Number of days spent in country – 33
Cities/towns visited – Mumbai, Aurangabad, Madgoan, Hampi, Mysore, Bangalore, New Delhi, Jodhpur, Pushkar, Jaipur, Agra
Number of different lodgings – 13
Flights – 1
Bus journeys – 20
Train trips – 10
Boat rides – 6
Taxi journeys – 2
Rickshaw rides – 23
Total US dollar amount spent – $1955 (includes cost of visas – $76 each)
Average cost per day, per person -$29.62
Average lodging cost per night, per person – $10.80 – We generally stayed in hotels with a private bathroom and air conditioning. You can go much lower than this if you are on a budget, but we found that we couldn’t tolerate the lack of basic sanitation at lower price ranges. On three occasions we splurged on much nicer rooms than we would normally take, mostly to have access to a nice pool.
Most expensive lodging, per person – $19.25 at the Welcome Hotel in Mumbai – double room with air conditioning, breakfast included, shared bath. Not the best value, by far.
Least expensive lodging, per person – $1.80 at the White Elephant in Hampi for a double bed bungalow with fan and private bathroom.
Average food/drink cost per day, per person – $8.18 We ate out for 3 full meals per day, mostly in local, but mid-range restaurants. It was monsoon season and we were advised to stay away from most of the street food during this time. We ate like royalty in this price range and you could definitely do it for less if you stuck with super cheap street food. We had almost no alcohol in India, but if we had it would certainly have doubled our spending.
Hotel – Devi Bawhan in Jodhpur. We stayed here for the weekend of our anniversary and while we intended to stay just one night because of the cost ($38 per night, which is a steal by Western standards and slightly cheaper than one of our hotels in Mumbai), it was so lovely that we ended up extending our stay to three days. The hotel gardens were lovely, the rooms were very well appointed, large and clean with air conditioning that worked very well. The pool was clean and chlorinated (not always the case with hotel pools). The staff spoke excellent English and were kind and helpful. It’s a little far out from the center so you must take a rickshaw to the tourist sites, but that made it a very peaceful stay.
All the food. Seriously. We just walked into restaurants that seemed busy and that had a price range we were comfortable with. We ordered at random from the menu most of the time and generally the food was plentiful and delicious.
The Only Place in Bangalore – If you are craving some good ol’ American grub, this is the place to be. They have burgers, lasagna, mac and cheese, and good apple pie. The prices are tourist range, but the portions are big and the flavors will make you feel right at home.
The Mango Tree in Hampi – The view over the river in Hampi makes this spot stand out in our memories. The food was consistently good, we ate here every day that we were in Hampi. It’s a 5 minute walk outside of the main village area, but it’s not far, and it’s totally worth it.
Monsoon Mangos – Travelling during the monsoon season can be a pain. Rain POURS in some places, and it’s hot as hell in other places. One serious benefit of the monsoon is the abundance of delicious mangos that ripen in this period. We gorged ourselves in Mumbai and Goa on fresh, juicy mangos that can be bought cheaply all over the place.
Mysore Palace – We’ve seen a lot of tourist sites, but this one is truly awesome. The price is 300 times higher for tourists than for locals (the norm across India) and this is one time where it was completely worth it. The palace is in excellent condition (no photography allowed inside, so you’ll have to take my word for it) and truly made us want to go back in time and live like Indian royalty.
Hampi – Filled with ancient temples and surrounded by a crazy landscape full of giant boulders, this turned out to be one of our favorite places in India. The town is very mellow, the pace is super slow, but there is enough to do to keep you occupied for at least 3-5 days. When you are all templed-out, you can rent a scooter and go zipping around the countryside to visit lakes and crazy rock formations.
Train travel – If you go to India and don’t travel by train then you are out of your mind. We took trains all over the place, everything from short 2 hour trips to long-haul 27 hour journeys. For the overnighters we stayed in AC 3rd class, which was just fine, and on shorter trips we just went with the general non-ac standard sitting class, which was usually fine. The trains were where we met the nicest people we encountered on our trip. Whole families would strike up conversations, share their meals, and give us advice about where to go and what to see. In addition, you get to see some gorgeous, and some not-so gorgeous, landscapes along the way. You can book online using cleartrip.com (also a great resource just for checking schedules etc) but we mostly booked at the train stations using the foreign tourist counters. In high season seats can book out as far as 3 months in advance, so be prepared to plan ahead.
Hotel Empire International in Bengaluru – A decent location, and better priced than most things in the area, but overall a big pile of suck. The hotel itself is generally run-down, and they lied to us about the type of room we were in – they were charging us for a ‘deluxe’ fan room even though we were placed in a standard fan room. We questioned the charges because the room didn’t seem to match their own description of ‘deluxe’ but we only knew for certain that we had been over-charged when we insisted on a room change after discovering ours had a roach infestation. They tried to tell us they only had AC rooms left, but when we threatened to leave without paying they reluctantly changed our room to…surprise, surprise, a real ‘deluxe’ fan room. We hadn’t been so blatantly deceived by a hotel until this point, and it left a very nasty impression.