Every year, thousands of travellers visit the city in the Uttar Pradesh state of India that is believed to be the oldest on earth: Varanasi. Hindu pilgrims, yoga and meditation lovers, backpackers and adventurers, and especially those seeking some kind of spiritual awakening are its most common types of visitors. However, if you truly want your trip to Varanasi to be a meaningful and responsible one, you are advised to avoid tourist travel packages and organise the whole experience by yourself. Below you will find good advice on how to get to your destination and where to stay in Uttar Pradesh near the Ganges River when travelling on a tight budget.
Trains and flights to Varanasi in India
Backpackers and travellers who fly from abroad are likely to land in either Delhi airport (Indira Gandhi International) or Mumbai airport (Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International); then, they can travel by train to Varanasi or else catch a domestic flight operated by Air India, IndiGo or Vistara airlines towards Varanasi airport.
In order to get from the airport to your cheap hotel in Varanasi, one of the most popular and inexpensive means of transportation is the bus, although you will need to take a taxi to get to the nearest stop. Other ways to get to your accommodation include cab and rickshaw rides. There is a distance of about 20 kilometres between the airport and the centre, and the duration of this journey will largely depend on the traffic.
Before travelling, you might want to confirm with the managers of your booked accommodation if they will provide you with airport shuttle services, as is the case with some of the recommendations in this post. And while you plan and design your trip, do not forget to ask for information about tourist visas to travel to India well in advance, as requirements will vary according to your country of origin.
Budget hotels in Varanasi, India
Below is a selection of budget hotels in Varanasi that are perfect for backpackers and travellers in India because, aside from offering low nightly rates, you will be able to customize your booking by adding amenities or deciding whether you want to stay in a shared dormitory or in a suite with river views, thus being in absolute control of your estimated travel expenses as far as accommodation is concerned.
The Palace on Steps overlooking the Ganges River
Do not be deceived by its name, as this hotel in Varanasi is a 2-star accommodation available for travellers at an affordable nightly rate and offering great value for money service and premises. For instance, they can arrange airport transfers for you to be picked up upon arrival and taken to the terminal on your day of departure for a nominal fee, as well as serve meals at the rooftop restaurant throughout the day, so that you do not need to worry about finding the right ground transportation or a reliable place to try local dishes. For your convenience, room service is operational around the clock, and WiFi internet is free and accessible all throughout the hotel. The rooms –some of which afford beautiful views of the Ganges– have air conditioning, TV set and private bathroom. You will be given a choice of budget, standard or deluxe units for your solo stay or your trip as a couple or group.
The International Travellers’ Hostel in Varanasi
As the name indicates, you will also find a typical backpacker hostel in Varanasi when you travel to India, and this one will cater to your needs like no other: airport transfers, free WiFi, toiletries and complimentary breakfast are only some of the perks of staying here, where you will be within short walking distance of Varanasi train station. Many of its rooms have private bathroom and showers, where you can use both cold and hot running water any time of the day or night; categories fall into beds in female-only or mixed shared dormitories, single rooms, double or family rooms, cabins and tents. The communal zones are ideal to meet fellow globetrotters.
The Ishan Paying Guest House in Varanasi, India
This family-run cheap accommodation also provides confirmed guests with airport shuttle services. The advantage of having local hosts taking care of you is that they will provide helpful tips and information on how to get around and visit the most interesting landmarks in Uttar Pradesh. Former travellers have highlighted their hospitality and the well-appointed rooms which can be economy, standard or family-size and entitle you to use either a shared or a private bathroom. The area surrounding this cheap hotel in Varanasi features a good number of restaurants, tea stalls and bars.
Budget hotel in Varanasi: the Ajaya
Last but not least, the Ajaya is another accommodation in India that provides visitors with transfers to and from the airport for a surcharge, so that travellers can get to this beautiful spot located only one kilometre from the Ganges River shortly after they land. Travellers who opt for staying in this cheap hotel in Varanasi will enjoy equipped rooms –some of which have a balcony- with air conditioning, private bathroom with amenities, cable TV and complimentary WiFi. Among other extras guests can use we count courtesy parking spaces, currency exchange services, buffet breakfast on site, laundry, tourist information and left-luggage.
When your adventure finishes and you embark on your international long-haul journey back home, it is likely that you will have a layover in Indira Gandhi International; should you need to spend the night at its facilities before your flight, see where you can do when staying overnight in Delhi airport.