India Travel, Backpacking & Gap Year Guide
India needs little introduction, this country has long been a popular destination for people seeking culture, food, world famous sights and things to do. Get information, advice and inspiration for the best things to do if you would like to travel, go backpacking or take a gap year in India.
India Travel Ideas, Backpacking Trips & Gap Year Programs
Travel to India
Each region of India offers something different and there are so many amazing activities to match all interests. Discover the very best of India with One World 365 and get inspiration for the best things to do if you would like to travel or go backpacking.
Our India destination guide aims to give you all the information you need to have an amazing experience in this amazing country. Find affordable travel and backpacking ideas with advice how you can be more than just your average traveller. You can also get recommendations for budget travel tips, advice on places to stay and how visit Thailand on a budget.
- Population: 1,200,200,000 (approx)
- Currency: Indian Rupee (INR) $1 = 53INR / £1 = 83INR
- Capital: Delhi (Population: 18,000,000 approx)
- Language: Hindi + local languages
- Area: 3,300,000 sq km (approx)
- International Calling Code +91
Visa & Entry Requirements
Wondering if you need a visa to visit India? Yes, before departing most nationalities need to apply for a visa before departing. Don't leave this till the last minute as sometimes the application can take some time to get a booking and processed. The visa currently costs £110 and is valid for a year and includes the option for multiple entries within that time.
How to Get Around
Buses and trains are the cheapest way to travel around the country but also the slowest, flying in-between places is recommended if you are on a tight schedule. If you are worried and want to enjoy the most easy experience consider joining an organised experience.
Travelling & Backpacking in India
Our authentic India holidays allow you to experience the local culture, beaches, temples, mountains, rivers, history, wildlife, waterfalls, diverse landscapes and do far more than just sightseeing. There are lots of activity and adventure holidays available, whether you are looking for a break or a different experience or looking at stretching your hard earned cash, we all appreciate taking a holiday in a country that offers affordable day to day living. And if you can get there cheaply too then it's an absolute bonus! That's why India is such an appealing country to explore and visit.
We recommend attending one of the colourful festivals throughout the year or joining a structured overland holiday. You can incorporate a variety of experiences like eco tourism and beach breaks in the South. India just happens to be one of the most wonderfully mad, beautiful, exciting and 'not quite like anywhere else' places you can find. It has it all! We have got hundreds of ideas for what you can do here too. So if you're up for a wonderful attack on all the senses and an extraordinary adventure view our featured holidays today.
India is a huge country and these are some places you should add to your itinerary:
- Seeing the Taj Mahal in Delhi which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the finest examples of Mughal architecture. It is now also listed among the New Seven Wonders of the World.
- Relaxing on gorgeous beaches in Goa which are some of the best in the continent
- Seeing exhiled Tibetan's in Dharamasala which is a spectacular setting
- Taking a boat ride down the Ganges River - very tranquil and allows you to see a different side to the country
- Head to the hills and sample the local tea in Darjeeling
- In the Kanha National Park you can go on a wildlife safari
- Pay a visit to the Golden Temple in Amritsar
- See the UNESCO World Heritage Site ruins in Hampi
Cities to add to your itinerary:
- Delhi is a huge city to explore, from modern shops to ancient forts this city will leave to captivated
- Jaipur in Rajasthan is a good place to visit, you will see pink buildings which make Jaipur often refered to as the Pink City
- Mumbai (Bombay) home to Bollywood, celebrities and culture
- Varanasi is situated on the banks of the Gangees and is a great place to see and understand Hindu culture
- Kolkata is one of the biggest cities in India, we highly recommend hiring a tuk tuk to see more of this area
Best Places to Visit in India
If you are planning on going travelling or backpacking in India do not leave visiting these incredible places...
Agra: The Land of Taj:
Agra is renowned for its palaces with plethora of fascinating architecture. It is the ideal spot for a tourists where you can see a wonderful fort and intriguing tombs and mausoleums. Agra sits on a huge curvature in the sacred Yamuna River. The Agra Fort and the Taj Mahal, just 2km apart, overlook Yamuna on different divisions of the curvature. Taj Mahal located here is counted among the wonders of the world and symbolizes the love. It was constructed by the Mughal Emperor Shahjahan. The incredible architecture of Taj and Agra Fort elates the mind of every tourist. There is a great fun to be had in the lively chowks and marketplaces. You could also plan a vist to magnificent and ancient city Fatehpur Sikri and a great Hindu Pilgrimage site Mathura.
Kerala, also known as the “Gods Own Country”, is counted among the prominent tourist destinations of India. This astounding state of South India is an ideal place for vacations. It is not only famous for natural beauty but for its amazing beaches, backwaters, and scrumptious food as well. The backwaters of Kerala are the wonderful complex of lagoons, lakes, rivers and canals. These backwaters are the significant fraction of tourism in Kerala. The expedition through whirling and winding backwaters is an utter experience of nature’s exquisiteness. Beaches of Kerala are again something that you can’t afford to miss. It is also a great place to enjoy the adventures like trekking, rock climbing, mountaineering, wildlife tour, wind surfing, etc.
