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Dharamshala Budget Trip: A Travel Blog for First Time Backpackers

dharamshala budget trip

Planning for a cost effective Dharamshala budget trip will not only help you save extra bucks but also allow you more days to explore the place. Each year thousands of travelers visit the Himalayan town of Dharamshala. Due to the rush, it can be a tad bit expensive to visit the region. However with a proper itinerary and advance bookings, budget travel to Dharamshala can be made possible.

Dharamshala is a beautiful town in the north Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. It lies on the upper reaches of the Kangra valley and smells of enchantment. The snow clad peaks add to its beauty.

Dharamshala is the seat of His Holiness – The Dalai Lama. The place is full of Tibetan prayer flags, rolling wheels and a whiff of romanticism. It offers a plethora of picturesque views to its visitors. This hill town is also the second capital of Himachal Pradesh – Summer capital to be more precise.

The rich cultural heritage is what makes this place worth visiting.

dharamshala budget trip

Dharamshala as a Himalayan destination should surely be on your bucket list. Photography by Anurag Singh

Dharamshala Budget Trip: An Overview

Budget cost for a 2-4 day trip 5000 – 8000 INR
Best time to visit on a budget July to October
Top thing to avoid for saving money Alcohol
Top shopping tip Buy small souvenirs only
Ideal accommodation choices Guest houses, hostels and budget hotels
Ideal eating places Small eateries and cafes
Recommended internal transport options Public transport 
Recommended external transport options Buses
Best budget tip Spend more on exploring places than hotels

A proper Dharamshala budget trip plan cannot be planned unless you know the basics of the place. In order to connect with the region better, know Dharamshala as a travel destination.

So here’s a brief overview –

Dharamshala as a Travel Destination : Highlights for First Timers

Location North India
State Himachal Pradesh
Mode of travel By air, road and rail
Peak season April – June, December -February
Nearby Places Mcleodganj and Kangra
Nearest Place Mcleodganj
Must visit places Dal lake, Art Museum, War Memorial, HPCA Stadium, Norbulingka, Bhagsu Falls, Triund, Mcleodganj
Food options North Indian cuisine, Tibetan food
Accessibility Throughout the year

How to Reach Dharamshala from Nearby and Far off Places ?

From within Himachal Board a HPTDC buses or any normal bus directly till Dharamshala.
From the rest of India You have the option of either boarding a train from your nearest railway station to New Delhi and then taking a direct bus to Dharamshala or boarding a flight till New Delhi, then boarding a flight till Ghaggal airport and finally hiring a local cab.

Ghaggal airport is around an hour’s drive from Dharamshala.

Even though traveling via flight is a time saving option, it is not a budget friendly option. So make sure you’re aware of the flight cost.

From outside India Board an International flight till New Delhi. From there hire a cab or board a HPTDC bus directly till Dharamshala.

Transportation Tidbits for Dharamshala Budget Trip

Ghaggal airport The nearest airport to Dharamshala is Gaggal which is 13 kms away from the city. Also, only Air India and Spice Jet flights operate in this region.
Pathankot railway station The nearest railway station to Dharamshala is Pathankot which is 85 kms from here.
Travel  time from New Delhi 12 hours
Triund Trek

View a top Triund Hill. Photography by Harshit Gangal

What Should be the Must Visit Places on Your Dharamshala Budget Trip Itinerary ?

The subsequent places should most certainly be on your Dharamshala budget trip itinerary. It needs to be mentioned here that a trip to Dharamshala should cover Mcleodganj as well.

In the following table, find the list of ‘must visit’ places for Dharamshala budget trip –

Place Entry fee & Timings
Dal lake Free

8:00 am to 8:00 pm

Kangra Art Museum 30 INR

10:00 am to 1:30 pm
2:00 pm to 5:00 pm

War Memorial 20 INR

10:00 am to 5:00 pm

HPCA Stadium Free

9:00 am to 5:00 pm

Norbulingka 40 INR for locals, 100 INR for outsiders

9:am to 5:30 pm

Bhagsu Falls Free

Anytime

Triund 1000 INR to 3000 INR (depending on package)

Day hours

The Dalai Lama Temple at Mcleodganj Free

8:00 am to 8:00 pm

A Description of all ‘Must Visit’ Places in and around Dharamshala

Dal Lake

Dal lake is a small lake on the outskirts of the main town surrounded by plenty of pine trees.  Now don’t confuse it with the famous Dal Lake in Srinagar, Kashmir.

