The Best India Backpacking Route – 1 Month in India Itinerary

One month in India is the perfect amount of time to appreciate what this wild country has to offer. And if you’re here looking for some guidance planning a 1 month India itinerary, you’ll be pleased to know you’ve come to the right place. We recently spent over 2 months in India, so I can comfortably share a few different India backpacking routes suitable for a 1-month trip. In this India itinerary, I’ll be sharing all the best places to visit, where to stay, what to budget, plus all of our top tips for travelling the country.

Backpacking India had been at the top of our bucket list for over a year before we finally worked up the courage to go.  We spent that time getting some backpacker experience under our belt in South East Asia.  And then one day, it was just time.  

We planned to spend just one month in India.  However, one month in India quickly became two.  And still, we only just managed to scratch the surface.  Nevertheless, it was enough time for us to fall head over heels in love with Mother India.  

You see, India is unlike any other country we have visited.  Everything about it is loud, large, and in your face.  It takes a lot of patience to see the beauty amidst the madness.  And you’ll probably find you have a love/hate relationship with India, like most other travellers.  But for those prepared to take the time to get to know the real India, you are in for the adventure of your lives.

So let’s get to it… here’s our guide to the best one month in India backpacking routes.

One Month in India Itinerary

One Month India Itinerary – India Backpacking Routes

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Is 1 Month in India Enough?

It can be a daunting task planning your route in this truly vast and diverse country. One month in India might seem like a lot of time, but to be honest with you, you’ll just about scratch a layer.  That’s not to say you won’t be able to cover a lot; however, it’s easy to underestimate just how big India is.  That is why it pays to plan your India backpacking route and focus on one part of the country at a time.  

With this in mind, we have put together three one month India itineraries and backpacking routes that cater to different interests.  With our help, you can spend less time planning and more time enjoying what India has in store for you.  Everybody’s journey is different.  But trust me when I say, the less you have to worry about the better.

The Best India Backpacking Routes for a 1 Month India Itinerary

India Backpacking Route 1 covers the South of India.  This 1 month India itinerary is perfect for those looking for both culture and nature.  You’ll hit the backpacker hotspots, enjoy India’s natural landscapes, and get a taste of Indian history.

Backpacking India Route 2 covers Rajasthan & beyond.  This 1 month India itinerary is for those looking to experience the spiritual and holy side of India.  It will be an exhausting month in India.  But you’ll get to experience the raw and vibrant Indian culture.

Backpacking India Route 3 covers the North of India.  This 1 Month India Itinerary is for the yogis and adventurers.  You’ll spend your 1 month in India hitting the yogi hotspots and spending time in the mystical Himalayan mountains.  

One Month in India Backpacking Route

Backpacking India Route #1

South India 1 Month Itinerary

When to go:  October – March

Other than a few exceptions, South India is far more relaxed than other parts of the country.  Everything feels a lot less intimidating here, so if you are spending longer than 1 month in India, it’s a great place to start your trip.   Here you’ll be eased into the craziness of backpacking India, rather than thrown straight in at the deep end.  

Bangalore 

We Recommend: 2-3 Nights

Bangalore is the epitome of any major Indian city.  It’s loud, it’s dirty, and it’s busy.  But, your journey has to start somewhere;  And, you can’t say you’ve been to India if you haven’t experienced the delirium of Indian cities.  

Bangalore is actually where our journey in India began.  I will never forget that morning as long as I live.  The whacky races in the taxi to our hotel, the relentless horn honking, the smells, the people, the atmosphere, the cow poo (which Natalie stepped in twice on our first day) – it left our heads reeling.  

We didn’t find too much to do in the city.  The technology hub of India, it’s just your typical bustling metropolis.  Those Indian call centres you speak to when you try to contact your network provider?  They’re probably based here! I’d recommend spending a couple of days observing the Indian city culture and pace of life, then move on.

Bangalore Highlights
  • Roam the Lalbagh Botanical Gardens
  • Discover the local pub culture
  • Eat delicious Indian food at Mavali Tiffin Room
  • Visit the grandeur Bangalore Palace

Related Read:  24 Hours in Bangalore

Places to Stay in Bangalore

HostelZostel Bangalore – Modern, clean, and comfortable hostel located in the heart of Bangalore.

Budget PrivateThe Little Blue Window Hostel – Cosy and sociable hostel in Bangalore, boasting budget private rooms and dorms.

Mid-RangeTreebo Trend Blu Orchid – Conveniently located, this hotel is perfect for those seeking extra comfort at an affordable price.

For more places to stay in Bangalore, you can check the latest prices here.

India Backpacking Route
Whacky Races in Bangalore

Mysore

We Recommend: 2-3 Nights

After getting over the initial culture shock in Bangalore, Mysore is where the magic starts to happen.  I remember arriving in Mysore and feeling like I’d stepped into a Disney Fairytale.  The scene of palaces, elephants, and artisans felt like a whole new world.  (only Disney fans will recognise the pun there)! 

