The Perfect Route and Itinerary for Backpacking India

Backpacking India: The Best Route and 3 Month Itinerary

“I’m thinking of backpacking India, but where should I go?”

If you are planning a trip backpacking India deciding where to go is not an easy task. India is such a vast and wonderfully diverse country that sometimes the hardest thing when planning a trip to India is deciding where to go.

One of the best things about backpacking India is the amazing diversity in this sub continent – from snow capped Himalayan mountains to tropical beaches, from lanquid backwaters to chaotic cites and desert forts – India sometimes feels like many different countries especially as the languages, food and culture differs in each state.

India really does have it all, there is so much to see, amazing food, welcoming people and it’s still one of the cheapest places to travel in the world and you could travel around India for a lifetime and see something new and fascinating every day! That’s why many people return again and again to spend many months at a time backpacking India. For me, India is the ultimate travel destination! 

backpacking India jumping outside the elaborate Mysore Palace

The flamboyant Mysore Palace

Let’s be honest, backpacking India is not a walk in the park, especially for first time visitors. The distances are huge, the culture shock and hassle can sometimes be overwhelming and traveling here can at times be challenging and frustrating.

There sure is a lot to see in India but my top tip for anyone backpacking India for the first time is to take it slow! Everything always takes longer than you expect and India is not a place to rush around; trying to see too much will end up in a stressful instead of enjoyable trip.

I learnt the hard way, I tried to fit too much in during my first trip, I tried to cover the whole country in 2 months and ended up stressed, sick, scammed and exhausted with a love/ hate relationship with India. But even this could not put me off giving India another go and when I returned for my second and third visits I took things a lot slower and enjoyed my trips so much more.

Anna with Stone Chariot in Hampi

Exploring the ruins of Hampi

So where should you go on your first trip backpacking India?

Traveling this huge and diverse country takes time and I would recommend to come for at least 3 months. However, if you have less than 1 month in India then I would concentrate on one area. Think about what you are interested in – whether it is history, forts and palaces or nature and wildlife, temples or beaches, food. shopping or nightlife.

For first time visitors I usually recommend to start in the less chaotic South of India.  While Rajasthan and the Golden Triangle are home to some amazing and iconic sights including opulent forts and of course the Taj Mahal, places like the laid back beaches and backwaters of Kerala and Goa are perfect places to get a good introduction to India to allow you to get acclimatized before tackling the big sights and chaotic cities in the North.  Tamil Nadu also has lots to offer as does under rated Karnataka. Or, if it’s warm enough,  head to the Himalayan mountains in North India in Himachal Pradesh and the surrounding area.

All visitors to India need to get a visa before travelling – check out my complete step by step guide to applying for an Indian visa to make the process easier. 

My Perfect Itinerary for Backpacking India

Here’s a route map of the best places to go in India to help you get your bearings and plan your perfect itinerary:

The Perfect Route for Backpacking India

If I was backpacking India again for the first time, knowing what I know now, this is the route that I would take. Starting from the more chilled out South and heading North to get a good variety of destinations while avoiding extra distance or going back on yourself (it always takes longer than you think to get anywhere in India!)

Read on and I’ll explain each destination, why go, what to see and do, where to stay and how to get there.

Tours of India

If you prefer someone else to do all the planning and organizing (and I don’t blame you, India can be a challenging country to backpack or travel independently in) Check out this post with my 12 favourite India tours and itineraries. I recommend G Adventures – they run some awesome, award winning, socially responsible, small tours for all budgets and tastes and have some great itineraries and tours around India, check out their last minute deals to see if you can grab a bargain. 

Intrepid also has a great selection of fun and adventurous tours all over India with reputable local guides. Check out Intrepid’s last min deals to get 25% off. Also,  Geckos Adventures do really great value, super fun tours especially for 18 – 29 year olds.  You can also compare itineraries 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.

For more detail on the tours I recommend check out this post with my 12 favourite India tours and itineraries.

