Ever wondered what it would be like to visit some of the most famous tourist places in India? Well, you don’t have to spend your time wondering, because a lot of these destinations can actually be explored on a tight budget. As long as you have leaves in your calendar and a few thousand rupees in your account, there are many budget tourist places in India that you can travel to. In fact, with just enough planning and the right amount of compromise, you could make your way through more than a few destinations in one go. Here is a look at some cheap tourist places in India that you can travel to without much hassle.
Let’s start this list with one of the most popular party destinations in India: Goa. The state of sun and sands is famous for its long, long line of beaches and palm trees, its eclectic mix of Portuguese and Konkani culture and heritage, its unique cuisine that combines spices, seafood and local feni, and its music and night-life. Most importantly, it is famous for being a tourist destination that is easy on the pocket. Goa has several costly resorts and hotels, but it also has a healthy number of low-cost homestays with affordable yet delicious homemade food on offer. You can also travel around the state on a scooter or bike that is cheap to rent. And, of course, there is the allure of cheap liquor as well.
A little less than 150 km south from Goa is another beach town called Gokarna nestled in Karnataka. Gokarna is a great destination for those who want a more relaxed, quiet beach holiday. You can find really affordable guest-houses and home-stays along the long stretches of the town’s coast, and spend time exploring the streets without worrying about burning through your cash. You many not get the kind of parties or night-life seen in Goa, but Gokarna has its own charm that can appeal to a different type of traveller. The town is also a great place to visit during key Hindu festivals, when its streets and historic temples come alive and bustle with activity.
Further down south in the state of Tamil Nadu is Kodaikanal, a pleasantly cool hill station located around 7,200 feet above the sweltering plans of the state. While Ooty, which figures later in this list, is called the Queen of Hill Stations, Kodaikanal is considered the princess. It is definitely the calmer of the two, with fewer crowded streets and a more relaxed atmosphere than Ooty. It is also surprisingly cheap to stay and explore. Kodaikanal has several guest houses and small hotels with dirt cheap costs per night, and the views are almost always incredible. And you cannot forget about the delicious street food on offer in the hill station. Kodaikanal offers a fair share of adventure activities too, all of which can be experienced without spending too much money.
If you want to experience the charm of the French Riviera without journeying more than 7,000 km to the actual country, take a trip down to Pondicherry instead. The Union Territory has a unique blend of French and Tamil heritage, thanks to its history of being a French colony even years after the rest of India gained independence. Pondicherry’s French-Tamil architecture itself is a rare sight, with bright yellow buildings lined along the coast and cobbled streets to walk along and explore the quiet town. Pondy, as it is affectionately called, also has cafes and an incredible cuisine for you to try out. All of this, along with your choice of liquor, is available at an incredibly low cost thanks to Pondicherry’s Union Territory status.
If beaches are not your port of call, you can always escape to the Himalayas up north. And one of the most affordable ways to do this is to head up to Kasol. Located just a little south of Manali, which is the more mainstream tourist destination, Kasol offers an experience of its own. It can be accessed easily through the state’s own buses, and home-stays and hotels are offered at really low prices. Kasol is also nicknamed Mini-Israel thanks to its Israeli cuisine, which you can experience along with its reggae bars and German bakeries. The little town also has a surprising number of trance parties not unlike the ones you find in Goa. And adventurers can also enjoy the numerous treks and trails along Parvati Valley.
If you want to visit a famous tourist place in India that captures the country’s history, culture and colours, Jaipur is a great destination to explore for a relatively small price. The city is a colourful mix of old and new, with people, buses, vehicles and even camels making their way along the ancient narrow streets. Around the city, you can experience the colours and splendour of Jaipur’s handicrafts or immerse yourself in the ancient monuments and heritage sites that it has to offer. The City Palace right within the city and Amber Fort just outside it take you back to the city’s royal past, and the Hawa Mahal and Jantar Mantar showcase the rich architectural legacy of a time long gone.
Nestled in the foots of the Himalayas in Himachal Pradesh is a bit of Tibet, called Dharamsala. This hill station is home to a number of Tibetan monestaries and temples, not to mention a view of the mountains and valleys that are magical to say the least. Dharamsala offers trecks like the one up Triund, as well as more relaxed guided activities in the twin city of McLeodganj. The trecks themselves are pretty cheap, and so is exploring the city on your own and snacking on the food and cuisine of the region. Trains to Dharamsala are cheap and memorable in their own way, as is the road that leads to McLeodganj. Prices of home-stays and hotels are more than reasonable, as is the price of the museums, guides, cafes and restaurants.
Amritsar is the spiritual fountain-head of Sikhism, and one of the most prominent tourist places in India. It is also, surprisingly, a destination you can travel to for cheap. The divine city is home to the Golden Temple and is also close to the popular Wagah Border, where the elaborate flag-lowering ceremony can inspire the patriot in you. You can stay for free or a for a small amount at the gurudwara, and food can also be availed at the Guru-ka-Langar. If you fancy something more, there are always the numerous dhabas and inexpensive restaurants around Amritsar to visit. At the end, however, the sense of peace and belonging that you get in Amritsar is hard to find in most places in India.
Finally, we end this list with Ooty, called the Queen of Hill Stations in India. The hill station is located within the scenic Southern end of the Western Ghats, and boasts of rich green hills, aromatic tea estates, homemade chocolates, British-era historic architecture and expansive botanical gardens. Despite the fact that the main town itself is crowded, you can still find spots of tranquility a little ways down the well-maintained roads. What you can also find are affordable hotels and guest houses, pleasant temperatures throughout the year, and lots of places to explore up and around the hills.