18 Best Places to Backpack in India


What could be better than picking up your backpack and going for an impromptu trip, all alone or with a friend by your side? The sheer sense of joy and freedom that comes with backpacking your way through hills and terrains, drifting along, is unparalleled. You feel as light and free as a bird, literally and metaphorically. Backpacking has also caught up as quite a trend nowadays, with a number of backpacker hotels springing up in a lot of places. Here are the 15 best places to backpack in India to add to your quest for traveling.

Also read: 12 Must Have Travel Experiences In India

1. Rishikesh 

Rishikesh, situated in the Indian state of Uttarakhand, is a popular destination for backpackers. This spiritual city is known for its scenic beauty and the presence of the mighty Ganges river. There are plenty of budget stays and hostels available for backpackers in Rishikesh.

The city offers a variety of adventure activities like white-water rafting, bungee jumping, and kayaking. There are also plenty of opportunities to indulge in spiritual experiences like yoga, meditation, and spiritual teachings. Cafes, restaurants and street food stalls offer a mix of Indian and international cuisine options for foodies. Overall, Rishikesh offers a unique blend of adventure, spirituality and cultural experiences for backpackers.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

2. Hampi

Backpacking in Hampi is a unique experience that combines adventure and history. This town in Karnataka is known for its rich historical and archaeological significance. As a backpacker, you can indulge in various activities such as exploring the ruins of the ancient Vijayanagara empire, trekking through the challenging terrain filled with boulders, and discovering the stories of the past through the monuments and temples.

Budget-friendly stays such as hostels and guesthouses are easily available in Hampi. The presence of a foreign crowd has resulted in the presence of cafes that cater to backpackers, providing a perfect spot to relax and unwind after a day of exploring. Overall, Hampi is a must-visit destination for backpackers who love to combine adventure, history, and culture.

Image Source: karnatakatourism.org

3. Rajasthan

Rajasthan, known for its rich cultural heritage and vibrant history, is a popular destination for backpackers. This colorful state in India is a hub of adventure activities, spiritual experiences, and cultural encounters.

Here are some of the popular places to visit and activities to indulge in during a backpack trip in Rajasthan:

Pushkar: Explore the vibrant Pushkar Camel Fair, visit the holy Pushkar Lake and check out the many temples and holy sites in the town.

Jaipur: Visit the Amber Fort, Hawa Mahal, City Palace, and Jantar Mantar, take a cooking class, go on a heritage walk, or go shopping in the local bazaars.

Jaisalmer: Take a camel ride in the Thar Desert, visit the Jaisalmer Fort, explore the ancient havelis, and witness the traditional Rajasthani folk music and dances.

Jodhpur: Visit the Mehrangarh Fort, explore the blue houses of Jodhpur, and take a cooking class.

Chittorgarh: Explore the Chittorgarh Fort, take a walking tour of the town, and visit the local temples and museums.

Udaipur: Take a boat ride on Lake Pichola, visit the City Palace, Jagdish Temple, and the Monsoon Palace.

Backpackers can indulge in activities like camel safaris, sand dune bashing, and visiting historic forts and palaces. Staying options are abundant and cater to different budgets – from budget-friendly hostels and homestays to luxury hotels. For those on a budget, there are many budget stays and hostels that offer comfortable accommodation.

Rajasthan is also famous for its street food and cafes, serving traditional dishes and delicacies. All in all, Rajasthan is a backpacker’s delight and promises an unforgettable experience filled with adventure, culture, and spirituality.

Image Source: Joao Eduardo Figueiredo (Flickr)

Image Source: Claude Chauvin (Flickr) 

4. Meghalaya

Meghalaya, located in the northeastern India, is a beautiful and adventurous destination for backpackers. With its rolling hills, waterfalls, and breathtaking landscapes, it is an ideal place for trekking, hiking, and exploring. There are many budget-friendly stays and hostels available for backpackers to stay in, which provide a comfortable and affordable option for travelers. Adventure activities like caving, kayaking, and zip-lining can also be enjoyed in Meghalaya, providing an adrenaline rush for thrill-seekers. Additionally, the region is known for its picturesque waterfalls, such as the Nohkalikai Falls, which are must-visit places for travelers. Meghalaya is a great destination for those looking for a unique and off-the-beaten-path travel experience in India.

Image Source: Gaurav Singh (Flickr) 

5. Goa and Gokarna

Goa and Gokarna are two of the most popular  destinations in India for backpackers. Both destinations offer a mix of beach life, nightlife, and adventure activities.