Houseboats on the Kerala Backwaters

Cruising the Kerala Backwaters in a houseboat

Kerala – 1 week

Fly into Kerala and start your Indian adventure gently in laid back Kerala – a tropical and luscious state known as ‘God’s own country.’ 

Explore the multicultural history of Fort Cochin before cruising the backwaters, lazing on tropical beaches like Varkala and Kovalam, and enjoying the nature in places like Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary and soak up the gorgeous, green views in the tea growing hill station of Munnar

Where to stay: Kerala has a good network of new backpacker hostels. Check out my 12 best backpacker hostels in Kerala here.

How to get there: Kochi (Cochin) and Trivandrum (Thiruananthapuram) both have airports that have some international flights and are also well connected to the rest of India with domestic flights.

How to get around: The coastal side of Kerala is well connected by trains but to reach Munnar or Periyar you can take local or delux buses. Even hiring a car and driver in India isn’t too expensive. GoMowgli also run a hop on hop off backpacker bus around Kerala which makes for a perfect easy start for your backpacking adventure in India.

Read More:

A Flashpacker’s Guide to Kerala

Why Kerala is the Perfect Introduction to India.

Houseboat Heaven! Cruising the Backwaters of Kerala

How to Cruise the Kerala Backwaters on a Budget

12 of the Best Backpacker Hostels in Kerala

Stunning views over the tea plantations of Munnar

Enjoy the stunning views over the tea plantations of Munnar

Kerala to Karnataka

From Kerala continue into the neighbouring and relatively underrated state of Karnataka, a large and diverse state with everything from modern mega cities to ancient ruins and palaces as well as rolling hills, jungles, tiger reserves, quintessential countryside life and beaches to explore.

Mysore Palace

Explore the extravagant Mysore Palace

Mysore – 2/3 days

Mysore (Mysuru) is one of South India’s most popular and flamboyant destinations, famous for it’s glittering royal heritage, magnificent monuments, colourful bazaars, the enthralling, elaborate Mysore Palace and Ashtanga yoga.

Where to stay: Sonder Hostel is located in the nicest area of Mysore or try the funky Zostel Hostel

How to get there: You can take an overnight delux bus from Kochi to Mysore, or you could break up the journey roughly halfway and cool off in the hill station of Ooty (Udhagamandalam) before heading to Mysore.

Read More: A Flashpacker’s Guide to Mysore

The palace in Bangalore

The Palace in Bangalore

Bangalore – 1/2 days

Bangalore (Bengaluru) is India’s silicon city and IT hub where you can indulge in the delights of modern India, get your fix of Western food, malls and nightlife. There’s a few nice parks and a palace here too and it’s also a good transport hub.

Where to stay: Accommodation in Bangalore can be quite expensive but Social Rehab is a new, smart hostel located in the cool Indiranagar district is an affordable and sociable place to stay.

How to get there: Bangalore is an easy 3 hour train or bus ride from Mysore. Bangalore also has an airport with frequent and reasonably priced connections to other parts of India.

Read More: 10 Things to do in Bangalore

 

Temples at Hampi - a popular backpacker destination in India

Temples at Hampi – a popular backpacker destination in India

Hampi – 5 days

Hampi is one of the magical destinations in India where a surreal and beautiful boulder strewn scenery surrounds the captivating ancient temples and ruins of the once great Vijayanagara Empire. There’s a big backpacker scene here and the chance to see some out of this world landscapes and idyllic Indian countryside life.

Expect to linger longer than expected! Hampi is one of my favourite places in India and a highlight of many backpacker’s travels in India.

Where to stay: There are cheap guesthouses in Hampi bazaar – one of the best is Gopi Guest House but no meat or alcohol are served on this side of the river.  Most backpackers prefer the relaxed, hippy scene on the other side of the river where you can stay in cute, rustic huts with views over the paddy fields, my favourites are the super cute Mowgli Guest House  and Shanthi Guesthouse.

