Friday, March 24, 2017

6 Trending Places Indians can go backpacking on budget

If there is huge growth of one set of travellers in India right now, it is the young backpackers. The ones who simply want to pick up the backpack and leave for a budget holiday with just a basic plan in place. Here I enlist 6 popular backpacking destinations from India and abroad which are in vogue among Indians right now and definitely on my to-do list:

1. Ladakh

A lot has already been said and written about Ladakh in a very short span of time. The unspoilt valleys, the barren mountains, the vast fields, the blue lakes - a place which was almost undiscovered and beyond budget less than 10 years ago, is now already on its way to getting too commercialized. But hey, there is still time! It’s still not one of the cheapest places to visit, nor very easily accessible. But backpacking? Yes, you ought to do that.

Getting there: One can fly in and out of Leh directly. Flights are cheap in the off season. During the peak season, the prices can be notoriously high. Flying in through Srinagar and roadtripping via Kargil and Drass is a better option and also helps in gradual acclimatization. Take the Manali-Leh highway  if you like.

Best Time to Visit: May-August (June-July is the peak season) Winters are too harsh.

Landscapes like these dominate every view of Ladakh


2. Meghalaya and the North-East

The North-East is beauty in abundance. There is insane greenery, loads of waterfalls, huge scope for adventure, huge caves. Meghalaya has the cleanest village in Asia as well as the wettest place on Earth. Arunachal has the beautiful Tawang. Manipur-Nagaland border has the Dzukou valley which looks straight out of Teletubby territory. ‘It is just waiting for one Khan movie to be shot here and the tourism will boom like anything’, said my friend recently. The entire region is indeed too beautiful to have been ignored for so long.

Getting there: Take a train or flight to Guwahati which is the major hub of the North-East. Buses and shared taxis can be easily availed from here to almost all places in the North-East, although the journeys might be long.

Best Time to Visit: Pre- and Post-monsoons

Nohkalikai Falls in Meghalaya

3. Himachal

I remember during my college days in Delhi, the only new place in Himachal that people used to visit was Mcleodganj and Dharamshala. In just 5 years, a lot of other lesser known places including Kasol, Tosh, Malana, Bir Billing and the entire Parvati Valley have seen tourists and backpackers flocking in huge numbers. Well, these are all places of absolute beauty, some light adventure, eccentric cafes, Tibetan food and peaceful connection with nature.

Getting there: Catch an overnight Volvo bus from Delhi.

Best Time to Visit: January to March- when it snows and the valleys look breathtakingly beautiful.

Parvati Valley has its own charm in summers and when it's snowing

4. Bhutan

I visited Bhutan last November and had just one word for it- it is insanely ‘beautiful’. Be it the Tigers Nest trek, the Paro Dzong, Dochula Pass or Haa Valley- every scene is worth capturing. Although Bhutan doesn’t have a lot of public transport, it is easy to get a ride once there. There are lots of Indian tourists in the country throughout the year due to the no-visa policy. A little planning can go a long way in seeing the beautiful Himalayan nation.

Getting there: Flights to Paro from India aren’t the most economical and are limited. A roadtrip from the border town of Phuentsholing would be the cheapest way to explore the beautiful country.

Best Time to Visit: Round the year. It’s always cold. Sun, Snow and rain have their own charm in Bhutan.

A trek to Tiger's Nest Taktsang Monastery ought to be on every traveler's bucket list

5. South-East Asia

If a place comes cheap, is beautiful, has historical significance, has scope for a lot of adventure activities and gives you a VISA on the passport- all at the same time, it is South-East Asia. Vietnam’s Halong Bay and Cu Chi Tunnels, Cambodia’s Angkor Wat temples, boat rides across Laos’ several markets, Thailand’s Songkran festival- there is a lot to explore in the beautiful countries and one can easily backpack through the nations.

Getting there: There are cheap flights available to Bangkok and Ho Chi Minh City from all major Indian cities round the year. Air Asia has some very cool deals with the lowest airfare in case you can plan several months in advance.

Best Time to Visit: Round the year. Peak season is in the relatively cooler months of December-March.

Halong Bay in Vietnam

6. Spain

'Zindagi na Milegi Dobara' brought Spain to every Indian’s dream adventure destination- Be it for the Tomatina festival, the Great Pamplona Bull Run or simply to marvel at the architecture. Spain or any European country might not exactly be a backpacker’s destination, but with proper advance planning and couch surfing it is possible. The country and its activities are sure on my bucket list.

Getting there: There are huge number of flights to Madrid and Barcelona, usually via Amsterdam. Jet Airways in code-sharing with Delta Airlines operates flights from all major Indian airports.

Best Time to Visit: Round the year. Preferably summers. June-July is when the Bull Run and Tomatina festival take place.

A view of Barcelona city, Spain

Have you been to any of these places? Which other place would you like to add to the list?

Now read:
1. 5 Adventure Trips in India You Ought to Take Before Everyone Starts Doing It
2. Exploring Lakshadweep with the Samudram Package

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