Backpacking in India gives the traveler a chance to discover the local cuisine, know the locals and their way of life, which is perhaps the ideal way to discover all that a place has to offer!
Are you one of those people stuck in the corporate race, finally decided to break away and take that much needed vacation or one of those tourists who has read and heard so much about our vibrant country, vivid cultural treats and ancient history, and you have finally made up your mind to discover it for yourself; either ways then this is the place to be.
Landing on Indian soil, your first stop over has to be one of the most famous and history rich city of Agra. Most people visit this beautiful country, just to visit one of the spectacular wonders of the world on thier tours in Agra – Taj Mahal. One visit to this place and you will know it has much more to offer.
- Hiring a guide who can take you around the prominent monuments of historic importance is a good idea. Remember to bargain, and check for the guides photo identity!
- If you’re planning to visit the city in February, you will get lucky as the 10 day long Taj Mahotsav unfolds each year, bringing some of India’s best cultural performances on one grand platform.
- Taj Mahal is closed on Friday’s, as prayers are held in the mosque inside.
- The city is an ideal day trip from Delhi.
Must See: Taj Mahal, Fatehpur Sikhri, Agra Fort
Must Do: A walk down the little alleys near Taj Mahal, has streets lined with old homes and little stores.
Taj Mahal viewed from the banks of the Yamuna river, is beautiful
Best time to visit: Oct-Mar
- A visit to this royal city is incomplete without trying the Shahi Thali for lunch, a delicious spread of vegetables, lentils, Indian breads and sweet dishes bathed in rich clarified butter sure makes you feel like a royal!
- The Agra ka Peta- a local delicacy here is also a must try
- There are several small stores selling Taj Mahals in all sizes, be sure to pick yours at a government run store.
- A marble photo frame is also worth the buy here. Like always, remember to bargain!
From one city rich in history, to another famous for its vibrant culture and rich traditions kept alive in the intricate carvings and architecture of the Havelis, is the pink city of India – Jaipur. Spending a good three days holidays in Jaipur, would sure be worth your time as there is so much to explore.
Must See: Jaipur City Palace,Hawal Mahal,Jaigarh Fort, Nahargarh Fort
A walk through the busy Nehru market & you will see this huge color explosion of a large variety of vendors dressed in traditional attire with a whole array of options for tourists to shop.
Best time to visit: Oct-Apr
It is known as the mecca to buy precious and semi precious stones, but beware from where you buy them. Do no get carried away by locals trying to lure you by offering cheaper prices.Take the elephant ride up to Amber Fort; the experience is sure worth your time.
There are several budget stay options in the city, make sure you book well in advance.
A visit to Rajasthan is incomplete without trying the traditional Dal Rota – a combination of dal (lentils sauce) poured over an Indian bread with a generous dollop of clarified butter (Ghee).
A Rajasthani Thali for lunch, will have the best of flavors and variety which are a signature to the state of Rajasthan.
A city famous for its history as for its shopping experience like none other is Jaipur, the list is endless when it comes to options here, but here are your best buys on your Jaipur tours in Rajasthan:
- Bandini weaves – Woven in bright colors in cotton and silk and tie & dyed, these can be bought as dupatta’s, sari’s or an ethnic Indian tunic.
- Jhoothi’s – The traditional footwear, worn by both men and women can be found in a whole array of vibrant colors, made from colored sequins, intricate thread designs as well as the signature mirror work which is a very integral part of Rajasthani attire.
- Handicrafts – The town is dotted with several stores selling traditional handicrafts in the form of wall hangings, linen, jhola bags, little intricately made keep sake boxes and much more.
- Puppets- If you couldn’t catch a show with these little colorful dolls, be sure to buy some, the bright colored “Katputle” as they are called locally are dressed in traditional attire and will given an ethnic touch to your home.
From the deserts of Rajasthan travel to the hills of Darjeeling – better known as the “Queen of Hill stations”. This hill town in its true sense is a haven for backpackers, its budget stay options, ideal setting for wanderlust with its numerous trekking trails, passenger ropeways and spectacular views of the surrounding mountains make it ideal for tourists to book Darjeeling holiday tours.
Must See: Shingamari Ropeway, Darjeeling Zoo,Mahakal Dara Temple,Tiger Hill,Batasia Loop,Toy train,Tea gardens
Must Do: Set out on a trek up into the mountains, and soak in the beautiful views of the snow capped mountains of Kanchenjunga.
Best time to visit: Sept-May
- While on nature treks, make sure you have the route well sketched out, or better have a local guide accompany you.
- If you’re visiting in the winter, make sure you indulge in the adventurous winter sports.
- Packed with hill resorts and hotels, a backpackers best bet is the Bellevue hotel. Well furnished rooms and a cozy lounge and a roof top terrace with stunning views, it has everything that makes for a great stay and at an affordable price too. Not only is this light on your pocket, the guy who runs the place used to work with Dalai Lama and pictures of them together line the stairway. Price range: Rs 800- 1500
- Another good option for budget travelers is the Hotel Aliment – Clean rooms and basic facilities and great views of the surrounding valley, this goes light on your pocket too. Price range: Rs 200-250
A cup of Darjeeling chai with Tibetian momo’s is best enjoyed in this quaint hill town.
