India Guide

Where is the road calling you?

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India Guide

Tips and Tricks for India (As Of 2012)


Getting There – (from Varkala): We took a rickshaw from the Cliff to the train station for 80 Rp. From there it was an overnight ride with a super early arrival.

Staying – We stayed at one of the few places close to the train station with a 24 hour check in, called Hotel International. Unless you are spending a pretty penny, don’t expect much. We paid 600 Rp for 24 hours which worked out great for us since we were only staying one day. There are more places to choose from closer to the Temple which are probably nicer.

Eating – The one saving grace in Madurai was the food! Along the road perpendicular to the train station is a place called Meenakshi Bhavan. The thali was to die for and HUGE. Some of the best food in all of India, up at the top with Goa.

Getting Around – Madurai is not that big, it’s easy to walk from the train station to some of the crappier hotels and some of the posh ones. From there the way to the Temple is maybe 10 minutes down the road. You can’t miss it.


Getting There – (from Madurai): It was a long day of travel with a lot of changes to get to Pondi. We took a train to Trichy, then changed to get to Villuparam. There are direct trains but they were all full so we had to split up the journey. Upon arriving at Villuparam we needed to either catch the local bus or take a rickshaw to the bus terminal. After a lot of waiting we finally managed to jump on a bus bound for the terminal. Note, you can take any bus heading in the direction of the bus terminal. Just ask the locals for help. The beach in Pondi is not close to the bus terminal, walking is NOT an option. We scored a rickshaw for 50 Rp by walking down the road a little way.

Staying – We arrived on Saturday night and surprise, surprise everything was full. We ended up bartering for a while to get the price of 700 Rp at Hotel Continental. The room was nice with hot water and a comfy bed. We’d recommend it with or without the rat!

Eating – We searched high and low for cheap food that looked edible, there was some local food that didn’t look the cleanest and some super expensive western food but we ended up back at our hotel. The food was decent and reasonably priced.

Getting Around – There is a nice board walk by the ocean and a cute little area by the water but outside of that, not much else is in walking distance.


Getting There – We caught a rickshaw to the bus terminal for 50 Rp then hopped on a bus to Mamallapuram for 58 Rp. The bus drops you off on the side of the road away from the ocean and you’ll need to catch a rickshaw to the beach area for 40 Rp.

Staying – We chose to stay in Mal instead of Chennai in hopes we would save a little money and have a nice place to chill before our flight. We stayed at Silvermoon because they said they have wifi, cable tv and a generator so we’d have a fan at night. Being our last few nights we splashed out a bit at 500 Rp, there are much cheaper rooms there for 300 Rp.

Eating – We ate at quite a few of the western restaurants, as well as the little local place on the main road at the intersection. Their dosas were less than amazing but a cheaper option. There are some other local haunts by the bus terminal but we never ventured that far. We ate at the much talked about Le Yogi and weren’t very impressed but other travelers really like the food.

Getting Around – The temples and carvings are in walking distance from the hotel area. The only reason to rent a motorbike, take a bus, or rickshaw is to go to the croc park.


Getting There – (from Gokarna): We chose to catch the train from Karwar because there are better times due to more trains going though. There is only one connection a day from Gokarna south. We took a bus back to Ankola for 20 Rp each. From there we caught another bus to Karwar for 27 Rp. We tried to take the local bus to the train station but it was PACKED and after dripping sweat on the bus for 10 minutes we decided to just take a rickshaw for 80 Rp, it was well worth the money! The sleeper class train was just fine all the way to Kochi, we actually arrived 3 hours early.

Staying – We can’t recommend Union Homestay enough. The location is great, the room is clean, the family is super helpful and the price is right at 350 Rp.

Eating – There are a few good local places by the junction, we ate at Hotel City Light every night. They have string hoppers (sri Lankan) or idiappam and the super yummy veg kurma.

Getting Around – We used a prepaid rickshaw from the station to the port, 81 Rp. The ferry back and forth to fort Cochin is 2.50 Rp. Once on the island, we walked but renting a bike would be more practical in the heat.