The green vegetation and the blue water is an treat to the eyes. However, lately the lake hasn’t been maintained very well. So take your call whether you want to pay it a visit or not.

dharamshala budget trip

Dal Lake. Photography by Abhishek

The Kangra Art Museum

This museum was inaugurated in 1990. It is situated very close to the town’s bus station. This place has a storehouse of artifacts that dates back to the past years.

It has a treasure trove of things with very high cultural and aesthetic value that includes paintings, carvings, sculptures , old jewelry , pottery , coins ,etc. It is not a very big place to wanderbut definitely among the must visit one.

dharamshala budget trip

A painting on display at Kangra Art Museum. Photography by Rohit Verma.

War Memorial

Spread across a vast area of land and surrounded by surreal beauty of nature is the War Memorial. It is situated within the military area and has a big lush green park of pine trees and shrubs with ponds.

A memorial where names of martyrs are mentioned in memory of their contribution to the nation and in honour of their bravery. It is a recollection of all the war heroes who fought courageously for their motherland and sacrificed their lives.

Norbulingka

War Memorial. Photography by Gaurav Sharma

HPCA Stadium

The famous stadium of the nation can accommodate around 23000 people at one time. This stadium also happens to be the home ground Stadium for the renowned IPL team Kings11 Punjab.

It is one of the most beautiful and colourful cricket stadiums of the Indian subcontinent. Domestic matches including Ranji Trophy and Indian Premier League are hosted by it.

Norbulingka

HPCA Stadium. Photography by Pratik Chaudhary

Norbulingka

If you are in Dharamshala and haven’t been to monasteries and Buddhist temples, you’re visit will not be deemed complete. Located at a distance of thirty minutes, Norbulingka is a suburb of Dharamshala.

The entrance fees is a mere Rs 20. You can (actually should )ask for a guided tour. At the end of the tour, travelers can pay obeisance  to the  temple, Deden Tsuklagkhang, a magnificent example of Tibetan religious architecture, displaying some of the finest work done by Norbulingka artists.

It’s a fine place to regain your inner peace . You can also pick up some souvenirs on your way out.

dharamshala budget trip

Norbulingka. Photography by Kritesh Thakur

Bhagsu Falls

If you’re a hiking lover, do visit Bhagsu Falls. However, make sure to visit them only during the monsoons. During the rest of the seasons, they may run dry.

The view around Bhagsu Falls is good. Immerse yourself amidst nature on your Dharamshala budget trip.

A small eatery that goes by the name of Shive Cafe is located right above the Falls. Stop by for snacks.

dharamshala budget trip

Bhagsu Falls. Photography by Vishnu Raghavan

Triund

Trekkers love Triund. The starting point of triund trek is galu  but you opt for alternative locations as well – Mcleodganj, Bhagsu Nag etc. From galu  the entire trek is beautiful. Once you reach Triund, you might as well camp there. It’s worth it.

For those of you who cannot hike, hire a pony or a horse but just visit this place. During monsoons, the clouds seem to be settling down under and the misty weather just soaks you completely. The trekking route is closed in the winter months of January and February.

Dharamshala budget trip

Camping at Triund Hill. Photography by Divya Sarjolta

The Dalai Lama Temple

This is the best place to visit on your Dharamshala budget trip. A 15 minute drive from the bus stand in Mcleodganj leads you here. This sacrimonius place is open daily from sunrise to sunset. Travelers are welcome to explore its serene ambiance.

Once you enter the temple, you will notice hundreds of people sitting on the floor praying and chanting . You too can join the prayers or walk around and explore the unique art work in the temple.

Make sure to visit the Tibetan Museum which is just adjacent to the Dalai Lama temple.

Dharamshala Budget trip

The Dalai Lama Temple. Photography by Gokul Subramanium

Recommended Eateries for an Ideal Dharamshala Budget Trip

There is a whole variety of food options available at Dharamshala. The place offers mainly Indian, Chinese and Tibetan cuisines. The town has a good number of cafes. Some are roof top places while others are with attached balconies.

dharamshala budget trip

While in Dharamshala, do try the locally prepared Bhagsu cake. Photography by Ashmitha Sathish

Here are my top 10 recommendations  for Dharamshala & Mcleodganj

Budget Eatery Specialties
The Clay Oven Nepali thali, Pesto smoked chicken
Chilly Beans Cafe Israeli cuisine, Chocolate balll ice cream
Food by the Way Fish curry, North Indian cuisine
German Bakery Bhagsu cake, Avocado toast
Sky Pie Choco chip pan cake, Fresh fruit juices

