Final thoughts on India, Costs & Tips

Trip Start May 10, 2011
Trip End Apr 15, 2012

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Flag of India  ,
Wednesday, June 29, 2011

EDIT:   i thought i would edit this entry 5 months after we have left india and still travelling the world but India has turned out to be the one country we miss the most and will definitely return to, there is something about this country and the love hate relationship that gets in your blood and makes you want to return.  We have "we miss India days" which is crazy as we were so ready to get out - now we are dying to get back :-)) 


So I am writing this after we left India so I guess we have had time to reflet and recover. We had already been to Goa before on holiday so had a very rough idea what lay in store for us. 

At first it was hard, although everyone spoke english it was indian holiday time which meant everywhere and everything was packed booking trains was a nightmare, it was almost time for the monsoons which meant the heat was on average 45 deg everyday with stifling humidity so getting used to having wet clothes and sweating ALL the time and only having your clothes hand washed sucked big time.

All the stories from people before we left who had travelled before said how great it was and how much fun you will have but India didn't start off like that….

So everything closes around 11pm so partying isn’t really an option, over packed trains that were so difficult to book due to the holidays and generally getting used to travelling, the dirtiness, smells, the beeping of horns constantly and the flies, the packing and unpacking of your bag, always being in a new place getting lost and being unsure of where you were sleeping was unsettling for the first week or so but we soon got used to it and moving on to somewhere new was exciting and the noise and the smells became normal. 

Don’t get me wrong there were definitely a few days after a long journey with rubbish sleep on a train due to the annoyance of being woken at 5.30am or during the night by people with absolutely no consideration that you might want to still be asleep, then having to be alert enough to get a taxi that was not going to scam you and hope he would take you to take you where you wanted to go and not his brother, uncle, cousin or sons hotel, then having to look at 2 or 3 different places as they are so dirty with your heavy pack on every bit of clothing on you wet with sweat, passing shops all shouting at you over the noise of the horns in the street, beggars tugging ur arm for money, avoiding stepping on the huge piles of shite in the street or manoeuvring past a giant cow with ur backpack on in a small alley and then finally haggle the price of your hotel room – all that when you are starving and shattered can make for two grumpy travellers haha.  It is as horrific as it sounds but in some strange way you soon get used to it and you learn not to hear it all and people become invisible your only mission is to get to your room, get your backpack & wet clothes off and get into the shower asap.    

So it was around 4 weeks in before we met any other "westerners" that we could sit and have a beer and a laugh with which was great – it was only then that many of them said that India has been one of the most difficult countries to travel and the most testing of your patience.  It was great for us to hear that as we didn’t know any better since this was our first country travelling. 

We were in India 7 weeks and didn’t scratch the surface of it really there is so much to explore, the culture the religion the people its just so much to take in.  On one hand so many people were so nice and helpful and on the other all they see is white rich westerners and want you money.   You can spend hours just sitting watching people go about their life – watching people going about their business, the traffic in the streets, the markets the crazy driving the overtaking on outside bends on mountain roads– it alls seems just utter chaos but somehow in India its organised chaos it just works !!  Its all about the horns BEEP BEEP !!!

As for the food we ate in loads of cheap hole in the wall places where the locals eat and you sweep the flies out of the way as you walk in but the food was always decent, we ate in a few fairly fancy restaurants too but no matter how many times I asked for very very spicy I just didn't get any super hot food.

Overall though we loved India it was challenging at times but really glad we went and would definitely go back travelling again, it definitely made us appreciate the things we have and how lucky we are to have the life we do in the UK.  The people in India are so proud of their family its the most important thing to them so long as they can eat and if possible provide schooling for their children they generally seem content - of course there is a darker side to the poverty but on the whole the people we met were happy and smiling.
 So here are a few things we noticed & some tips ….
- No buggie or pushchairs all the kids are carried or on the back of mopeds even babies

- Beeping the horn is CONSTANT and the louder the better

- Getting your change in a shop seems to take AGES they always have to go out back for it

- Cows, water buffallo, monkeys, dogs, cats, goats, chickens roam the streets everywhere

- Everyone wants you to look in their shop and if you say maybe later and happen to walk by again the next day …the remember you and ask why you didn’t come back

- Almost all of the people were quite helpful (providing they didn’t have something to sell you)

- Chai tea which is sold everywhere is just milk and 2 sugars but on the odd occasion and without warning you get it with a cardamon seed in it so as you sip thinking its normal chai you get funky tea – although its nice its annoying!

- Going in May/June means its school holidays and all the trains are full all the time which makes it a nightmare booking trains – most of the big stations have tourist quotas you can get though

 Never let a tut tut driver take you to a hotel as they get commission which in turn makes your room more expensive – always pick the area with the hotel in lonely planet and head to this area and get rid of the tut tut

- Rickshaw drivers taking you on day tours will always want you to stop at shops on the way to get you to buy things – again making commission

- Taking a tour guide on Taj Mahal (they are beside the place with lockers) its well worth it but they try to charge 700R but we paid 150R but since he took such cool tips we gave him 300R

-          When getting a hotel room - look at the rooms first then ask the price then take a good few hundred rupees off the price – haggle it out with them to the point of picking up your bags and walking away generally gets you the price you are after (once or twice we have left and maybe went back though)

ROUGH COST OF THINGS - this is in Rupees then

We manged to get by on a daily budget of 28 for two people and we did everything we wanted to a few tours and definitely a few beers too.
Average double room with a toilet – all our rooms were fairly decent but varied from place to place 500R – 7

Cost of a meal for 2 in a local Indian eatery including water – 250R – 3.50

Cost of a meal in a normaish restaurant for two with no alcohol – 500R - 7.02

Cost of a large bottle of kingfisher 150R – 2.11 but if you found the government shops they were 75R - 1.00

A one litre bottle of water 15R – 20p

Cost of average train journey in sleeper class was 700R – 9.50 for 2 people/for 3AC this would be 25 for two

Cost of a cup of Chai 5R – 0.7p

Cost for spaghetti neapolitan in most places 120R 1.68

Cost of one loo roll – 40R – 56p

Cost for 1 night 2 day trip for two from Kochi to Munnar tea plantation including accom & driver – 4200R - 61

Cost of a 250g packet of golden virgina tobacco – 220R - 3.09

Cost of 20 menthol cigarettes – 100R - 1.40
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