Madurai is among the oldest settled cities of India which exemplifyies fascinating architecture of prehistoric era. It is situated on the banks of Vaigai River. Madurai is counted among the most significant places for pilgrimage in South India. The renowned and splendid Meenakshi Temple is located in Madurai. This ancient temple dates back to the era 2000 years back and is one of the most remarkable displays of Dravidian style of architecture. Gandhi Memorial Museum is another site you should not miss on your trip. The names by which this city is famous among the tourists are Athens of the East, Malligai Maanager, Sleepless City, and City of Jasmine.
Goa located in Southern India has spectacular beaches and a relaxed vibe making it an ideal destination for international visitors.
Gap Year in India
India is one of the most popular gap year destinations in the world where you can experience culture, food, world famous sights and an experience like no other. If you would like to spend a gap year living, working or just exploring India then search our programs.
India is a fascinating country which can seem quite daunting when planning a trip. When first arriving into a bustling country it can be a shock to your system! A good option is to join a gap year program where you will enjoy a structure and safe journey meeting new friends along the way. You will get to visit world famous locations like the Taj Mahal, Golden Temple, Jaipur, Goa and also go off the beaten track. On our gap year travel packages you will get to learn more about the country, culture, people and see exotic animals.
India is diverse in culture, people, landscapes and tradition, there are so many places to visit too, this is a huge country a really popular gap year destination. Travelling in this destination can be a challenge but also a really fun and culturally diverse experience where you will learn a lot about yourself and the country. Expect to try lots of tasty food, viewing wildlife and spectacular scenery, seeing extreme poverty and shanty towns in contrast to huge modern cities and also meeting international backpackers from all over the world.
On a gap year in India you can see some of most famous sights like the Taj Mahal, the Golden Triangle and also explore bustling cities like Delhi and Mumbai. We list programs for students, graduates, non-students and for career breaks - there are options for summer and all year round. Depending on how much time you have its recommend to research options and make a list of the things which appeal to you. For example if you are seeking a cultural experience you might want to head North or for beaches go to the South.
Best Gap Year Programs in India
Most gap year programs will require you to be aged 18+ to apply, there are some options for families and also 16 / 17 years olds though. When you apply you might be surprised to learn a fee might be involved to participate, the cost can vary depending on where you go, what you join and also how long you go for.
Experiences can be booked in advance through our website and joined most weeks of the year. In country help and support, being met at the airport by a staff member then dropped off to your accommodation, comprehensive orientation period, all transfers/ transport to project locations and overnight journeys, all accommodation and meals, assistance in setting up local support for the activities in coordination with the local staff and on site assistance and all materials for the activities.
Where you go really depends on if you join a structured program or if you apply independently. Accommodation can involve living with a host family on a cultural exchange programme, this is a brilliant way of enjoying the local culture, while improving your language skills and learning more about local people. There are also shared accommodation with other participants and also a wide range of budget/high end hotels and hostels.
"I went to India for 3 months traveling from the North to South which was amazing. I heard some horror stories about India before arriving but everyone was very friendly and I didn't even get sick. Goa and the beaches on the south coast was the highlight" - Emily, UK
India Travel Tips
Crime can be an issue in India, local people are very friendly but female travelers have faced notable issues, there have been some well documented problems recently so always check travel advice before departing
If you want to mix with local people and fully immerse yourself in the culture you might want to join a local language course to pick up some basic phrases.
India is becoming an increasingly attractive destination for travellers but there are a number of basic cultural differences that it is important to be aware of. Of course, the most obvious culture difference for travellers in India to be aware of is that of religion. Hinduism and Buddhism are the most commonly practised religion in the country.
Budget for Travelling in India:
This is one of the best value destinations in the world your money will go a long way here compared to other countries.
India is a large country and there are lots of options for getting around including buses, trains and flying.
India is largely vegetarian, and sometimes it is a good idea to avoid eating meat, but make sure you keep up your protein intake by eating plenty lentils and nuts. There are lots of Western food available throughout the country too
What to Read Before Departing:
Travel writer William Dalrymple has written several fascinating and often very funny books on India, including "The Age of Kali", "The White Moguls", and "City of Djinns: a year in Delhi" which you might buy.
One of the main attractions in India is the opportunity to ride one of the elephants, for as little as seven hundred rupees, you are allowed a ten minute ride but please avoid these experiences. The elephants are usually treated terribly and forced into giving rides to tourists which has a negative on their health and well being.There are lots of projects where you can actually help elephants and wildlife, if you sign up you can help with tasks like washing elephants in rivers, collecting food or generally assisting.
Health & Safey:
India gets millions of visitors every year and is a safe country to travel and explore although there have been issues in the past. Respect all local customs and do not get into arguments with local people, Indian people are very friendly by nature and you shouldn't have any problems with them but still aim to be a responsible tourist. Always get official taxi's, this is to avoid any dangerous situations or getting ripped off. Avoid flashing expensive goods like ipads, phone and laptops in public be discrete.
Tips for Female Travelers:
Don't be put off by some horror stories involving female travellers in India, although there have been some very high profile news stories this country is safe to visit and it is very rare bad things happen. Always try to be respectful of local customs, it is not a good idea for women to walk around in bikinis unless you want to attract unwanted attention.Try to dress conservatively and cover yourself up unless at the beach. One thing you might not have thought about is a fake ring, when men see this it might act as a deter-ant and ward off advances from local men. Indian men can be quite forward and overly friendly, when this happens you can always flash your ring and then try to beat a retreat. Also if you are travelling with another guy you could always pretend he is your husband.