The Best India Backpacking Tours
India is undoubtedly one of the most exotic, fascinating and life changing travel destinations there is but backpacking India can be challenging, especially the first time and especially for a solo female. My first trip was hard, I was with my then boyfriend but after we got scammed in Delhi I was wishing I’d booked a group tour! So if you want don’t want to backpack India alone and deal with the hassles and scams then taking an India backpacking tour, at least for the first week or 2, is a good way to ensure your first trip to India is memorable for the right reasons! You could then always continue to backpack the rest of the country independently after the tour, maybe even traveling with new friends you made on the tour.
India is massive so it can be hard to decide which places to visit and which itinerary is best. Also, there are many India tour companies and it be difficult deciding which one is the best for you. Not all India group tours are specifically aimed at backpackers and the last thing you want is your Indian backpacking adventure ruined by being stuck on a bus with boring people and a slow itinerary – when I take a tour I want to be with like minded people my own age that want to have fun and hopefully even want to travel together after the tour has finished. This is why it’s important to choose the right tour and why I put together this post specifically about India backpacking tours!
As I’ve been backpacking India for over 5 years and living here for 3 I’m often asked to recommend India backpacking tours so I thought it would be helpful to put together a list of my favourites from the companies I know, use and trust and also from recommendations from friends and readers. This post is specifically for young travellers and backpackers – if you want to see my more general recommendations for India group tours for all ages click here.
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Why should you take an India backpacking tour
Of course, it is possible, and enjoyable, to backpack India independently, even as a solo female traveller (check out my tips for women here) However, if you are young and haven’t done much backpacking before then it’s safer, easier and more enjoyable to take a tour. Taking a tour is a great idea if you are solo traveller looking for travel buddies, if you’re not feeling too confident or just want to relax and enjoy the trip and let the experts do the planning and navigating.
If you have limited time then taking a tour will allow you to see the best of India quickly without the hassle and without wasting time planning and organising things. If you’ve got less than 1 month then I recommend you only focus on either North or South India.
If you’re on a longer trip it’s a good idea to start off backpacking India with a group tour and then once you’re more acclimatized to the country you’ll feel more confident to move on and explore on your own, or maybe even with new friends that you met on the tour. Check out my recommended itinerary for 3 months backpacking in India for inspiration on where to go.
My favourite companies offering India backpacking tours
As I said before, not all India tour companies will be right for backpackers. For safety reasons you also need to make sure you choose a reputable company. I wouldn’t really recommend just finding a cheap deal with an unknown Indian company online, especially if its your first time traveling in India, it’s best to stick with a reputable global company that has been tried and tested by many travellers over the years,
My favourite companies that offer great India backpacking tours are award winning companies G Adventures and Intrepid. Both companies run awesome, adventurous, fun and socially responsible, small group tours of India.
They have a huge selection of tours with something for all budgets, ages and interests – but be aware that not all of their tours are aimed at backpackers and young travellers so make sure you go for their 18 – 30 tours as these are the best for backpackers and are great value for money, for example Intrepid’s 18 – 29 Basix 11 day North India trip starts at only £383! But be aware that not all meals are included so you’ll need to bring extra money but eating in India is super cheap.
You can see all the 18 – 30 something India backpacking tours by G Adventures here and check out Intrepid’s 18 – 29 India backpacker tours here. I also always check the G Adventures last minute deals and Intrepid last minute deals to check for money saving bargains.
My Top 5 India Backpacking Tours
Here are my favourite India backpacking tour itineraries that visit my favourite places in India for the best price and are all specifically aimed at 18 – 30 something backpackers.
By the way, there are affiliate links in this post, if you decide to take one of the tours I recommend I can earn a small commission at no extra cost to you which helps me to keep this blog going so thank you! 😊
The most popular and famous sights in India can be seen in the Golden Triangle route which includes the capital Delhi, Agra (home of the Taj Mahal) and Jaipur. This Essential North India 18 – 29s tour with Intrepid covers the highlights of the Golden Triangle as well as the holy city of Varanasi and the charming, off beat gem of Bundi in Rajasthan.
You’ll be traveling like the locals on the overnight sleeper trains – a quintessential India experience. With prices from only £382 for 11 days this is also one of the cheapest India backpacking tours! Click here for more details and to book!
