How long should I travel to India for?

How long should I travel to India for?

How long should I travel to India for?

How long should I travel to India? That is a huge question and in this post, you can find out everything you need to know on how to answer that question. 😁

Before we start well done for your choice of travelling to India as no other country gives you more bang for your buck and no other country is as vibrant or colourful. 

India is a vast country, and to see anything takes time. India is such a varied place; it can feel like you have gone to another country when you cross into another state sometimes. So the short answer to How long should I travel in India, is as long as you can.

Amritsar, Golden temple, Punjab

The reality about travel 

Realistically many of us have responsibilities such as mortgages, children, jobs or their pet cat mittens you need to get back home to as soon as possible. So many of us cant take a year off and live out of a backpack.

It also depends on what you want to get out of your trip. If your goal is to see tigers, then you probably won’t need a year. But then if you are on a spiritual quest, that will take much longer as there is so much to explore and it is a very personal experience.

There are many contributing factors to this question and what you want is also a very personal choice and one I will have little impact on.

The truth is India has a little something for everyone. From a few days away to relax to multi-day expeditions into the wild, you can find it all in one country.

In this post, I will be looking at what your time will get you and what you can expect. The answer to that question will be based on your personal goals and how do they fit into the time frame.

India, nature, landscape

Is it worth travelling to India for a weekend?

While you can’t expect to achieve much in this amount of time it is better than nothing right? How much would you expect to see on the weekend anywhere?

You can at least go on a city break, and some of the cities in India are fascinating. I have four recommendations that you could get something meaningful out off with your designated time slot.

New Dehli

This city has more people living in it that the whole of Australia. Now let that sink in for a moment. Delhi is a kaleidoscope of humanity and is sure to leave your jaw dropped.

It has a fast and effective Metro system that can whisk you into the city from the airport in no time. For the best results, check out Old Dehli as you want to maximise your time and this is where all the juicy stuff is. For more information, check out my post on what this part of town has to offer.

temple, India, river

Chennai

While there is not much to see in Chennai itself, it is only a short taxi ride to the fabulous Mamallapuram.

The tiny town sits on the coast, and there are some ok beaches there. But the highlight is the remains of the Pallava dynasty dating back to the 7th century. These ruins are world-class and include the spectacular shore temple. While it is no castaway-style adventure here, it is a relaxing little town, and there is very little hustle.

Panjim (Goa)

While any trip to a Goan beach would be fleeting, it is still possible. If you must get your toes in some sand on your holiday, this is your best bet. Panjim is not without its charm. Far from it and if it’s a culture you want its culture you will get.

The town is dotted with magnificent churches leftover from the Portuguese colonial era, and they can rival anything you can find in Europe, particularly those found in Old Goa. Exploring this little slice of history is a lovely way to spend your time. Another plus point is the local food that I have only ever found in Goa itself. You can eat yourself silly here as it is delicious.

Beach, coast, India

Kolkata

The city is associated in the west with poverty, and I would imagine the residents are not thrilled by that. The truth is it’s the intellectual capital of the country.

There is so much to see here without leaving the city and all within easy reach of your hotel. If you decide this is for you don’t miss the Victoria Memorial or the Flower Market.

Kolkata is my favourite city, and I often use this as my entrance into the country just because I love this city.

Are Two weeks enough in India?

Well, the short answer to that question is hell no! However, in two weeks you can now leave the big cities and get a taste of the real India but don’t go too far.

With two weeks you can take in a whole lot more and if that is all you have it is not the end of the world.

If you plan what it is you want to do, you can actually cover quite a bit of ground. I would not try and cram too much in though especially if you’re going to head to Leh for a little trekking. Here are my very classic suggestions on what you can do with your time.

Leh, Ladakh, India

Trekking in Ladakh 

In two weeks outdoor enthusiasts can rejoice as you can fly to Leh and the top of the world with only one change from your home country.

You will need some time to adjust. Give yourself at least twenty-four hours, but that is all down to the individual as it may take longer at Ladakh’s lofty altitude.

My advice is don’t book anything more than flights from home if you are travelling to this part of the country. It works out way more expensive, as there are a gazillion agencies who can organise something if you need assistance and at competitive rates.

Most package deals only allow for a day of acclimatising, and what if your body is not ready? You simply won’t finish your trip and waste your money. Leave yourself with flexibility.

Quite frankly if you are selective where you walk such as on the Markha valley trek, you won’t even need a guide or porters.

You may have to wait around for jeeps to get to the high mountain lakes or the Nubra valley if you don’t want to pay for the whole thing. It is not really that much of a problem anyway as they leave so frequently.

For a detailed look at what you need to know before you visit the awesome state of Ladakh India please click the link provided. 

Temple, Leh, Tibetan

Travel North India by train 

In two weeks you could fly into Dehli and out from Calcutta. This would allow you to take in some of the major sites such as the Taj Mahal, Varanasi and Bodhgaya. If you decide this quite epic journey is for you, then book all your train tickets from the tourist booking offices at whatever end you start.