- A pack of authentic aromatic Darjeeling Tea is a must buy here
- Beautiful Curios and trinkets are good buys here found at Chowrastha and Nehru Road
- Shop for Tibetan carpets at Hayden Hall, a women’s co-operative on Laden La Road
- For hand looms, shop at the West Bengal’s Manusha Emporium on Nehru Road
- Beautifully woven sweaters in bright colors are a good bargain here on Hill Cart Road
- A bamboo umbrella serves as a good souvenir.
A history enthusiast dream come true, this is one place which has history strewn on every little path way and standing structure. Be it the ruins or the awe inspiring architecture and intricate stone carvings, being in the place takes you back to the times when this was a flourishing kingdom filled with the vivid colors and bustling markets. For a backpacker, this place is ideal, a good two day stay here will give one the time to soak in its various links to its rich past on your Hampi holidays in Karnataka.
Must See:Hampi Bazaar,Royal Enclosures, Vithala Temple,Stone temples in Pattadakal
Must Do:A visit to the café on river side which is a popular haunt amongst backpackers.
Best time to visit:October to March
- Beware of hawkers and people around monuments who offer to take you around the town, its always best to hire a car from the hotel you stay at.
- If you plan to stay here longer than two days then the nearby cities of Aihole and Pattadakal are a must visit. The stone temples and tall rocky mountains are sure worth your time.
The Hotel Malligi, which is conveniently situated at walking distance from the bus station and a 10 minute drive from the railway station, is ideal for your stay. They have a very good fleet of cars on hire with very well behaved drivers. If you opt to explore on your own, they are your best bet when it comes to information as well.
Try the local food here, but be sure to try it at the hotel you stay, as it’s the safest bet!
The shopping hub of Hampi is the Hampi Bazaar, which has souvenir and handicraft stores. Be sure to bargain hard.
Enter this hill town and the misty air, lush green tea gardens and surrounding hills make it a picture perfect hill town. There are many things to see and do on your Munnar tour packages.
Must See: Echo Point, Mattupetti Dam,Eravikulam National Park, Maravoor, Annamudi peak, Top Station
Must Do: Visit the various view points to get panoramic views of the surrounding hills
Best time to visit: August to March
Visiting the tea plantations should top your itinerary
Hire a cycle and explore the various trekking routes
For backpackers there are a few good options close to the city centre:
- Zina Cottages: A small value accommodation with only four rooms, but well furnished and clean, and light on your pocket at Rs 500 a night is a good option.
- JJ Cottages: Situated 15min from the city centre it has brightly furnished cottages , which will cost you Rs 400-500 a night.
Oliver Brook: A slightly classier place, set amidst 10 km of Cardamon fields it’s a great place to stay. The prices come breakfast and dinner included, they also offer activities like trekking. They are priced at Rs 2500-3000 a night.
Being in Kerala, savor some of the locals delicacies like Puttu and aapam – most kerala specialities are steamed like these ones, so they are safe to eat and light on the stomach.
One thing that you would like to try here is the Passion Fruit. This fruit is available mainly in Kerala since the climate here is best suited. It is also said to have medicinal qualities. That aside, it sure has a sweet taste you will love.
- Being in the tea plantation town, a bag of aromatic tea is a must buy
- Apart from tea, the place is famous for spices like ginger, cardamom,vanilla, pepper, cinnamon and nutmeg.
- Home made chocolates are something one cannot miss out on
GoaLast but not the least, on our round up on some of the best places to go backpacking; we arrive at the Mecca for backpackers’ coming from all over the country is Goa. So, whether its laid back time you want to spend on the beaches, ride along on rented bikes, eat at the beach shacks or party, a trip to Goa has all this and more, and still light on your pocket.
Beware of hawkers on the beaches offering massages, as they are not trust worthy
Bargaining being the norm anywhere in India, is best applied here, slash rates to 50% of what they ask!
To get yourself around the city, hire a bike and have a map handy with you. Be assured that the locals are very friendly and will guide you!
Tourism being the occupation of most people in the town, there are no dearth of options. From home stays which can cost as little as Rs 1000 during the season and Rs 500 during off season, to the more plush ones, Goa has it all!
- Authentic Goan cuisine can be savored at the beach shacks, though the prices are slightly higher, the food is very good. Try the prawn curry with either steamed rice or Indian breads.
- For pastries, visit the Pastry Palace – an outlet found in almost every part of Goa
- Partying at Goa can be fun, if you want to enjoy it with the locals then hit the Fiplees Pub in South Goa, which has specials happening on different days of the week.
The shopaholic in you jumps into action once you hit the streets, specially the ones leading up to the beaches.
- Block printed and sequined jhola bags
- Colorful flip flops
- Little trinkets and bronze idols
- A bottle of Goan wine
Watching the sun set by the shore is a beautiful experience.
Must See: Baga, Calangute, Colva, Bennaulim, Fort Aguada, Basilica de Born Jesus, Flea markets
Must Do: Enjoy water sports at the beaches.
Best time to visit: Throughout the year.
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