In Goa, you can indulge in activities like sunbathing on the pristine beaches, exploring Portuguese architecture, visiting the night markets, and trying out water sports like jet-skiing and parasailing. For budget stays, there are plenty of options like hostels, homestays, and budget hotels. The presence of foreign crowds, lively cafes, and shacks on the beaches make it a lively place to be.

Similarly, in Gokarna, you can visit its beautiful beaches, take part in yoga and spiritual activities, and also trek to the Half Moon Beach and Paradise Beach. There are a variety of budget stays available like hostels, homestays, and budget hotels. The presence of cafes and restaurants serving local cuisine further makes it a backpackers delight.

Image Source: Pavel Volkov (Flickr) 

6. Manali

Manali, located in the state of Himachal Pradesh in India, is a popular destination for backpackers. With its breathtaking scenery and adventurous activities, there’s never a dull moment in Manali. From budget stays to high-end resorts, there’s a range of accommodation options for backpackers. Hostels, guesthouses, and homestays are also readily available and offer a more authentic and budget-friendly experience.

Indulge in a range of activities such as trekking, camping, paragliding, river rafting, and skiing. The scenic beauty of Manali can be best appreciated through treks like the Hampta Pass, Beas Kund, and Bhrigu Lake. For a more relaxed experience, backpackers can visit the hot springs, explore local villages, and savor the local cuisines in cafes and restaurants. For a spiritual experience, visit the ancient Hindu temples in and around Manali such as the Hidimba Devi Temple and Manu Temple. Manali also offers great shopping opportunities with its bustling street markets and local shops. Hire a Motorcycle and visit the Rohtang Pass and ride to Sissu crossing through the famous Atal Tunnel. Visit Solang Valley for adventure sports and to try some delicious street food.

With so much to see and do, Manali is the perfect destination for backpackers seeking a mix of adventure, relaxation, and cultural experiences.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

7. Parvati Valley 

The Parvati Valley in Himachal Pradesh is a popular destination for backpackers. This scenic valley is surrounded by snow-capped peaks and offers breathtaking views of the Himalayas. The valley is a hub of vibrant Mountain cafes and restaurants offering a variety of authentic local, Indian, and International cuisine. The valley also offers an array of budget stays and hostels, making it an affordable option for backpackers.

Places to visit in Parvati Valley include Kasol and other villages like Kalga, Phulga, Tosh, Grahan, Malana, Rasol, and Katagla. Treks and hikes like Kheerganga, and Waichin Valley are also a delight to the backpackers.

Image Source: Soumya Ganguly (Flickr) 

8. Dharamsala – McLeod Ganj – Bir 

Dharamsala, located in the state of Himachal Pradesh, is a popular destination for backpackers and travelers. It offers a unique blend of adventure activities, spiritual experiences, and cultural exploration. Some of the must-visit places in and around Dharamsala include McLeod Ganj, which is the home of the Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, Bhagsu Waterfall, Bhagsunag Temple and Bir – the hub of Paragliding in India. Trekking enthusiasts can trek up to Triund and even further toward Indrahar Pass. There are plenty of budget-friendly stays and hostels available, as well as cafes and restaurants that serve local and international cuisine.

Image Source: Pixahive

9. Tirthan Valley

Tirthan Valley is a popular destination for backpackers and nature enthusiasts in Himachal Pradesh. It is surrounded by stunning views of the Himalayan range and is a gateway to the Great Himalayan National Park. You can indulge in activities like fishing, camping, and trekking while exploring the valley.

The trek to Serolsar Lake, which is a scenic high-altitude lake along with a hike to the 360-degree viewpoint near Jalori Pass is a must-visit for trek enthusiasts. You can camp overnight at Raghupur Fort. Villages of Tirthan such as Gushaini, Shoja, and Sharchi are also too good to be missed. Budget stays, hostels, and cafes are available across Tirthan Valley. Visitors can also enjoy local Himachali cuisine and explore the nearby apple orchards and traditional village life.

Tirthan Valley is an ideal place for a relaxed and rejuvenating backpacking vacation.

Image Source: BohemianJoy (Flickr) 

10. Varanasi 


Varanasi, also known as the spiritual capital of India, is a city steeped in history and culture. Backpacking in Varanasi offers a unique experience to travelers looking to immerse themselves in India’s rich heritage.

