Over the past 5 years, I have had some insane adventures in India, my favorite country in the world. Some came from my solo budget backpacking days, some from crazy road trips with Ben, others from group tours, and some from girly travels with friends – and with all these memories in my head, I wanted to put them all in one place. I’m going to share the most epic adventures to book in India that you can actually book ahead of time. If you look just at a guidebook the things to do in India aren’t that adventurous and are more sightseeing (and you could easily fill all your time up with that) but adding in these adventurous things to do in India (actual EXPERIENCES!) would make your trip even more memorable.
I have 500+ articles about cities and small towns in India that mention fun stuff to do, but this article is going to put that all in one place. I’m going to follow up with another article that is about meeting local artisans during your travels based on artisans I have met, because as you might know, I love fashion and shopping. I never used to link to “day tours” because I thought you guys weren’t interested in them (or wanted to sort it out yourself to save money) – turns out, that is far from the truth! Based on the questions in my India Tips Facebook group, my emails, and blog comments, you guys want day tours that let you see a lot and do unique things while you’re in India; you get bored just wandering around towns seeing fort after fort after palace. So, here we go – some adventures to book in India while you’re here.
Epic Adventurous Things to do in India During Your Trip
I use either Get Your Guide or Viator when looking for day trips. GYG has great options but limited, and I wrote a post about their top tours in India. For this article, I’m going to link to Viator just because they have more inventory and more reviews from people who took the tours. I am an affiliate of many companies, which means I get a percentage, so I could link to any (this isn’t sponsored for Viator), I just think they have the best options for adventure in India.
This is going to be day trips or 2-day trips max, not big tours over multiple destinations (see my favorite long-term tour options here from G Adventures). These prices are going to be higher than what you could negotiate in person but they are sort of obscure so you might not be able to even find who you would need to negotiate with. Beyond that, I am getting feedback from you guys that you want to have things a little more organized on your trip and don’t want to just wing it because of the stress. You don’t have to book these way in advance, and I suggest doing it as you go along so you don’t feel “stuck” on a certain schedule.
Almost all of the tours mentioned below included pick-up and drop-off from a hotel, bus station, train station, or airport. Most include at least one meal and a snack. I also checked reviews and made sure to put only tours that had good feedback of at least 4/5 stars. KEEP IN MIND: prices fluctuate from peak season to monsoon and are set by the tour operator (not Viator) so they can change and might be slightly different from the price I saw when I looked.
Adventure 1-day and 2-day tours for India that you should totally consider while traveling here, regardless of your budget, based on my favorite India travel memories!
1. Explore Kerala’s Backwaters + the Best of Kochi $85
The backwaters are usually the top thing that travelers want to do in India. Personally, I loved it but felt that a day was enough and staying the night was a little bit too much (it wasn’t that comfortable and it got boring after a full day). This is a day tour, not overnight. They show you the best of Kochi like the Chinese fishing nets then you go on the famous houseboats. There are dozens of tours for backwaters but this is the highest ranked. Book the backwater tour here.
2. Cycling through Udaipur at Sunrise $44
Udaipur is so stunning. It’s the “white city” and the most romantic city in India. There’s a lot to do for tourists which is all in my guide to Udaipur, but this sunrise cycling trip is pretty unique. It starts in the empty quiet city and goes out into the hills. Breakfast is included and you’re dropped to your hotel before 10 am – a great start to the day! Book the Udaipur cycling trip here.
3. Playing Holi in a Safe Environment in Delhi $87
Holi is the festival of colors, one of the most popular festivals in the world, and on many people’s bucket lists. When Holi rolls around, I get about 30 messages a day from mostly girls asking where they can play Holi and stay safe. Delhi is usually where people are, and I tell them to find a private “pay to enter” party as it keeps the riff-raff out. Festivals in India can get out of hand with bhang and drinking – leaving men to feel it’s “okay” to grope a little. I myself have been groped on Holi in Goa. Someone jumped in my car and grabbed me. I recommend playing Holi with local friends and if you don’t have any, this “tour” is a great option to see a traditional day of Holi with a family, food, and of course, lots of colors. This festival will be in March 2018. Book the Holi tour here.
