With the hundreds and thousands of people that go backpacking on a yearly basis, India has established itself as a firm favorite, and that is no mean feat when you consider the range of locations that backpackers can choose from. So, what is it that makes India such a popular backpacking destination?
Traveling in India is never boring and there is always something to write home about, especially if you venture away from the backpacker hotspots and are determined to discover India outside of the most popular destinations. Then you will feel more like a traveler and less like a tourist.
In the half a year that the majority of tourist visas permit, you can backpack extensively, and still feel as though you only took in a tiny part of what is there. In fact, India is big enough that you could spend a number of years there without seeing all of its charms. You will find beautiful Himalayan valleys, breathtaking mountain views, tropical beaches and holy cities.
It really is an impossibility to fit everything into a single trip, and it is best to see a handful of areas properly rather than a dozen areas briefly. By trying to see and do too much then you will never more than scratch the surfaces of the places you visit and you will either by at bus / train stations or at the main tourist sites. Taking an extra day or two at each place allows you to wander off the beaten track and see the real India.
India is used to backpackers and, although traveling around takes time, it is simple enough to explore for even first time backpackers. It is regarded as a safe country too, providing you exercise common sense and show respect for the locals. Most backpackers there travel on a route that has been traveled by thousands and thousands of other backpackers in the past, and you will come across lots of services geared specially towards backpackers.
Locally run travel agents are readily available on backpacker travel routes and are useful for arranging flights, visas and day trips. Overnight buses and sleeper trains are perfect for budget conscious travelers and offer a cheap way to cover moderate distances. Long in-country distances can be overcome with domestic airlines, which are mostly low-cost, dependable and are bookable on the day.
As for the cost of things in India, prices have risen slightly in the past few years but, even though the tourism trade in India is aimed more and more in favor of the domestic middle class, it is still possible to find accommodation on the beach for around 5 US Dollars per night. It is also possible to eat out whilst in the country for just a few US Dollars a day, particularly if you eat at the same establishments as the locals. However, prices increase at restaurants that cater for backpackers, and non-Indian food is nearly always more costly than Indian food.
So, to summarize, India is a unique, exciting and affordable location. If you are planning to go backpacking in the future, then it should definitely be on your shortlist of places to visit.