Here are my top 5 recommendations  exclusively for Mcleodganj

Budget Eatery Specialties
Shop Number 4 Steamed mutton momos, Thupka
Labooz Cafe Bar Lounge North Indian cuisine, Drinks
White Rabbit Dhaba Lentils salad, Eggs Benedict 
Salvation Cafe Cheese omelette, Open eggplant sandwich
Tibet Kitchen Bhutanese cuisine, Tibetan cuisine

Recommended Accommodation Options for an Ideal Dharamshala Budget Trip

Here are my top 5 recommendations (for July to October) –

 Budget Accommodation Cost for one night stay
Tibet World 650 INR
Hobo Hostel 760 INR
Midway Resorts 900 INR
Agile Trips 600 INR
Tents 700 INR

Facilities Available for the Recommended Accommodation Options

Budget Accommodation Facilities Available
Tibet World Terrace, balcony, free wifi
Hobo Hostel Kettle, Free wifi, free private parking
Midway Resorts Free wifi, garden, bar
Agile Trips Shower, balcony
Tents Single bed

Best deals on Flights and Accommodation

In case you’re planning to visit Dharamshala during peak season, the average prices are bound to scale up. However, you can avail various budget deals in case your timing is correct.

Explore the following for the best deals on flights and accommodation not just for Dharamshala budget trip but for a nominal trip around the world –

Agoda Budget accomodation deals
Expedia Budget flight and accommodation deals
Clear Trip Budget flight deals
Akbar Travels Budget flight deals
Columbus Direct Budget travel insurance deals

A Comparison of Dharamshala Budget Trip: Solo Travelers versus Group Travel

As inspiring as it may sound, solo travel to Dharamshala can be a tad bit expensive. The fact that you’re travelling alone will put the entire responsibility of finances on yourself. This will prove especially true for accommodation and food. 

However, this does not imply that an ideal Dharamshala budget trip for solo travelers is not possible. It can be done if you ensure a few things.

If traveling solo, try to book your accommodation way in advance so that you are able to avail the best deals. Also, try staying closer to the main area. This will be helpful not just from a budget point of view but safety point of view as well.

Try reaching out to fellow solo travelers for the sake of sharing cabs. Private transport can be expensive in hilly terrains. So if you pool, it’ll prove cost effective. Else, just avail public transport.

Lastly, eat at places where a whole meal is cheaper than mere junk food. Make sure it is hygienic.

CLICK HERE TO FIND OUT HOW SAFE IS DHARAMSHALA FOR SOLO TRAVELERS 

Now coming to group travelers. On an average a group of three to five can easily pursue the Dharamshala budget trip. Since you’re not alone, you can split bills for your stay, food and internal transport. 

A reasonable way is to contribute money in advance to the most travel friendly person of the group. Transfer the money in his/her account before the commencement of the trip. Throughout the trip, let him/her pay. This will save all the extra hassle. 

In case you don’t pool money in advance, there are significant chances of the onus falling on only one person.

Ideal 3 Day Itinerary for an Exciting Dharamshala Budget Trip

Day 1

Morning Plan your trip in such a way that you reach Dharamshala early morning. This will save you an entire day.

Check in your accommodation place. Freshen up and take a brief nap. After you feel relaxed, have breakfast. 

Try eating at one of the budget eateries. There are tons in both Dharamshala and Mcleodganj.

 Noon After a savoury meal, head to Norbulingka. A lot of travelers miss this place and head to Mcleodganj first. But I insist you start your trip here.

Once you’ve explored the place, head up to Mcleodganj, stop by for lunch here.

Being a hilly terrain, the region might exhaust you. Therefore it is important that you relax while having lunch. 

Evening After enjoying lunch, head to the local sightseeing places – The Dalai Lama Temple, Dal lake and Naddi Village where you can enjoy a beautiful sunset.

You can also do some souvenir shopping near Dalai Lama Temple.

Night By 7:30 or maximum by 8:00 you should be having dinner and should be close to your place of accommodation.

This is important because you’re tired and need to replenish your energy for the next day.

Sleep by 9:00 pm.

Dharamshala budget trip ideal cost breakup for Day 1

  • Accommodation – 300 to 500 INR 
  • Food – 600 to 800 INR
  • Local sightseeing & transportation – 200 to 700 INR

Day 2

Morning After a good night’s sleep, get ready for a fresh climb. This is true literally because you should be heading to Triund peak.

Head to Mcleodganj (in case you’re staying far from it). Have breakfast before 8:30 am and head out.