4. Experience Diwali with a local family in Delhi $92
Diwali is the famous festival of lights. Of course, it would be best if you knew a friend of a friend in Delhi so you could do this for free, but in case you don’t I recommend at least ONCE while in India trying to do a homestay or spend a day with a local family. You learn SO much. It’s no secret I didn’t love Delhi on my first visit but I started to like it when I revisited and stayed with friends who were living there. This is an expensive tour, in my opinion, but the only one there and it does include transportation, meals, and more. If you lucky enough to be in India during Diwali, it’s worth considering since it’s such an epic holiday. The date will pop up once it’s set, sometime late October or early November. Book Diwali here.
5. Cycling tour of the top attractions in New Delhi $32
Delhi can be stressful as a tourist and haggling for rickshaws is no fun. You can do a cycling tour to see all the top attractions like Jama Masjid, Red Fort and Chandni Chowk without stress for just around 30 bucks which is such a good deal. It’s a giant crowded city of 19 million people so having a little group with you will make you feel safe and make sure you have no FOMO over top attractions in Delhi. Plus, riding a bicycle will make it all more fun! Breakfast is included and the food in Delhi is great. Book this cycling tour of Delhi.
6. Cycling around Mumbai $29
Similar to the tour above, I thought I’d mention this bicycle tour of Mumbai. Mumbai was the first place I ever went in India and I saw a lot from walking and taking the local train. It is hectic and fun, but not for everyone. Doing a tour may suit you better. I checked out the itinerary and it covers all the hotspots and top attractions. I would do this at the beginning of your time in Mumbai as after the tour you’ll have a better handle on the best areas to hang out in the city. Book the Mumbai cycling tour here.
7. Meet Bishnoi Tribals & Ride a Camel in the Thar Desert $60
Just outside of Jodhpur, you can find the Bishnoi people who have a unique rural way of living. You can see their homes, how they cook, try opium even, and with this tour they combine a camel ride out to the desert (something usually tourists would go to Jaisalmer to do) so you can kill two birds with one stone (something the Bishnoi would never do, lol, you’ll get the joke after you meet them!). Book the Bishnoi & Camel tour here.
8. Experience Ganesh Chaturthi with locals in Mumbai $81
Ganesh is one of my favorites and Mumbai is the most epic place you can do it. The crowds are INSANE at this time taking giant Ganeshes to the sea. In case you’re wondering why I have these “experience with locals” options on the list it’s because I love them. In India “guest is god” and they will treat you amazing + it’s a festival so spirits will be so high that I think it’ll be a priceless day that you’ll remember forever. As a solo traveler, I’m all over these kinds of tours. The next Ganesh will be Sept. 2018. Book Ganesh here.
9. Sunrise by boat on the Ganges in Varanasi $35
I did a boat tour in Varanasi in the evening and it was great so I thought I’d just stop with the tourist stuff there – my friend went for the morning sunrise tour the next day and came back to the hotel room to tell me it was INCREDIBLE and I really missed out. I already regretted that! This 3-hour tour will show you the cremations and rituals being done and explain them all to you. You’ll be seeing cremations so this tour might not be for everyone. I highly recommend doing some kind of tour in Varanasi so you can understand more deeply why people come here to die and be cremated. Book the sunrise tour here and read more of my Varanasi travel tips here.
10. Explore Delhi Through its Food $83
I love a food tour even though I’ll admit I’m not that adventurous of an eater. The Morocco food tour taught me that! Trying food and hearing stories from the local tour guide is a great way to connect to a culture. This tour is relatively expensive but is one of the top tours in all of India on Viator with all 5 star reviews. You try up to 20 dishes and they show you some hidden places in Delhi. It’s bookmarked for me to try next time I’m there! You’ll go to a market and a charitable kitchen that feeds thousands each day. Book the Delhi food tour here.
11. Get Inside a Bollywood Studio $75
While this tour isn’t to be an extra in a Bollywood film, you’d be surprised how easily foreigners can get parts in films here. I was in a music video years ago, which is so embarrassing now lol! They paid me in food and hash – haha! This is a tour of the studio, which in Mumbai is LIFE as Bollywood just huge in India and based in Mumbai. You might get lucky and meet a star. One review said seeing their houses was boring and to skip that, which they allow. Book the Bollywood tour here.
