Header Notice

Winter is here! Check out the winter wonderlands at these 5 amazing winter destinations in Montana

Here’s How Much It Costs To Go Backpacking In South India


by Helaine Derby


Experience Budget Travel in South India

Are you longing for a memorable backpacking adventure without breaking the bank? Look no further than South India. With its rich cultural heritage, stunning landscapes, and incredible cuisine, South India offers an unparalleled budget travel experience. From the tranquil backwaters of Kerala to the ancient temples of Tamil Nadu, this region is a treasure trove of diverse attractions that won’t empty your wallet.


What makes backpacking in South India so appealing is the affordable cost of living and the plethora of budget-friendly options available. Whether you’re a solo traveler or on a tight budget, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to explore South India without compromising on quality or experiences. From transportation and accommodation to food and sightseeing, this article will guide you through the various costs associated with backpacking in this vibrant region.


It’s important to note that the cost of backpacking in South India can vary depending on your travel style, the duration of your trip, and the specific destinations you choose to visit. However, by following these insights, you can gain a general understanding of the expenses involved and plan your budget accordingly.


So, grab your backpack, put on your adventure hat, and get ready to explore the wonders of South India without breaking the bank!


Transportation Costs:

Navigating South India on a Budget

Getting around in South India is relatively affordable and offers various modes of transportation to suit your budget and travel preferences. Here’s a breakdown of the transportation costs you can expect when backpacking in this region:

  1. Buses: Buses are the most common and economical way to travel within South India. State-run buses, as well as private operators, connect major cities and towns, offering both non-air-conditioned and air-conditioned options. The prices are reasonable, with fares depending on the distance traveled and the type of bus chosen. Expect to pay around ₹10-₹20 per kilometer.
  2. Trains: India’s extensive railway network is another affordable and popular choice for traveling between cities in South India. Opt for sleeper class or second-class seats for a cost-effective journey. Costs vary depending on the distance and the train’s class, but you can expect to pay around ₹2-₹3 per kilometer.
  3. Auto-rickshaws: If you’re exploring within a city or want a convenient mode of transportation for short distances, auto-rickshaws are a reliable option. Make sure to negotiate the fare before starting the ride or insist on using the meter. Prices can range from ₹10-₹20 per kilometer.
  4. Taxis: Taxis are a more comfortable but relatively expensive mode of transportation in South India. They are ideal for group travel or when traveling with heavy luggage. Private taxi services and app-based cab aggregators like Uber and Ola are available in select cities. Costs vary depending on the distance and the type of taxi, but expect to pay around ₹15-₹25 per kilometer.
  5. Shared vehicles: Shared vehicles like shared autos or shared taxis are popular in some places and offer a cost-effective way to travel short distances. These vehicles operate on fixed routes and pick up multiple passengers along the way, reducing the individual fare.

To save on transportation costs, consider booking bus and train tickets in advance, as last-minute fares can be higher. Additionally, utilize public transportation options whenever possible and explore the option of sharing rides with fellow travelers.


By strategically planning your transportation choices and making use of these affordable options, you can significantly reduce your overall travel expenses while exploring the captivating beauty of South India.


Accommodation Costs:

Finding Affordable Accommodation in South India

When it comes to finding a place to rest your weary feet after a day of exploring, South India offers a wide range of budget-friendly accommodation options. From comfortable guesthouses to homestays and hostels, here’s what you can expect in terms of accommodation costs:

  1. Guesthouses and Budget Hotels: South India boasts a vast selection of guesthouses and budget hotels that provide clean and basic amenities at affordable prices. Depending on the location and facilities offered, guesthouse prices can range from ₹500 to ₹1500 per night. Budget hotels typically start around ₹800 per night.
  2. Homestays: Experience South Indian hospitality by staying in a homestay, where you can immerse yourself in the local culture and traditions. Homestays are often run by families who offer comfortable rooms with home-cooked meals, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere. Prices for homestays can vary, but expect to pay around ₹1000 to ₹2000 per night.
  3. Hostels: Backpackers on a tight budget will find a plethora of hostels scattered across South India. These budget-friendly accommodations offer dormitory-style rooms with shared facilities, creating an opportunity to meet fellow travelers from around the world. Prices for hostel dorm beds range from ₹300 to ₹800 per night.
  4. Tents and Camping: For adventurers seeking a unique experience, camping is a great option, especially in national parks and scenic areas of South India. Some national parks and private campgrounds provide tents and camping facilities at reasonable rates, allowing you to immerse yourself in nature without breaking the bank.
  5. Alternative Accommodation: With the rise of platforms like Airbnb and guesthouses listed on booking websites, South India offers an array of alternative accommodation options at varying prices. These options include private rooms in homes, traditional cottages, and eco-friendly resorts, giving you the flexibility to choose according to your preferences and budget.