How to get there: The easiest and quickest way to get to Hampi from Bangalore is by overnight bus.

Read More: Why I fell in love with magical Hampi

Palolem Beach in Goa

Gorgeous Palolem Beach in Goa

Goa – 1 week

Another place you might find hard to leave are the blissful beaches of Goa with their infectious, easy going way of life. If you can tear yourself off the beach you’ll find there’s plenty of churches, forts, waterfalls, spice plantations, markets and a buzzing nightlife scene to explore here. Goa is the most relaxed state in India with the best nightlife, a vibrant and cosmopolitan food scene and is a great place to meet other travellers.

Where to stay: Goa’s beaches are all different but the most popular with backpackers is the colourful rustic beach in the far south at Palolem and the hippy beaches of Anjuna and Arambol in the north that are close to all the markets and parties. See the Top 10 Backpacker Hostels in Goa for more ideas on where to stay.

How to get there: From Hampi you can take an overnight bus to Goa or take an 8 hour train in the daytime. There are also flights to Goa from all over India.

Read More:

My Ultimate Insider’s Guide to Goa

The Perfect Itinerary for 1 week in Goa

Top 10 Backpacker Hostels in Goa

 

mumbai-cst

CST (formerly Victoria Terminus) Mumbai’s grandest colonial building –

Mumbai (Bombay) – 3/4 days

Mumbai was previously called Bombay but everyone still calls it by the old name. Bombay is India’s biggest, most buzzing and aspirational city – home of Bollywood and some atmospheric, crumbling colonial architecture. It’s an exciting, dynamic city of dreams and contrasts with so much to do and see. Mumbai is my favourite city in India.

Where to stay: Mumbai has some of the most expensive accommodation in India and there is only 1 backpacker hostel here so far which is The Wanderers Backpackers Homestay in Andheri (near the airport)  A good, clean budget option in Fort, near the popular area of Colaba is The Travellers Inn which has dorms and private rooms and is popular with backpackers.

How to get there: Goa to Mumbai is a 12 hour overnight train or bus. The flight from Goa to Mumbai takes only a hour and you can find prices from only 1,000 rupees so it’s worth checking the flight price before you get on the long bus ride.

Read More:

A Flashpacker’s Guide to Mumbai

21 Things to do in Mumbai

How visiting Dharavi Slum changed my perceptions on poverty

 

Ellora Caves

Ellora Caves

Ellora and Ajantha Caves – 2/3 days

Break up the journey between Mumbai and Rajasthan by checking out the awe inspiring Unesco listed Ellora and Ajanta Caves near Aurangabad. These caves are one of the largest rock-cut monastery-temple caves complexes in the world with amazing ancient Buddhist carvings and sculptures.

Where to stay: There are not many hotels near the caves so Aurangabad, the closest town to the caves makes a convenient base. A good, cheap hotel is Hotel Preetam. 

How to get there: Aurangabad is about 6 hours on the train from Mumbai, 5 hours in a taxi or about 11 hours on a public bus. From Aurangabad you can get a bus to the caves but it’s more convenient to hire a taxi to between the two cave sites. It’s about 2 hours drive from Ellora to Ajanta.

Lake Pichola in romantic Udaipur, Rajasthan

Lake Pichola in romantic Udaipur, Rajasthan

Rajasthan – 2 weeks

Rajasthan is possibly India’s most flamboyant state with so many ancient forts, extravagant palaces, colourful bazaars and interesting history there is a lot to explore here.

Udaipur – 3/4 days

If you’re coming from the south of India then make relaxing and charming Udaipur, a romantic city of shimmering lakes and glittering palaces, your first stop in Rajasthan.

Where to Stay: Dream Heaven Guesthouse is also great with arty rooms and gorgeous views over the lake. Zostel is soon opening a new hostel in Udaipur that is situated on the lakeside near the palace.