The route I have just mentioned is suitable for those of you on a spiritual quest as it takes in Varanasi which is one of the most auspicious Hindu holy towns and the very heartbeat of the faith for many devotees.

It also takes in Bodhgaya, which is the place where Lord Buddha came to attain enlightenment while sitting under a Bodhi tree. It is one of the most important sights for Buddhists, and there are meditation causes galore here.

Goan, beach, fishing

Another option and one many people will choose is to focus on Rajasthan. You can fly in and out of Dehli. Organise all of your tickets from the tourist office in New Dehli train station, and then you are set.

Two weeks is enough time to dip your toe into this enchanting state. It is well connected by rail, and that makes getting from place to place a breeze.

Travel in South India 

The last suggestion I will give for this section is to stay down south. The south of India is a very different beast from the north.

Obviously, I would not recommend trying to see both North and South India with a couple of weeks to play with, but you can certainly get a little something for your time if you stay down south and if you plan what it is you want to see. I have said this in multiple posts and for a good reason.

By employing this strategy and not just seeing where the wind takes you, you will maximise your time and be cost-effective.

Jodhpur - Rajasthan's Incredible blue city

I would recommend choosing just one state such as Karnataka or Karala and focusing on that. Pick up a copy of the lonely planet and read the highlights of that state.

Pick three or four things that take your fancy and focus on those. I wouldn’t push more than that as it may begin to compromise your experience if you have to spend all of your time on a bus.

The south has a little bit of everything you could possibly want including some decent beaches, and that is something that is in short supply in the north. Blessed with a long and beautiful coastline, there is plenty of room for you to soak up a little tropical ambience.

Munnar, sunset, tea estate

The Western Ghats occupy a portion of all three states down here, and they are some of the most biodiverse parts of the planet. Needless to say, nature lovers can fill their boots and it’s all very accessible as long as you are sensible and don’t try and cover too much ground.

Those on a spiritual quest can’t go wrong in Kerala. It is the home of Avevedic medicine with all kinds of treatments and courses on offer.

As I have stated before, it is all very personal about what you want to get out of your time. You could come back three times for two weeks and undertake each suggestion I have made. If you were to do that you would undoubtedly feel like you were coming to a different country every time. That is how utterly different they are from each other.

So it is possible to get out there and get your teeth into this massive country with just a little bit of time. Some people can’t do more, and I have met people throughout the years who have come back to India, again and again, using this method.

Rufus Hornbill, bird, beautiful

Your one-month dream trip.

Now you have a little more legroom to see the country in all of its splendour. With a whole month, I would suggest flying in to somewhere and out through somewhere else.

It is not a fabulous amount of time since as I have already stated the country is vast! You could take the itineraries for two weeks I gave and combined them as well. So take two weeks in Rajasthan and then carry on to Calcutta from New Delhi.

For example, take two weeks in Rajasthan and then carry on to Calcutta from New Dehli. While this would take in a lot of the show-stopping sights, please bear in mind they are also the most stressful to visit and give a poor reflection of how kind and hospitable the Indian people are.

Indian food, curry, Thali

Is travelling in India difficult?

I am not going to lie it can be very challenging indeed. India can be burning hot or blisteringly cold. The intense culture shock can know the best of us off-kilter. There is also an ever-present risk of being scammed.

Like a lot of countries where you visit tourist spots, there will be people you have to deal with that can see you coming.

They can spot people who are unfamiliar with how things work a mile off, and the odds of you being conned in some way or another is extremely high. I don’t think there is a tourist alive who has travelled in India for any length of time who would disagree.

Believe me when I say it has no reflection on how the local culture actually is as most Indians are some of the kindest and most hospitable people you could ever hope to meet.

Rishikesh

For those on a spiritual quest, you can fly straight into Dehli and then bury yourself in the spirituality of Rishikesh for a couple of weeks.

Rishikesh is a kind of yoga and spiritual capital of India. Western tourists have been drawn to this tiny town since the Bettles found their inspiration for the white album here while staying in an Ashwan.

Every conceivable spiritual course is on offer here including yoga, Reflexology, reiki, crystal healing, well you get the picture.

From there you could even carry on to Kolkata via Varanasi and Bodhgaya. That route is sure to whet your appetite for more and take in some incredible sites at the same time.

Indian, Culture, couple

Travel in South India

If you head south one really lovely suggestion is to fly into Bangalore and out through Trivandrum.

My advice is to leave Bangalore as soon as you can as there is not much there. Bangalore has good nightlife and an excellent restaurant scene, but that is about it with attractions. Move on to somewhere else such as Mysore or Hampi as soon as you can.

There are so many destinations to grab your attention on this route; it is just a case of assessing what suits you.  I will give a brief rundown of some of my favourites.

Jaipur, Rajasthan, fort

Hampi

Hampi is a world-class archaeological site, and it would be a real shame to miss it. These ruins and the surrounding countryside will keep you busy for days so bear that in mind if you decide to visit.