For Triund, make sure you have booked online in advance.

Walk up to Dharamkot or take an auto. After Dharamkot, reach Shri Galu Devi temple (about 2 kms).

If you have booked the Triund trek online, you’ll be asked to report at one of the guest houses near Dharamkot.

Here you’ll be provided with lunch and a guide would be accompanying the group. 

 Noon After having lunch at Dharamkot,  you can walk up the distance to the Galu Devi temple or hire a cab.There is a checkpoint of the Forest Department near the temple where your luggage and your ID cards would be checked. 

The trek to Triund has now begun.

Evening After about three hours of walking, you will reach Triund Peak.

Along the way, the slope is gradual for the first few kilometers. About 2 kms of the last part of the trek is of a considerably steeper gradient and moderate difficulty.   

Along the way you’ll find a number of people of different nationalities and regions on their ascent or descent.

 Night Once at Triund, you can buy or rent a tent from any of the shops there.

Alternatively, the guide will take you to your camping spot.

There is a Rest House run by the Forest House which can be booked at Dharamshala. 

But I would suggest staying in the camp to experience the real thrill once you finish the Triund trek.

Enjoy your piping hot meal and sleep in your tent.

Dharamshala budget trip ideal cost breakup for Day 2

  • Accommodation – 1000 to 3000 INR 
  • Food – You pay for breakfast only (should not exceed 150 INR). Lunch and dinner will be served under the Triund package.
  • Auto/Cab – 50 to 500 INR

Day 3

Morning Wake up early and enjoy the beautiful sunrise at Triund peak.

Have breakfast and head your way down hill to Dharamkot. 

While going back to Dharamkot, you can take the same route or a different one through the Bhagsu waterfall which ends at Bhagsu village.

Noon Head towards Dharamshala, you can get local buses that charge Rs. 10

Have lunch. and book a cab from the bus stop for sightseeing (HPCA Cricket Stadium, War Memorial, Tea Gardens and Brajeshwari Devi Temple)

This will take 3-4 hours. The private cab will charge somewhere between Rs 800-1000

Evening After enjoying the lush greenery aroun everywhere, drop by the local market. 
Night Board a bus/cab from Dharamshala and head back home or to your next travel destination.

 

Dharamshala budget trip ideal cost breakup for Day 3

  • Food – 500 to 700 INR
  • Local transportation – 200 to 500 INR
  • Shopping – 400 to 600 INR

Download FREE PDF for an Ideal Dharamshala Budget Trip Itinerary

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD PDF FOR 3 DAY DHARAMSHALA ITINERARY 

Top Money Saving Tips for a Successful Dharamshala Budget Trip

The following tips will ensure that you save a reasonable amount of money on your Dharamshala budget trip.

Accommodation Always book in advance to save yourself from last minute surge pricing.
Food Eat whole meals for less rather than small meals for more.
Internal Transport Either use public transport or pool wherever possible.
Time of Visit Plan your trip during off season. Hotels, flights, even food will be cheaper.
Local sight seeing Hire a local guide only if extremely necessary. Else, explore on your own

FAQ’s on Dharamshala Budget Trip

Q1. Is Dharamshala budget trip possible for solo travelers ?

With proper planning, yes.

Q2. Whats the ideal cost of 3 day Dharamshala budget trip ?

Not more than 8000 INR

Q3. Top tip to save on Dharamshala budget trip ?

Book in advance.

Q4. Do travel companies offer special deals for Dharamshala budget trip ?

Yes

Q5. What to avoid on Dharamshala budget trip ?

Expensive hotels

Plan a weekend getaway to Dharamshala and immerse yourself in a state of complete calm.
Happy Wayfaring 🙂

Feel free to share your Dharamshala travel experience with us. Write about the place, its best and worst destinations, accommodation, food, safety anything. Post your views in the comments section below. If your experience comes across as interesting and thought provoking, we’d love to have you as a Travel Blogger on our platform where you will be paid for each of your contributions.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dharamshala Budget Trip

Aishwarya Deorane

Aishwarya Deorane, a greenhorn at blogging studies nutrition at Lady Irwin College, Delhi University. She hails from one of the populated states of India, Uttar Pradesh but has her roots in Dehradun, Uttarakhand. Passionate about travel and food, Aishwarya believes in exploration rather than constantly planning trips. She operates a travel and food blogging page on Instagram and writes food reviews on Zomato. For Aishwarya, constructive gain of wild and crazy discoveries is all that matters.

Dharamshala budget trip  Dharamshala budget trip

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