How to get there: You can get an overnight train over bus from either Mumbai or Aurangabad to Udaipur. You might even be able to find a good deal on a flight between Mumbai and Udaipur.

Views over Jodhpur - the blue city

Views over Jodhpur – the blue city

Jodhpur – 2/3 days

After chilled out Udaipur head to the Blue City of Jodphur and see the mighty Fort Mehrangarh and explore the old city – a tangle of medieval winding streets, blue coloured buildings and bazaars.

Where to stay: Zostel have a hostel in Jodphur located near to the station or stay in an old haveli or guesthouse in the old city – Bob (Marley) Hostel is a cool, centrally located guesthouse located in the heart of the old city.

How to get there: Buses from Udaipur to Jodphur only take about 7 hours or a taxi takes only 4 hours.

Jaisalmer-Fort

Jaisalmer Fort

Jaisalmer 4/5 days

Jaisalmer is a little out of the way but this historic golden fort rising out of the desert is quite a sight. Taking a camel safari across the Thar desert is also a popular experience to try in Rajasthan. Many leave from Jaisalmer but Bikaner is another good choice, if you don’t have time to get to Jaisalmer or are looking for something a little less touristy.

Where to stay: Zostel has a hostel designed like a haveli or old palace with views over the desert and fort. They can also organise your camel safari with a reputable operator or check out Surya Paying Guest House, a colourful, quirky place within Jaisalmer Fort.

How to get there: Jaisalmer is only 6 hours on the train from Jodhpur.

The ghats at Pushkar

The ghats at Pushkar

Pushkar 3/4 days

The small but charming holy lakeside town of Pushkar is quite a bewitching and magical place with good shopping that is a popular place for backpackers to relax. If you come in October/November try to time your visit the the amazing spectacle of the Pushkar camel fair.

Where to stay: Zostel have an amazing new hostel with a swimming pool in the center of Pushkar. Hotel Diamond is a good, centrally located budget guesthouse choice.

How to get there: From Jaislamer take an overnight train to Ajmer Junction, from there its a 15 min bus or taxi ride to Pushkar.

Amer fort in Rajasthan

Amber fort near Jaipur

The Golden Triangle – 1 week

The Golden Triangle consists of the capital Delhi, Agra and Jaipur and is one of India’s most visited routes as it contains some of the most famous sights in India. You could rush round it in 4/5 days but it’s always better to take your time as there’s alot to see here but also alot of hassle.

Jaipur – 3 days

Jaipur is the capital of Rajasthan and known as ‘the pink city’ h0me to the extravagant City Palace, the honeycombed Hawa Mahal and the impressive Amber Fort.

Where to stay: There are lots of new backpacker hostels in Jaipur – try sociable Roadhouse Hostel  or for a guesthouse Madhav Guest House is a friendly and clean budget choice.

How to get there: Jaipur is only a 2 hour train journey from Ajmer Junction (the closest train station to Pushkar)

The Taj Mahal

The Taj Mahal

Agra – 2/3 days

Agra is home to the most beautiful building the world – the Taj Mahal, a sight you simply can’t miss when traveling India. You can visit the Taj on a rushed day trip from Delhi but Agra is also home to Agra Fort and the nearby ruined city of Fatephur Sikri which are worth staying a few more days to explore.

Where to stay: Zostel have a hostel in Agra and Sai Palace Guesthouse is close to the Taj and has views of it from the rooftop restaurant.

How to get there: Agra is only about 4 hours on the train from Jaipur.

India Gate in New Delhi

India Gate in New Delhi

Delhi – 3/ 4 days

Many travellers go through Delhi as quickly as possible as it can an overwhelming city which is a shame because there is so much to see here. Delhi has a lot of history as well as being a city hurtling into the 21st century. Make time to check out the Red Fort, the Jama Masjid, Humayun’s Tomb, Qutb Minar, Chandni Chowk, New Delhi and India Gate and the Akshardam Temple.

