Many visitors to India have questions about how to best manage their money. Our India money guide for travellers looks at the best ways to access your funds, and rough price guides to help you budget.
Foreign visitors on arrival
When visiting India from overseas it is not possible to pre-order Rupees, the Indian currency as they are not available outside the country. You will find ATMs at all international airports as well as exchange and bank counters. You will normally get the best rates by using your bank card at ATMs, but be wary of withdrawal fees charged by the card provider.
ATMs are available in most large towns and cities. Commonly accepted cards include Visa, Mastercard, Maestro and Plus. Several banks in India reliably accept foreign cards at their ATMs including Citibank, HSBC and the State Bank of India. Make sure you take your money quickly, some machines will take it back if it is not removed promptly.
If you will be going to a remote area it is wise to draw out enough cash to cover the period you are staying in case there is no ATM available nearby.
Credit cards are accepted at an increasing number of upmarket shops and restaurants and they can also be used for purchasing rail tickets. Foreign visitors should let their card provider know before travelling that you will potentially be using the card in India to avoid any security issues.
Try to maintain a stock of smaller currency such as Rs 10, 20 and 50 notes as for small purchases people may not have change for the larger notes, or you may need small bills for things such as road tolls.
India Price Guide
As is the case with most countries of India’s size, prices for food, accommodation and transport varies significantly. However, generally India is a very affordable country to travel around with good value transport and food.
FOOD: All major fast food chains are represented in India. From McDonald’s to Domino’s there are many inexpensive options for getting a quick bite to eat. Dhabas are the shacks found lining highways, which sell very cheap food but the standards of hygiene can be poor.
Homestays can provide meals for guests, the price will vary depending on whether you want vegetarian or non-vegetarian dishes but prices start from Rs 150 per person (pictured above, dinner at Eden Garden in Cochin, Rs 200 per person including bottled water and dishes not pictured).
A rough guide for prices you might expect to pay follows:
- At a reasonable upmarket restaurant expect the bill to be at least INR 600 per person.
- Coffee at a chain like Cafe Coffee Day or Barista is priced around INR 55, while a cup from Nescafe machine can be as little as INR 12.
- A take away bottle of a soft drink like Coke, Pepsi, Mirinda, Sprite etc costs INR 25.
- Packaged juices (1 ltr) start at INR 70.
- Chips like a regular bag of Lay’s, Hippo, Bingo costs Rs 10 and large bag costs up to Rs 25.
- Street food rarely costs beyond INR 30, unless you go to a famous chain but even there a plate of chaat, momos etc won’t exceed INR 100.
- Beer prices start range from Tuborg – INR 40, King Fisher – INR 42, Carlsberg – INR 45 and so on. The same bottles in a nightclub may cost well over INR 400.
- A bottle of vodka (Smirnoff 750ml) costs roughly INR 500.
Please note that this is a rough guide only and prices vary regionally, increasing in tourist centres.
TRANSPORT: There are many modes of travelling within India. Auto-rickshaws are the most common across India, and often the cheapest but have a reputation for dubious pricing. Fix prices before you get in and get an idea from a local as to what your journey should cost. Radio Cabs are the best way of travelling in many big cities. They are safe, clean and have standard prices of INR 15 per km. The metro in Delhi is a cost effective and great way to travel if you avoid the rush hours.
STAY: Expect to spend anything from INR 1500 for a luxury hostel room to anything imaginable on a resort. On an average for INR 3,000 – 3,500 you can get a really good room in India. In smaller cities they’re much cheaper and in metros or popular tourist areas expect to pay a little more.
Planning a trip to India? Check out our selection of homestays for an authentic, great value Indian experience.
Find out about the homestay experience and don't forget to check out our ideas on things to do in India or browse our India homestays.