When booking accommodation, consider factors such as location, safety, and reviews from previous guests to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable stay. Additionally, keep in mind that prices may fluctuate based on the season and demand, so booking in advance can help secure better deals.


By choosing budget-friendly accommodation options and researching thoroughly before making a booking, you can find comfortable places to stay in South India without stretching your budget too far.


Food and Drink Costs:

Savoring South Indian Delights on a Budget

A major highlight of backpacking in South India is indulging in its delectable and diverse cuisine. From spicy curries to crispy dosas and refreshing coconut water, South Indian food is a treat for your taste buds. Here’s what you can expect in terms of food and drink costs while exploring the region:

  1. Street Food: South India is renowned for its mouthwatering street food culture. You’ll find an array of affordable and delicious snacks like idlis, vadas, and bhajis available at street stalls and local eateries. Prices for street food items usually range from ₹20 to ₹50 per serving, making it an excellent option for budget travelers.
  2. Local Restaurants: South India is dotted with local restaurants that serve authentic regional dishes at reasonable prices. These restaurants offer a variety of vegetarian and non-vegetarian options, allowing you to sample the flavors and specialties of the region. A meal at a local restaurant can cost anywhere between ₹100 to ₹300, depending on the establishment and the dishes chosen.
  3. Thalis: Opting for a thali, a traditional South Indian meal served on a banana leaf, is a great way to experience the local cuisine without burning a hole in your pocket. Thalis typically include a variety of dishes like rice, sambar, rasam, curries, and desserts, providing a satisfying and well-rounded meal. Prices for thalis range from ₹100 to ₹200, depending on the restaurant and the variety of dishes included.
  4. Vegetarian and Local Food Joints: South India is renowned for its vegetarian cuisine, with many affordable eateries exclusively serving vegetarian meals. These local food joints provide a wide range of south Indian delicacies like dosas, uttapams, and pongal, allowing you to experience authentic flavors at a fraction of the cost of upscale restaurants.
  5. Beverages: South India offers plenty of refreshing beverage options to quench your thirst. From freshly squeezed fruit juices to traditional drinks like buttermilk and tender coconut water, prices for beverages typically range from ₹20 to ₹100, depending on the type and size of the drink.

To save money on food and drink, consider exploring local markets and grocery stores where you can purchase fresh fruits, snacks, and bottled water at affordable prices. Additionally, embracing the street food culture and trying local delicacies from food carts can provide a budget-friendly gastronomic experience.


Remember to stay hydrated and sample the diverse flavors of South India while being mindful of your budget. With proper planning and a sense of culinary adventure, you can enjoy the vibrant and flavorsome cuisine of the region without overspending.


Sightseeing Expenses:

Exploring South India’s Gems within Your Budget

South India is a treasure trove of cultural and natural wonders that will leave you in awe. From ancient temples and magnificent palaces to breathtaking landscapes and serene beaches, there is no shortage of sights to behold. Here’s what you can expect in terms of sightseeing expenses while exploring South India:

