INDIA BACKPACKING 

SAMPLE ITINERARY.

 

6 week backpacking itinerary for a smooth, safe, and life changing trip with everlasting memories 

As we made the decision to travel India about a week before arriving in Delhi, we were scrambling to plan out a basic itinerary of where to go, what to see, and how to do it. It is a pretty overwhelming task - we spent many full days scouring through travel blogs, forums, India's railway website, and the Lonely Planet book to figure out where in the sub-continent we should visit.

 

India is a big place. In fact, it's massive. We only spent six weeks here and feel like we barely touched the surface. We are very excited to return to India in the near future to see more of this crazy, chaotic, and colourfully unique place.

 

Our itinerary is one of many ways you could tour India, and of course, your itinerary may change based on how much time you have there. Regardless, we hope it helps you in your research of travelling this amazing country.

 

Note: prices for rooms are per night for a double bed with private bathroom and fan

start here

1. NEW DELHI:

 

How long: 3 nights

 

Where we slept: Ajay Guest House (700 rupees)

 

How we got there: Flight from Istanbul via Dubai

 

Other notes: A friend recently described Delhi to me as "the armpit of the world". I would say 

 

this is a fair description. There is not much going on here other than chaos and lots...I mean lots 

 

of people. We originally planned on staying for only 1 night, but were stuck here as trains out of 

 

Delhi were sold out (tip: if you are travelling within a month of Diwali - book trains in advanced!). 

 

Despite this, Delhi is a good base to fly into and you can do a day trip to Agra to see the Taj Mahal.       

 

Piles of garbage on the streets

The streets of Pahar Ganj

Sleeper Class (SL) trains for long or short distances

2. JAISALMER, RAJASTHAN:

 

How long: 3 nights

 

Where we slept: Roop Mahal Guest House (400 rupees)

 

How we got there: Train Delhi to Jaisalmer (18 hours)

 

 

Other notes: Jaisalmer was one of our favourite destinations in Rajasthan. The sandstone Old 

 

Fort is stunning - and it is a lot of fun to attempt to navigate and inevitably get lost in the small 

 

streets of the fort. The popular thing to do here is camel safaris to the Thar Desert - be compassionate! Opt for a ride

 

in a Jeep to the sand dunes instead of riding a camel. Save a camel...ride a Jeep...? 

 

Colin with one of the many many many cows of India

 

 

viewpoint in the old city!

 

 

The most beautiful detailed sandstone buildings

 

 

The 'Great Thar Desert' sand dunes for sunset

 

 

 

3. PUSHKAR, RAJASTHAN

 

How long: 3 nights

 

Where we slept: Diamond Guest House (300 rupees)

 

 

How we got there: Train Jaisalmer to Ajmer (11 hours), public bus Ajmer to Pushkar (1 hour)

 

 

Other notes: Pushkar is a really relaxed place. It is a very small town, yet is a backpacker 

 

favourite and is inevitably very touristy. It is worth a stop to rest from the hustle and bustle of 

 

India. We found the markets and shopping here to be our favourite in all of India, and there are 

 

also two vegan restaurants here (rare for India!). Though it may seem sleepy, there is lots to do 

 

in Pushkar, such as hike up to a nearby temple or people-watch as Hindus bathe in the lake. Oh 

 

- and accommodation is very cheap here. 

 

Our great value room- with a balcony!

Holy men near the Ghats- careful, not all of them have honest intentions with your donations

 

 

The Holy Ghats of Pushkar

 

 

Hiking up to Savitri Temple- Watch the monkeys!

 

 

super creative healthy food from Honey and Spice

 

 

 

4. JAIPUR, RAJASTHAN

 

How long: 3 nights

 

Where we slept: Vinayak Guest House (450 rupees)

 

 

How we got there: Train Ajmer to Jaipur (2.5 hours)

 

 

Other notes: The Pink City was our least favourite city in India. Like Delhi, it is busy, hectic, and 

 

the locals are not friendly...at all. We were actually quoted 1000 rupees ($20) for a tuk-tuk driver 

 

to take us 5km! If we could do it again, we would probably only spend one full day in Jaipur. 

 

Despite this, we had a great time hiring a tuk-tuk driver for the day to tour the Amber Fort and 

 

Old City sights. A hike up to Monkey Temple is also a must do. 

Walking around Jaipur is like a zoo!

