for hours in the fumes just to save money.
For travel in-between the cities, I mostly used the trains, but I also took a handful of buses, and hired private drivers between Agra and Jaipur and Udaipur and Jodhpur. I was nervous about the buses — and we appeared to be the only foreigners taking them — but they were no big deal. They were comfortable, clean, and spacious enough.
Here’s how my transportation costs broke down in India:
Train from Delhi to Agra in comfort class: 1177₹/$16.52
Car and driver from Agra to Jaipur: 5000₹/$70
Train from Jaipur to Kota in 2nd class: 1172₹/$16.45
Bus from Kota to Bundi and back: 70₹/$1
Train from Kota to Ajmer in 2nd class: 1407₹/$19.75
Taxi from Ajmer to Pushkar: 400₹/$5.60
Taxi from Pushkar to Ajmer: 350₹/$4.91
Train from Ajmer to Udaipur in comfort class: 1017₹/$14.27
Car and driver from Udaipur to Jodhpur: 4000₹/$56
Bus from Jodhpur to Jaisalmer: 365₹/$5.12
Uber for three weeks in India: 4500₹/$63
Rickshaws for three weeks in India: 1400₹/$20
My total cost of transportation in India came to a total of $293. That’s an average of $13 a day.
The Cost of Activities and Entrance Fees in India
Everything was reasonably priced in India, but the costs do add up because there’s so freaking much to see and most sites have entrance fees. In every spot you visit, there’ll likely be three or four places you’ll want to check out, but they’ll all have entrance fees.
Here’s how I spent my money on activities and entrance fees in India:
- Street food walking tour in New Delhi with UrbanAdventures: 4500₹/$65
- Grab a $10 discount on your first UrbanAdventures tour by using the code LJFRIEND635840 at checkout!
- Full day tour of Jaipur and Amer: 4000₹/$56
- Day trip from Udaipur to Chittorgarh: 3000₹/$42
- Sunset lake cruise in Udaipur: 300₹/$4
- Camel and desert safari from Jaisalmer: 2450₹/$34
- Entrance to Jama Masjid mosque, Delhi: 450₹/$6
- Entrance to Qutub Minar, Delhi: 600₹/$8
- Entrance to Red Fort, Delhi: 550₹/$8
- Entrance to Humayun’s Tomb, Delhi: 550₹/$8
- Entrance to the Taj Mahal: 1250₹/$18
- Entrance to the baby Taj, Agra: 250₹/$4
- Entrance to Agra Fort: 550₹/$8
- Entrance to Fatehpur Sikri: 550₹/$8
- Entrance to Abhaneri stepwell: 250₹/$4
- Entrance to Amber Fort, Jaipur: 500₹/$7
- Entrance to City Palace, Jaipur: 700₹/$10
- Entrance to Observatory, Jaipur: 200₹/$3
- Entrance to Ranijiki stepwell, Bundi: 200₹/$3
- Entrance to Sukh Mahal + museum, Bundi: 300₹/$4
- Entrance to city palace, Udaipur: 300₹/$4
- Entrance to Monsoon Palace + shuttle, Udaipur: 425₹/$6
- Entrance to Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur: 600₹/$8
My total cost of activities in India came to $318, which worked out to $14 a day.
The Cost of Food in India
Oh, Indian food — I love you so freaking much. And in India, I ate.
The good news is that meals in this country can be great value for money. I usually spent between 200₹ and 400₹ per meal, which is around $3-4, and everything I ate had me declaring it to be one of the best meals of my life. Everything you eat will be wonderful here, whether it’s from a street food stand or a high-end restaurant.
And I didn’t get Delhi belly, either! My trick was to carry hand sanitiser with me and use it on an hourly basis, but especially just before eating. Most of time, people get sick from touching surfaces and then their faces, so by keeping my hands clean, I was able to avoid many of the germs. I also followed a vegetarian diet for 99% of my meals, which definitely helps keep your stomach safer. You won’t even miss eating meat, as the meals are all so delicious.