Mysore was the former royal state of Karnataka.  And there’s a certain air of opulence to be felt when exploring the city.   On the other hand, you’ll find various humble markets and a thriving community of the health-conscious.  People travel from all over the world to study anything from Ashtanga Yoga to Ayurvedic Medicine.  

The biggest attraction here is the opulent Mysore Palace.  It’s free to enter the grounds, although a small fee will allow you to explore inside which we recommend.  You should also take some time to explore the old town where you can see local artisans at work. And one morning, head to Chamundi Hills and witness the pilgrimage to the Hindu Chamundeshwari Temple.  

Mysore Highlights
  • Explore the Mysore Palace grounds.
  • Take a tuk-tuk tour of the old town.
  • Visit Chamundi Hills and the Chamundeshwari Temple.
  • Have a banana leaf dinner at Hotel RRR.
  • Watch the light show at the Mysore Palace (every Sunday at 7 pm).

Related Read:  9 Unmissable Things to do in Mysore

Places to Stay in Mysore

Hostel Zostel Mysore – Trendy, clean, and sociable hostel conveniently located in Mysore.  One of only a few hotels in the city.

Budget Private Banyan Tree Comforts – Centrally located in Mysore, Banyan Tree Comforts provides comfortable private rooms at unbeatable prices.

Mid-Range Southern Star – Boasting a swimming pool, gym, and spa, Southern Star is the perfect choice for extra comfort in Mysore, without a hefty price tag.

For more places to stay in Mysore, you can check the latest prices here.

MYSORE PALACE ARCH NIGHT LIGHT SHOW INDIA
Lightshow at Mysore Palace – Backpacking India Route 1

Fort Kochi

We Recommend: 3-4 Nights

Fort Kochi is a quaint little fishing village in Kerala – the most serenely picturesque state in all of India. A great way to explore the entire state is to take a 7 Day Road Trip around Kerala. 

Fort Kochi bears historical significance as it was the first European township in India. Here you will be greeted by an amalgamation of history and culture, as well as a relaxed vibe.  It’s the perfect place to chill out for a couple of days and recharge your batteries.

The Chinese Fishing Nets are the most iconic attraction here.  The original nets date back as early as the 15th century, and while it’s likely they have been updated since then, the traditional fishing technique is still used today.  You can watch them in action at Vasco da Gama Square, and it’s most beautiful at sunset.

Fort Kochi Highlights
  • Visit the Chinese Fishing Nets during sunset.
  • Meander the streets admiring the colonial architecture.
  • Take a sunset boat cruise.
  • Watch a traditional Kathakali performance.
Places to Stay in Fort Kochi

HostelSanta Maria Hostel – A sociable and laidback hostel, Santa Maria is located directly on the fort.  You can find cheap dorms and private rooms here.

Budget PrivateImmanuel Home Stay – Large and comfortable rooms, great location, amazing hosts and an authentic experience. All at an unbeatable price may I add.

Mid-RangeSecret Garden – A charming boutique hostel in an amazing location.  Boasting an outdoor pool and beautiful garden area, this is a touch of luxury without the price tag.

For more places to stay in Fort Kochi, you can check the latest prices here.

one month india itinerary
Majestic Scenes in Fort Kochi

Alleppey

We Recommend: 3-4 Nights

There is only one reason people come to Alleppey, and that is to explore the Kerala backwaters.  Here you will experience a fascinating side to the Indian culture.  And the best way to get amongst it all is by taking a houseboat tour. 

A kerala backwaters houseboat tour usually consists of 1 or 2 nights on a liveaboard boat.  Although, if you don’t want to sleep on the boat, you can opt for a day tour instead.  The tour will take you through a network of interconnected canals, lagoons, rivers and lakes known as the backwaters.  

Adorned with palm trees and charming local villages, this part of Kerala is incredibly picturesque.  And it will probably be one of the most relaxing experiences you’ll have backpacking for one month in India.

India Backpacking Route 1

Munnar

We Recommend: 2-3 Nights

Munnar is slightly off the beaten track in India, but well worth a visit thanks to its pristine natural beauty.  Home to national parks, wildlife sanctuaries, and tea plantations, needless to say, it is a delight for nature lovers.  That said, it is also a playground for adventure seekers who can hike the various hiking trails in Munnar.  All the while, discovering majestic waterfalls and teems of wildlife.  

Goa

We Recommend: 4-6 Nights

Being the most popular spot on the India backpacking trail, I’m sure Goa needs little introduction.  That said, you might not be aware of just how vast and diverse Goa actually is.  While I’m sure you have all heard the tales of hippies, parties, psytrance, and drugs (don’t worry, they are all true), that isn’t all Goa has to offer.

