Try getting your friends out during every weekend of the month. It’s going to be tough. Not because you are a bad friend, but because it’s highly likely that they are travelling abroad.
Don’t believe me? See for yourself. Singaporeans go out of the country like they go to the mall. It’s very often.
The popular destinations are Thailand, Indonesia and other SouthEast Asian countries. But one country that is in Asia, that isn’t too popular is India.
But over the past few years, things have changed gradually and that’s mostly to do with opportunities in the Indian economy. It’s one of the fastest rising economies in the world with ample opportunities. So Singapore business persons travel frequently to India.
If it’s for any reason, you need to travel to India. It’s the culture. It’s a whole new world and it is completely different to what a Singaporean would encounter.
I decided to go to Bangalore to attend a Tech conference and kind of gauge the markets and potential there. Here is my experience.
Preparing for the Trip
A small warning to my fellow Singaporeans. India is a massive country and you can’t cover it in a few weeks. To truly soak in the different cities and it’s cultures, it’ll probably take you months of continuous travel.
As my trip was for a conference, my days were numbered and I just went to two cities – Bangalore and Pondicherry
Generally when flying abroad to far away lands, the flight tickets are the most expensive because you don’t have a choice. The cheapest economy ticket is almost standard across all airlines.
A round trip flight booked,
- Two months in advance will cost you $250.
- One Month in advance will cost you $330
This is getting from Changi to Kempegowda International Airport (Bangalore City)
Cost of Visa
Visa cost dependable on whether its a business or leisure. If your on a business trip, it usually cost much more.
You can also refer to this MFA site for more info.
Accommodation like most places in the world range from cheap to super expensive. You can either choose to be a backpacker or a executive travelling for a meeting. Or in most cases, somewhere in the middle.
Accommodation in India offers this.
I got a booking done in a small boutique hotel call Hello Plus. This was through Airbnb.
Airbnb has taken India by storm as well and in the most popular tourist places, you will find a lot of locations on Airbnb. There are also good quality hotels that you’ll find on Booking.com and TripAdvisor.
My Airbnb accommodation in the first place was $31/ Night. This is super cheap for the place I stayed in.
The only issue was, it was slightly away from the main road, so access to Ubers was not great.
This really affects the cost. But on average, a good decent accommodation would cost anywhere around 37SGD to 61SGD and the more premium accommodations go all the way to 144SGD.
Travelling within the city
In major cities, it is suggested to travel using an Uber or Ola (India’s answer to Uber). You also have bike taxis in a few cities. For example, there is a bike taxi service called ‘Rapido’ in Bangalore.
A distance of 2 kms would cost around $1.55 Singapore for Uber Go, which is the cheapest Uber.
Don’t take the ‘Autos’ or ‘Rickshaws’ or the Tuk Tuks. They will fleece you and take you for a ride, literally and figuratively.
Buses are another mode of transport, but they are very unreliable in terms of their timing and are generally very full and it’s not a comfortable way to get around.
If you are feeling adventurous, then you can rent a car and drive it yourself. For renting a car for an entire week in the same city, it will cost you around SGD 247
You can rent cars from Zoomcar.
Travelling to Other Cities
You cannot just visit one city in India. The culture, language, cuisine, weather is all very different even for a city that is 300 kms away.
There are three main ways to travel to other cities. Flights, Trains and Buses.
- Trains are the most used
- Buses are second in the list
Train Travels to other locations
India’s rail network is the largest in the world and there is a lot of connectivity. This is also the cheapest mode of transport and hence the least expensive.
If you are travelling within cities say Bangalore and Chennai (Two south Indian cities), that are 300 kilometers away from each other. I would suggest taking an overnight train where it’s called a ‘Sleeper’. You have berths to sleep on. Or take ‘Chair Cars’ thats are just for sitting. And it would cost about 18SGD for an Air Conditioned train with meals included.
These are not the most expensive. You get train tickets for the same journey on a different train, that is a ‘Sleeper’ without Air conditioning for around 5SGD.
The best place to get Train tickets is the official government website here
Buses are sort of a last resort for Indian travellers. If they can’t afford the flight tickets and if they miss out on train tickets, they get buses.
A similar Bangalore to Chennai bus ticket would cost around 24SGD without the food. It’s a lot more uncomfortable, but you do get tickets on a short notice. The best website to get bus tickets is an aggregator website called Redbus.
One of the best things to do in India is something we do everyday. Eat.
Indian food is not at all like what we see in Singapore. There are 29 different territories in India and each have their own cuisine.
The price for food in India ranges from the cheapest to the most expensive. But there is somewhat of an implicit understanding that cheaper the food, the tastier it is.
India’s restaurant discovery service Zomato is a great app that can help you with prices, images and items served.
It’s very difficult to set food prices in India. But a good amount to spend on food on a day you are looking to explore the cuisines of India would be would be around 45SGD.
On a normal day, it would be 25SGD. This does not include Alcohol.
Tip : The smaller the city you go to, the cheaper and tastier the food you get.
You must take a trip to India
India is a mixed culture with many glaring realities. The truth is, it’s difficult to estimate the cost for a trip without knowing what the destination is. This is an approximate price for a city like Bangalore which is a cosmopolitan city with a good amount of pubs and bars and nice restaurants and a good mix of touristy places as well.
The prices of accommodation will be cheaper in smaller cities and get slightly more expensive in a bigger city like Mumbai(Bombay).
It’s a trip you should take!
Here are some great videos to share…