Where to stay: Traditionally most backpacker and budget accommodation in Delhi is situated in the Paharganj area near New Delhi railway station – Hostel Smyle Inn is good or check out Stops Hostel near Chandi Chowk. There are also many cool, new hostels have opened in the suburbs giving you a chance to escape the most chaotic parts of Delhi – one of the best is Madpackers Hostel. See my 8 best backpacker hostels in Delhi. 

How to get there: There is a new fast train that gets you from Agra to Delhi in 3 hours. Once in Delhi make use of the new, modern and efficient metro – it can get to most attractions without having to haggle with a rickshaw driver.

Read More: 

How to avoid the scams and survive your first time in Delhi. 

8 of the best backpacker hostels in Delhi 

From Delhi you could either go East to visit the holy city of Varanasi, or West and visit Amritsar, the Himalayas and Rishikesh.

Himanchal Pradesh, North India

Himanchal Pradesh, North India

A Himalayan Loop – 2/3 weeks

From Delhi go west to visit the amazing Golden Temple in Amristar and watch the spectacle of the Pakistan border ceremony.

If it’s warm enough then from Amritsar you could continue up into the Himalayan mountains in Himachal Pradesh visiting Dharamsala (home of the Dalai Lama and Tibet government in exile, Manali and Shimla the queen of the hill stations and the Summer capital of India during the times of the British Raj.

In July and August the weather is warm enough to head up to lovely Leh and Ladakh. On your way looping back to  Delhi don’t miss  Rishikesh the yoga capital of the world situated on a gorgeous stretch of the holy river Ganges.

rishikesh

Rishikesh

From Delhi take an overnight train east bound to visit the holy city of Varanasi, one of the world’s oldest inhabited cites and home to the holy river Ganges. Watching all the rituals of life and death played out by the river at sunrise is an unforgettable and essential Indian experience.

There is a reason why I put Delhi and Varanasi at the end of the trip – visiting these loud, dirty, crazy places could be too overwhelming to enjoy at the start of your trip, plus there are a lot of touts and scammers but, once acclimatized to backpacking India, they are fascinating places to visit.

varanasi-2

The river Ganges in Varanasi at dawn

Also consider visiting …

Also, try Tamil Nadu, this could be an alternative starting point although travel is not quite as easy as Kerala. You could also fly into Chennai (Madras) only a few hours South is the seaside temple town of Mahabalipuram that is popular with backpackers, the French city of Pondicherry and nearby alternative ‘utopian’ community of Auroville  is worth checking out. Tamil Nadu is all about temples and the best is the Mennakashi temple in Madurai which you could swing by on the way over to Kerala. Check out my perfect itinerary for traveling in Tamil Nadu.

Meenakashi Temple in Madurai, Tamil Nadu

Meenakashi Temple in Madurai, Tamil Nadu

How long do you need to backpack India?

Of course there are still many, many more places to see in India, it would take a lifetime to see them all, but I think this would be the perfect route for an (at least) 3 month visit that eases a first time visitor in gently into this incredible country and also gives a good range of sights and activities without doubling back on yourself too much.

If you don’t have time to do it all how about splitting it up into 2 visits – the 1st time travel the South from Kerala up to Mumbai, and the 2nd visit from Mumbai through Rajasthan and the North.

Palolem Beach in Goa

Palolem Beach in Goa

What if you only have a month for backpacking India?

It’s a shame but if you can really only spare 1 month then I would still suggest to start in Kerala, relax and soak in the nature on the backwaters, or Goa to enjoy the beaches and nightlife and head inland to magical Hampi for an easy introduction to India. You could fly from Goa up to the North and tour the Golden Triangle taking in Delhi, Jaipur and Agra and the Taj Mahal and then taking a sleeper train to visit fascinating Varanasi. And then expect to return to see what you missed out on!

What if you only have 2 weeks for backpacking India?

