Hey people, i just found this site as i'm looking for advice from anyone who has backpacked India. I plan to take about £3000 and just stay as long as i can leaving in Oct/Nov. I don't plan on having a plan, apart from maybe booked accommodation for the first few nights. Apart from that i just want to decide my plans day to day just moving about freely not worrying about where i will end up as it wont matter if i have no plans i'm stuck to.
Main Question i have are:
Will it be easy to just stumble across places to sleep? I've heard you can get a bed for just a couple quid a night or less in many parts.
Do you really have to book train tickets well in advance?
Can you catch buses long distances on spur of the moment?
How long do you think (based on the fact i'm not looking for luxury and want to stay as long as possible) my money will last
Any information would be helpful thanks.
Quite a lot of money ... I can imagine it last longer than your Visa
In India you can get everything from 2$ up to 1000$ a night .... most likely you will end up in places from 200-300 rupee's if you are looking for cheep, lucky if you get 100-150, its also very depence on where you go.
Train Tickets can be hard to get but not nessesary. Very depence on holyday and route! Its often possible to buy on the day or a day in advance ... NO GARANTIE! There are usualy waiting list tickets up to 500 if I am right ... teoreticaly you can enter the train with no seat/bed but it means that you will have to rest on the ground ... during the day you can usualy get some bench to rest in a sleeper class...
Buses are usualy easier to get on the day and most more popular routs are always avaiable. Again ... its india, sabguch milega (everything possible)
Buy yourself a Indrail pass at a main line station. Maybe 60 days? At times I enjoyed travelling by train and stopping at various stations better than some overcrowded and hot towns.
First class costs a lot more than second class but I found it well worth the extra. I have whole 6 seat compartments to myself on some journeys, and a soft bed at night.
Train tickets I usually booked the evening before though you can just turn up.
Buy a Lonely Planet guide to India which will tell you all you want to know.
I had no trouble just turning up and getting accommodation. Plenty about.
Buses are hard work, boring, have Indian music blaring away and are generally packed, hot and uncomfortable.
Be aware that every rickshaw and taxi driver is out to cheat you but the sum is often small so of little consequence.
Only drink bottled water where you have personally broken the plastic seal.
Do get malaria tablets and any necessary inoculations.
Sounds like solid advice, did you eat meat? i heard its best to stick with vegetarian most of the time, unless you can see your food being cooked, like on the streets.
Is it hard to find Wi-Fi? in cafes or bars? i'm unsure has to how easy it is to find, as i would use it to book accommodation and plan my route as i go.
I have heard lot's about the Rickshaw's "scams" but like you say it's of little consequence as they would only be making an extra few quid and can always be bartered down if i'm running low on cash.
As a traveller my advice to you would be to come with open mind. You are definitely going to get a culture shock.
1. Don't reveal anybody how much money do you have.
2. Your money is sufficient for at least 6 months if you do not indulge in luxury all the time
3. It is better to plan for your next destination a few days in advance, say, a week and then you wont face any difficulty to get tickets. As Cyberia mentioned, better would be to buy a rail pass if you are constantly going to be on the move.
4. Buses are plenty, and of all types (deluxe/non-deluxe) and generally you'd get tickets easily. They are good for short distances of a few hours.
5. For longer journeys go by train or air
6. Always have a pad lock with you, so you can tie ur luggage while travelling in unreserved trains
7. Yes, we do eat meat and they are pretty okay. Sometimes it is the street food that troubles :P BTW, I am a big lover of street food.
8. Wifi is available everywhere in every decent accommodation but if you go for Rs 100-150 per night thing then it's not possible. Since you are coming for a longer period, I would suggest you to buy a data card (Airtel, Vodafone, Reliance, Tata etc) Will turn out cheaper in long run.
9. Rickshaw fellows can be a nuisance, they don't leave us as well. I am an Indian.
10. Plan your trip as per weather conditions in this country. Oct/Nov will be start of winter in north. Stay there for a month and head down south, come back in Feb-March. Again Apr-July will be harsh. Very hot in north.
If you have any more queries, shoot them at once.
Joe. I had meat in India. The only place I got a touch of Delhi belly was in New Delhi. A good cure is the salt-sugar cure. A small spoon of salt washed down by a sugary drink. It works.
Other meals like omelette and chips, pancakes and such are OK.
Not salad of course since they could have used polluted water to wash it.
Fruits you have to peel are OK but wash an apple if you plan on eating the peel too.
On train platforms I sometimes had a bag of crisps. They came in a plain plastic bag. I saw them making them before light on a platform one morning. The crisps were fried in a large wok, tipped out to cool sufficiently before stuffed into the bad by hand while the worker also scratched their backside, etc, and then the bag was sealed using a candle's heat.
I think you are often better not knowing what you are eating.