McLeodganj for the Budget Traveler

McLeodganj is a very popular travel destination in Dharamshala. Being just 250 km (5 hours) journey from Chandigarh and around 475 km (9-10 hours) journey from Delhi, McLeodganj has become a hotspot for weekend trips and is usually jam-packed with tourists on long weekends.
 McLeodganj has a lot to offer to all kinds of travelers alike. There’s Bir Billing – The paragliding capital of India ; roughly 70 km away , Triund trek – a 9 km trek from Bhagsu ; and it is a foodies haven with all kinds of foods and cuisines available in the many cafes spread all over the town.
Sunrise from Triund, McLeodganj
Sunrise from Triund
McLeodganj is best explored on foot and to enjoy the city it is recommended to park your vehicle in the parking lot near the bus stop for the duration of the stay .This does two things – Less traffic on the narrow roads and making your effort to keep the town pollution free.
Being a traveler’s paradise the town has a lot of budget hotels ranging from INR 500 – 2000 per room if booked in advance and dharamshalas. Dharamkot is a better location as it is a bit away (1-1.5km) from the Mall Square and the view of the mountains can be enjoyed from nearly all the rooms in Dharamkot.
The plus point of the town being a traveler’s paradise is that there is WiFi in almost all the cafes and none of the café owners force you or pester you to leave the café or vacate your table because you have paid the bill. For all the bibliophile’s, order a cup of hot chocolate or some peach Tea and read a book all day long without being bothered by anyone. That my friend is true relaxation and rejuvenation.
Tibetan cuisine is very popular and yummy and one can find some good Tibetan food in The Clay Oven and Tibet Kitchen. A good big bowl of Thukpa or Thentuk will cost you only INR 100-120 which is very economical compared to the surplus quantity served. There are some good Italian joints like Jimmy’s Italian Kitchen and Carpediem which serve good pastas and Pizzas. One should definitely try the pastries and cakes from the roadside bakery’s as the taste is yummy and it is definitely something you will regret if not tried.
 
PS: The pizza in Carpediem has been the best I have had till now.
Carpediem, McLeodganj
The best Pizza I have had till date – At Carpediem, McLeodganj

 

I had a blast in McLeodganj for 3 days in as less than INR 4000 per head.

Here’s how I did it:
  •  A comfortable Volvo bus journey to and fro from Delhi to McLoedganj for INR 1500 per head.
  •  A two night stay in Hotel Hill Town for approx. INR 1400 at INR 700 per night (Cost was around INR 950 but applied the discount code on GOIBIBO and paid part by GoCash).
  •  3 meals a day for two days and 2 for the third day in approx. INR 100-150 per meal per head.
  • Total Cost = 1500+1400+1000=INR 3900.

Now this cost can be easily reduced if:

  •  A night’s stay cost can be reduced by 40% by staying in a backpackers hostel for anywhere between INR 250-450 per night.
  •  Instead of going out for a breakfast, look out for hotels offering complimentary breakfast (OYO provides complimentary breakfast) or an Airbnb.
  •  Try the local cuisine instead of traditional Indian meal as the local meals are cheaper and plenty in quantity, and trust me the taste will not disappoint you.

Now that you have saved some money and can spare some cash, do pick up some souvenirs such as Dalai Lama Sayings Scrolls, bookmarks, a variety of tees and not to forget the local handicrafts. The best place to buy the souvenirs is on Bhagsu Nag road near the Mall Square.
Ditch the 2nd Saturday and holiday weekends as it will be too crowded, rather take a day or two’s leave and go on a normal weekend to enjoy town as it is without the constant honking of horns and overfilled streets with tourists.
    McLeodganj, India for the Budget Traveler     McLeodganj, India for the Budget Traveler
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Comments

  1. jonny

    Though I have done my studies from dehradun, Mcleodganj is one of the best one will ever witness in his whole life. I really like the writing style of yours. Thanks for sharing this article with us.

  2. Lee

    Knowing that there is cheaper country and place other than Asia gived me more reason to visit other countries and save more money for future travel plans

  3. jitaditya

    Great guide. Bir Billing is even cheaper.
    I guess the prices have increased a bit in recent years but still at a manageable level, especially if you move out from the main square. I remember having great food in the one called Kunga’s a few years ago.