2 weeks is a short time to try and see this huge country but 2 weeks is better than nothing right!? If you only have 2 weeks to backpack India I would suggest concentrating on just one area. Taking a tour would also be a good idea to maximize your time available so you can see as much as possible and avoid wasting precious time getting lost, scammed or planning your next move.

If you only have 2 weeks to backpack India I would suggest either exploring Kerala and South India for an easier and more laid back option. The Southern India and Karnataka by Rail Tour with G Adventures covers all the best places in Kerala, Karnataka and Goa in just 10 days. Or you could hit up the big sites in North India like the Golden Triangle, Varanasi and Rajasthan. This Geckos Adventures North India Explorer Tour visits the highlights of the Golden Triangle as well as the holy city of Varanasi and the more charming, off beat gem of Bundi in Rajasthan in only 11 days. Check out the other tours of India I recommend here.

 

What do you think of my backpacking India itinerary? Anywhere I missed out?

Pin Me! 🙂

The Perfect Route for Backpacking India

See more tips for preparing for your first time backpacking India:

My Top 10 Tips for your First Time Traveling in India

How to Prepare for a Trip to India 

11 Tips for Women Traveling in India

How to get an Indian Visa 

Backpacking in India: How much does it cost? 

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Sunset over romantic Udaipur in Rajasthan

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46 Comments

  • Eliza says:

    Hi Anna, this couldn’t have come at a more perfect time. We fly to Kerala at the end of October to begin 6 months travelling in India. Planning a route, even in the vaguest sense has proved really challenging though I’m pleased that what we have mapped out is near identical to your suggested itinerary. Can’t wait!

  • Wow, nearly exactly what I did! Only have a month here. Started out in Kerala and worked my way up to Karnataka, Goa, Aurangabad/Ellora Caves, and Mumbai. We CouchSurfed a lot on the trip and met some incredible people. If I were to do it again, I would have skipped Gokarna and went straight to Goa after Hampi. It depends on each person, but three nights in Goa was more than enough for me. I can go somewhere else for nice beaches but India has so much more to offer that is unique to this country.

    Definitely, definitely coming back to tackle the north next time. The south really is a perfect introduction to India. Totally safe and easy to travel. I’m not ready to leave!

  • thatsofarah says:

    Definitely one of my favourite countries. And Hampi is magical. I would not leave out Hyderabad for world’s best biryani though. If I could afford to visit India again, I’d love to go to Assam and Rajashtan.

  • Petr says:

    Definitely I have to visit India in the future!

    • Anna says:

      So glad you liked the post! Yes, India is an incredible place to travel and I think everyone should visit at least once – it can be life changing! 🙂

  • hemanth says:

    Nice photos , which camera you use please ?

  • Rebecca says:

    Hi. Thanks for this great article. This is pretty much the route myself and my daughter (who is 17) are taking for our 6 month trip in India. Except we are heading up to Rishikesh and Manali after Agra.
    The question is, do you think it may be a good idea to budget for a flight from Goa straight to udaipur? I feel it would save a lot of time and it really is quite a gruelling journey by land (done it many times) Flights are pretty reasonable too. I know its cheating a little bit but there are many wonderful overland journeys to do once your up north. Your thoughts?

    • Anna says:

      Hey thanks so much! Yes, including Rishikesh and Himachal is a great idea and yes, I actually fly quite a lot in India these days as it can take a long time to get around and flights can be quite reasonable. It’s a shame to miss Mumbai though, I really like it there but Udaipur is nicer and flying is a good idea when time is tight. Hope you enjoy your trip and glad my post helped! 🙂

  • onelove says:

    thank you so much for the article love and gratitude to you 🙂 🙂 🙂

  • Felix says:

    I think I like the way this route is I’m currently traveling Southeast Asia for three months and I plan to spend the rest of my time in India. I’m planning to head over there by the end of September have to go back home in November so roughly i have 2 months to spend. Deserts and Safari is something I really want to do and I love the wild life the camel tour is a must for me. And the Taj Mahal is a must see when you go to Indian

