Most backpackers coming to India have saved and saved for a few months holiday and need cheap accommodation in India in a cheap backpacker hotel or hostel. While cheap hotels in India are easy to come by, hostels are finally up and booming in the subcontinent!
In my opinion it’s easier to stay in the “chain” hostels. Reason being, you will know their price range and what to expect in terms of their standards as you head to your next destination. I’ve stayed in a few now, while 3 years ago they didn’t really exist when I was traveling.
Best Backpacker Hostels in India
images from Zostel
Zostel is one of the first I heard about. I’ve written about them before when I visited one in Goa. The Canadian girls I traveled with in Karnatka stayed at a few Zostels in Northern India and said they were up to European standards. Since then most people I meet have stayed at one or two Zostels and I’ve only heard positive things. Locations are Rishikesh, Pushkar, Jaisalmer, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Udaipur, Agra, Varanasi, and Delhi (all in North India).
A hostel with three locations in Rajasthan: Jaisalmer, Jaipur, and Jodhpur. It’s quite popular, though I don’t know anyone who has stayed. Let me know in the comments if you love this place!
Vedanta Wake Up!
This is a chain in Kerala and Tamil Nadu. I stayed here during my last 10 day trip in Kerala and was impressed with them. They are basic, but they were packed full of travelers and seemed like a good place to meet people. There were also private rooms. This is a South Indian hostel chain. There are two locations in Southern Karnataka as well.
Another huge chain like Zostel, these are dotted in Varanasi, Jaipur, Calcutta, and Delhi. I haven’t stayed personally, but friends have and say they’re great and highly recommend them. I tell a lot of people who email to stay here and get great responses back after their stay.
Moustache Hostel & Madpackers Hostel
Not chains, but two very popular hostels in Delhi which can be a hard place to travel. These would both be really good places to meet people and if you’re not into chain brands and want something a little more “boutique” then this would be perfect for you. They both have great decor and lots of charm. Moustache is also located in Jaipur as well as Delhi. These are a little more expensive.
YHAI (Youth Hostel Association of India)
When I was traveling this was all there was. You can read the huge list of locations here, as they collaborate with others. These are not European standards and are very basic. They have rules which are very traditional like no drinking and smoking.
So those are the main hostels of India although there are many more privately owned ones across the country. Goa in particular has MANY hostels that you can stay at like Jungle, Prison, and Red Door. I’ve written a guide to budget lodging in Goa which includes both hostels and guesthouses.
I prefer to stay at guesthouses rather than hostels when I have friends with me, but when alone hostels are great so you can make friends. When I traveled India as a backpacker a few years ago, there were no hostel options and I had a harder time making friends. I continued my travels these last few years staying at guesthouses with Ben and hostels when on my own and on my short trips like Karnataka, Kerala, and even in Goa. There are many great options now of places to stay in India. Have fun!
These days India has more hostels than ever. In each city, there are non-chain hostels that are amazing, too. I’ve been in Goa for nearly 5 years and watched so many new hostels pop up. PS: If you’re coming to India and will spend a week of more in Goa, check out my ebook the Insider’s Guide to Goa. After five years of living here, I’m sure this 170-page book is the most comprehensive guide to Goa on the market. Click here to buy it.
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