Although beach hopping and partying are a big highlight here, they are not all that defines Goa.  Once you go further inland, you can find bustling markets,  spice plantations, nature parks, and historical points of interest.  It’s impossible to get bored, and don’t forget to check out this full list of things to do in Goa to help plan your time there.

Many travellers come to Goa and don’t ever leave because it’s so god damn easy.  But truth be told, it’s not the real India.  So if you only have one month in India, don’t get caught in the trap of staying here too long.

The Beaches in Goa

Despite being the smallest state in India, over 60 beaches adorn the extensive 100km coastline of Goa.  While some are action-packed with activities and parties, others are completely remote.  

As a guideline, the North of Goa tends to be a bit more atmospheric.  Here you will find an abundance of activities and a wild party scene.   Our favourite spots in the North of Goa were Arambol and Anjuna.  

On the other hand, the South of Goa is a lot more laidback.  You can still find cool stuff to do, but generally, the people here just want to do yoga in the morning and then get high on the beach all day.   Personally, it was our favourite spot to be in Goa.  The best beaches in the South of Goa include Palolem and Agonda Beach.

TOP BEACHES SOUTH GOA PALOLEM BEACH
Quiet Beaches in South Goa

Hampi 

We Recommend: 4-5 Nights

Hampi is a Unesco World Heritage city accessible via overnight bus from Goa.  And it is, without a doubt, one of our favourite places we visited when backpacking India.  Exploring Hampi feels like a scene from Indiana Jones.  Here you will find the landscapes littered in towering boulders and ancient rock-cut temples.   The history behind Hampi is fascinating and well worth researching.

Unlike other cities in India, Hampi is incredibly laidback.  And you can find plenty of blazed backpackers here soaking in the chilled vibe.  On the other hand, it is a place that screams adventure.  You could spend your entire one month in India here and still not cover all that there is to see.  Check out our Ultimate Hampi Guide & Itinerary for more information and travel advice for this incredible place.

Hampi Highlights
Places to Stay in Hampi

Budget PrivateRashmitha Guesthouse – Conveniently located in Hampi Bazaar, Rashmitha Guesthouse is a great budget option in Hampi.  While the rooms are basic, they come with all the necessary facilities for a comfortable stay.

Mid-RangeHeritage Resort Hampi – Boasting a swimming pool, spa, and wellness area, this place is amazing value for money.  Perfect for that extra bit of comfort in Hampi.

LuxuryEvolve Back Hampi – We don’t often talk about luxury hotels on this blog, but this place looks phenomenal.  If you have the budget, you won’t regret splurging on a night at this palace hotel.

Hippie IslandWaterfalls Guesthouse – Located away from the crowds and overlooking the rice paddies, this is the perfect spot if you seek serenity on Hippie Island.

For more places to stay in Hampi, you can check the latest prices here.

One Month in India - Hampi
A small example of the magic waiting for you in Hampi

Mumbai

We Recommend: 2-3 Nights

Mumbai is the epitome of a major city in India; It’s loud, it’s dirty and it’s busy. To walk among the bustling metropolis can be a vicious onslaught on the senses; however, there is vibrant energy that consumes the Island City.  A significant financial district and the heart of India’s Bollywood scene, some even like to call Mumbai ‘The City of Dreams’. 

You don’t need to spend much longer than 2-3 days in Mumbai.  For us, it was enough time to visit some of the main attractions in the South of Mumbai.  And you’ll soon tire of the relentless scam artists who seem to flood the streets of the city.  You can read our article on things to do in South Mumbai; however, with only one month in India, I wouldn’t concentrate on spending too much time here.

India Backpacking Route - Mumbai
Expect crowds at the Gateway of India in Mumbai

Backpacking India Route 2

Rajasthan & Beyond

When to go:  November – March

If you are looking to experience the vivacious energy of Indian culture, Rajasthan should be a priority during your one month in India.  This exuberant state is crazy, and backpacking Rajasthan is exhausting;  however, it’s also an incredibly exciting and fascinating place to be.  This itinerary will take you to the Pink, White, and Golden cities, as well as the Taj Mahal, and the city considered to be the holiest place in all of India.

New Delhi

We Recommend: 2-3 Nights

This route will inevitably begin in the capital city of Delhi. Delhi Airport is one of the busiest in the country. And thousands of flights arrive here daily, from all over the world. 

*Tip – Many tourists fly to Delhi to begin their Golden Triangle Itinerary.  This a popular route in India and perfect if you only have a short amount of time.

If it’s your first time in India, starting your journey in Delhi is a bit like diving headfirst into an empty swimming pool. I don’t want to scare you or anything, but hey, we are all about honesty over here.

The truth is, it’s mayhem. And we’d be lying if we said it was our favourite city in India because it certainly isn’t. That said, if you can see past the madness, there is a lot of interesting things to do in Delhi.

