Money issues and cost of travel in India

We would like to provide you with some essentials on money and the cost of travel in India.

cost of travel in india in rupees

The currency used in India is called rupee, short INR or Rs (₹), which is divided into 100 paise. Rupees are available in the following bank notes: 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 500, and 1000. Cents are called paise (p), following coins are available: 5, 10, 20, 25, and 50 paise and Rs 1, 2,5 and 10.

100 Indian Rupee equals US$1.50 (2016).

A lakh signifies the number 100,000. A crore denotes ten million in the Indian numbering system. 5 crores of rupees are equal to 50 million rupees.

You will find that many people will have difficulty giving change for notes larger than 100 Rupees. Get a fresh bunch of 10 rupee notes from a bank because it’s one of the smallest denominations of money in a note. So it’s handy for everyday purchases.

You are not allowed to import or export Indian currency, get some at the airport straight away to at least get you pay for the transport to your accommodation. There are authorized money dealers in most big cities, and banks will also change your currency at a fair rate if you have time for the paperwork.

Visa, MasterCard and American Express are usually accepted in tourist hotels and many bigger shops. For taxi, food etc you need some cash.

Easiest way is via an ATM but beware of hidden bank charges, both from the bank providing the ATM and the card-issuing bank – you also do not know what exchange rate you are getting. It is worth checking charges with your bank at home as fees differ. You may put a credit balance onto your credit card before you go abroad to avoid automatic interest charges.

It is not advisable to rely solely on your bank card – You will need to carry cash.

It is not advisable to rely solely on your bank card, if it gets lost or stolen, you will be stuck without funds far from home. Take some traveler’s checks with you, as these are insured (American Express) and will be replaced if reporting the loss. However, it can be difficult to cash these travelers cheques except in western style hotels and banks in larger cities. US$ and British pounds are very easily exchanged almost anywhere across India.

You will need to carry cash, because credit cards are only accepted at international hotels and larger businesses. Therefore you will always need to carry some cash so that you can pay for food, taxis, auto rickshaws or cheap hotels etc. Keep all large bills concealed under your clothing in a passport pouch.

The 10 Rupees notes are often distastefully and dirty! Get a fresh bunch of 10 rupee notes from a bank because it’s one of the smallest denominations of money in a note.  So it’s handy for everyday purchases and it’s the perfect amount for tipping. Lastly, it also helps with bargaining in order to have exact change.

You can find ATM machines in most towns, the average daily limit for withdrawal from an ATM is Rs 10,000 (about US$ 150). Do note that in India when using a newer ATM you insert your card and then take it out (in most cases), you will carry on with your transaction and asked to enter your pin number. Although some older ATM’s keep your card in until the end of the transaction.

With Western Union: when it comes to your name they follow strictly your passport – No match, No money!

Western Union is widely used in India too. You can get send money to India this way via any Western Union office, but be sure that when it comes to your name they follow strictly your passport and will refuse payouts. This happened to me once, my passport says “last name” “maiden name” “first name” and the sender did not put in my “maiden name” – no match, no money.

How much does it cost to travel India?

Have a look at our daily budget planner:

Food cost in India restaurant

Food cost in India is low.

  • Meal at an inexpensive restaurant/hawker: ₹80 – 250
  • Meals in mid-range restaurants: ₹400 – 1500
  • Meals at superior restaurants: ₹1000 – 4000
  • Small bottle of water: ₹10 – 20
  • Domestic beer (0.5l): ₹80 – 135

Your daily India accommodation costs.

  • Backpacker dorm bed: ₹100 – 200
  • Double room in a budget hotel: ₹300 – 700
  • Mid-range double hotel room: ₹1000 – 5000
  • Deluxe hotel room: ₹5000 – 20,000

Cost of travel in India by bus, train and taxi.

  • Bus and train tickets: ₹300 – 500
  • Local taxis/auto rickshaws: ₹200 – 500
  • First-class train travel: ₹800 – 8000
  • Renting a car and driver: ₹1200 upwards per day
  • Admission museums and historic sights: ₹100 – 1000

We hope these India money tips are helpful especially if you are a first-time visitor.