Gorkana

Gorkana is a photogenic set of beaches in northwest Karnataka. It is nowhere near as busy as Goa, but there is still a lively beach scene. It is popular with those who want to “chill out” and has a laid-back hippy vibe to it.

Nagarhole National park

Nagarhole national park is rich in biodiversity, and while it costs a bit, you will be rewarded with getting to spend time with some of India’s show-stopping wildlife. This includes a healthy population of tigers and elephants.

Ganesh, deity, statue

The Coorg region

The Coorg region is a rich coffee-growing area in the Western Ghats. It is incredibly scenic and rich in wildlife. It makes for a super relaxing getaway. There are endless chances to stroll around the countryside or relax and soak up the tropical ambience.

Consider staying in one of the many coffee plantations for a truly relaxing holiday. Not to mention a cup of some of the best coffee you will ever have in the morning.

Kannur

Kannur is a series of beaches for those who want a little break away from it all. The beaches are empty, and there are stacks of them. This is true tropical bliss, and you are still on the mainland.

Cochin

Cochin is an eclectic mix of historical treasures. There are remnants of the British Raj  Portuguese, and Jewish monuments are all over the old town. Cochinhas been restored to perfection and makes for the perfect destination for those who want a little class from their break.

Tiger, Indian, wildlife

Munnar

Munnar is a set of tea estates in the Western Ghats that are so beautiful they can hurt your eyes. Wildlife is abundant at every turn, and this place can keep you entertained for days on end.

You don’t need to pay much because the true joy is merely walking in the wilds of Kerala and taking in the raw beauty of this magnificent state at its best.

Keralan backwaters

I couldn’t get away without mentioning the iconic Keralan backwaters as they are stunning in the extreme. You can hire a canoe or a traditional luxury barge up and down the canals. Or you can walk around and see where the world’s most famous spice comes from and savour the tropical.

The Andaman islands 

For those who seek nothing more than tropical bliss then get a flight to the Andaman Islands. Your permit is free, and it lasts for one month conveniently for you.

Now I have travelled to a whole lot of countries and hung my hammock from many a coconut tree. However, nothing I have ever seen compares to this island chain and that is honest.

Victoria memorial, Kolkata, Bengal

Can I travel to India in 3 months?

Three months is a decent amount of time to get a feel of Indian culture but in all reality, it is still a drop in the bucket.

You can easily spend a year in India and still walk away feeling you have hardly seen anything! But it is a good start and if that is all the time you can afford then that’s way better than a weekend. 

Jodhpur, fort, creepy

What month should I go to India depends on where you want to go. There are two important high seasons to remember. 
The first is the winter and that is the peak season for the vast portion of the country. The monsoon is over and everything is green. The climate is cool and pleasant. It is a surprise to no one that if you want to visit the desert the best time is in the winter. 
The second important time to remember is between June and August. The summertime is the best time to visit the far north of the country. The brief summer allows this harsh landscape to become green for a fleeting moment. It is incredibly photogenic and there are endless trekking opportunities at this time of year. 

Rajasthan, Sunset, desert

Travel to India in six months

Now we are talking! You can get out and really see something good. Don’t be fooled though that six months will tick by very quickly. When you have a six-month window, it is easy to plan on covering vast amounts of ground, and I would implore you not to do that.

It doesn’t look far on a map, but the country is massive, and you can easily spend the bulk of your time getting from one place to another if you are just trying to cross stuff off. Travel slowly and take in what you are seeing. It will enrich your experience and be way more cost-effective.

You do, however, have a little more time to invest in those hard-to-reach spots such as the Zanskar or Spiti Valley.

Gary Mason walking through the forest in India

I am a big fan of adventure travel so what I like to do is work out a route that pushes my limits for some time then take a break somewhere relaxing like the Andamans or down south on the coast.

I know with six months it can seem like you have all the time in the world but do plan what you want to see.

The more you know about what to expect and how to get there will inevitably give you a richer experience. Get a guidebook such as the lonely planet and start planning as soon as possible.

You will have the luxury of being able to mix up the parts of the country that interests you and I cannot overstate enough how different they are from each other. I am just throwing it out there but, India dolls out one-year tourist visas on request should you want one. You have to leave the country for any amount of time after one hundred and eighty days.

India, palm trees, sunset

In summary of my post, How long should I travel to India?

I hope my post has been able to shed a little light on your query and for more tricks and tips on getting the travel experience you want then simply click the link.

I strongly recommend checking the latest travel advice with your home government. In the case of my British readers, you click here. It is important you follow the guidelines so there is nothing unexpected and your travel insurance remains valid.

I have spent almost half a decade travelling here, but my journey is far from over. I do, however, have a good understanding of how things work for a visitor, so don’t be shy to ask.

So this about wraps up my post on how long to travel in India. It turned out to be a long question to address and thanks for getting to the end. So until the next time my fellow intrepid travellers, happy planning.

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Gary Mason

Hi, there, folks. My name is Gary Mason, and as you can see, I have created a blog about travelling to South Asia.

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