10 rules for finding budget accommodation in India.
All Backpackers traveling to India get acquainted with the term ‘Cheap and Best’ in the first 2 weeks of their time in India but we Indians never come across such a thing while traveling. We pay too much or at least are expected to pay too much while travelling in India. In our recent trip to spiti n kinnaur valley, we paid from INR 200 to INR 700 for rooms, and surprisingly had to bargain the most for the 700 one. In one place in Kalpa, we went in to check a room in Kalpa, receptionist showed a dirty room, and quoted 600. We exchanged looks which he understood meant NO. Before we could say anythin, another Indian couple walked in, about 10-15 yrs elder to us to whom he quoted 1400 for the same room, most hotels were booked out, so they said YES as they had to stay only a night. We left Kalpa and headed to Sangla, and 2-3 days later met two Israeli girls who came from Kalpa. They had stayed in the same room paying only 400. We had expected them to pay as much and they didn’t disappoint. Despite having been in India for only 1 week, they had mastered the act of paying the right price for a room in a remote part of Himachal Pradesh, in a land where their only way of communicating was a foreign language.
Things to be remembered while traveling.
1. Even if you are travelling for a short duration, don’t splurge too much. You are creating a bad environment for the days you will travel long term.
2. It is still possible to find decent rooms in india for about 500 if you are away from the cities.
3. If possible travel with a rucksack and not a suitcase.
4. Always grow a beard and make sure your hair are messed up before you walk in to a hotel.
5. Always prefer guest houses over hotels, they r cleaner, have better views and always cheaper. Plus we observed Indians have a thing for the word hotels and most disregard the term guest houses.
6. Bargain hard, and when we say hard, don’t be ashamed to quote 1/2 of the quoted price or even 1/3rd. In patnitop we paid 700 for a room which was quoted 2400 plus taxes. If the rooms are empty, the owner doesn’t want to loose even that 700.
7. Be ready to spend 20mins to look and finalise a room. Its worth it. In kaza, almost all guest houses and hotels had dirty rooms, and most quoted 400, we spent 1hr to find a homestay, got it for 250, the room was spacious, had great views and was the cleanest place we had stayed in weeks.
8. Always take recommendations and tips from travelers you meet on the way, especially the foreigners and more specifically the Israelis.
9. It goes without saying that you should visit cafes and try to initiate conversations with people, we found lots of crazy things like about a monk who stays in solitude in a house for the last 20yrs or about a small lake which is 3hrs away on top of a meadow or about a 6hr hike to the Indo Tibetan border.
10. We really appreciate the way the foreigners travel in India keeping the prices low, providing great variety of food at very reasonable prices (like some pizzas in old manali for about 200, for which you would easily pay over 500 in Delhi), using lots of public transport, we usually traveled in Volvo buses but our recent trips were done on Himachal roadways buses, they were always on time, conductor and drivers were always smiling, happy and willing to tell things, make suggestions about places to visit etc etc.
By strictly following the above 10 rules, we have been to travel in India at a budget of about INR 1000 – 1200 for two people (all inclusive) and also got to see lots of things, do various activities, try various local drinks and cuisines, stay with local people who are so happy to be with tourists they can speak freely with and gather memories for a lifetime.
So go ahead, travel light, bargain hard, stay in home-stays and make your next trip under 1000 INR/ day. It will prove to you that you don’t need a lot of money to travel long term. If you want to spend money, spend it on experiences, adventure sports, music instruments, concerts and not on hotel rooms because when you are old, you are more likely to remember the mountain you trekked, and the local dish you ate than the hotel room you splurged on.