Getting There – (from Kochi): After heading back across the water for 2.50 Rp, we caught a rickshaw for 30 Rp to the bus terminal since we had no idea where it was. The bus to Kottayam was 49 Rp and the rickshaw to the dock area was 30 Rp. We paid a whopping 10 Rp each for our backwater canal ride for 4 hours to Alleppey.

Staying – We stayed at Daffodil Home Stay, it was kind of a far walk from the center and bus terminal but we couldn’t complain too much for 300 Rp.

Eating – There are a few good bakeries, the recommended restaurants in LP and from our guest house were nothing to brag about.

Getting Around – No need for anything but your feet, there isn’t far to walk!


Getting There – (from Alleppey: After a lot of research we were surprised to find a direct bus to Varkala, we think there is one a day around 10:30am for 83 Rp. The bus feeds you to the wolves (rickshaw drivers), just walk away and find a different one in 10 minutes for 50 Rp to the Cliff.

Staying – We stayed at Cliff Top Guest House for 350 Rp a night. We had a huge, clean room and free wifi. There are a bunch of “cliff” guest houses, this one was down a little side alley away from the cliff by Café del Mar.

Eating – The winning vote goes to Sreepadman at the south cliff. It’s a little local place by the temple with the most amazing thalis! So much food it was hard to finish some days, great for lunch or dinner. Although the price tag was high, the food at Abba was delish! The veg burgers were to die for, think spinach and mushroom…yum! The breakfast was also good, we tried quite a few places for brekkie, most hovering around 100 Rp each, Skyline was pretty good. We weren’t fans of the Juice Shack. We found paying the extra 40-60 Rp for food in the Western restaurants was so worth it, as the quality jumped leaps and bounds.

Getting Around – We took the local bus into town from the junction by Sreepadman for 6 Rp each way, it was a good outing and the shopping is pretty good for spices and other every day stuff.


Getting There – From Goa: We took a rickshaw to the train terminal before the crack of dawn for 250 Rp, then a train to Madgoan for 22 Rp each. From there we had to wait a few hours for the next train to Hospet. The ride was about 6 hours and had some really beautiful scenery. We bartered for a rickshaw to Hampi for 120 Rp. To get to Hippy island you’ll need to pay 20 Rp each inclusive of an additional charge for your backpack or luggage.

Staying – We highly recommend taking the boat over for the peace and quiet of “hippy island”. DO NOT stay at Nigala, not worth the money for 300 Rp. Gross rooms. We loved Gouthami Farm, real beds, nice concrete rooms, wifi available and the best part 200 Rp!

Eating – We loved the dosas, uttapams and thalis at Sania, not to mention Sunny is great and so is the price. Dudu has some of the best Israeli food we have ever had. It is worth the 100 Rp for a meal, it’s HUGE!

Getting Around – Renting a motorbike is the way to go, they are super cheap at 100 Rp for the day. To get back to the main Bazaar you’ll pay 15 Rp each on the boat.


Getting There – From Hampi: We took the local bus from Hampi to Hospet after some waiting for 17 Rp each, you get dropped off right at the bus terminal. There were a few buses leaving in the direction we wanted to go. Unfortunately, we paid for a bus to Hubli when a bus to Ankola showed up. You can take either, we paid 125 Rp each to get to Hubli and caught the same bus that left Hospet for Ankola for 114 Rp each. From Ankola we hopped on a late afternoon bus to Gokarna for 20 Rp each. It was a long day but we did better than 2 for the price of 1 taking local transport over the whitey bus. It was worth it!

Staying – We ended up at a place called Padma Laxmi where mostly Indians stay at. The room was clean and nice for 300 Rp but don’t try to pee there after you check out. It was a better option than the other places tourists stay.

Eating – We ate all our meals at Prema down by the water, the food is super tasty and the thali is a great deal for the money…probably more food than you can eat.