If you’re anything like us, you may want to escape Delhi as soon as possible. If that is the case, we recommend two days to cover the Delhi highlights.

Hanumans Tomb – One of the most peaceful places to visit in New Delhi

Varanasi

We Recommend: 3-4 Nights

Varanasi is known to be the holiest city in India, but boy, what a crazy place.  If this is your first time in India, visiting Varanasi can be a shock to the system.  But on a positive note, everywhere else in India will seem light-hearted in comparison, so that’s something to cling on to when you feel a little overwhelmed… Which you will.

You see, Varanasi is believed to be the gateway to heaven for Hindus, and you cannot escape the funeral processions as you walk the ghats alongside the River Ganges.  It’s quite dark and distressing to see bodies burning before your eyes, but also fascinating at the same time.  It’s these absolute extremitys that truly define India’s culture.

We visited Varanasi during Dev Deepawali – an annual festival that takes place 15 days after Diwali.  The celebrations were unlike anything we’d ever experienced.  And if you’re in India around that time, you should count yourself lucky.  Either way, Varanasi is sure to leave your head spinning.  

Be sure to read this honest first-timers guide to Varanasi before your trip.  Not only will it help you to prepare for your trip, but there are some great tips for staying safe, particularly for female travellers.

Varanasi Highlights
  • Sunrise boat tour on the River Ganges.
  • Take a Varanasi walking tour along the ghats in the day and at night.
  • Visit the burning Ghats (Dashashwamedh, Manikarnika, and Panchganga).
  • Witness the evening Aarti Ceremony.
  • Go for a delicious Lassi at Blue Lassi
Places to Stay in Varanasi

HostelgoStops Varanasi – Incredible social vibe, beautiful decor, and perfect location.  What more could you want from a hostel?

Budget PrivateAzure Family Guesthouse – Centrally located and great value for money, you’ll be made to feel right at home at this charming, family-run guesthouse.

Mid-Range – Via Varanasi – For a touch of luxury in Varanasi, you may wish to consider this charming boutique hotel.  Highly-rated among its guests, here you can enjoy divine comfort at an affordable price.

For more places to stay in Varanasi, you can check the latest prices here.

Backpacking India
Varanasi is one of the most interesting places to visit when backpacking India

Agra

We Recommend: 1-2 Nights

I got in trouble on social media recently for speaking my mind about Agra, and I don’t want to offend anybody again.  So, in sugar-coated terms, the city is a bit of a nightmare.  I don’t know what exactly made it so terrible, but it just felt even more busy and intense than other cities in India.  You’re constantly being hassled (even more so than usual) and the whole experience just felt downright stressful.  

Unfortunately, if you want to visit the Taj Mahal, a trip to Agra is unavoidable.  And thankfully, this awe-inspiring wonder of the world makes it all worth while.  It is impossible to put into words just how beautiful this man-made wonder is.  But the one word that springs to mind is Ethereal.  We aren’t advocates for sunrise missions unless they are worth it.  And sunrise at the Taj Mahal is a once in a lifetime experience not to be missed.

I wouldn’t suggest hanging around in Agra for too long; however, if you have some time to kill, there are some other spots worth a visit.  Check out this article for the full list of places to visit in Agra.

Agra Highlights
  • Visit the Taj Mahal
  • Explore Agra Fort
  • Watch the sunset at Mehtab Bagh
  • Discover Itmad-ud-Daulah’s Tomb (Baby Taj Mahal)
Places to Stay in Agra

HostelRhine Hostel – Located within walking distance of the Taj, this well-rated hostel boasts a garden, a bar and a shared lounge.

Budget PrivateHotel Four Apple – Centrally located, you can expect clean and stylish rooms at an unbeatable price.

Mid-RangeGrand Imperial Heritage Hotel – Boating a swimming pool, spa facilities, and incredible guestrooms, this heritage hotel is stunning and excellent value for money.

For more places to stay in Agra, you can check the latest prices here.

one month in india
The Taj Mahal is the highlight of Agra

Jaipur

We Recommend: 4-5 Nights

Jaipur is the perfect of example of organised chaos in India.  Vehicles, humans, dogs, cows, monkeys, camels, and horses, all fight their way to claim a space in the bustling metropolis.  But, despite the mayhem, something about the city is strangely compelling.  And just walking the streets, is a spectacle in itself.

On the other hand, there is a reason that Jaipur is one of the most photographed places in India.  The Pink City is bursting at the seams with world heritage sights that are unbelievably impressive.  You can soak in incredible views of the city at one of the many forts.  Marvel over the architecture of the Amber Palace or Hawa Mahal building;  And visit the extraordinary monkey temple in the mountains.

If you find yourself in Jaipur over Diwali, it’s an incredible place to witness the festival of light in all its glory.  We were there last year and had the time of our lives. 

