The cost of travelling India: our budget tips
Discovering the wonders of India is a life-defining travel experience. And it doesn’t have to cost a fortune.
In this India travel guide we explore the real costs to travel in India, with valuable budget tips to help you make the most of your trip. From the cost of a tourist visa to India to flights, transportation, accommodation, food, and attractions, we've got everything covered.
What is the cost of a tourist visa to India?
Currently a tourist visa for a British national costs £110. Costs may vary depending on your nationality .
You can apply online for a visa, but you need to meet certain timescales. For a 30-day travel e–visa you can only start the application 30 days before your intended travel date, and you must apply at least four days before departure.
What is the average UK to India flight ticket price?
There are various airport options for departure from the UK and arrival into India. Prices can vary considerably depending on the airline, arrival airport, and departure date.
Because package holidays to Goa are available, this can be an affordable route into India. You may find cheaper options by taking indirect flights to your destination, travelling via another hub airport.
Generally, the cheapest months to fly are October to February. February is currently the cheapest month to fly but can fluctuate based on demand .
How much does travel cost in India?
India offers various options to explore the country. Here's an overview of the average costs and pros and cons of each transport type :
|Type of travel||Pros||Cons|
|Flight||Fast, with low-cost fares||Only useful if you plan to cover long distances|
|Train||Excellent quality, comfortable, inexpensive||Some tourist classes need to be booked in advance|
|Bus||Cheap, many routes available||Some roads can be overcrowded and congested|
|Taxi||Taxis and rickshaws are a handy way to travel in town||More costly than a bus or metro|
|Metro||Excellent value where available||Can be overcrowded|
|Car hire||Freedom to travel when and where you wish||More costly, with additional fuel costs|
India's extensive rail network is efficient and affordable. There are a total of eight different travel classes, with some very luxurious options.
Prices vary depending on the class and distance but, overall, train travel in India is cost-effective, comfortable, and reliable.
Buses are another good option, with both government-operated and private bus services available. They offer a budget-friendly way to travel within cities and between different regions of India.
Taxis and auto-rickshaws
Taxis and auto-rickshaws (tuk-tuks) are convenient for short distances, but prices can vary. Negotiating fares beforehand or using metered taxis is recommended.
Metro and local transport
Major cities like Delhi, Mumbai, and Kolkata have metro systems, providing an efficient and economical means of transportation within the city limits.
India is vast - if you’re planning to cover long distances, internal flights can be a good option. You can fly between major cities or tourist spots from less than £100 one way.
When you hire a car in India, you usually hire a driver too. Prices start at around £20 per day - which can be cost effective if you’re travelling with others. It’s also possible to take longer trips, where your driver will sleep overnight in the car.
Accommodation prices in India
Hotels and guesthouses
Hotel costs vary enormously, and so does quality, so it can be helpful to seek recommendations. In tourist destinations like Goa, Kerala, and certain areas of Delhi and Mumbai, hotel costs are higher than elsewhere.
In some areas, business hotels can be an affordable, good quality option.
Typical cost: from £41 per night .
There are lots of online listings for Airbnbs and other private accommodation, with a wide range of prices depending on what’s included. The cheapest choice is usually a room in someone’s home, but self-contained apartments and houses are also available.
Hostels can be found in cities, although some are more luxurious and pricier than a budget hotel. There are a number of chains which offer good, clean, and budget friendly conditions.
Many religious sites offer accommodation for pilgrims and visitors. Some only expect a donation while others set a fixed fee.
Food and drink costs in India
India is home to iconic dishes such as butter chicken and biryani, the fragrant rice dish layered with spices and meat.
A wide variety of breads, from paratha to chapati, are a filling yet delicious choice. Indian chai, a milky, aromatic tea, is also a low cost and refreshing drink.
Don't miss out on the tangy and savoury street food snack, chaat, which combines crispy fried dough, yoghurt, and chutney with various toppings.
How much does food cost in India?
India is a budget traveller’s dream, with a meal in a restaurant being very affordable compared to UK prices.
Restaurants: Local eateries and street food stalls offer delicious and budget-friendly meals. Choosing regional specialties is usually cheaper and a great way to sample new flavours.
Shops and markets: Buying food items from shops and markets is generally more affordable than eating out. Homemade meals can be useful if you need to save money.
How much does alcohol cost in India?
Alcohol is comparatively expensive in India due to taxes, but still cheap by UK standards. Note that there are some Indian states where alcohol is prohibited. Alcohol tends to be about 30-35% cheaper in smaller towns.
Beer: A beer at a bar/pub/club could start from INR 150 to 500/600 (£1.50-6) depending on the place you’re going to .
Cocktails: Stronger drinks (whiskey, gin, vodka etc.) could cost from INR 200 to 1,000 (£2-10). Although this very much depends on the place, and what you’re ordering. It could range from cheap to very expensive even for foreign standards .
The best budget-friendly attractions in India
India is filled with captivating attractions, and because the rupee is weak compared with the pound, it’s inexpensive to visit most sites - even the most well-known.
The Taj Mahal is the most visited sight in India, where a tourist ticket costs around £10 .
But you can have a very rich experience in India just by wandering the streets and visiting stunning temples and mosques, most of which are free to enter or have low entry fees.
Visiting during cultural festivals, such as Holi or Diwali, is a wonderfully immersive experience that has little or no cost.
Travel safer with our Travelex Money Card
By now you should have a good idea of how much it costs to travel in India - is it time to start planning your trip?
Experience added peace of mind with the Travelex Money Card - an optimal alternative to carrying your debit card. Unlike your debit card, our Travelex Money Card is not linked to your bank account, minimising your risk of losing all your funds in case of loss or theft. Load your card with Great British pounds, and withdraw Indian rupees from ATMs or make secure, contactless payments directly at the point of sale.
Please note that a 2% fee applies to GBP loads, and a 5.75% fee is incurred when using the card in India where the local currency isn't offered on our Travelex Money Card. This fee also extends to cash withdrawals for Indian rupees and other currencies that are not offered on our Travelex Money Card. While Travelex does not impose charges to ATM withdrawals, it's important to note that fees from other ATM providers may apply. Find out more on our fees here.
- High Commission of India London, United Kingdom (2023) High Commission of India, London, United Kingdom : Visa Fee Structure. Available at: https://www.hcilondon.gov.in/page/visa-fee-structure/ (Accessed: 03 October 2023).
- Flights to India (no date) Skyscanner. Available at: https://www.skyscanner.net/flights-to/in/cheap-flights-to-india.html (Accessed: 03 October 2023).
- How to get around in India (2023) Lonely Planet. Available at: https://www.lonelyplanet.com/articles/getting-around-india (Accessed: 03 October 2023).
- How much do hotels cost in India? hotel prices for India (2023) Budget Your Trip. Available at: https://www.budgetyourtrip.com/hotels/india-IN (Accessed: 03 October 2023).
- Cost of travelling in India: Budget, mid-range or luxury trip (2023) India Someday Travels. Available at: https://indiasomeday.com/en/article/cost-traveling-india/ (Accessed: 04 October 2023).
- You deserve to visit - the Taj! once more! (2023) Taj Mahal-Official Website of Taj Mahal, Government of Uttar Pradesh (India). Available at: https://www.tajmahal.gov.in/ (Accessed: 04 October 2023).