Getting Around – We walked to Kudle but not on to the other beaches. You can easily walk to the bus terminal


Getting There – From Mumbai: There are tourist class tickets on the sleeper trains you can get from the tourist window in the CST station. Make sure to have a copy of your passport you can hand over if buying tatkal, this was the first time buying tatkal we had to do this. The ride is about 15 hours to Madgoan. From there we took a rickshaw for 100 Rp, it to the bus terminal. It’s much better to go to the terminal if you have a pack than get picked up in town when the bus is already full. We paid 30 Rp to get to Palolem. The bus stop is super close to the beach.

Moving on to Agonda we took the bus for 10 Rp each to Canacona then had to change to an Agonda bound bus for 10 Rp each as well.

Staying – Agonda: We highly recommend Cupid’s Heaven Guest House. It isn’t directly on the beach but a 10 second walk. Our room was clean and had free wifi, we were paying 300 Rp in low season. There are a few types of rooms here with varying prices. Good value for the money and very central to the shops and restaurants.

Eating – We are creatures of habit and ate breakfast nearly every day at the German Bakery. They serve up a HUGE amount of food for 100 Rp and the staff is super nice. They have good curry and sammies too. For lunch or dinner you can’t go wrong at a little place by the church called Fatima Thali. This may have been the best thali we ate in all of India. The Goan flavors are lighter, more coconutty and absolutely amazing!

Getting Around – In Agonda you can find places to rent a motorbike for 200 Rp per day. If you don’t want to spend the money, the local bus can take you to Cola or Canacona for 10 Rp each way. Be patient, you may be waiting a while.


Getting There – From Mumbai: There are tourist class tickets on the sleeper trains you can get from the tourist window in the CST station. Make sure to have a copy of your passport you can hand over if buying tatkal, this was the first time buying tatkal we had to do this. The ride is about 15 hours to Madgoan. From there we took a rickshaw for 100 Rp, it to the bus terminal. It’s much better to go to the terminal if you have a pack than get picked up in town when the bus is already full. We paid 30 Rp to get to Palolem. The bus stop is super close to the beach.

Staying – We chose the room over the hut on the beach and paid a steep 600 Rp for the room at Rishi Exotica Hotel but we had hot water and cable TV. It was worth the extra 100 Rp for a little comfort.

Eating – There is one place in Palolem at the very end of the “strip” that has 50 Rp thalis, they are really good.


Getting There – From Jodhpur center, we walked to the clock tower, a rickshaw to the bus terminal is 30Rp. The bus to Udaipur cost us 220 Rp each and another 60 Rp rickshaw ride to get to Hanuman Ghat area. Be advised, we walked to the bus office to book a ticket thinking it would be cheaper, since it usually is, not in the this case. Same price as the hotels were offering…what are the chances!

Staying – The Hanuman Ghat area is probably the cheapest. Hanuman Ghat Guest House has decent rooms, dirty but ok for the 300 Rp price tag and an awesome rooftop restaurant area. For 600 Rp you can bump up to almost luxury at The Panorama. Clean sheets, real mattress, towels and working wifi.

Eating – Hands down Millets of Mewar is the best restaurant with healthy options and really tasty food. Not to mention a very friendly staff, we ate there every day. There are a few places by the water that tourists congregate but the food was blah in our opinions. Make sure to check out the German bakery for yummy coffee and other baked treats.

Getting Around – Nothing is too far, a rickshaw can drop you at the train or bus terminal for 70 Rp.


Getting There – From Udaipur you have a few options, we took the direct train to Mumbai. The only negative thing is you get dropped off at the Bandra Terminus which is a fairly long way from Colaba. To get to Victoria Terminus from Bandra it should cost somewhere around 300 Rp. Good luck fighting with the cab drivers they are vicious!

Staying – We stayed at the infamous Hotel Lawrence for 850 Rp it included breakfast. There are a couple cheaper options but after an overnight train ride we were treating ourselves. Booking in advance is advised here.

Eating – Food Inn in Colaba would be our restaurant of choice, really good curry and naan. For those of you missing home, there is a McD’s and Starbuck’s recently opened.

Getting Around – We did a lot of walking, there are prepaid cabs at the train station, from the fort to Victoria station cost us 40 Rp when we left.