    I would probably be flying from Vietnam. I will be in Cambodia tomorrow for like a week then spend some time in Vietnam before heading to India

    How can I get a cheap fligh ticket

    • Anna says:

      Hey Felix, glad you liked the post – sounds like your going to have a great trip. When I fly between India and Southeast Asia I usually take Air Asia from Kuala Lumpur as its usually the cheapest option if your flying to South India there are quite a few cheap flight options and flights to KL from the rest of Southeast Asia are usually cheap. Hope this helps 🙂

  • Carl L. says:

    Great article, definitely will be my main guide to my planed trip to India. What’s the best months to visit India if I plan to visit 3 or even 6 months? Thanks!

    • Anna says:

      Hey Carl, Thanks, glad you liked the post. The best time to travel in most of India is the winter – Oct – March when its cooler so better for sightseeing.

  • Felix says:

    Ok great thanks and yes I think I will fly from Kuala Lumpur. I was planning to go to Vietnam but with visa changes for us I will go from Cambodia to Kuala Lumpur now spend a few days there then off to India by the 27 of September
    Felix recently posted…WELCOM TO BALI INDONESIAMy Profile

  • Felix says:

    One more thing how do I go on applying for a visa
    Felix recently posted…WELCOM TO BALI INDONESIAMy Profile

  • Freddie Lee says:

    Hi Anna,
    brilliant article found it very helpful in planning my own itinerary. I was just wondering on any advice about travelling by train as i heard tickets on sleeper trains sell out very quickly?

  • Julie says:

    Hi Anna,

    I came across your website accidentally, and boy, I’m glad I did. You are a WEALTH of information. In your Indian Itinerary, which is brilliant by the way, you left out the North East completely. The richness of the Northeast of India cannot be found anywhere else in India. Check out Kaziranga, tea gardens of Assam, camping in the wild in Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Mizoram, Tawang etc etc. You will be mesmerised. Hope you can make it to that part of India someday. Good luck 🙂

    • Anna says:

      Hi Julie

      Thanks for stopping by – it’s so nice to hear that my tips are useful!

      I’ve actually visited the North East twice and love it! I went to monasteries in Tawang, saw rhinos at Kaziranga, celebrated tribal festivals and met headhunters! You can read more about my time in the North East here – http://www.global-gallivanting.com/category/india-2/north-east-india/

      However, as it can be difficult to arrange permits and transportation for some places I didn’t put it in this post – this is kind of a starter for the must see places for a first time trip to India – of course there is loads more to see, it would take a lifetime to see it all. There’s still alot I want to see in North East!

      Thanks so much for your tips 🙂

  • Wendy says:

    Hey,
    Did you travel India alone? I was wondering if you have any tips for a girl traveling alone.

    Also, would you recommend any spiritual places?

  • David says:

    Hi interesting and informative articles,I am thinking of travelling more or less the route you suggest but starting Delhi and heading south, apart from the culture shock of Delhi first, any other reasons for going south to north? Many thanks for all the tips and advice.

    • Anna says:

      Hi David, glad you liked the articles – the reason I suggest to start in Kerala is mainly to minimize the culture shock and challenges of traveling in India for first timers but of course there’s no reason why you couldn’t start in Delhi and work your way down South. In fact, some people who start their trip in Kerala or Goa like it so much that they get stuck there for the whole trip! Hope you have a good trip whichever way you decide to go 🙂

  • Thomas says:

    In the middle of planning a RTW trip and love this itinerary. Plan to be in India for 60 day e-visa though so have to shuffle some things around. Is the below route too ambitious?