Jaipur Highlights

For more on Jaipur, check out our comprehensive Jaipur Itinerary & Guide.

Places to Stay in Jaipur

Hostel – Hostel Lumb’s Nest – For affordable, clean & comfortable dorms or private rooms, we can personally recommend Hostel Lumbs Nest. They are located outside of the city, which may not be convenient if you are only in Jaipur for a short time;  however, for longer stays it’s perfect to escape the hustle and bustle.

Budget Private – Blue King – If you are on a budget and wish to be a bit closer to the city attractions, perhaps Blue King would be more suitable.  Located in the heart of the Pink City you can enjoy the view from the hotel rooftop.

Luxury – Umaid Bhawan – If you are looking to spend a bit more on accommodation, Umaid Bhawan is a touch of luxury in the city.  The heritage style hotel boasts a swimming pool and rooftop restaurant.

For more places to stay in Jaipur, you can check the latest prices.

The Hawa Mahal is one of many architectural gems in Jaipur

Pushkar

We Recommend: 3-4 Nights

Out of all the cities in Rajasthan, Pushkar is probably the most laidback.  The town itself is small in comparison to other cities in the state.  And you quickly feel like part of a community as you bump into the same familiar faces everywhere you go.  It’s a place of creative expression, and one of the highlights is the evening aarti where you can witness all kinds of talent.

Considered a holy city, you will often see religious ceremonies taking place around the lake.  These can be fascinating to watch, but you should avoid the ‘priests’ like the plague.  They will insist you have to wear a wristband to enter the lake area.  And once they’ve put it on you, they’ll ask for extortionate payment while guilt-tripping you about karma.  

An important event in the Pushkar calendar is the annual camel fair.  If you are lucky enough to be in town for that, you’re in for a real treat.  This event is weird but wonderful, and a great example of just how crazy things can get in India.  We loved it!

Pushkar Highlights
  • Watch the religious ceremonies around Pushkar Lake.
  • Experience the evening Aarti at the ghats.
  • Shop til’ you drop at the beautiful stores.
  • Take part in an art class.
  • Join the pilgrimage to the Savitri Mata Temple.
Places to Stay in Pushkar

HostelBackpackers Paradise – Excellent location in the heart of Pushkar and unbelievably cheap dorms or private rooms.

Budget PrivateMayur Guest House – Beautiful and peaceful guesthouse in a wonderful location.  Feels like a home away from home.

Mid-RangeHotel Brahma Horizon – Incredible value for money in Pushkar, boasting a swimming pool, onsight restaurant, and beautiful guestrooms.

For more places to stay in Pushkar, you can check the latest prices here.

backpacking india
The Pushkar Camel Fayre is one of our highlights of India

Jaisalmer

We Recommend: 3-4 Nights

Located on the edge of the Thar Desert, Jaisalmer is like something straight out of a fairy tale.  The iconic sandstone architecture has gained the city a reputation as ‘the golden city’.  And the mesmerising Jaisalmer fort stands proudly as the landmark of the city.  

Although not quite as laidback as Pushkar, Jaisalmer is one of the more relaxing cities in Rajasthan.  Perhaps it has something to do with the relentless desert heat making everybody sleepy.  The city feels full of mystery, and we loved meandering the streets under the influence of legal bhang.

What draws most visitors to Pushkar are the camel safaris through the desert.  The most popular option is an overnight camel safari where you will spend the day riding camels in the desert, before spending the night camping under the stars.  It’s one of the highlights of our time in India, and we highly recommend doing it.  For more information, you can read about our overnight camel safari experience in Jaisalmer here.

Jaisalmer Highlights
  • Do an overnight camel safari in the desert.
  • Explore the Jaisalmer Fort.
  • Ride a paddleboat on Gadisar Lake.
  • Take a walking tour of the golden city.
  • Visit the legal bhang shop and try a cookie or lassi.

For more on Jaisalmer, check out our comprehensive Jaisalmer Itinerary and Guide.

Places to Stay in Jaisalmer

Hostel – Swan Hostel – One of only a few hostels in Jaisalmer, Swan Hostel is the top choice thanks to its convenient location and comfortable dorm or private rooms.

Budget Private – Bohemian Guesthouse – We can personally recommend Bohemian Guesthouse, for affordable, clean & comfortable private rooms.  A 15-20 minute walk from the heart of the city, some may be deterred by the location if you are planning just a short 2 day trip to Jaisalmer.

Luxury – Suryagarh Jaisalmer – For a touch of luxury in Jaisalmer, we would choose the Suryagarh Jaisalmer. Located in the heart of the desert you can expect celebrity treatment at this 5* hotel.

one month in india
Jaisalmer Desert – Backpacking India Route 2

Udaipur

We Recommend: 4-5 Nights

Your one month in India adventure will conclude in the White City of Udaipur.  This city is remarkably beautiful, and something about it made us want to stay a lot longer than our itinerary would allow.  Known as ‘the Venice of the East’, The serenity of the lakes and surrounding nature, had us forgetting that we were even in a city at all. 

