Planning a holiday to one of the biggest, most populous and most colourful countries on the planet? It can be rather tricky to choose between luxury India adventure holidays and cheap Indian adventures.
Normally decisions like this are made by your budget. But in India you can still get relative luxury for a reasonable price. It’s also one of those places where travelling on a low budget can help you to see more. But what do we mean by luxury and cheap?
If money is no object you can experience all the high-end excitement and thrills this unique destination has to offer. Stay in fancy places, travel in style, eat at the top restaurants and have a guide with you the whole time.
Worried about your luggage? Don’t be, if you travel in luxury someone will take care of it for you. Expect air conditioned rooms in palace like hotels, take private transfers or luxury buses and eat fabulous food in stunning restaurants.
On the other hand, travelling on a budget means your money goes further so you can spend longer in India. Furthermore, you might have a more authentic Indian experience. Plus you’ll have more money to spend on activities such as rafting, safaris and scuba diving.
In India travelling on the cheap does not mean you have to stay in a cockroach infested hell hole. There is plenty of low cost accommodation that is clean and comfortable. Likewise you can still eat great food, have a guide when you need it and travel in safety without spending a fortune.
To help you make your choice, we’ve taken a closer look at both the high end and low cost adventure options. We’ve split it up into relevant sections so you can focus on factors that are important to you:
You can find everything from five star luxury hotels to very cheap budget hostels in India. If you’re travelling on a shoestring, the chances are that you’ll be arriving by train or bus into your destination. At major transport hubs you’ll be met by a swarm of touts offering you a room for the night.
These options come with few frills and it can be a little overwhelming. So take your time to get your bearings before committing. Ask to see rooms and facilities before agreeing to any price. These room touts also work on commission so you’ll paying a premium if you go with them.
Choose lodgings away from the main drag, as these can be busy and noisy at all times of the day and night. And if you’re staying for several nights you might be able to negotiate a better rate.
At the other end of the spectrum, your money goes a long way in India. So luxury accommodation may be cheaper than you think. As well as large luxury resorts, you’ll also find small boutique hotels, ancient forts and even palaces where you can stay in style.
The winner: Budget accommodation can be very hit and miss, and luxury options are more affordable than you think. So, aim high on accommodation.
From desert stargazing to world class golf courses and trekking to scuba diving. The sheer range of activities in India is mind-blowing.
Track India’s ‘Big Five’ of snow leopards, Bengal tigers, Asiatic Lions, clouded leopards and Indian leopards in some of the world’s most spectacular national parks. Bandhavgarh, Ranthambore, Pench and more offer incredible opportunities to see some of the rarest animals on the planet. But these kinds of luxury India adventure holidays do cost.
Of course, there are activities that are very cheap or even free. Explore the erotic carvings of the Khajuraho temple in Madhya Pradesh, or marvel at the technicolour gods and demons on the walls of the Meenakshi Sundareshwar in Tamil Nadu. The majestic coastline between Mumbai and Goa is worth visiting and home to plenty of cheap Indian adventures.
The winner: If you want the really memorable experiences, then it probably means paying top dollar on luxury India adventure holidays. Guided tours with high end companies like Ampersand Travel open up the best India has to offer and help create memories that will last a lifetime.
As we mentioned above, India is dotted with thousands of temples that have been the canvas for many hundreds of years of arts and culture. Each one reflects something different and many are free or require a small donation.
If you’re looking for enlightenment or spiritual balm, then you’re in luck. Dip your toe in the holy water of the Ganges or learn eternal wisdom at the feet of a guru in an ashram. These experiences are part of what makes India so special and don’t cost a fortune.
The winner: Indian culture is based around its broad appeal and getting involved in the colourful festivals and temples is often free. Guided tours may shed light on the meaning and rituals behind things, but just experiencing it is often enough. But if you talk to locals you’ll learn just as much – so cheap Indian adventures win this round.
Like Indian culture, the food is varied, colourful and everywhere. You’ve probably already heard about the chances of the odd stomach upset and you should be prepared for this to happen. If you’ve a really sensitive stomach, then stick to the luxury end of the market and you might be ok (but no guarantees).
India’s high end culinary scene is growing but it’s the street food that really excites. Load up on Immodium and get stuck in. Cuisine varies hugely from north to south but expect it to be spicy wherever you are.
Many people say by not eating meat you’ve a better chance of avoiding Delhi belly. But fruit, salad, ice and not washing your hands properly are more of an issue.
The winner: Luxury cooking can be sensational but in a country famed for its astonishing cuisine, you’re just as likely to find something delicious on any street corner. So cheap indian adventures win on food.
There’s little doubt that if you want to get to know the real India and interact with local people, then going cheap is the best option. Travel on the crumbling train network or on impossibly crowded bus routes and you’ll soon feel like a local. Just don’t expect any kind of luxuries – like a seat or a toilet, for example.
If comfort is what you want then private cars, taxis and air conditioned coach tours are available on luxury India adventure holidays. But looking out the window you can’t help feeling a little like it’s cheating.
The winner: Sacrifice leg room, fresh air and any kind of amenities you night be expecting and travel cheap. But sometimes splash out and travel in style as it doesn’t cost that much. Overall a draw.
It’s possible to enjoy cheap Indian adventures on a very limited budget. Find cheap hotels, travel by train or bus and eat on the street and you can make your money go a long way. If you’re planning to travel for a lengthy period then stick to a budget from the outset and use your cash for the really memorable adventures.
However, although it’s possible to live cheap, you can also find luxury all around. If you’re willing to pay for it, you can find sumptuous hotels and truly unique adventures such as Himalayan trekking and desert adventures in Rajasthan.
The winner: It really depends on your personal financial situation how much you spend. Each to his or her own. So a draw for this one.
The final scores were:
Whether you choose luxury India adventure holidays or cheap Indian adventures all depends on personal preference. As you can see, both have their own advantages. Also what might be cheap to you might be expensive to me so it is very subjective.
However, it is worth pointing out that to experience some of the best activities you really need to go higher end, and that you can stay in some very nice places without spending a fortune. However, to really experience India’s culture, people and food you should do so at the basic level otherwise you’ll never understand this magical country.
On top of this the overall conclusion really has to be to go and visit India. It is a incredible country with a lot of adventures to offer whatever your budget.
We hope you enjoyed this comparison of luxury India adventure holidays and cheap Indian adventures. Be sure to check out our India travel discounts as you could save yourself a fortune.