12 Easy Ways to Save Money on Your India Trip

How to Pay Less on Your India Trip

The great thing about traveling in India is that you can be as cheap or as lavish as you want. However, there are a number of ways to make your India trip even less costly. Find out how to save money with these tips.

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    Travel During the Low Season

    Tourists near the Taj Mahal.
    ••• Tourists near the Taj Mahal. Ian Cumming/Getty Images

    If you travel away from the main tourist season in India, you can save a significant amount of money. You may even be able to afford to stay at that luxury hotel that was otherwise out of your budget. Some examples are hotels in Kovalam and hotels in Goa, as well as hotels in Rajasthan (check out the Fateh Prakash Palace or Shiv Niwas Palace in Udaipur). In general, the peak season runs from around October to March in India. However, it differs if you're heading to the mountains, when winter is avoidable and summer is the busiest time. Prices also skyrocket during Indian holidays such as Diwali, Christmas and the New Year. April and September offer good deals, and you can avoid the worst of the heat and monsoon weather in India. Otherwise, if you don't mind the rain, you also can save up to 50% during the monsoon from June to August.

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    Thankfully, gone are the days that hostels in India feel like institutions, with rigid rules and staid atmospheres. Groovy backpacker hostel chains are rapidly opening up all over India. They're fun, vibrant places where a good time is guaranteed. The accommodations are really comfortable and you'll find all the facilities you'd expect at a world-class backpacker hostel. See these 10 Destinations for Backpacking India and Where to Stay.

  • 03 of 12

    Go Rural

    Tourist in rural India.
    ••• Ian Cumming/Getty Images.

    Hotel rates have skyrocketed in Indian cities, and they keep increasing every year.  In Mumbai, you can expect to pay around $100 per night for a decent hotel! If you head off-the-beaten track, you'll save substantially in the cost of accommodations, as well as have a more peaceful and authentic experience away from the tourist hordes.

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    If you're young and want to see India on the cheap, group tours especially for backpackers are an excellent option. G Adventures is a reputable company that offers some great YOLO small group tours. YOLO = You Only Live Once. These tours are perfect for those aged 18-30, who want to travel inexpensively and with like-minded people.  GoMowgli, India's hop-on hop-off backpacker tour bus, is recommended as well.

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  • 05 of 12

    Book Flights in Advance

    Delhi Airport Terminal 3.
    ••• Delhi Airport Terminal 3. (c) Anand Josh/Getty Images.

    You may be thinking that if you wait to the last minute, you'll get a good deal for your India trip. However, this is unfortunately usually not the case. Most domestic airlines in India offer discounts for advance bookings. Not only this, the fare structure is set so that prices keep rising closer to the date you want to depart. If you book at the last minute, you'll most likely pay double compared to if you booked a month in advance.

  • 06 of 12

    Take a Midday Flight

    Yes, it may be a little inconvenient to travel in the middle of the day, wasting precious sightseeing hours. However, you'll find a greater availability of cheaper flights than if you were to travel in the early morning or later in the evening. Business travelers in particular prefer early morning and late night flights, thereby bumping up demand and price.

  • 07 of 12

    Take the Train

    Tourist on train in India.
    ••• Amos Chapple/Getty Images.

    There's no doubt that Indian Railways is the best way to travel around India for the budget conscious. Plus, if you travel overnight, you don't need to pay for a hotel. However, something that you might not know is that Indian Railways also offers train tour packages. Three popular ones are the Bharat Darshan (targeted at Indian travelers, many itineraries feature pilgrimage destinations), Fairy Queen, and the Mahaparinirvan Express Buddhist train.

  • 08 of 12

    Choose a Holiday Package

    Combination flight and hotel deals, or holiday packages with multiple destinations and flights, offered by tour agents and online aggregator sites. Makemytrip, Yatra and Cleartrip are the main sites in India that offer holiday packages bookable online. You can usually save up to 30% of the cost of booking flights and hotels separately.

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  • 09 of 12

    Negotiate the Price

    Vendor in India.
    ••• Bartosz Hadyniak/Getty Images

    Haggling is commonplace and expected in India -- and, not to mention necessary, especially if you're a foreigner. Vendors often start by quoting foreigners double or triple the market price. If you don't haggle, you'll end up paying much more than necessary. Here are some Tips for Bargaining at Markets in India. If you walk into a hotel, you can also try negotiating a cheaper rate if it's not fully booked.

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    Great news if you're a member of a hotel loyalty program! Luxury international hotel chains are expanding throughout India. Starwood Preferred Guest, Marriott Rewards, Hilton HHonors, IHG Rewards Club, Accor Le Club, Club Carlson, and Hyatt Gold Passport are some programs with attractive options for redemption in India.

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    CST Mumbai.
    ••• Welcome To The World Of My Photos. Enjoy !!!/Getty Images.

    Some of the best things in India are free! Avoid monuments and historical sites that charge high admission fees for foreigners (which can substantially add to the cost of your vacation). Instead, focus on the fabulous things to do in India that won't cost you anything at all, such as temples, festivals, art galleries, and heritage buildings.

  • 12 of 12

    Cut the Cost of Meals

    Eating in hotels can get expensive, so if you want to save on the cost of meals, make sure you stay in hotels that include breakfast in the room rate. These days, many hotels offer complimentary buffet breakfasts which is great for the stomach and budget! In addition, small local restaurants serve inexpensive meals. If you're wondering which places are decent, follow the crowd!