  1. Entry Fees: Many popular tourist attractions in South India charge an entry fee. The prices vary depending on the site and its significance. Historical monuments, such as temples and palaces, typically have lower admission fees ranging from ₹10 to ₹100. Major attractions like UNESCO World Heritage Sites or national parks may have slightly higher fees, ranging from ₹200 to ₹500.
  2. Local Guides: Hiring a local guide can enhance your experience and provide in-depth knowledge about the history and cultural significance of the sites you visit. While not mandatory, guides can offer valuable insights. The cost of hiring a guide can range from ₹200 to ₹500 per hour, depending on the location and their expertise.
  3. Tours and Activities: South India offers a multitude of tours and activities that allow you to explore the region’s diverse offerings. From wildlife safaris and boat rides to cooking classes and cultural performances, there are options for every interest. Prices for tours and activities vary depending on the duration and the experiences included, ranging from ₹500 to ₹3000.
  4. Transportation for Sightseeing: Keep in mind that transportation costs may be incurred when traveling to different sights. Whether it’s hiring a taxi, taking a local bus, or renting a scooter, consider the transportation expenses associated with reaching your desired destinations. In some cases, walking or cycling may be viable options, particularly within cities or towns with compact attractions.
  5. Free and Budget-Friendly attractions: While there are plenty of paid attractions, South India also offers numerous free or low-cost options for sightseeing. This includes exploring local markets, enjoying the natural beauty of parks and beaches, and participating in religious festivals or cultural events.

Prioritize the attractions that resonate with your interests and budget accordingly. Consider combining visits to multiple sites within the same area to optimize your travel expenses and make the most of your time. Keep in mind that some sites may offer discounted entry fees for students, so if you have a valid student ID, don’t forget to carry it.


By researching and prioritizing your sightseeing choices, you can create an itinerary that allows you to experience the best of South India’s cultural, historical, and natural offerings while staying within your budget.


Visa and Travel Insurance Costs:

Ensuring a Smooth and Secure Journey

Before embarking on your backpacking adventure to South India, it’s essential to take care of a few administrative matters, including obtaining the necessary visa and travel insurance. Here’s what you need to know about the costs involved:

  1. Visa Fees: Depending on your nationality, you may be required to obtain a visa to enter India. The cost of an Indian tourist visa can vary, and it is advisable to check the official website of the Indian embassy or consulate in your home country for the most up-to-date information. Generally, tourist visas for South India range from $10 to $100, depending on the duration of stay and type of visa applied for.
  2. Travel Insurance: It is highly recommended to purchase travel insurance to safeguard yourself against any unforeseen circumstances during your trip. Travel insurance covers a range of situations, including medical emergencies, trip cancellations, lost luggage, and more. The cost of travel insurance will depend on your age, the duration of your trip, and the level of coverage you choose. On average, expect to pay around 4-10% of your total trip cost for travel insurance.
  3. Additional Insurance Coverage: If you plan to engage in adventure activities or hire vehicles during your time in South India, it may be necessary to obtain additional insurance coverage specifically for those activities. This optional coverage will provide additional protection and peace of mind.

It is important to carefully read and understand the terms and conditions of your travel insurance policy before purchasing to ensure that it meets your specific needs while traveling in South India. Additionally, make sure to carry all necessary documents related to your visa and travel insurance during your trip.


Remember that while visa and travel insurance costs add to your overall budget, they are essential investments in your safety and security. They provide you with the necessary support and coverage in case of any unexpected events, allowing you to explore South India with peace of mind.


Miscellaneous Expenses:

Budgeting for Additional Costs in South India

When budgeting for your backpacking adventure in South India, it’s important to consider miscellaneous expenses that may arise during your trip. These additional costs can vary depending on your preferences and the specific activities you choose to engage in. Here are some common miscellaneous expenses to keep in mind:

  1. Internet and Communication: Staying connected while on the road is essential for many travelers. Plan for the cost of purchasing a local SIM card or activating an international roaming plan. Additionally, budget for internet access at cafes or accommodation that may charge a nominal fee for usage.
  2. Laundry: Depending on the duration of your trip, you may need to do laundry during your time in South India. Consider the cost of using laundry services or budgeting for self-service laundromats.
  3. Tips and Gratuity: In South India, it is customary to tip service staff at hotels, restaurants, and other establishments. While not obligatory, it is a gesture of appreciation for good service. Set aside a small amount for tips to acknowledge the hospitality received.
  4. Souvenirs and Shopping: South India is known for its unique handicrafts, textiles, and spices. If you plan to engage in shopping or bring back souvenirs, allocate a portion of your budget for these expenses.
  5. Health and Medications: Depending on your personal needs and health condition, you might incur expenses for medications, vaccinations, or medical treatments. It’s advisable to consult with a healthcare professional before your journey to discuss any necessary precautions or medications.
  6. ATM and Currency Conversion Fees: Keep in mind that when withdrawing cash from ATMs or exchanging currency, there may be transaction fees or currency conversion charges. Check with your bank or credit card provider to understand the fees associated with international transactions.
  7. Emergency Funds: It’s always wise to have a contingency fund for unexpected situations or emergencies. Set aside a small portion of your budget as a safety net to provide peace of mind during your travels.