 

 

Posing for a photo with a family who wanted pictures with us - a common occurance in India

 

Floating gardens at the Amber Palace

 

Our fun tuk-tuk driver, equiped with speakers and bass

 

5. SAWAI MADHOPUR, RAJASTHAN

 

How long: 2 nights

 

Where we slept: Hotel Ranthambore Palace (450 rupees)

 

How we got there: Train Jaipur to Sawai Madhopur (2 hours)

 

Other notes: If there is one mistake we made planning India, it is deciding to come to Sawai 

 

Madhopur. We stayed 2 nights, and it was 2 nights too many. Sawai Madhopur is the nearby 

 

town to Ranthambore National Park. We did one safari tour of the park in hopes of seeing a 

 

tiger, but only saw a bear and (many) antelope. We unfortunately found it underwhelming and 

 

expensive. You may still want to test your luck to sight a tiger - and if so, don't spend more than 

 

one day in Sawai Madhopur as there is quite literally nothing to do in this small town

 

6. RISHIKESH, UTTARAKHAND 

 

 How long: 3 nights

 

Where we slept: Hotel Tourist Home (250 rupees)

 

How we got there: Train Sawai Madhopur to Haridwar (12 hours), public bus Haridwar to Rishikesh (1 hour)

 

Other notes: We love Rishikesh. Touristy, but fun nonetheless - very relaxed and hippie vibe. Great restaurants and it is exciting to immerse yourself with domestic tourists, backpackers, and (hundreds of) macaques exploring Rishikesh's different areas. Of course, visiting an ashram for some yoga is a must-do here. We wish we spent longer than three nights.      

 

7. VARANASI

 

How long: 5 nights 

 

Where we slept: Ishan Guest House (350 rupees)

 

How we got there: Train Dehradun to Varanasi (19.5 hours)

 

Other notes: Varanasi swept us off our feet and made us feel extremely uncomfortable (in a 

 

good way). If we thought the old city of Jaisalmer was tough to navigate, just wait until you get 

 

to the narrow, winding streets of Varanasi. Tip: be careful of charging bulls running through 

 

Varanasi's old town. A walk along the Ganges to explore the ghats is an incredible experience, 

 

and it is very difficult to describe what it is like witnessing the Hindu rituals at the burning ghats.

 

We extended our stay to be here for Diwali but could have seen all the sights in much less time. 

 

We enjoyed going into the University grounds and walking through the many parks and going for runs in the

 

quieter and cleaner setting. 

 

TIP:

Visit for

Diwali

8. MUMBAI

 

 

 

How long: 2 nights

 

Where we slept: Airbnb apartment

 

How we got there: Train Varanasi to Mumbai (29 hours)

 

 

 

Other notes: We decided to stay two nights in Mumbai to break up the long train from Varanasi to Goa. Mumbai is a great city - we found it much less crazy and a lot easier to travel than Delhi.   

 

9. ANJUNA, GOA

 

How long: 3 nights

 

Where we slept: An extra room in a local's house (450 rupees)

 

How we got there: Train Mumbai to Thivim (10 hours), tuk-tuk Thivim to Anjuna (40 mins)

 

Other notes: Known for its all-night beach parties, we had an alternative experience in Anjuna. It 

 

is relaxing, the flea market is a lot of fun, and the sunsets are gorgeous. There really is nothing 

 

like watching the sunset on the beach with more cows than people around you. There isn't 

 

much of a beach here, but maybe Anjuna is worth the quick stop.   

 

10. PALOLEM, GOA 

 

How long: 6 nights

 

Where we slept: Rosy Paradise Beach Bungalows (500 rupees)

 

How we got there: Train Thivim to Madgaon (2 hours), public bus Madgaon to Palolem (2 hours)

 

Other notes: It's hard to compare Palolem to the rest of India. We loved it here - we had a hut 

 

right on the beach with a sea view for only $10 a night. The beach is stunning - very long and 

 

lined with gorgeous palm trees leaning over. We originally planned on staying only three nights, 

 

but extended our stay to six. We would go back in a heartbeat.     

 

11. MUNNAR, KERALA

 

How long: 1 night

 

Where we slept: Green View Holiday Inn (500 rupees)

 

How we got there: Train Madgaon to Aluva (13 hours), bus Aluva to Munnar (5 hours)

 

Other notes: As we extended our stay in Palolem, we had less time to explore Kerala. Munnar 

 

was gorgeous - the drive from Aluva to here was stunning. We enjoyed doing a full day hike 

 

through the tea plantations and even saw a wild elephant! 

 
 

12. ALLEPEY, KERALA

 

How long: 1 night

 

Where we slept: Prince Homestay (350 rupees)

 

How we got there: Bus Munnar to Kochi (5 hours), Bus Kochi to Alleppey (2 hours)

 

Other notes: Another short stop for us, but it seemed like enough. We could not afford to rent a house boat to tour the backwaters, so we opted to do a ferry tour for two hours around the backwaters. It was quite beautiful, though the amount of houseboats and the pollution they are causing is concerning.   

13. FORT KOCHI, KERALA

 

How long: 3 nights

 

Where we slept: Princess Inn (450 rupees)

 

How we got there: Bus Alleppey to Kochi (2 hours)

 

Other notes: Kochi is such an odd place. It is packed with retired Western couples as well as 

 

many backpackers, but there is not much to do here. To put it into perspective, the top attraction 

 

here is a "Dutch Cemetery". Kochi felt very developed compared to the rest of India we saw. 

 

Despite its oddness, Kochi will always hold a special place in our hearts as we had the best 

 

meal all trip here!