Namaste my friends! Are you a low budget traveler like me? (veeeery low, LOL) You might be interested on this tips that i will share with you that are based on my experiences. India can be tough for an inexpert traveler, because there are a lot of sly people that can smell an easy pray from far away. Now i give you some general advises to make your trip in India as cheaper as possible. Don’t worry, Sabkuch milega! Everything is possible!
What about the accommodations? How to find them? What’s a good price? Fist of all, if you wanna sleep for cheap don’t look on internet. Trip advisor, Hostel world and all these website are quite useless. You gotta know that this kind of system is not really developed in Countries like India. On internet you will find just Guest houses of “high” price. Don’t book anything and ask to the driver to drive you to the cheapest area. Make sure to tell him that you don’t need his help, and you will find an accomodation by yourself. If he comes inside the guesthouse with you, he will get a commission and you’ll pay more for staying. Send him away and walk around. If you need another Tuk Tuk you will find it easily. Good prices for a room are between 100 and 200 Rupees… sometimes also with wi fi… or like they say in India, Wi Five Full Power. Forget the full power, it sucks LOL.. Internet is a big issue in India. Normally you can bargain the price everywhere, just check the guesthouses and every time say that you've found something cheaper already. There are quite a lot of accomodations and shouldn’t be a problem to find something for a good price… Homestay is always my favorite, very nice atmosphere.
In the South of India can be slightly more expensive, but when i was traveling there i was still not enough expert, so probably now i could find for cheaper prices.
Something that i’ve learnt about this, it’s never be in a rush otherwise you will end up spending twice of the actual price. Here we start to have a bit of fun. You know that where ever you go, the starting price that the Indian vendors tell you is surely at least twice. First advice: if you aim to buy something a little bit more sophisticated than a simple souvenir, check the price on internet before starting the negotiation. If you don’t know it you make their game too easy, and you will lose so badly. Remember to be Shanti and smile during the barging time, don’t be too aggressive, there is no need to do it and you would just stress yourself. Be firm and conscious that there are a shit load of shops, because there is a shit load of people here in India. They know it as well, just asked them their best price. Their usual silly question is always: “How much do you wanna pay?”… “the local price or if you can give me that for free i would really appreciate.” This is my normal answer LOL. Well, good luck, have fun and BE SHANTI ALWAYS.
Bloody Tuk Tuk
Oooooh this is the most funny and interesting part. This is the time when you have to use all your skills and patience for bargain. Let’s start saying: look around you.. can you see how many of them are looking for a customer? The number of Tuk Tuk is countless (except in remote villages), so don’t worry too much, sooner or later, one of them will give up on scamming you.
Your most powerful ally is internet and the GPS. Why? Simple: you must know that the price for 1km of driving can be between 10 and 13 rupees. The price change for the different occasions: on the mountains and at night time, the prices will be always higher. Therefore, before asking to any driver the price to get to a certain location, check on internet the distance from your place and take a screenshot of the map. A practical example: for 5 km distance, a fair price would be between 50 to 70 rupees.
My first rule is, unless you have no choice, to strictly avoid the drivers in front of the guest houses or the touristy sight seeings, because their prices are always much higher and they have a constant flow of potential customers available. Walk a bit and you will find many of them driving through the messy streets or waiting on the side of the road. Then you can start to approach them, always with a smile upon your face, asking the price. Don’t even think to get a fair price at the first attempt, so get ready with your mobile to show them that you perfectly know what you want and how far is your destination. Let’s see now the various strategies of the drivers and learn how to beat them.
First of all they can try to tell you an imaginary distance much higher than the actual one. This is easy to defeat thanks to your best ally, the GPS. Show them the screenshot that you have taken few minutes before about the way to get to your destination. When they see this, they are always a bit confused of what to say. Remind them that the local price is between 10 and 13 rupees per km, and tell them how much you want to pay. Sometimes this can be enough, but is really rare to have such an easy negotiation… would be kinda boring also LOL. The solid strategy of the drivers is normally based on these few points:
- "There is traffic on the way"
- "After i have to come back"
- "There are no customers there"
My answers are pretty direct and normally work pretty well, you can use the same.
First of all, when he bought a Tuk Tuk he knew it already that there is traffic on the streets. Simply because we are in India, it’s impossible to find an empty road, so deal with that is part of his job. For sure i pay him just to get there, what happen after is not my business… for me he can also sleep or go to Pakistan (say that just if he is too annoying, because is a kind of insult here). Then also find a customer is not my business, and it's part of his job, i don’t pay more money just because he is not skilful enough to find new customers.
If even all this negotiation doesn’t work you can simply tell him (or them) that there are so many Tuk Tuk, so you will find one for sure, and this is what actually happen.
What can also happen is that after they drive you there, they never have the change for you… 90% is clearly an excuse to get a tip. Whatever, you can easily find change somewhere near, but normally to avoid this problem i always keep small bills in the wallet.
Now that you’ve learnt some tricks, you have to remember to be always shanti, no matter what… Maybe on the North of India, bargain is harder and you need to be more rude sometimes, but keep yourself calm in every situation and you won’t have any problem.
Good Luck and Have Fun!!