All but two of the guesthouses I stayed in included breakfast in the cost, so that helped save money, too.
My total cost of food in India came to $170.20, which is a daily average of $7.40
Miscellaneous Expenses in India
A local SIM card: I don’t know about you, but one of my least favourite aspects of arriving in a new country is having to figure out how to get connected. Specifically: buying a local SIM card so that I have data to use while I’m in the country.
There’s locating a store that will sell you one, language barriers to deal with, various forms of ID you might need to bring, scams to navigate, and… well, it’s a headache.
I mentioned above that my guesthouse owner in New Delhi helped me with my SIM card, because let me tell you: getting it working was a nightmare!!! I simply purchased a tourist SIM from the counter at Delhi Airport, the staff told me it would start working within 24 hours, and it just… never did.
In order to get it working, my guesthouse owner had to make three separate calls to the phone provider over the space of three days; one of which lasted for well over an hour. There’s no way I could have achieved this on my own, and if it hadn’t been for the lovely owner, I’d have needed to give up and buy another SIM card! (Which would have been another nightmare altogether.)
Fun fact: if you don’t buy your SIM card at the airport, getting one involves a solid hour of work. My boyfriend decided to go down this route and the application process involved all of these ridiculous questions, like his dad’s date of birth and his dad’s occupation. What?! Yet again, the guesthouse owner saved the day and went to the local phone store with us to help translate and speed up the process.
So, here’s what I recommend doing instead.
This year, I started using Airalo, which sells local e-SIM cards for travellers. What that means is that you can buy a virtual SIM card online before you arrive in India, and then as soon as you land in the country, can switch on your data and start using it.
It’s worked flawlessly for me and now I’ll never go back to physical SIM cards. Especially not in India! Never, ever. Just make sure your phone is e-SIM compatible (all recent iPhones are, and many Android phones).
You’ll pay $5 for 1 GB of data or $13 for 3 GB for India and can also top-up through the Airalo app.
Travel insurance for 23 days in India: $1.50 per day
If you’ve read any other posts on Never Ending Footsteps, you’ll know that I’m a great believer in travelling with travel insurance. I’ve seen far too many Go Fund Me campaigns from destitute backpackers that are unexpectedly stranded in a foreign country after a scooter accident/being attacked/breaking a leg with no way of getting home or paying for their healthcare. These costs can quickly land you with a six-figure bill to pay at the end of it.
In short, if you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel.
Travel insurance will cover you if your flight is cancelled and you need to book a new one, if your luggage gets lost and you need to replace your belongings, if you suddenly get struck down by appendicitis and have to be hospitalised, or discover a family member has died and you need to get home immediately. If you fall seriously ill, your insurance will cover the costs to fly you home to receive medical treatment.
I use SafetyWing as my travel insurance provider, and recommend them for trips to India. Firstly, they’re one of the few companies out there who will actually cover you if you contract COVID-19. On top of that, they provide worldwide coverage, don’t require you to have a return ticket, and even allow you to buy coverage after you’ve left home. If you’re on a long-term trip, you can pay monthly instead of up-front, and can cancel at any time. Finally, they’re way cheaper than the competition, and have a clear, easy-to-understand pricing structure, which is always appreciated.
How Much Does it Cost to Travel in India?
It’s time to tally all of my expenses to see my total travel costs!
Accommodation: $20 per day
Transportation: $13 per day
Food: $7.40 per day
Activities/Entrance Fees: $14 per day
Miscellaneous: $1.50 per day
Average amount spent in India: $56 a day!
I’m pretty happy with the overall cost of my trip, because it was one of the best I’ve ever taken. Yes, I paid more than I could have, but I thoroughly enjoyed travelling on a mid-range budget and avoiding some of the stress that travel in India can bring.
How about you? How expensive were you expecting a trip to India to be?
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