Some of the famous places to visit in Varanasi include the Kashi Vishwanath Temple and the beautiful Ghats along the Ganges like the Assi Ghat and Dashashwamedh Ghat.  You can indulge in activities such as boat rides along the Ganges to witness the daily rituals and ceremonies performed.

Budget stays and hostels are abundant in Varanasi, making it an affordable option for backpackers. For those seeking a spiritual experience, Varanasi is home to several ashrams and yoga centers offering classes and workshops.

The city is also known for its street food and local cafes that serve traditional Indian food, as well as its vibrant nightlife with street performances and music

Source: Wikimedia Commons

11. Leh-Ladakh

Leh-Ladakh is a high-altitude region in the northern part of India that offers a unique and breathtaking landscape. This region is a backpacker’s paradise, providing an opportunity for travelers to explore the raw beauty of the region, witness its cultural heritage, and engage in thrilling adventure activities.

Some of the popular places to visit in Leh-Ladakh include the Pangong Tso Lake, Nubra Valley, Tso Moriri Lake, and the iconic city of Leh. For adventure enthusiasts, activities like trekking, river rafting, and motorbiking are readily available. The region is also known for its spiritual significance and is home to several Buddhist monasteries like the Thiksey Monastery, Alchi Monastery, and the Hemis Monastery.

Budget stays and hostels are available in Leh, with options ranging from basic dormitory beds to private rooms. Motorbikes can easily be hires from Leh – the administrative centre of Ladakh. The region is also known for its simple yet delicious food, with Ladakhi and Tibetan cuisines being the highlights.

Leh-Ladakh offers a unique and memorable experience to backpackers and travelers, and it’s a must-visit destination in India.

Source: Pixabay

Image Source: Tanay Kibe (Flickr)

12. Spiti Valley 

Spiti, located in the upper reaches of Himachal Pradesh, is a breathtaking destination that offers an absolutely thrilling experience. With its stark, rugged landscapes and sparse population, Spiti is a backpacker’s paradise. The places to visit in Spiti include the beautiful Key Monastery, Chandratal Lake, the Pin Valley National Park, Dhankar, and Langza village. You can indulge in activities such as trekking, camping, mountain biking, and stargazing.

Food options in Spiti are limited, but you can try traditional dishes of the region and get simple Indian food. You can also find a few budget cafes serving variety of food at Kaza. For budget stays, you can opt for homestays, guesthouses, and hostels. Motorbikes are readily available for hire at Manali, Shimla and Kaza – the administrative center of Spiti Valley.

Overall, Spiti is a must-visit destination for backpackers and travelers who want to experience the raw beauty of nature, escape from the city, and connect with the spiritual essence of the Himalayas.

Image Source – Shashank Yadav (Flickr)

13. Kerala

Kerala, also known as “God’s Own Country”, is a popular destination for backpackers looking for a relaxing and rejuvenating experience. This tropical paradise is famous for its lush green landscapes, tranquil beaches, tranquil backwaters, and authentic cuisine. Kochi, Alleppey, Kumarakom, Munnar, Wayanad, and Kovalam are some of the popular destinations to explore in Kerala.

Backpackers can indulge in activities like yoga and Ayurvedic therapies, which are widely available throughout the state. Kerala also offers few pristine and beautiful trekking routes. You can also take a houseboat tour through the backwaters and enjoy the serene beauty of this unique landscape.

For budget-friendly accommodation options, there are many hostels and budget-friendly homestays available throughout Kerala.

Whether you are looking for a relaxing or adventurous experience, Kerala has something to offer to all kinds of travelers. With its warm climate, friendly people, and breathtaking natural beauty, Kerala is truly a backpacker’s paradise.

Source: Wikimedia Commons 

14. Kinnaur

Kinnaur, a district in the state of Himachal Pradesh, is known for its stunning landscapes, apple orchards, and Kinnaur Kailash mountain range. The region is a popular destination for backpackers and adventure seekers. Some of the most popular places to visit in Kinnaur include Kalpa, Sangla, Rakccham, Chitkul, and Reckong Peo. You can also explore the local culture by visiting Kinnaur’s temples and traditional villages.

Several budget stays, homestays, tents, and backpacker hostels are available across Kinnaur.

Image Source – Biswarup Sarkar (Flickr)

Image Source: Rahul Bera (Flickr) 

15. Sikkim 

Sikkim, located in the northeast of India, is a paradise for backpackers and adventure seekers. The region is known for its diverse landscapes, rich cultural heritage, and breathtaking natural beauty. From the panoramic views of the Kanchenjunga Mountain and other peaks in Pelling to the stunning vistas from the Zuluk Loops and the serenity of the Gurudongmar Lake, there’s something for everyone in Sikkim. The Kanchenjunga National Park, Nathula Pass, and Gurudongmar Lake are also must-visit locations for their scenic beauty and adventure activities.