While these miscellaneous expenses may seem small individually, they can add up and impact your overall budget. Planning and accounting for these costs in advance will help you avoid any financial surprises during your trip to South India.


Remember, flexibility is key when budgeting for miscellaneous expenses. Allocate a buffer in your budget to accommodate any unforeseen costs that may arise, allowing you to enjoy your backpacking experience without financial stress.


Total Cost of Backpacking in South India:

Estimating the Overall Expenses

Now that we’ve explored the various costs associated with backpacking in South India, let’s put it all together to get an idea of the total cost of your adventure. Keep in mind that these estimates are meant to give you a rough idea and can vary based on your travel style, preferences, and the duration of your trip.


Here’s a breakdown of the major expenses involved:

  1. Transportation: Budget for an average of ₹500 to ₹1500 per day for transportation costs, including buses, trains, auto-rickshaws, and occasional taxi rides for longer distances.
  2. Accommodation: Allocate around ₹500 to ₹1500 per night for guesthouses, homestays, or hostels, depending on your preferences and the location.
  3. Food and Drink: Estimate a daily budget of ₹500 to ₹1000, considering a mix of street food, local restaurants, and occasional meals at higher-end establishments.
  4. Sightseeing: Set aside around ₹500 to ₹3000 per day for entry fees to attractions, hiring local guides, and participating in tours or activities.
  5. Visa and Travel Insurance: Consider the visa fees, which can range from $10 to $100, and allocate around 4-10% of your total trip cost for travel insurance.
  6. Miscellaneous Expenses: Prepare for additional costs such as internet and communication expenses, laundry, tips, souvenirs, currency conversion fees, and emergency funds. Allocate an extra ₹1000 to ₹2000 per day for these miscellaneous expenses.

Based on these estimates, a rough average daily budget for backpacking in South India would fall in the range of ₹2500 to ₹6000 per day, excluding international flights. This estimation provides a starting point for planning your budget and can be adjusted based on your specific preferences and travel style.


It’s important to note that traveling during shoulder seasons or opting for budget-friendly accommodations and eateries can significantly reduce your overall expenses. Additionally, being strategic with your transportation choices, booking in advance, and being mindful of your spending on extras can help stretch your budget further.


Remember, the total cost of your backpacking adventure in South India will depend on the duration of your trip, the destinations you choose to explore, and your personal preferences. By planning and budgeting accordingly, you can make the most of your journey while keeping your finances in check.



Embark on an Affordable Adventure in South India

Backpacking in South India offers an incredible opportunity to explore a diverse region filled with cultural heritage, stunning landscapes, and mouthwatering cuisine, all on a budget. By understanding the various costs associated with transportation, accommodation, food, sightseeing, visas, and other miscellaneous expenses, you can plan your journey and allocate your budget effectively.


From budget-friendly buses and trains to affordable guesthouses and hostels, South India provides numerous options for economical transportation and accommodation. Indulging in delicious street food, local restaurants, and traditional meals will satisfy your hunger without denting your wallet. Exploring the sights and attractions, both paid and free, will allow you to immerse yourself in the rich culture and history of the region.


Don’t forget to allocate funds for essential expenses like visas and travel insurance to ensure a smooth and secure journey. Factor in miscellaneous expenses for internet and communication, laundry, tips, souvenirs, and contingencies, as these can add up during your trip.


By being strategic with your choices, taking advantage of budget-friendly options, and embracing the cultural experiences that South India has to offer, you can enjoy a memorable and affordable backpacking adventure. Remember, flexibility is key, and adjusting your plans based on your budget and preferences will allow you to make the most of your time in this captivating region.


So pack your bags, set your budget, and get ready to embark on an unforgettable journey through the vibrant and budget-friendly wonders of South India!