Getting There – From Jaipur we got an auto rickshaw for 30Rp to the private bus stand of Jai Ambey since they run direct buses to Pushkar for 170 Rp each plus 10Rp for a baggage fee. Had we been feeling better there are tons of local buses that run to Ajmer then on to Pushkar.

Staying – We stayed at Hotel Narayan Palace for 250Rp per night in a clean, cool room with wifi, a pool, decent restaurant and free pick up. Not a bad option, although we heard there are many other good ones from other travelers.

Eating – We can’t recommend many places but did find ourselves at Honey and Spice despite the high prices the food was super healthy and really tasty.

Getting Around – No need to hire anything unless it is a motorbike, the bus terminal for Ajmer is a quick walk as well.


Getting There – We took a local bus for 10Rp each to Ajmer where we got a train to Jodhpur. The bus will drop you at either the bus stand or the train terminal. Make sure to ask, we got off at the bus stand on accident and it was a long walk in the heat.

Staying – DO NOT stay at Laxmi Niwas, the guys are a little too nice for a reason. Worst room we have had in India. There are a couple family run places we really liked, either Gopal Guest House for 350Rp with a private toilet or less if you share with the family. Ganpati Guest House has really nice rooms too, we paid 350Rp because the man gave our room away at Gopal, normally they are closer to 500Rp but really nice. Gopal has a nice rooftop restaurant chill area.

Eating – The samosa place by the clocktower is famous for a reason, follow the people! Our other favorite place is a little walk outside of the tourist area, head back down the main road from the clocktower towards the train station and at the corner is a huge restaurant called Pirya. Best biryani J has had to date. There are lots of tourist places with so-so food and high prices. If you like to cook make sure to visit Reika at Spice Paradise for a class.

Getting Around – We walked nearly everywhere, to get to the bus stand or train station you will pay 30Rp if you walk out of the tourist area to the clocktower. At night be prepared to dish out 50-100Rp for the same ride.


Getting There – From Jodhpur the train is the easiest and only about 6 hours. Upon arrival you will have tons of options for a free ride from a guest house or you can book one in advance like we did.

Staying – We heard not to stay in the fort as it is slowly sinking so we went on tripadvisor and chose a homestay called Gajanand Guest House for 350Rp. You can find the write up we did for Kamal on This is by far the cleanest place we have stayed and the most welcoming, Kamal and his family were so amazing we didn’t want to leave!

Eating – We ate nearly every meal at Chandan Shree Restaurant outside the fort near the market. The food is great and cheap.

Getting Around – We didn’t do much in Jaisalmer other than walk around, but when we left a rickshaw ran us 70Rp.


Getting There – There are trains and buses running from all over the country to Agra, if you take a sleeper from Amritsar to Agra (or Delhi) make sure to get the top berths and book your ticket prior or on arrival at the very latest.

Staying – We highly recommend the Taj Guest House. You may need to ask where it is, there isn’t really a sign on the main road. For the price, the rooms are cleaner and better than the other options around (we checked). We paid 400 Rp for a double, don’t expect hot water though.

Eating – We ate at a little local place away from the tourist area both days but it’s not worth mentioning. Make sure to have a coffee at Kamal’s for the view, it’s amazing.

Getting Around – We paid 70Rp for the 3 of us to get to the guest house area of Agra near the South Gate. If you plan to go to the Red Fort, it is maybe a 30-40 minute walk or you can hire a horse or camel to take you.


Getting There – Again, we hopped on the train but there are frequent buses that go to Jaipur from Agra as well. The ride is only about 5 hours, not bad.

Staying – We took the advice of the guys at the Taj and stayed at Stephel’s Guest House. It wasn’t in the nicest area (but was close to everything) and it wasn’t the nicest place but for the price we really couldn’t complain too much, Jaipur is expensive. Again we paid 400 Rp, opting for a slightly more expensive room that didn’t smell so bad and had a better bed.