I often recommend starting your Indian adventure in South India as places like Kerala and Goa are much more chilled out and less chaotic than the cities in North India. This India backpacking tour visits many of my favourite destinations in South India. It starts in the easy going Keralan capital of Trivandrum before visiting the beaches of Varkala and cruising along the luscious, tropical Kerala backwaters and exploring the historic, multicultural town of Kochi (Fort Cochin).
Next you’ll see the flamboyant palace in Mysore before taking an overnight train ride to explore the magical ruins of Hampi and finishing the tour on the blissful beaches of Goa where you could easily hang out for a while and find new travel buddies to head north with. This is an 18 – 29 Basix tour thats amazing value from only £513 for 13 days. Click here to see more details and to book.
This is one of G Adventures most popular backpacking tours of India which is not surprising as the itinerary really has all the must visit places in Rajasthan and North India as well as some more off beat gems. It’s a ‘yolo’ trip so it’s fun, adventurous and affordable and perfect for backpackers.
The tour starts in Delhi and visits all the highlights of Rajasthan – the most colourful, captivating state in India. Visit Jaipur, Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Pushkar, Udaipur and Bikaner, explore some of the best forts, palaces, temples and bazaars in all of India, go on a camel safari, camp in the desert and experience rural village life.
You’ll also visit Agra for the Taj Mahal and experience the holy city of Varanasi. I love how all of the highlights of Rajasthan are included in this tour, some tours skip the less well known places but this one really has it all! Prices start at £679. Click here for more details and to book.
This Epic India 18 – 29 Basix tour is my favourite India backpacking tour because it combines the very best of both North and South India into one amazing tour. Starting in Delhi you’ll visit all the essential sights of North India including spiritual Varanasi, Agra for the Taj Mahal and Jaipur. You’ll also visit charming, off beat Bundi in Rajasthan before returning to Delhi to take a flight all the way South to luscious, tropical Kerala.
Once down South you’ll explore the beaches, jungles and cruise the backwaters of Kerala before visiting the flamboyant palace at Mysore and the magical ruins of Hampi before ending up on the beaches of Goa where you just might not want to ever leave! This tour starts at £970 Click here for more details and to book!
This 18 – 30 somethings G Adventures tour shows you the highlights of North and South India on a budget with the company of other fun, like minded backpackers. The tour kicks off in the capital Delhi and visits Agra and Jaipur to complete the Golden Triangle. Next, take time out in a rural village where you’ll met local craftsmen, explore the desert and stay in the village.
Then you’ll head to the spiritual and charming town of Pushkar, fall in love with the romantic lakeside city of Udaipur before visiting Ahmedabad and Gandhi’s ashram. Take an overnight train to buzzing Bombay (Mumbai) and then hop on a flight to the beaches of Goa before flying to Kerala where you’ll explore Kochi, the backwaters, the beaches of Varkala and a local homestay. You’ll see so many different and diverse parts of India in a short time with this tour it might blow your mind! Prices start from £1,399. Click here for more details and to book! If you’ve got less time you can also just do the first half of this trip up to Goa. More info here. Or do it all with Sri Lanka too! See here.
The Dragon Trip run epic, adventurous and affordable backpacker tours to China and Japan and I’m excited as they have just announced plans to start an India backpacking tour too in April 2019! The epic 26 day ultimate India tour covers the best of North and South India and the route is very similar to my perfect India itinerary – they really hit all the best spots and sights! Plus they are offering Global Gallivanting readers 10% off the tour when you use the code GG/TDT18!
The tour starts in Delhi and wastes no time before taking an overnight train ride to the holy city of Varanasi before checking out the Taj Mahal in Agra and the sights of Jaipur. Take a camel safari through the desert and visit the grand forts in Jaisalmer and Jodhpur and fall in love with the romantic lakeside city of Udaipur. Next head to buzzing Mumbai and relax and party on the beaches of Goa before visiting magical Hampi. The modern city of Bangalore, the scenic tea plantations of Munnar, multicultural and historic Kochi and the Kerala backwaters complete this epic India tour. Click here for more details and to book! Don’t forget the code GG/TDT18 to get 10% off.
I also like Geckos Adventures and Contiki. All their tours are specifically designed for younger travelers and backpackers and they have really fun and cheap India backpacking tours that are perfect for 18 – 35 year olds. For more companies you can also compare itineraries, reviews and prices from loads of different tour companies and find great deals on Tour Radar – check out this page where you can get 60 % off Asia tours.
Have you been on an awesome India backpacker tour? Which one did you take and how was it? I’d love to hear your experiences so leave a comment below 🙂