How Much Does it Cost to Travel in India?

Ahhhh India, beautiful, eclectic, soul-stretching India, is home to over 1.3 billion (Holy Krishna that's a lot of people!) and has the third highest GDP in the world as of 2017 (fun fact for all my nerds out there). 

It's also one of the least expensive places to travel that has excellent infrastructure for travelers to get around. Despite this I can count on one hand the number of American friends I have who have visited India. I have another handful of friends who would like to visit India, and a few who don't even know where India is (thank goodness they're pretty!). But the overwhelming majority of people I know have expressed zero interest in ever stepping foot on the giant subcontinent.

This post is to take you through one single day of traveling in India. I hope to open some minds to the beauty of visiting India, show the variety of things to do, and of course, highlight how truly wallet-friendly it is. You'll get an idea of how much to budget for a trip to India, and what it possible to experience within that budget.  


I normally budget $50 for each day when I travel around South East Asia.  Sometimes it's hard to stay within that budget depending on the location.  But in India, I regularly fall well below my budget and manage to have the best time. 

One Day in Rishikesh, India

I had the most amazing day today!

And it only cost me $37.26  ($29.88 if you don't include my hotel cost!)

One Day Budget for India

  • Breakfast of porridge, fresh fruit, toast, omelette, and chai: 200 rupees ($2.95, slightly expensive by backpacker standards)
  • 2 1/2 hour river rafting trip on the Ganga river: 800 rupees ($11.80)
  • Chai and snack on the bank of the Ganga in the middle of the rafting trip: 70 rupees ($1.03)
  • 2 hour yoga class: 200 rupees ($2.95)
  • Cracker snack after class: 25 rupees ($.37)
  • 1 hour sitar lesson: 250 rupees ($3.69)
  • Dinner of veg thali with extra stuffed naan, and ginger lemon honey water: 130 rupees ($1.92)

Other costs:

  • Motor scooter daily rental: 350 rupees ($5.16)
  • My half of the hotel room cost: 500 rupees ($7.38)

Total: $37.26

River Rafting on the Ganges 

I was nervous because I've never gone white water rafting before and just didn't know what to expect. And, this is India, so you never really know. Well, Wet n Wild Turned out to be a class-act operation with multiple internationally certified instructors who made me feel safe and comfortable the entire time.

We were in a boat with a cute German couple Madeleine and David, who just completed their 200 hour yoga trainings and were out having fun. Also, two Indian dudes on holiday from Delhi who provided Nick and me with comic relief by incompetently padding, looking like they didn't know how to swim when they got in the river, and then stopping mid trip to remove their jeans out from under their wetsuits. Doh! And the other boat with us was 5 Aussie dudes on the ultimate boys trip who loved to splash the shit out of our raft.

Nick was afraid his stumps would take a beating by locking his feet in, but it turned out just fine. He was able to paddle and stay in the boat without aggregating his stumps. He wore my GoPro most of the time and captured me having the best time! I loved it, even though I had death grip with my feet and always grabbed the rope as soon as the guide would yell stop.

I even jumped in the Ganga, in the freezing fucking Ganga, and was immediately reminded by Nick that I said to never ever touch the river. Well, I meant down in nasty Varanasi or Calcutta. The water is crisp and clean in Rishikesh, and COLD.

Music and Yoga Class in Rishikesh

I went to Yoga Vini again and really enjoyed how Mitra broke down a few poses in a workshop format, let us ask questions (even though I didn't have one), and gave me some great feedback about my pincha mayurasana.

Sitar lesson with Nayaran was a perfect way to round out this perfect day! We learned several more exercises that now combine finger olympics with both hands. Yesterday was all about strumming hand, today we were specific with both, moving up and down the scales in creative ways while strumming specifically. I wore out a little quicker than last night, but am excited for the promise of learning ragas tomorrow.

After dinner at a heap thali place I got to feed two big cows some chipati that was left over.  Now I know what a cows tongue feels like, and now I know not to feed a cow while seated on my motorbike. They would not back away, of course, and I ended up throwing the last chipati away from me to get them off me. They peacefully attacked me for my food! 

I hope this snapshot of my day can give you an idea of what you can expect to spend on an epic trip to India.  As you can see, you get tremendous bang for your buck and do not have to skimp on the experience.

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