    I also never take the Volvo to save money. Sleeper train to PTK and then local bus should save a few hundred.

    Even cheaper is the Toy Train to Kangra but I guess that moves at a snail’s pace.
    jitaditya recently posted…Taking A Tour Of JapanMy Profile

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  6. Swati

    McLeodganj was recommended by a friend for when I visit Dharmashala. Haven’t managed to yet as we went to Tirthan Valley instead. It is interesting that Bir Billing is the paragliding capital of India. It would be fun, trying that out. Thanks for sharing tips to avoid traffic though. I understand how it can become a nuisance during long weekends.

  7. Karie

    Reading your post made me nostalgic as I visited Mcleodganj last year in May. It was a bit crowded than expected and I can understand why. I actually had lunch in Tibet Kitchen and the momos and thukpa were so tasty .I also had yummy brownie at Jimmy’s. These are some great tips and will keep a note for my next visit.

  8. Joanna

    I didn’t hear about McLeodganj before but it looks like a great place for a relaxing weekend in the nature. Being able to do this trip cheap is a big plus as well. I would love to try the local cuisine there and also do some hikes in the mountains.

  9. Parnashree Devi

    McLeodganj is a great place for budget travelers for years. The wide range of hotels and cafes even make it easy for a budget travel to this scenic location. I had a great time when I was there for the first time. I also loved the food of Tibet Kitchen.

  10. Sandy N Vyjay

    Mcleodganj is a wonderful place with a unique charm. The place is where nature and spirituality seem to merge together to create a mystical aura. I know that all travelers are off late making a bee line to the place and lots of infrastructure to cater to all types of travelers are available there. I however hope that the place does not lose its pristine charm.

  11. Katchutravels

    How someone can transform their life from a claustrophobic walled life in the city to a quick trip weekend trip away in the hills is as easy as this. Liked the stat on the time and cost, and its worth it on a weekend. I am sure, there must be some hotel away from the weekend madness.

  12. Jamie

    The idea of ordering hot cocoa and reading all day – sign me up! The landscape scenery is breathtaking – I would stop every few feet to take photos. Thank you for the tips for making it a budget friendly place to visit.

  13. James

    McLeodganj looks like a wonderful place to get away from the city for a few days. The price of food and accommodation is very fair but the view is priceless. I’d love to try a few slices of that pizza.

  14. Tatum Skipper

    I wish I could even pronounce this place and where it’s located but I can’t haha. It is amazing how people find such cool ways to travel on a budget. I will be looking up this place to get a better understanding of what it’s like. Your pictures are awesome!

  15. My Travelogue by Bhushavali

    What?????? This is incredible!!! 3 days at Rs.4000?? That’s just too good! And you’re giving tips to reduce it further more?? My goodness!!!
    The pizza does look yummy! Esp after you say its the best you’ve had, I should try it out! I’ve love to try out some Tibetian food too..
    My Travelogue by Bhushavali recently posted…Musings at ItalyMy Profile

  16. Ryan Biddulph

    What a hot deal Arnav. Especially with such stunning scenery. I have never seen as inexpensive a place to live as India, and considering the beauty of the country, the kindness of the people and the delish nature of the food it ranks up there with Thailand as a fabulous spot to visit on a budget. I recall paying like $1.50 USD for a BAG FULL of fruits and veggies in Kerala. That’s nuts!
    Ryan Biddulph recently posted…BFP Podcast 24: How NOT Making Income Claims Increases Your Blogging SuccessMy Profile

  17. Lisa

    I’ve never heard of this place before but it looks incredible from your photos! I love how you can get Italian restaurants in Mini Tibet (!) just shows the miracle of travel 🙂 A useful post for anyone planning on visiting this area

  18. Mariella Molestina

    Love that you got to visit Mini Tibet, a place that is not visited by much. Love your pictures, especially the one where you have the whole view of the mountain, amazing!! Also really need to try the Tibetan Pizza, pizza is definitely my soft spot.

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