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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The Zostel in Mysore is stunning!
& Mysore itself is such a cool city!
Great roundup, Rach. Love hostels! Some quick things i’d like to add…
Goa’s Jungle, Old Quarter and Prison are part of the hostel crowd’ chain of hostels. Besides these and Red Door, there’s also Wanderers.
Delhi also has ‘The Hosteller’, Bed & Chai (b&b + hostel) and tons more along Paharganj’s Ara Kashan Road.
i’d like to encourage your readers to get a YHAI membership for discovering great hostels not just in India but around the world (along with discounts and great expeditions). Life membership is a mere Rs.1,500.
Great tips! Thanks :)
useful list…have lived in a few zostels n did njoy my stay, they have however closed their udaipur branch.
another good addition to this list would be ‘Bunkyard’, I stayed in Udaipur with them and they are one of the best of what I have seen till date
Thanks for these tips!! :)
Hey! Nice list! If anyone is traveling to Udaipur checkout Bunkyard. It is new. It was opened by two young guys. They are super chill. Plus there are awesome hammock swing chair things on the balcony.
Awesome, thanks for that tip!
Thanks Rachel for this long list. We definitely want to visit Zostel at Hrishikesh. Heard lot about it and your post created a strong opinion now.
I’m staying at Stops in Delhi in just over a month. I came across Zostel and Moustache as well, eventually picked Stops based on the location. Getting more excited for it now :)
Oh good, I hope you have a great trip!
Thank you for the great BLOG!!REally enjoy it!
What’s the ideal budget for 2 people for 2 weeks in GOA…..Excl Accommodation
It really just depends on if you are going to drink, and if you eat indian or western food – minimum though you need about 300 Rs per day per person not counting accom.
Hey Rachel any cheap places in Bangalore!!
Oooh great post! Although you have missed out some of my favourites… Maritime hostel in Kochi (one of my faves worldwide in fact) plus they have others in the hostel crowd group. I enjoyed the dirt cheap wind n waves in allepey too. Caroline xx
Thanks for the tips! :)
I had always wondered what the Wake Up! chain were like – must stay there next time I’m in the south :)
Just got back from CrashPad, Jodhpur. Even though it was a decent stay, charging 35 bucks for a black coffee where their helper handed me a mug of hot water and coffee satchet to mix it on my own looked very bad. I wish they had told me that using their coffee powder and hot water would cost me too. I would have brought coffee with me like I always do. That wasn’t nice. And dirty washrooms. :/
I was in Stops, Varanasi and what a fabulous place! With free breakfast and unlimited amount of coffee powder at our disposal. And an extremely helpful staff. My best hostel stay so far.
Stayed in Wanderers and Red Door hostels in Goa last year. Both were amazing too.
I think except CrashPad my experience so far has been pretty good. Looking forward to exploring the other options in your list soon. :)
Thanks for sharing your experience, I’m sure it will help other readers! thanks!
You forgot THE best hostel in India! :) Jungle Hostel in Vagator/Goa!!
I didn’t forget :) It’s in there. I mention it along with some others in Goa – I’ve linked to an article I wrote specifically about hostels in Goa as there are so many.
Do you know of any hostels or affordable accommodations in Mumbia?
I tend to stay with friends, so not many – when my parents came I put them at Sai Palace, very nice and about $100 a night. Hostels though and cheap cheap not sure as I couchsurfed there in my budget days – There is a YMCA that is like 50 rs with cots next to each other i’ve heard, in colaba
Hey I’m planning to start a hostel in Mumbai. I have a property which I am planning to convert to a Hostel. Would really love your input on the same. Your’e most welcome to join my venture too. Lemme know if you are interested. :)
Hi Rachel :) I am planning a trip to India in November for a month and I am travelling solo through Kerala and Goa. My plan was hoping to wing it and book it as I go, but I am also hoping to stay in fun hostels where I can meet lots of other travellers. Do you think most of the good places will be booked? Do you think it’s better not to risk and to just book?
Also I just wanted to mention your blog has been so helpful, you have had a massive inspiration towards my trip :)
Hi Joanne, I would say go ahead and book- you can often make changes with a small fee just read the fine print!
which hostels in Goa would you recommend?