    Mid November fly to Kochi

    Alleppey-Kochi-Ooty one week
    Mysore-Hampi one week
    South Goa-North Goa one week
    Mumbai-Aurangabad one week

    Fly to Varanasi

    Varanasi-Agra-Jaipur one week
    Udaipur-Jodhpur one week
    Jaisalmer-Bikaner one week
    Amritsar-Delhi one week

    • Anna says:

      Hi Thomas, your route and timing seems ok but it’s always better to take it slower if in doubt – it’s not enjoyable to rush India. Hope you have a good trip 🙂

  • Amrita says:

    Certainly, you have rendered very good information for the keen visitors who want to experience this wonderland.

  • Richard says:

    I am currently in Munnar, looking to get to Mysore but stuck at a bit of a loss of how to get there.

    Would the best option be an AC bus; that would take about 8 and a half hours from Kochi. (Maybe stay for one night in Kochi again to break up the journey from Munnar)?

  • Liam Parkin says:

    Hello Anna,

    This information is very helpful! I am planning a 4 month trip with my brother, we have not traveled like this before so thank you for all the info. One thing which may be hard to answer, I realise its a sliding scale but how much would you budget in broad terms for the 3 month trip above?

  • Jake says:

    Hi Anna,

    I have roughly 10 weeks in India but I am restricted to flying in and out of Delhi. Do you think it could be a good idea to do the golden triangle and then fly down to Kochi from Delhi or somewhere up there and then follow the itinerary you have (which I love btw) back up. Based on your estimated days I might even be able to fit a little time up further north doing a Himalayan loop. What do you think?

    I will be travelling by myself as an experienced male traveller, but never to India.

    Cheers
    Jake

    • Anna says:

      Hi Jake. Glad you liked it – the reasons why I saw do Kerala first is because its less hassle than the golden triangle but you could do it whatever way you feel and it depends on how fast you like to travel and what time of year if you want to do the Himalayas too but with 10 weeks you should have enough time for most of it if you travel quite quickly and don’t get stuck in somewhere like Goa for a couple of weeks which is what seems to happen to many backpackers. Hope you have a great trip 🙂

  • Allanah says:

    Hi Anna
    I have been following your blog for a long time, and we have finally decided to come out to India . We were about aprehensive as we slightly older single ladies so we were going to take a tour but who knew you could be to old for one backpacking tour and to young for another 😀 , so coming across your suggested route has inspired us with a bit more confidence coupled with the fact we met two very sassy ladies from Bombay yesterday we are going to go it alone
    My questions arewe will be starting beginning of August in Kerala ( as we are in Srilanka till end of July ) so traveling in the monsoon is it going to be possible to get around easy , as low season etc ? And do you have any idea if you have to have an outward flight to get in as we wanted to cross into Nepal in October by land.

    Ps how much is a chai latte fee for your very helpful blog 😉

    • Anna says:

      Hi Allanah. So sorry for my delay in replying, I only just saw your comment! 🙁

      I’m so glad to hear that you are feeling inspired to visit India and Sri Lanka. That’s kind of funny about the tour but good that you are feeling confident enough to go it alone and its easy to get local tours or hire a car and driver along the way if you don’t want to take the bus all the time and want a bit more comfort.

      In August monsoon may make it a little more difficult to travel so allow a bit more time but everything will be green and lush.

      Regarding the outbound flight, it depends what visa you have – if you have an e visa I think you are required to have an outbound ticket when you arrive but many people cross into Nepal overland so you can just explain thats what you are doing and it might be OK not to have one.

      And feel free to donate whatever you feel my advice has been worth 🙂 sorry for taking so long to respond – I hope you have a great trip!

  • Oliver says:

    Hey Anna! Thank you so much for this guide, it is very helpful for someone who is planning his first trip ever to India like me.
    I am still unsure about when exactly I will find time to travel to India. From what I’ve read so far, the best time to go is November until February but I might not find time then. Are the summer months not at all a good time to travel India in your opinion? I was thinking to do the first part of your itinerary (Kerala to Bombay) in the summer months next year, probably July/august. Do you think it would still be a good time to go?
    Best wishes

  • Maria says:

    The article is perfect. I love it

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