Solo travel in India is a rite of passage, packed with spectacular sites, spiritual awakenings and vibrant colours. Whether you’ve been once or a thousand times, a trip to India is always an inimitable one-off experience, rich in history, heritage, culture and creativity. With welcoming locals and an extensive train network to whisk you around, it’s an ideal jumping off point for any solo traveller embarking on an adventure in Asia.
And what an adventure? From North India and the Golden Triangle – linking the capital New Delhi with the Taj Mahal in Agra and the pink city of Jaipur in Rajasthan – to the gentle ebb and flow of the Keralan backwaters in slower-paced South India, you’ll always find a new corner to explore in this vast and varied country.
Underpinning it all is a diverse religious faith – from Hindus to Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains – that structures a calendar packed with festivities, including light-celebrating Diwali (between October and November) and the harvest festival of Holi (March). Particularly if you’re a first timer, a group solo travel adventure can take the hassle out of travelling totally alone in India. Here’s everything you need to know about a group solo trip to India.
India travel facts
Between Rajasthan in the north to Kerala way down south, India has some 40 Unesco World Heritage Sites, including the Taj Mahal and Red Fort in Agra, Jaipur City and the hill forts of Rajasthan, and Mughal emperor Humayun’s Tomb in Delhi. It’s also home to some of the planet’s highest peaks in the form of the Himalayas and the rolling, ever-present flow of the Ganges River, revered as deeply sacred to resident Hindus and relied upon for daily rituals, especially in Varanasi – the spiritual capital of India.
Is India good for solo travel?
With affordable prices and adventure on tap, India is a natural choice for solo travellers. Travelling between the key states is often scenic but always affordable, whether you go by plane or train. But India can also be busy and overwhelming. Many say you’ll either love or loathe it. Either way, this simply isn’t a country that evokes indifference. A group solo holiday to India with Flash Pack cuts through some of the logistics so you can simply sit back and take it all in. As with all Flash Pack adventures, you’ll be granted a window into local life, with a private Bollywood dance workshop and visits to small rural villages included.
Best places to visit in India
As the seventh-largest country in the world, with a population of nearly 1.4 billion people, India is colossal. So, what should you do on a solo trip to India? Drive into Delhi’s monkey-swooped bazaars; head to the Taj Mahal and the staggering Red Fort in Agra; cross into Rajasthan for palaces and forts in the Pantone-painted cities of pink Jaipur, blue Jodphur and golden Jaisalmer on the edge of the Thar desert; go in search of Kipling’s India in tiger-roamed Ranthambore National Park; or seek out tropical beaches, sleepy backwaters and Ayurvedic yoga, and wholesome healthy food in calmer Kerala.
Flash Pack’s 13-day North India: Taj, Tigers and Palatial Beauty adventure covers New Delhi, crossing the Yamuna River to see a different side to Agra after visiting the Taj Mahal at sunrise, and taking a scenic railway safari through the Aravalli Hills in Rajasthan. Or, over 10 days in South India: Slow beauty in Kerala, you’ll kayak along the calm backwaters, pick tea with locals and feel the sand underfoot on Kovalam’s beaches.
Where to stay as a solo traveller in India
Indians pride themselves on high levels of hospitality, whether you’re staying in a small family-run guesthouse or in a high-end hotel. So, what’s the accommodation like in India? If you want to live like royalty when travelling solo in India, former palaces have been converted into five-star hotels and heritage havelis, once the private homes of Rajasthan’s maharajas (royal kings), now available to stay in.
You’ll also find luxury tented camps in the national parks for a safari-like experience, while in Kerala, privately-crewed houseboats are the place to drift off to sleep without a care in the world. On Flash Pack’s two India adventures, accommodation is arranged for you. You’ll typically share a room with a friendly Flashpacker to swerve the single supplement that normally gets levied at solo travellers in India. But if you want a private room, that’s fine, too.
How to get to India
There are direct flights to a lot of the main hubs across India, such as Mumbai in the west, Kolkata in the east and Hyderabad in the south. Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport is the busiest and widest reaching international hub. Not only is it the gateway to the north, including Agra and the Taj Mahal, but you can connect on to a large network of domestic flights, such as Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, Jaipur in Rajasthan, and Kochi and Trivandrum in Kerala.
