India had been on my radar for a while, so when a YVRDeals alert popped up that was too good to resist, we jumped on it.
How much does it cost to fly from Vancouver to India?
Our fare was $1,516.48 for two round-trip tickets from Vancouver to New Delhi. With some processing fees the final total was $1,671.71 CAD*. We would travel China Southern with a layover in Guangzhou. Total flight time each way: 20 hours there and 16 hours back. Days spent in India, excluding international travel days: two weeks.
China Southern’s rates seem to be holding consistent at the $800 price point. Flying the larger carriers, like Air Canada or Air India, will push your fare upwards of $1,200.
*All prices in this budget breakdown are in Canadian dollars.
Tour or independently travel Rajasthan, India?
Tickets in hand, so to speak, Greg and I had every intention of booking a guided trip. (That’s tourism speak for “tour”.)
We had always assumed we’d opt for a tour because I was a) intimidated by planning the logistics of India travel; b) for safety; and c) frankly, I didn’t want to be consumed by pre-travel research.
Both Intrepid and G Adventures were offering itineraries that hit on most of our key cities, costing from $1,000-$1,400 per person. But as it turned out, our dates didn’t align very well with either company’s departure dates.
Oi! We’d be DIY-ing our India trip. The night I realized as much, was a pretty sleepless one.
Next, we had to design our route.
Ultimately we settled on: New Delhi – Agra – Ranthambore National Park – Jaipur – Pushkar – Jodphur – Udaipur* – Varanasi.
*Udaipur was a critical Rajasthani terminus because it has an airport, which allowed us to affordably fly to Varanasi.
How much does it cost to travel around Rajasthan?
You can train between cities or hire a rented car with driver. We had intended to travel by train, but were easily persuaded by a local “travel agent” to take a car and driver.
What did our 7-day car and driver package include?
- Air conditioned 4-door vehicle
- All fuel
- All highway tolls
- Driver’s time and accommodation
- Three nights of accommodation in Ranthambore National Park, Pushkar and Jodphur in a 3-star haveli/hotel. (We hadn’t booked all of our accommodation at that point.)
- Jeep safari for two in Ranthambore National Park
- 3-hour private guided sightseeing tour in Agra
- 3-hour private guided Taj Mahal tour
We paid $1,400 all-in. Is this a good price? Probably not. Full disclosure: we didn’t even negotiate this number.
Pro’s of taking a car and driver:
- No dicking around getting to train stations or waiting for trains. You wake up and go which maximizes your time.
- No fussing with rickshaw drivers to get between attractions.
- Our driver picked up cold beers for us in the afternoon.
Cons of taking a car and driver:
- I’m fairly certain that by day two our driver was driving while fatigued. I suspect he started nodding off at the wheel about three times during our trip. It was pretty much as unsettling as it sounds.
- Your driver is totally getting a kickback for any dining and shopping recommendations. That being said, all of our meals were superb and I didn’t ever suffer any “Delhi Belly”. However, we were probably paying 30-50% above what you could find on your own and we didn’t really get the opportunity to do much street shopping or dining.
How much is it to fly within India?
A host of low-cost carriers make air travel within India very affordable. The further out you book, the better the prices.
What’s more, what look like reasonable driving distances to a Canadian, in reality, are made all the slower with cows, lorries and highways that narrow through villages. For those reasons, I wouldn’t hesitate to fly.
We travelled IndiGo, each time boarding Airbus A380s.
Udaipur – New Delhi layover – Varanasi: $130 for two persons
Varanasi – New Delhi: $178 for two persons
How much do hotels cost in India?
You can pay pennies for a bed or thousands for a luxury suite; the sky is the limit in India.
I wanted to stay in havelis (restored former mansions converted to hotels). Location was important, as were WiFi and air conditioning.
Here’s a sample of where we stayed and what we paid:
Hotel Tara Palace Chandni Chowk, Old Dehli $59.58/night
Bedweiser Backpackers Hostel, Agra $21.60/night
Ranthambore Villa, Sawai Madhopur $44/night
Zostel, Jaipur $32/night
Nahargarh Haveli, Jaipur $45/night
Hotel Master Paradise, Puskar $30/night
Heritage Kuchaman Haveli, Jodphur $55/night
Jaiwana Haveli, Udaipur $75/night
Hotel Alka $124/night (premium room, penthouse Ganges riverfront)
Budget Recap: two persons over 14 days
International flights: $1,671.71
Domestic flights: $308
Hotels + local transportation: $769.76 + $1,400
Tourist e-visas: $125.88
Note: I’ve opted not to include dining, shopping and attractions in my budget breakdown because these are largely discretionary from person to person. However, here are some handy references:
- Sit-down meal which includes two meat entrees, rice and naan: 800-1,200 INR
- Kingfisher beer in a restaurant, 600 ml: 250-300 INR
- Museum/fort attraction with audio guide: 300-500 INR per person
- Taj Mahal admission: 1,000 INR
One last note:
I would describe Greg and I’s budget as “comfortable” and this budget could be modified in multiple ways. By no means were our accommodations expat-oriented or luxurious, nor would they be considered budget. Travelling by train (versus car) would greatly reduce transportation costs, but also requires longer travel time.
In any event, I hope this budget breakdown helps travellers budget their trip to India.