The India Roundup

9 Oct

The Statistics

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

The Budget

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.

The Best

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.

The Worst

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.

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9 Responses to “The India Roundup”

  1. crazytraintotinkytown October 9, 2012 at 11:41 am #

    Should I ever find myself there; I will most def give the “pile of suck” hotel a big miss

    • Ashley October 10, 2012 at 7:02 am #

      Ha! That would be a wise decision…there are plenty of other places to stay!

  2. Kristin W. October 9, 2012 at 1:17 pm #

    Great overview Ashley! The hotel with the nice pool looks awesome and I’m hungry now after reading about the food. We are all re-reading and studying your Turkey overview now in preparation. 🙂 So what time of year would you say is the best time to visit India? We plan to leave for Leg #3 in May or June 2013 but not sure where to start with the seasons.
    Happy Travels! Miss you! xoxo

    • Ashley October 10, 2012 at 7:07 am #

      Thanks 🙂 We loved Turkey, I’m sure you guys will have a blast there! I think India is probably the nicest between October and February, but it’s so huge that it really depends where you want to go. Are you heading back to the States for a rest after Africa? When will that be…we should make plans to meet up if we can. Miss you guys as well 🙂

      • Kristin W. October 23, 2012 at 10:03 am #

        Hey Ashley! Our Africa Tour ends on March 23rd. We will probably hang out in South Africa for a bit if we haven’t seen all that we wanted to with the tour. We’ll likely head back to the US in April. We are still trying to figure out our timing because we’ve realized that summer isn’t the best time to travel places abroad because of all the crowds. And of course we have to try to time the seasons out as best we can for Asia, Australia, and NZ. It would be great to see you guys again soon. We talk about you all the time. 🙂

  3. tokyohamster October 10, 2012 at 12:13 am #

    wow! it’s so nice when you have such a long trip to really explore a country! i’m surprised that all of the lodging – including the nicer ones – are so reasonable!

    • Ashley October 10, 2012 at 7:04 am #

      India has such a range of hotels, it’s astounding. You can stay in any thing from bare-bones rooms for a dollar or two, to super luxury hotels that cost $500 and up a night.

  4. Kristin W. October 1, 2013 at 12:33 pm #

    Almost a year later and I’m re-reading your blog and taking notes in preparation for India next week! Thanks again for all the time and hard work you put into these overviews – they are very helpful and much appreciated! Miss y’all! Take care!!! 🙂

    • Ashley October 8, 2013 at 4:35 pm #

      Have a great time you guys!

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