How to get around India
Beyond the airports, trains are an excellent and inexpensive option for solo travelling in India, allowing you to explore a more scenic and authentic route between states and cities. With nearly 7,000 stations, you can pretty much get anywhere. There are various classes, from an air-conditioned seat (CC) up to a private air-conditioned sleeper cabin (AC1), and most of the longer routes provide a food service. While it may be tempting to plump for first class, lower cost cabins are actually best for solo travellers, as they will be full of locals who will typically share their knowledge and curiosity with you.
It’s crucial to make a reservation for any long-distance journey up to 120 days in advance, as trains are generally always busy and become fully booked quickly. If you’re booking while in India, look out for the tourist centres in most of the big railway stations, such as New Delhi and Jaipur. With Flash Pack, all internal travel by minibus and train is included, leaving you space to simply watch the world swoosh by.
Best time to visit India
Due to India’s size, weather conditions vary widely, depending on where you are. Broadly speaking, the monsoon season, which brings rain and humidity, is usually between May and September, starting in Kerala in the south, and working its way northeast towards the Himalayas. The best time for a solo holiday to India tends to fall between November and March, when a large swathe of the country experiences pleasant weather.
For the coastal region around Goa, it’s at its best between November and March. It’s useful to note that come late May, when the monsoon starts, Goa’s beach huts are required by law to be pulled down, so facilities in the area dwindle. For Kerala and the adjoining state of Tamil Nadu, the heat peaks in mid-summer, so stick to timing visits for the earlier part of the year. For hikers, the Himalayas are at their best late summer, but for less-crowded walks, visit from spring onwards.
India travel itineraries
If you really want to see India, you’ll need a good chunk of time to make even the tiniest dent. Flash Pack’s 13-day North India: Taj, Tigers and Palatial Beauty adventure is a great introduction for solo travellers wanting to poke their toe inside India’s palatial door. The trip starts in New Delhi, exploring the ancient bazaars and devouring a home-cooked lunch in a traditional haveli townhouse. You’ll also sip tea with locals overlooking the Taj Mahal, spot wild tigers in Rathborne National Park and dine under the night sky in the Thar Desert. There’s also a cycle ride in Jaipur, a visit to a local tribal village and a sunset cruise in Udaipur.
On the 10 days in South India: Slow beauty in Kerala, you’ll see a change of gear and a different side of India. As well as the backwaters and beaches, you’ll spot wildlife afloat a bamboo houseboat, slow down with some morning yoga and master fragrant Keralan cuisine in a private cooking class with an esteemed chef.
What to pack for solo travel in India
Conservative clothes and cover ups are advised for solo travel in India which is a devout nation. This is particularly important when entering temples, religious sites or places of worship. You also need a good pair of shoes for walking through the cities – weaving in and out of busy streets and markets. It’s advisable to have a money belt or secure bag for your valuables in built up areas, too. If you can take a water filter, it’s a great emergency essential, as you can’t drink from the taps.
While street food is a definite must try, you do hear the odd tale of “Delhi Belly”, so go to busy stalls lined by locals where the food is fresh and frequently turned over. Travel with copies of all your documents, from passport to visa, as some places will require them as ID when making bookings and it’s useful to have if the originals go missing.
Solo travel advice for India
With a vast and inexpensive rail network and welcoming locals, seeing India as a solo traveller can be a rich and rewarding experience. But, it can be easy as a visitor to stand out from the crowd and find yourself the subject of local interest, especially waiting on station platforms or looking at a map in a big city. With Flash Pack, solo travellers have the security of a Pack Leader, who knows exactly where to go. They will also be able to share their wealth of local knowledge and cut through the bureaucracy of booking tickets by taking care of everything for you.
Is it safe to travel solo in India
Thousands of visitors experience solo travel to India every year and most trips are trouble-free. However, do check out the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (UK), the Department of State Travel Advisories (US) or your country’s local government guidelines for the latest advice before travelling. Once there, follow local advice and be aware of your surroundings at all times.
It’s worth being cautious with regards to taxi and rickshaw scams. Always get a pre-paid taxi booked through an official hub at airports or hotels. If travelling by rickshaw, agree to a fixed price before getting in it. Solo women travellers should avoid isolated areas and hailing taxis alone, especially at night. A group solo adventure will add an extra layer of safety to any trip, ensuring you travel through India’s incredible highlights without a care in the world.
Ready for your next adventure? Try group solo travel in India with Flash Pack – designed exclusively for people in their 30s and 40s, seeking the independence of solo travel within the safety of a group.
A cool 98% of Flashpackers arrive solo to join our group adventures. So, you’ll be in good company – whether a first time solo traveller or a seasoned pro looking for like-minded new friends.
Images: Adobe, Flash Pack