Affordable and Offbeat Destinations: 5 Places Not to Miss in 2015

Frugal travelling in no way implies missing out on a memorable vacation if you are willing to think beyond the customary. You’ll find numerous offbeat destinations, adventure sports that’ll keep you engaged and places to eat and drink at nominal prices.

“You don’t need to be rich to travel well” — Eugene Fodor

The world is yours to explore yet it’s never a bad idea to be selective of your destinations if you are on a tight budget. The travel industry has woken up to the growing numbers of travellers who are venturesome, carrying with them the zeal to explore off-beat locations. If you’re of that spirit, we are a perfect fit and I promise my list of rock-bottom destinations will leave you craving for more.

1) The Mini Switzerland of Uttarakhand: Chopta

Famous for the birth and rise of the Chipko Movement and for the world’s highest Shiva Temple, Chopta offers itself as a sanctuary for both adventure lovers and those seeking to take a break from the bustling metropolis. Begging to be explored, this small village is surrounded by majestic mountains and pristine clear streams & rivers that can inspire awe in anybody. The sweet perfume of the dewed forests and stories around legends that locals have learnt by heart will keep you captivated throughout your stay.

Budget: 5k

Best time to travel: May-November

Attractions:

Trek to Chandrashilla Peak which offers a 360 degree panoramic view of the Himalayan snow coated peaks.

The world’s highest Shiva temple is worth a visit. Commonly called Tungnath Temple, it is one of the five Kedar Temples that attracts thousands of pilgrims every year.

Adrenaline pumping sports, from rock and cliff climbing, rappelling and river crossing are what you can indulge in at economical prices.

Tips: To keep your travel cost low, stick to the local buses which are extremely reasonable.

2) Longest motor-able beach in India: Mandarmani, West Bengal

From the tiny red crabs crawling on the beach to an unforgettable evening walk, the water teasing your feet and the perfect view of the orange sky melting into the ocean — this virgin beach offers itself as as the perfect getaway for those yearning for a laid-back vacation.

Budget: 3–4K

Best time to travel: October — May.

What you can do?

Sit by the banks,sip on coconut water and enjoy the tranquil beauty of the spotless beach or turn the beach into a party zone as the sun goes down.

Have fun with water sports, which include jet ski to banana boat and bungee trampoline. The long stretch of beach also makes a perfect place for a volleyball game with friends.

Do it the local way and learn to fish, go out with the fishermen who go about their daily routine in the evening.

Tips: Rent a car from Kolkata to reach the beach and stay in one of the affordable beach-side resorts for a lifetime experience.

3) World’s highest jeep able road: Rohtang Pass

Ranked #1 out of 47 sightseeing places around Manali, Rohtang Pass is a favorable getaway for travellers, new and old. The snow covered roads and mountains provide an outwardly experience away from the hot and humid summer in the other parts of the country. This quintessential village serves as a melting pot of two cultures, connecting the Hindu majoritarian village of Kullu valley with Spiti and Lahaul that mostly has Buddhist inhabitants.

Budget: 5k

Best time to travel: May-October

What can you do?

Skiing is what lures tourists from different parts of the country. One of the few places that offer skiing, Rohtang’s snow covered mountains quickly turns into favorable ski slopes.

Hop on to the snowmobile for an unforgettable experience, Rohtang being the only place that has snowmobile in India.

Take the Hot-air balloon and paragliding ride for a breath-taking aerial view of the Himalayan peaks and dotted villages.

Tips: To avoid a wearisome journey, stay for the night at Manali and book an early morning cab or a jeep ride to Rohtang. Stop by at the roadside food stalls to try out different local cuisines.

4) Where history, architecture and religion merge into one: Hampi

Best known as the iconic capital of the Vijayanagar Dynasty, this small town is famous amongst the history zealots for its detailed carvings on monuments and other architectural exquisites. The heap of ruins on their part attempts to assert their worth and charm, trying to tell the story of the rich cultural heritage of this ancient village.

Budget: 4–5k

Best time to go: October-March

What can you do?

Explore the historical monuments declared as World Heritage by the UNESCO. Don’t miss touring the famous Vittala Temple, famous for its huge stone carved Chariot right at the centre. You can also find marvelous monoliths scattered across the village.

Rock-climbing comes in as a delightful activity for those hankering for the thrill of adventure.

Go swimming in the Tungabhadra river to take a break from your day long expedition or opt for a leisurely Coracle boat ride.

Head for an uphill trek to Anjanadri Hill, the supposed birthplace of Hanuman, for a fascinating sunset view of the village.

Go cafe hopping at the “Hippie Island” where you can find cafes and shacks that’ll remind you of Goa. Hold your breath and be prepared to be stunned by the amusing interiors and wall art. Try the riverside ‘Laughing Buddha’ cafe famous amongst the frequent goers.

Tips: Whether it’s unearthing you are predisposed to do or just another weekend getaway, the best way to commute within the village is to rent a bike or a cycle. It’s also advisable to get enough cash for yourself since Hampi does not have an ATM and if you are likely to drink with friends, you can purchase it Hospet.

5) The abode of clouds: Meghalaya

The often ignored North East has much to offer to avid travellers, and Meghalaya being closest by air and train, has started to attract tourists from across the globe. Adventure junkies mostly decide on the place to scout for cave activities while a few culture enthusiasts are driven to gain more insight into the indigenous cultures, much alive in the form of folklore, practices and lifestyles that are changing with modernity yet intrinsically inspired from their traditions.

Budget: 6–8K, depending on your means of transportation

Best time to travel: All year round

Duration: 4–5 days

Attractions:

The spectacular Living Root Bridges in Cherrapunji will leave you astonished. The root bridges are tamed by locals to form pathways across streams.

Don-Bosco Centre for Indigenous Cultures for an insight into the rich indigenous cultures of the Seven Sisters. A few of the items they have on display are weapons, costumes & jewellery, photographs and different types of tribal basketry made from bamboo.

Roll up your pants for adventure sports that’ll make you come back to Meghalaya for sure. Go diving, rafting, snorkeling to camping, caving, and rock-climbing.

Shopaholics hub in Shillong will leave you open-mouthed in disbelief. Whether it’s usual shopping or souvenir you want to take back home, the market in the capital town is surprisingly cheap.

Lose yourself in the excess of nature from the lush green hills and the clouds playing hide and seek, the incomparable waterfalls to the enigmatic night sky, Meghalaya will seem like a haven for nature admirers.

Tips: If you want to cut down your transportation cost, take a train to Guwahati and another bus ride to Shillong from where you can begin your expedition.

Tourism in these places is undoubtedly on the rise, nonetheless the travel costs remains reasonable year round compared to other already well-established touristy locations. These enthralling destinations are causing a buzz amongst travel buffs, finding their way to their list of must-visit places this year. So, tick mark these destinations and book your vacation, be it for honeymoon, family excursion or a weekend getaway with your buddies.

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Originally published at blog.guesthouser.com on September 10, 2015.

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