Udaipur’s history is rich and royal, evident by the opulent palaces found throughout the city.  The city palace here is one of our favourites in Rajasthan.  And you can’t help but dream looking out at the old Lake Palace which is now a 5* hotel. 

One of the things we loved about Udaipur, is that we didn’t feel the need to always be doing something.  In fact, it was quite enough to find a rooftop overlooking the lake and just, chill.  It’s rare to find such tranquillity in Rajasthan, so when you do, be sure to make the most of it!

Udaipur Highlights

For more on Udaipur, see our comprehensive guide on how to see the best of Udaipur in 2 Days.

Places to Stay in Udaipur

Hostel – Gypsy Child Lake Hostel – One of only a few hostels in Udaipur, Gypsy Lake Child is the top choice thanks to its unrivalled location.  Boasting incredible views of Lake Pichola, guests can enjoy the sunset from the rooftop.

Budget Private – Jagat Villa Guesthouse – We can personally recommend Jagat Villa Guesthouse, for affordable, clean & comfortable private rooms.  Located just a 5-minute walk from Pichola Lake, you have great restaurants and shopping opportunities right on your doorstep.

Luxury – Taj Lake Palace – It doesn’t get more luxurious than the Taj Lake Palace.  Located in the middle of Pichola Lake, we could only look on in awe of this enchanting complex.  If you are prepared to splash some cash, a stay here would be a once in a lifetime experience.

For more, check out the best lake facing hotels in Udaipur here.

Don’t miss Udaipur when planning your India Backpacking Route

Backpacking India Route 3

North India 1 Month Itinerary

When to go:  May – September

Unfortunately, the two months we spent in India didn’t allow us enough time to visit the North of India;  however, this is the itinerary we plan to take when we finally manage to go back.  I have put this together for your inspiration and linked to reliable sources such as this guide to Himachal Pradesh, should you need further information.  This route will lead you into the Himalayan mountains, which if Nepal is anything to go by, will be incredible.  

New Delhi

This route will inevitably begin in the capital city of Delhi. Delhi Airport is one of the busiest in the country. And thousands of flights arrive here daily, from all over the world.

*Tip – Many tourists fly to Delhi to begin their Golden Triangle Itinerary.  This a popular route in India and perfect if you only have a short amount of time.

If it’s your first time in India, starting your journey in Delhi is a bit like diving headfirst into an empty swimming pool. I don’t want to scare you or anything, but hey, we are all about honesty over here.

The truth is, it’s mayhem. And we’d be lying if we said it was our favourite city in India because it certainly isn’t. That said, if you can see past the madness, there is a lot of interesting things to do in Delhi.

If you’re anything like us, you may want to escape Delhi as soon as possible. If that is the case, we recommend just two days to cover the highlights. Furthermore, we advise educating yourself on the commons scams in Delhi and how you can avoid them.

backpacking india
Cows are considered holy animals all across India

Rishikesh

Known as the yoga capital of India, Rishikesh is the best place to go if you want to get your yoga certification.  As well as yoga and meditation retreats, you can head out on a scooter and enjoy the surrounding nature.

Recommended Read:  Best Places to Visit in Rishikesh

Amritsar

You don’t need long in Amritsar, but it’s worth a visit.  The highlights here include the Golden temple, a significant pilgrimage for Sikhism.  The temple supplies free food for up to 100,000 people each day and is a sight to behold.  The evening entertainment is at the India/Pakistan border, where the guards from each country have a dance-off.  Odd, but the locals love it!

Backpacking India Route - Amritsar

Dharamshala and McLeod Ganj

Home to the Dalai Lama and thousands of Tibetan’s in Exile, this spiritual mountain village is the perfect spot to relax for a few days.  Neighbouring villages Bhagsu and Dharamkot are both hippie-backpacker enclaves, with lots of yoga, meditation, chakra reading, and all that jazz.  There are some great treks in the area too – the most popular being an overnight trek to Triund where you can camp in the mountains under the stars.

Suggested Read – Places to Visit in Dharamshala and Mcleod Ganj

Manali and Vashist

Manali is known to be the Goa of the mountains, and many backpackers come here to get high and party.  Nonetheless, it’s a stunning mountain town, and you should make a stop here during your one month in India.  As well as a place to party, it’s the perfect place for adventure seekers.  Visitors can enjoy all kinds of adrenaline-pumping activities such as white water rafting and paragliding.

If you’d prefer somewhere a little more laid back, Vashist is just across the valley from Manali.  With the same views but without the crowds, it’s the perfect place to enjoy the tranquillity of the mountain landscapes.

