India can be done on a very strict budget very much suited to backpackers alike. I will break down the budget I believe each necessity will cost you below. On my three month trip in Jan 2016 I budgeted for the whole trip including flights for around £2000 with some change at the end. The best way to travel around is by train which is by far the best rail network in the world given how many people it transports and how frequently. We stayed in hostels, guesthouses, hotels and tea houses at certain points on the trip. Food doesn’t need to be said but of course we ate street food and at the local restaurants. We even went to wedding which we got invited to! The local currency is roughly around 100 Rupees to the Pound which is ideal for working out costs.
Accommodation – Hostels will range from £3-£5 a night depending on location. Hostel chains like Zostel, Stops and Madpackers will provide a slightly more expensive stay only by a few quid though! These hostels are popping up in every city and are a stable hostel with good reviews, good showers and good wifi.
Travel – Indian trains will get you around the country on any given day in the price range of £2-£13 depending on length of the journey. I would recommend you travel on the sleeper class which is comfortable with beds and storage for bags. You can pay £5 more for each class you go up depending on your budget or if you want to treat yourself. Local tuk tuk drivers require bartering between £1-£3 to get to your destination from the train/bus station to the accommodation. A good indication is the Uber taxi price which can be done on an app on your phone. As India is so big buses were rarely used so but can range from $5-£10 for the tourist bus which locals don’t use.
Flights – Flights to India from Heathrow will cost you around £350 but return is slightly cheaper at around £200 if you look hard enough if not £250. I fly with Air India and Qatar Airlines with no stops.
Food – Street food is extremely cheap and hostels come with breakfast options so food is not a budget worry. You can get a local Thali for about £1.50 which is all you can eat and traditional local vegetarian food. A bag of Chai will cost you 15p which is a few cups of tea. Bananas from the market will cost you 5p. I would advise washing fruit from the market with bottled water which I found out to my discomfort in Mount Abu when I ate some tomatoes. Bottled water which is always a must will cost you 20p per litre bottle. Food at restaurants will cost between £3-£4. Daily budget for food was around the £6-£7 mark as breakfast normally comes with the hostel price.
Activities – We done a few big activities such as the Singalila Ridge trek which had the cost include everything from food, accommodation and travel. Little trips arranged by the hostel are very reasonably priced but wasn’t done often as we ventured out to find out for ourselves. I have put £30 per week which is 3000rp and should be more than enough to cover activities around the location. Sights and landmarks are 50/50 with cost and ones that do would cost around the £5 for tourists. Renting a moped/bike would cost around £3 a day.
Misc – This part of the budget just covers stuff like your phone which costs around £10 with Airtel for a sim card with 4G and a new Indian number. You may want to have the odd Western meal which will cost around £5 such as a pizza or pasta. Clothes would be rude not to buy from the local market and bartering will be required but something like temple pants/trousers will cost around £1-£1.50 not £5!!
Summary – Cost per week
Accommodation – £35
Travel – £10
Food – £25
Activities – £30
Misc – £25
Total weekly budget – £125
This summary is obviously on a strict backpacker budget and I had to stick to it due to my own financial situation but the cost per week is more than enough to really enjoy yourself in India.