12. Getting Outside Hampi to Badami, Aihole, Pattadakal $59
Want to see hundreds of barely visited temples? I did this tour with GoMowgli ages ago and LOVED it. It’s one of my favorite places to visit in Hampi. It’s like people see Hampi and stop when there is all this beauty just around the corner. This is a GOOD price to see all these places. I get asked about this tour the most since GoMowgli is no longer in business and am so glad to have found this alternative. Here are my articles about Badami and Aihole & Pattadakal. Book the Badami tour here.
13. 4-Wheel Drive in the Munnar Tea Fields
I couldn’t find a tour of this to book but once you reach Munnar you will find many tourist agents selling trekking and Jeep tours, as well as every hotel. I would definitely go out and explore!
14. SUP, Surfing, Wake-boarding, and Kayaking in Goa
While Viator has tours for this, I know a company here that is the BEST and I think you should just book through them. They are cheaper and have the coolest hotel and cafe in Ashwem, North Goa. It’s called Vaayu Waterman’s and I spend at least a day there each week myself hanging out. I love going out on their boat for wakeboarding!
15. White Water Rafting in Rishikesh
This is the main thing to do in Rishikesh for adventure, as many come here for yoga and spiritual reasons then make a day trip to try out rafting. The rapids aren’t big and one blogger wrote that they saw a body floating in the water! It was too cold to go when I was there. I didn’t link a tour because it was over-priced. Instead, you will see signs for this everywhere in Rishikesh. It is a very tourist-friendly city with many booking agents. You can directly negotiate with them on the price and hopefully go with some friends you meet there or join onto another group.
16. Trek in BR Hills with the Soliga Tribe
I did this again with GoMowgli and I cannot find a tour that offers this. I suggest using my blog post about BR Hills and staying at the same hotel I did (a cool eco-resort with luxe tents) and having them arrange how to trek, take a Jeep trip, and meet the Soliga Tribe though them. This is maybe the most authentic tribal experience I’ve had in India. I have met other tribes before like the Apatani in Ziro Valley and there you will hang out with them, have a meal, and you can spend the night but usually Arunachal Pradesh isn’t as high on a tourists radar, while Karnataka is easy to travel around (great bus system) and most tourists end up here to go to Hampi.
17. SUP in Varkala
There isn’t a “tour” for this as well, but I wanted to list it as in Varkala many people only go surfing (there are lesson signs all over). Strandup-paddle boarding on the backwaters was gorgeous although 3 hours was WAY too long esepcially with a strong current. Even 45 minutes would probably be okay. There is a French guy that hangs around the shacks who offers these lessons – I wish I remembered his name but ask around and you’ll find him!
18. Tiger Balloon Safari in Goa $188
One thing I don’t have listed is hang-gliding and paragliding in Manali or elsewhere in the mountains. I have heard of first-hand accidents and read about deaths each year from people who were running courses there but had forged their own paperwork and were not actually qualified to take a tourist up in the air. Because you can’t really verify these things, I don’t recommend doing it. Instead, hang-glide in Goa with some of the expats who do this year-round in Switzerland, France, and more throughout the year with proper certifications. Read reviews on TripAdvisor and click through from there to book.
You can click here to see all the other tours that Viator offers. Here are some other posts that I think might help you find adventures in India. Unfortunately, so many of the cool adventures I’ve done are not ones you can book tours for and just come from exploring so you’ll be sure to find even more adventures as you go along! Make sure to devour my blog posts on destinations you are going to (just use the search function on my homepage) to see what I did in each city.
- India Bucket List
- Group Tour Itineraries I Recommend for India (for varieties of budgets)
- Ultimate India Itinerary
- 100 India Journey Tips
- 50 Things to do in Goa
Things to Remember Before You Visit India
- Book a flight on the cheap to be able to splurge on the adventure! I use Kiwi.com and that link will explain why I like them.
- Get insurance that covers adventure activities. I use World Nomads. That link shows you what is and is not covered.
- You must have a visa – everyone does! You can use iVisa and read this guide to see what you need.
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