Traveling India for Two Months: How much does it cost? [For A Couple]
We crunched some numbers before we left and that resulted in a budget estimate of €40 or $48 per day for two months of backpacking in India. All of the amounts here are for two people and the grand total in the end doesn't include the flight tickets to India or the travel insurance. It does include a number of unexpected domestic flights because we underestimated the size of this country and we missed an important train one day. Traveling in India is not that hard but it just takes a while because of the long distances... Now, did we stay under our budget or not?
1. How much did it cost to backpack in India for 53 days?
OK, here's the thing; we're getting too damn old to sleep in dorms so for this trip we decided to stay in comfortable but cheap double rooms preferably with a private bathroom.
Our strategy was always the same:
Check Booking.com a few days before and book the room with the best price/review ratio and almost all of them were comfortable and we didn't get any surprises worth mentioning besides a cockroach visit at night and a room that was so damp it felt like the jungle.
Total: €630 or $770
Average: €11,89 or $14.5 / night
We set off on our journey thinking we would be able to travel India for two months without domestic flights but we underestimated the sheer size of it. For most of our itinerary we used trains and buses but we decided to book some flights to be able to see more without messing up the timing of the countries ahead of us. We also ended up booking an 'emergency' flight because we missed a long train ride and had already booked some stuff ahead that we couldn't cancel anymore. But even this didn't quite kill our budget...
Total: €853,49 or $1042.24
Trains • $6 - $10 for a 5 - 6 hour ride in second sitting
Trains are by far the most comfortable and cheap means of transportation in India. These days it's easy to register directly on the Indian Railways website with a foreign credit card and phone number. ClearTrip.com is also a good website that we used a few times when Indian Railways didn't work. Here's all the information you need to register for both websites.
Buses • $6 - $10 for most long distances
Local Indian government buses are just what you could expect from them. No air conditioning, sometimes overcrowded and because of that, for us, only comfortable for rides up to 4 hours. We ventured on a few 6 - 7 hour journeys on a local bus but every time we hit the 4 hour limit it started to get uncomfortable.
Private buses are also an option but don't expect them to be more luxurious unless you put down a big stack of rupees. The cheaper private buses have more comfortable seats but often the length of the journey is the same as a local bus and they also pick up a bunch of locals on the way, although less than a local bus...
Taxis • $1 - $2 for most rides in a city
The first few days of our trip in Mumbai, we used a lot of regular black & yellow taxis. They're cheap and easy to hail and except for one time, we never had to ask the driver to put the meter on.
By air • $50 - $100 for domestic flights
We booked 4 domestic flights. Two of which we didn't plan but had to do because of a missed train that would mess up our plans... Still, it didn't kill our budget at all.
Uber and OLA
But then we bought an Indian SIM card and we discovered OLA and Uber and it was god sent! Ordering a taxi through those apps was so easy and cheap that we didn't use anything else anymore during the rest of our two months in India. Especially for ordering auto rickshaws we recommend using OLA (or Uber) because the price is set (often 2 or three times cheaper than when you hail one on the road) and you don't have to explain where you want to go. Even though a lot of people speak English, it's often difficult to communicate with taxi or rickshaw drivers.
What's the difference between OLA and Uber in India?
We found a few pros and cons for each app:
- Ola is wider spread than Uber. Some smaller cities we visited only had OLA available.
- We noticed that sometimes Uber was significantly cheaper. We don't know why.
- The Uber app is more accurate in showing the location of the driver.
We always compared the rate for our destination in both apps.
Food is cheap in India. We ate whatever we wanted without having to go to questionable restaurants. We often used TripAdvisor with the “cheap eats” filter on and looked for good reviews. We almost always had good food for low prices.
Total: €438 or $535
Daily average: €8,2 or $10
Entry fees for a lot of important sights and attractions have doubled, tripled or even quadrupled in the last five years. Whenever we found some information on a website it would already be outdated and something we really didn't like is that they keep adding fees if you want to take pictures and the difference between what a foreigner and a local has to pay is just ridiculous. Sometimes we decided not to visit something because it was too expensive and just not worth it...
Total: €130 or $159
2. Total cost of traveling India on a budget
This is our total cost for almost two months of backpacking in India for two people. It includes some other things like laundry, SIM card, ...
Grand Total: €2180 or $2660
Daily Average: €41 or $50
As you can see traveling in India is cheap and it could've been a lot cheaper. If you're by yourself and have no problem staying in dorms, I think €25 / day would still be a comfortable budget. We went slightly over our budget because of the extra domestic flights we had to book. If it weren't for those, we would've stayed well under the €40 daily budget...