5 Domestic holiday destinations to visit under INR 20,000

Some of the best domestic holiday destination in India if you have only Rs 20,000 to spare. For less than Rs 20,000, you can have long weekends in 2020 to remember in some of India’s most budget-friendly destinations. Each of them is a backpacker’s paradise that promises to give you a memorable holiday experience, complete with great food, affordable stay, natural beauty, and fun-filled activities.

Domestic Holiday

1. Kasol

Situated by the banks of the Parvati, Kasol is a little village in Himachal’s Kullu district. Seemingly unassuming at first glance, it is fast acquiring cult status among travellers. A backpacker’s haven, Kasol is blessed with unspoilt natural beauty and has a quaint charm. The Malana and Tosh village trail is a Kasol road trip ritual that will take you through idyllic villages. Trekking enthusiasts shouldn’t miss the popular Kheerganga trek or the Sar Pass trek.

There is no airport or train station in and around Kasol. While Kullu Manali airport is closest, the busier Chandigarh airport is a little under 300 km. The nearest railhead is Joginder Nagar, which is 144 km away, and you can take a bus from there. If you prefer to cab it, you can hire one after landing at Chandigarh or Kullu Manali airport, or Joginder Nagar station in case you travel by train. Private cabs from Chandigarh can cost around Rs 4000 to Kasol and around Rs 7500 from Delhi. A luxury bus ride from Delhi to Kasol would be around Rs 1300.

October to June is considered to be the best time to visit Kasol. With plenty of homestays, cafes, and guest houses, Kasol offers very affordable accommodation, including a few interestingly named joints like Jim Morrison Homestay and Hakuna Matata. Because of the large Israeli and other ex-pat presence in the locality, Kasol offers some interesting options in food, ranging from Israeli, German, and Spanish cafes to traditional Himachali fare. One of the oldest, Evergreen Cafe, serves middle-eastern, Israeli and other international cuisines, while Buddha Place by the Parvati River is perfect for a quiet eating-out experience.

2. Hampi

Situated on the banks of the Tungabhadra, Hampi is a UNESCO World Heritage site where you can find over 500 remains of the Vijayanagar Empire. There are numerous temples of historical importance in Hampi, notable ones being the 7th-century Pampapathi Temple, Virupaksha Temple, Vithala Temple, and the hilltop Yantrodharaka Temple. There is a nominal entry fee for some of these. Hampi Bazaar and Lotus Palace are other popular attractions, as is the laidback Hippie Island.

Bengaluru is the nearest airport and a taxi will charge you upwards of Rs 5500. Bus fare for the route costs between Rs 450 and Rs 800 depending on the type of bus service. The weather in Hampi is best between October and February; the temperature begins to soar from March. The best option to get to Hampi is probably via rail as there is a train station at Hospet, some 10 km away, which is well-connected with Bangalore.

Staying in a hut on Hippie Island and enjoying Hampi’s natural side has its own charm, but if you are in the main town area there are plenty of affordable guesthouses. You can get a very good twin room for less than Rs 2000 a night. Luxury options such as Heritage Resort will cost around Rs 6000. To get the local flavour, try the full-course North Karnataka traditional vegetarian meal, often served on a banana leaf. Typical south Indian fare like dosa and idli are popular street food, while Italian, Japanese, Chinese, and Continental cuisines are served in bigger restaurants.

3. Pondicherry

Be it the French Quarter in the so-called White Town, its boulevards and ‘rues’ (French for ‘road’), or its rocky beach and picturesque promenade, Pondicherry has a lot to offer the budget traveller. The spiritual destinations of Aurobindo Ashram and Auroville are very popular with visitors, and both are entry-free. The former is in the city centre, while the latter is some distance out of town.

There are convenient buses from Chennai, and Bengaluru isn’t that far either. Chennai is the nearest airport and you can take a taxi from there for around Rs 2,000. Flights from Mumbai to Chennai are cheaper (around Rs 4,000) compared to those from Delhi (exceeds Rs 6,000 at times). April to June can be quite hot in Pondicherry but any other time of the year is good for a visit, with October to March is the best period. There are homestays, service apartments, and budget hotels for prices as low as Rs 1,500 a night.

South Indian fare, particularly Tamil food, is easily available with both street vendors and restaurants. A leisurely walk along quiet streets, sampling the best of baguettes and croissants in the local bakeries, or stopping by at cafes and boutiques can be a charming addition to your Pondicherry travel plan.

4. Shillong

Most destinations in the north-east are dotted with lush forests, waterfalls, crystal-clear lakes, and misty mountains. But what makes Shillong special is the buzzing city life with bustling bazaars and a pub scene that oozes music. So, if you are done with visiting Shillong peak, Elephant falls, Umiam Lake, and the beautiful golf course, you can always catch a live band in a nondescript pub in India’s rock music capital.

Shillong airport doesn’t see much traffic, but the busier Guwahati airport, as well as Guwahati train station, are well-connected to Shillong. Apart from buses, our trip planner suggests booking a shared taxi from outside Guwahati station that charges around Rs 300. This is a cheap and convenient way of reaching Shillong.

Anytime between September and May is favourable for visiting Shillong. Once you are there, you have plenty of stay options scattered across the city. For less than Rs 2000, you can get service apartments, dormitories/hostels, homestays, guest houses, and traditional bamboo cottages and cabins. Mid-range hotels in the city centre cost Rs 2500 onwards.

Shillong is an interesting place for foodies, with a variety of non-vegetarian options in the local Khasi cuisine. While dishes made from fermented dry fish and fermented beans are more of an acquired taste, momos are popular street food. North Indian food is also easily available, and the popular La Galerie in Police Bazaar offers contemporary Chinese and Continental fare.

5. Goa

Mouth-watering seafood, an enticing oceanfront, and a distinctly Portuguese vibe. All these add up to a unique feeling of liberation the moment you land in Goa. When you are not relaxing at the beach and exploring the shacks and the music scene, you can travel inland to get a view of the Goan countryside with its Portuguese-inspired architecture. Water sports like jet ski, parasailing, and boat rides are very popular with Goa’s tourists.

Goa’s Dabolim airport is connected with major Indian cities and you can hire a prepaid taxi from the airport. Vasco da Gama, Karmali, and Madgaon are the preferred train stations. Mumbai, the nearest metropolis, is well-connected by road, rail, and air. Goa has good local bus connectivity, but if you want to explore at your convenience, it’s better to rent a bike or scooter for Rs 300-400 per day. November to February is the best time to visit, although many love Goa’s monsoon that lasts from June to September.

Being an immensely popular tourist destination, Goa has stay options for every budget. Hostels, no-frills beach huts, and guest houses are available for as little as Rs 500 per night, which can be perfect for your solo trip. Among mid-range options, hotels like Tamarind and Laguna Anjuna are quite popular. When it comes to food, the beach shacks cover most of the cuisines that Goa has to offer. Be it La Plage’s French Mediterranean cuisine, seafood at Britto’s, or grills at Thalassa, you are never far from a good eatery when in Goa. If you are worried about finances, here’s how you can create a travel fund for your next trip.

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