I have just hit over 200 days in my life as a nomad! And boy has it been a ride! As everyone knows, I started out my travels in India after I decided to leave Melbourne in search of a better life. And I am very pleased to say that I have found it. Living abroad as a nomad mostly means that I am living in hostels because I don’t have a real job and can’t afford a place on my own. Not that I would want one regularly anyway, I love hostels! But this does also mean that you get no privacy or alone time.
Hostels can be wild and crazy, as well as dangerous when you are in the wrong place. The first hostel I stayed at was in Delhi, where I first landed. I didn’t know much about Delhi at all before I got there. Which in hindsight is probably a good thing. If I had known then what I know now, I never would have stayed in Delhi. Even for the 3 nights that I did at the start of my trip. So here you have it, the best places to stay in India.
Delhi does not make the list!
I wasn’t in the best mental state when I first moved to India and getting into Delhi was like taking a baseball bat to the face. To function I was taking 4-5 Valium a day just to be able to get outside the hostel because it is so intense there. I met some really cool people from all over the world that I would go adventuring with and that made me feel more relaxed. On the third night in the hostel I was staying, I woke up to a bang and three girls pushing against the door next to my bed. I asked what was happening. They said there was a drunk man trying to force his way into our room.
These girls were all from East Asia and very small. Ao I got up and said that I would sort it out. By the time they agreed to let me do it and when I opened the door, there was a worker from the hostel standing there. He apologised and said he had seen the whole thing on camera and had kicked the man out. He was so kind and sat out the front of our door for the rest of the night to make sure we were safe. The next morning I decided it was time to leave Delhi and go to Rishikesh early. And I am so glad I did!
I stayed at a great hostel called Art Bliss, which is where I first fell in love with Rishikesh. It was still a bit of a culture shock for me being used to the western standards of everything and then moving to a smaller town in India. For me, this is now what I am used to, but back then it wasn’t.
The hostel owner was so nice and inviting and took a group of us through the jungle to a waterfall which was amazing. I was blown away to see cows casually strolling through the streets. And so many dogs without owners that were just playing in the street and exceptionally placid. The people staying in the hostel were all amazing. It was so easy to get involved in conversations when you wanted to socialise due to the set up they had there.
I was quite reserved at the start of my trip. Often trying to spend time alone so my mind could wind down from the mania it had been so used to. Unfortunately living in hostels this is generally not possible. And there was one Indian man who just would not leave me alone or take no for an answer. The hostel owner ended up speaking with him and telling him to stop, which did help a little bit. This is just part and parcel of living in hostels though and really isn’t too bad once you get used to it.
After staying at Art Bliss I moved to my yoga school and then onto a hostel called Bunk Stay. Which is one of the most popular hostels in Rishikesh and for good reason too! The place is really nice. Dorms are good and bathrooms are well maintained and likely the most western I experienced while in Rishikesh. I also got to paint a few murals there which was a lot of fun. And I will be returning at the end of the month to do another which will be able to be seen from the whole of Rishikesh. Which is pretty damn amazing if you ask me!
After leaving Rishikesh, which broke my heart and caused a lot of tears, I went to Sri Lanka for a month and a half. Which was nothing exceptional to note. Other than one Eco Lodge which will warrant its own blog post at some point. When I returned to India, I decided it would be best to be down south for the winter as I do not deal with cold weather well at all. This is how I found myself in beautiful Varkala.
Before coming to Varkala, I was volunteering at a school in rural India in a place called Thottuva. I had seen a friend that I had made in Rishikesh was staying in Varkala. And it was only a 3-hour train ride from where I was. I went down there for one weekend while I was still at the school for a festival that was on. And I decided that it was a place I could see myself staying a little while.
After I was finished at the school I went down there and stayed at a place called Lost Hostel. Man, this place is amazing! I can’t recommend this place highly enough for anyone who is looking to make friends. It seems like all the extroverts of the world gathered here to make one vibrant ball of energy that you couldn’t help but get involved in. There is even a story I’ve written about a wedding that happened there! I have made some brilliant friends from staying here. And I’m sure to see them again throughout our continuous travels.
The Short Giraffe is the next place I stayed, and again, I met some really amazing people here that I will cherish for life. There was a really great group of people when I first arrived and we were able to create a pretty amazing bond of deep friendship. I know I will continue speaking to these people for a long time as well as they now hold a part of my heart. The hostel itself is managed by a little firecracker of a woman with big dreams and ambitions. She is constantly doing everything she can to make it the best place for backpackers to stay as she herself loves traveling and hostels and know what it is people want to see in a hostel.
Cliff and Coral is another place I stayed in Varkala. Which is one of the nicest and modern places I have seen in India. They have beautiful décor and each 8-bed dorm has two private bathrooms which is very impressive! Their café area is perfect for working and for hanging out meeting new people. There were constant events happening like family dinners and beach trips which made the place really special.
I was introduced to the owners through a mutual friend who knew that I was an artist. And that the hostel had not yet opened and was looking for artwork. It turned out really well as I was at Short Giraffe which was literally across the road. So I was able to come over every day and paint a large mural, which I loved every minute of the way. The place is pet friendly and they have a beautiful puppy by the name of Cooper! He loves to get involved in all the activities as much as the guests do.
Unfortunately I didn’t stay in Rajasthan long enough to separate this into the different towns I stayed. I did Jaipur, Jodhpur, and Jaisalmer in the space of a week. But I can certainly give comment on the good and bad places I stayed in.
The first stop was Jodhpur, where I stayed with a friend in a place called Bob Hostel. The place was pretty cool and had two levels of a rooftop, each with a great vibe and good view. The staff there were exceptionally friendly and always up for a chat. I hadn’t realised when I booked that I had booked a room that had two bunk beds in it rather than a normal bed. Because there was no way a normal bed would have fit into that tiny room. But it was still really nice anyway.
In Jaisalmer we stayed at a place called Nomadic Homestay. The place itself was pretty nice. I enjoyed the rooftop and sitting in the sunshine while I wrote, but there were a few issues here. One of the issues was that you would get an electric shock each time you turned on the shower, which was definitely not pleasant. The second was the gentleman managing the place. He was quite argumentative and ended up in an argument with the friend I was staying with. I believe that a lot of it was due to miscommunication between the two of them. However he did have quite an arrogant demeanour which was hard to stomach.
The last place in Jaisalmer was Registhan Guest House, where we did a camel safari. The place was great and the manager was very kind. He was also very impressive with the number of languages he could speak fluently. He had Hindi, English, Spanish, French, Italian and presumably a number of others. We had initially planned to camp out under the stars because that is what I really wanted to do. But after experiencing how cold it got in the desert we changed our minds and slept in one of their rooms. I honestly had one of the best sleeps I have ever had in my life. And that is saying a lot for someone who barely ever sleeps! Highly recommend this place for anyone looking to stay in the desert.
The last in my trip to Rajasthan was Gypsy Monkey which was located in Jaipur. I am not much of a fan of big cities. So did not overly like the town, but the hostel was nice. It also had two levels of rooftop which were great to sit on and work. They also had hot water from the showerhead which was incredibly welcome after living in India for so long without this luxury.
One day I am sure I will settle down and look for a private place. But for now, I am loving living in hostels and meeting all the beautiful people that come along with this lifestyle. I have stayed in a few private rooms during my travels. But hostels are the places where I thrive and get to be the loud outgoing person that I am. Without any judgement from the others staying there who are also being their true selves.