Suggested Read:  A Hippie’s Guide to Manali

Backpacking India Route North
Beautiful views of the Himalayas in Manali

Kasol

The vibe in Kasol is very similar to Manali, so depending on how much time you have you might want to move straight onto Leh.  If you do stop here, there are many trekking opportunities in the area.  Otherwise, it’s all about the weed and laid-back vibes.

Leh

Leh is as far North as you’re going to go on this route.  And at a height of 3500m above sea level, you might want to consider taking altitude sickness tablets.  This part of India was once capital of the Himalayan Kingdom of Ladakh.  And is famed to be one of the most beautiful places in all of India.  There are plenty of activities to keep you busy here, so you might want to consider staying for around 1-week.  

Suggested Read: An Ultimate Travel Guide to Leh & Ladakh

Spending Longer than 1 Month in India?

If you are planning on backpacking India for longer than one month, that’s great.  You’ll be able to combine two or more of the itineraries above to personalise your trip.  It’s also worth pointing out that there is far more to India than what I’ve included in this guide.  While I’ve not found a blog that covers the country in its entirety, this is my favourite backpacking India guide that certainly covers most of it.  

One Month in India Budget

The amazing thing each of these India backpacking routes is that most places are incredibly cheap.  Overall, India is by far the cheapest country we have ever travelled.  And you certainly don’t need a big budget for a one month trip.

A budget of $500 will get you a long way in a month in India, and it’s possible to do it for far less than that.  Modest but comfortable private rooms are less than $5 in some places, and food is so cheap you won’t even notice the pennies spent on it.  

Your biggest expenses will be transport, booze, and site entrance fees.  With this in mind, you can expect to spend slightly more in Rajasthan because there’s a lot of touristy stuff to see.  By far the most expensive attraction is the Taj Mahal at a whopping $18, but that is an exception, and most are far less than that.

What to Pack for One Month in India

Unsure of what you might need to pack for your adventures in India? Don’t worry, we have got you covered.  Check out our backpacker essentials, for a packing list of items that we carry with us on every adventure.

Tips & Advice for Backpacking India

India is a vibrant, wild, and exciting place to travel. At the same time, it can be overwhelming, confusing, and even sometimes scary. So here are some travel tips and advice that we accumulated during our time in India. Hopefully, it will help ensure a fun, safe, and stress-free trip of a lifetime.

Getting Around in India

If you haven’t cottoned on already, India is a truly massive country.  And as a result, getting around can be a pretty stressful ordeal.  The distances between places mean you are often travelling for at least 12 hours at a time.  That is unless you have the budget to fly around the country.

AIR – You can catch domestic flights to almost anywhere in India; however, this is the most expensive way to travel.  For the real backpacking India experience, you need to slum it on a bus or a train once in a while.

BUS – We found that travelling by bus was the easiest way to get around India.  We could book our tickets last minute and travel to pretty much anywhere in the country. 

To check routes, timetables and ticket prices we recommend using Redbus.  In our experience, they are extremely reliable.  They are one of the few companies who will accept payment with an International card, and they are contactable by phone should you have any issues with your journey.

TRAIN – The train network in India is tricky.  And as a result, we personally never used it. It is advised to book at least 3 days in advance and even then you aren’t always guaranteed a ticket.  For this reason, we always used the bus network in India. You can book trains up to 6 months in advance using 12go Asia and you can read this guide to train travel in India for more information.

gay couple in bali
Sharing a bed in a sleeper bus
Safety in India

The topic regarding safety in India is as complex as the country itself. Every individual has a different experience, and while there are many horror stories, we can honestly say we encountered nothing overly negative ourselves. By that, I mean we were not the victims of crime, theft, physical/verbal abuse and the like.  

Having said that, there were times when we felt uncomfortable and scared. Sometimes it was warranted, other times, it was not. You see, the biggest issue for us travelling India as a lesbian couple wasn’t even our sexuality, it was our gender. Being a foreign woman in India arouses a lot of attention. And like I said earlier, what we recognise as socially acceptable behaviour is not necessarily the same in Indian culture. For example, staring, taking photos without asking, or invasion of personal space can come across as intimidating, even when it’s not. 

So girls, be prepared to carry yourself confidently and don’t be afraid to say something should anybody cross the line. Unfortunately, there are many reports of women being groped by local men. If you find yourself in this position, it’s best to call him out, as other locals will step in to help you and probably give him a slap while they’re at it.

Otherwise, the biggest threat to tourists is petty theft crimes such as pickpocketing and bag snatching. We suggest keeping your belongings close to you at all times and use a small padlock or compartmental bag to keep your valuables safe. When travelling at night, avoid being alone in parks or dark areas.

Finally, It pays to make yourself aware of the common scams in India, so in turn, you can avoid them.