Eating – There is a place close to Stephel’s called Moti Mahal on MI road that we are just in love with. Had we not been sick we would have eaten there 2 times a day. The tandoori chicken was great as well. And yes, many families eat there. DO NOT eat at the place on the corner by the lassi shops…you’ll know where we mean if you stay there.

Getting Around – Having a tuk tuk take you around for the day cost us 350Rp and we were with him for 6 hours. You can skip the sites you don’t want to see but will be dragged to a few shops. We paid 30Rp to get to the bus stand to take us to Pushkar when we left. We walked pretty much everywhere else.


Getting There – Amritsar is a major transportation hub in the North. You can get to the Temple by walking past the rickshaws and finding the free bus in front of the train station, you can’t miss it.

Staying – Bed bugs and all, we’d have to recommend the free accommodation at the Golden Temple. Guru Ram Das Niwas were safe, pretty comfy and seemed to be the place all the travelers (well, backpackers) were. There is a large dorm and a few smaller rooms that act as dorms as well. We were lucky enough to get a room with 3 beds. They have lockers and there are some guards who stay with the foreigners at all times. We paid somewhere between 75-100 Rp each per night.

Eating – When at the Golden Temple do as the pilgrims do and eat at the dining hall for free 24/7, the all you can eat food is super tasty. We also found a little local place serving Kulcha for about 30Rp, a Punjabi food similar to a parantha. There are a few dabas selling them away from the tourist area, our fav was Sharma Kulcha (big red sign). Walk out the Niwas, go left on the main road, follow it around the “shopping center” and make a left on the first small street.

Getting Around – We paid 50 Rp each way in a peddle rickshaw to get to the Mother Temple and 100 Rp each RT going to the border ceremony. There are guys waiting just outside the main gate around 3pm every day to take you, doesn’t matter which one you choose they’re all the same. We paid 50 Rp to get back to the train station in an auto rickshaw.


Getting There – From the airport you can save yourself some hassle by getting a prepaid taxi for 230 Rp to the Sudder St. area.

Staying – We found the rooms to be super expensive and shit for the price we were paying. We shopped around and ended up at Galaxy Hotel for 500 Rp. The owner and manager were extremely nice and helpful and we’d recommend them even with the price we paid. Hotel Maria and Modern Lodge had cheaper beds but beware, many travelers we met after leaving Kolkata had about a million bed bug bites and warned of the super cheap dorm beds.

Eating – There are a few places off Park St. past the Vodaphone store with the tastiest rolls. They say roll/kebab shop. We paid 17Rp per veg roll and were fine. We also enjoyed a restaurant very close to the Guest House with mainly locals called Khalsa Restaurant.

Getting Around – Walk away from Sudder St., to Park to catch a taxi to the train station. We paid 150Rp, according to the hotel owner, that’s a fair price.


Getting There – We took the overnight train, train travel is the way to go. You can spend as little, in unreserved 2nd class, or as much, first class, as you want.

Staying – We stayed at Yogi Lodge (the original close to Golden Lodge. We paid 300 Rp for a double room with shared squatty, wifi. Golden Lodge looked a little cleaner and nicer but they don’t have a generator and we were super thankful for the fan at night!

Eating – We tried some recommended places from the book and other travelers and just found the food to be super bland and overpriced. We ended up eating a lot of Thalis for 38Rp on the main ghat road right next to the arches. Find Madhur Milan Restaurant and go to the one on the left…MUCH better food. Samosas galore, find the place with the line on the right side on the way to the main ghat for 5Rp a Samose. There is a dosa place, looks dodgy as hell but for 20Rp masala dosas it’s worth it! Go through the arches on the main ghat road, first right, on the left side. Just a hole in the wall, literally. You will see the man making dosa after dosa. Give Pizzaria Vaatika a miss as well, only okay in our opinion. There is also an A/C place called New Keshari something, 2nd floor up from an ice cream place. Good food, kinda pricey but a good option if you don’t want to eat on the street.

Getting Around – You can get to the train station for 50Rp in a regular rickshaw, 100Rp in an auto rickshaw. Getting to Assi Ghat a rickshaw will run you 30Rp each way.


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