Popular tourist destinations include Gangtok, Lachen, Lachung, Yumthang, Pelling, Tsongmo Lake, Gurudongmar Lake, and Kanchenjunga National Park, all offering their own unique experiences. The local cuisine, blending Tibetan, Nepalese, and Indian flavors, is renowned for its delicious dishes. Budget-friendly accommodations, such as hostels and budget stays, are available for those on a budget.

In conclusion, Sikkim is a must-visit destination that offers a unique mix of adventure, natural beauty, culture, and local cuisine.

Image Source: Ananya & Chinmay (Flickr) 

16. Darjeeling

Darjeeling is a popular hill station located in West Bengal and is known for its tea gardens, stunning views of the Himalayan Mountains, and colonial architecture. Some of the activities one can indulge in while backpacking in Darjeeling include trekking, visiting tea gardens, experiencing local culture and cuisine, shopping, and exploring the surrounding areas.

Places near Darjeeling that can be explored include Kalimpong, a scenic hill town known for its historical significance, floral nurseries, and Buddhist monasteries. Mirik, another nearby town, is famous for its natural beauty and stunning lake. The town of Sandakphu, located in the Singalila National Park, is a popular trekking destination and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding mountain ranges.

Image Source: Saurabh Chatterjee (Flickr)

17. Pondicherry

Pondicherry, a former French colony, is a popular tourist destination in South India known for its serene beaches, colonial architecture, and spiritual heritage.

Visit the famous beaches of Pondicherry like Paradise Beach, Auroville Beach, Serenity Beach and Promenade Beach to relax and soak in the sun. Auroville, an experimental township, is a must-visit for those interested in spirituality and eco-friendly living. Explore the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, a spiritual community founded by Sri Aurobindo. Walk around the French Quarter to admire the colonial architecture and soak in the laid-back vibe of the town. Try the local cuisine that blends French, Tamil, and Indian influences. Take a walk in the botanical garden or go for a scenic drive through the serene countryside.

You could also visit Chidambaram, a temple town located about 50 km from Pondicherry, famous for its temple dedicated to Lord Nataraja. Other places to visit around Pondicherry include Cuddalore – a nearby town, located around 60 km from Pondicherry, that offers a mix of history and natural beauty and Pichavaram – located around 100 km from Pondicherry, which has a mangrove forest that offers scenic boat rides and opportunities for birdwatching.

With a range of options from relaxation and spirituality to nature and history, Pondicherry has something to offer for every type of backpacker.

Source: Praveen (Flickr) 

18. Agra – Orccha – Khajuraho

Agra, Orccha, and Khajuraho are popular destinations in India that attract backpackers from all over the world. This route is well known for its rich cultural heritage and historical monuments.

Agra is the city of the Taj Mahal, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, and is a must-visit for all backpackers. The city also has several other famous monuments like the Agra Fort and the Itmad-ud-Daula’s Tomb.

Orccha is a small town known for its historical monuments and beautiful palaces. The town is famous for the Orccha Fort and the Jahangir Mahal, which are perfect examples of the region’s rich cultural heritage.

Khajuraho is famous for its temples and sculptures, which are a testament to the rich cultural heritage of the region. The temples are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and are famous for their intricate carvings and sculptures.

For backpackers, this route offers a unique mix of history, culture, and natural beauty. Accommodations are readily available, ranging from budget-friendly hostels

With its stunning monuments, beautiful landscapes, and unique experiences, the Agra – Orccha – Khajuraho route is a must-visit for backpackers who want to experience the rich cultural heritage of India.


Source: Flickr

India – the land of endless surprises is full of contrasts, incredible places, and adventures for backpackers offering a diverse range of experiences, whether it’s exploring the rich cultural heritage of its cities, basking in its stunning natural beauty, or getting lost in its mystical spirituality. So, don’t wait any longer and embark on an exciting journey to discover these best places to backpack in India. As a backpacker, you’ll have the time of your life exploring this beautiful country.

India’s rich history and cultural heritage can be felt in every corner of the country. Beyond its rich history, India is also a land of vibrant street life, colorful bazaars, and delicious street food. So, pack your bags and set off on an adventure of a lifetime.

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