Pushkar blessing
‘Priests’ can be the worst scammers of them all.
Travel Insurance

With that, don’t even think about going to India without travel insurance. Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. If the unlikely event that something goes wrong, you’ll want the best cover money can buy.

For this reason, we always recommend World Nomads for travel insurance. They are affordable, offer a variety of packages and add ons, and allow you to make amendments to your policy while travelling. Say, for example, you go scuba diving or hiking a mountain, World Nomads will amend your plan accordingly. It’s a super handy feature that we’ve used numerous times including the time we trekked to Annapurna Base Camp.

If you need further convincing, read our article on why you need travel insurance. Or get an on-the-spot quote from World Nomads using the form below.

Alcohol, Drugs, & Parties in India

If you’re looking to party, you’ll find great nightlife in the likes of Goa, Manali, or Hampi. But if you just enjoy a few drinks of an evening time, alcohol is easy to find at most bars and restaurants. Just check in advance so that you’re not disappointed when you go to order. 

The local drug of choice is, of course, Bhang. For those of you who don’t know what Bhang is, it is an edible form of cannabis. You’ll find Bhang shops all over Rajasthan, selling Bhang Lassis – a tasty beverage mixed with milk, sugar, and fruits. Or alternatively bhang cakes or cookies. Bhang forms a big part of ancient Hindu tradition, and they believe it cures many ailments. It produces a similar effect as smoking cannabis; however, it can last longer and also take a lot longer to kick in. If it is your first time experimenting with Bhang, it is worth educating yourself on the effects before partaking.

TOP THINGS TO DO JAISALMER BHANG COOKIES
When in Rome – Bhang Cookies in Jaisalmer
Social Etiquette in India

Overall, India is a holy and socially conservative country.. It’s important to keep in mind that what might be socially acceptable in your home country, is likely to be viewed entirely different here. Thankfully, most Indians are forgiving toward foreigners to a certain extent; however, to avoid unwanted attention and embarrassment, it’s good to know the dos and don’ts. In which case, I recommend this article regarding social etiquette in India, which includes dress codes, table manners, temple etiquette etc.

At the same time, you’ll likely be surprised by some of the aspects of Indian culture. And in all honestly, you’ll probably be offended from time to time. But again, it’s important to remember that the culture is entirely different from the western world, and embracing the unique Indian culture is all part and parcel of the experience.

Stay Connected in India

If, like us, you rely on the internet when you travel (let’s face it, who doesn’t anymore), we have the perfect solution. After coming home to too many hefty phone bills and buying countless international sim cards, we were desperate for an affordable solution. 

That’s when we discovered TravelWifi. TravelWifi’s portable pocket wifi allows us to quickly and securely connect when we need it the most. Click the link for more information on coverage, packages, and the latest offers.

Otherwise, you can pick up a local sim card at the airport. We used Vodaphone and it was reliable throughout our stay. You will need your passport and visa to register for a sim card and it can take up to 48 hours to activate.

Travel Responsibly

As travellers, it should always be a top priority to travel responsibly.  We already leave a substantial carbon footprint just by flying to our travel destinations, so that’s even more reason to make a positive impact when we get there.  There are many small steps you can take to becoming a responsible traveller, and we highly encourage you to educate yourself before travelling to India. Here are some things you can do to minimise your footprint:

1. Do not leave any rubbish on the ground: You will see a lot of rubbish on the ground in India, but that doesn’t make it ok to add to it.  Bin your trash!

2. Limit your single-use plastic consumption:  This is tough in India as we wouldn’t recommend drinking tap water even if it has been treated/sterilised.  However, you can say no to straws and plastic bags. Take a reusable bag with you everywhere.

3. Respect the local culture: Be courteous of the local culture and act in such a way that leaves a good impression.  Learn a little of the local language (hello and thank you is the minimum), greet the locals in a polite manner, and respect dress codes & traditions. We recommend carrying a Sarong with you to cover up where needed.

More on India

Planning a trip to India? Check out some of our other articles to help plan your trip:

Are our One Month in India Backpacking Routes Helpful?

Let us know. Well, that concludes The Best India Backpacking Route – 1 Month in India Itinerary.  We hope you enjoy your time in this magical country. If you have any questions or feel we have missed anything, please reach out to us in the comment section below, through our contact us page. Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram here where we share further travel advice & inspiration.

Stay Adventurous and Happy Travels!

Charlotte & Natalie x

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9 thoughts on “The Best India Backpacking Route – 1 Month in India Itinerary

  1. This is amazing and so detailed! And, as a prior leader in the insurance world I have to say I love that you mentioned travel insurance. It’s SO important!

  2. Wow amazing guide of one month itinerary in India. I have been in India from many year but I didn’t experience any of these places. Thanks for such a guide I will plan for Alleppey in the month of May.

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