As budget slow travelers in India, we had a great time visiting the country’s most iconic building — the Taj Mahal. This post covers our Taj Mahal trip cost for four days and four nights.
Tourist destinations often disappoint us. NOT the Taj Mahal – it was fabulous! Easy to see why it’s a “Wonder of the World” and a UNESCO World Hetitage site.
Taj Mahal trip cost
We were already in India, so airfare is not included here. However, this tally will give you an idea of ‘on the ground’ costs, and you can add in your airfare cost.
Train to Agra: $14
We took trains from Bundi to Kota (30 minutes), then Kota to Agra (six hours). Bundi was our slow travel stop before Agra.
We rode the second-class train from Bundi to Kota cost 75 cents for two people. We were lucky – it’s not a popular route and we only went one stop to Kota for a connection at the much larger train station.
On the train from Kota to Agra we sat in 3AC class (side berths) at a cost of $13 for two people. As with all long-distance train tickets, we bought these a month or so before the trip to guarantee a seat.
We stayed at Joey’s Hostel, in a private room with private bath for $31.25 a night for four nights. The price included tax, Airbnb fees, and breakfast. Joey’s is well known, and it’s just around the corner from the East Gate of the complex – a perfect budget travel choice!
It was a decent room, lots of hot water, OK WiFi, great workers, and kick-ass rooftop view of the Taj Mahal.
Breakfast was a buffet with hard boiled eggs, toast (jam, peanut butter, honey options), cereals, thin pancakes stuffed with bananas, chapati, Indian rice, black coffee, milk coffee, chai.
This total includes beer. No fine dining — just average Indian eateries.
A notable place we enjoyed was the restaurant over the Hotel Saniya Palace, next to Joey’s. Also, the Hippie Cafe that’s owned by Joey’s with that kick-ass view. Note: in Joey’s building with the private rooms, there is another rooftop cafe called Chai Cafe. It’s not technically part of Joey’s (it’s sublet). They have artisan bread and real brewed coffee, but you’ll pay a lot more.
And if you’ve been in India a while and you’re craving red meat, you can get a buffalo fried steak at Treat Restaurant. It’s owned by a kind Muslim man and his son is the waiter. Buffalo fried steak with peas and gravy with ‘mashed’ potatoes was 180 rupees, or $2.25.
Admission to one of the new ‘Wonders of the World’ cost 1,300 rupees each – or $15.75 each. We went to the East Gate ticket office at 5:45 a.m., expecting a line. There was none. Tourism is still recovering. The ticket window opens at 6:10. Then it’s a short walk to the East Gate entry. There are signs all over that say your admission is good for three hours, but we stayed six, and no one seemed to care.
Do not bring gum. This counts as ‘food’ and mine was taken from me. Security guards also took a plastic bag I had wrapped around our passports. Those aren’t allowed, either. The official rules are on the official website.
Special full moon night viewing of the Taj Mahal
On full moon nights, as well as two nights before and after, there is a special night viewing of the Taj Mahal. We spent 750 rupees each for these tickets, $17 for two people.
Theo wasn’t impressed because there was a strict 30-minute time limit and we were not allowed beyond the distant main gate area.
I was impressed regardless — but I’m into astrology and he’s not, and this is more of an experiential thing — you are not guaranteed to get a bright moonlit picture with a phone camera, as most tourists tried to do. (The has a ‘real’ camera.)
I say do it — it’s one of those ‘real life’ experiences that can’t be transferred to social media or blog posts, like swimming with bioluminescence.
It’s under $20 for two people, and it adds a touch of romance to your night.
Our Taj Mahal trip cost also included admission to the Itimad-ud-daula’s Tomb, commonly called the ‘Baby Taj’ because it is another intricate, beautiful mausoleum. It was built a few generations before the Taj Mahal.
Admission was 300 rupees each, or $3.75. If you have time, do it. This was a cool site.
We skipped Agra Fort!
Yep – we walked around the fort, but we did not go in. We decided to skip it because we’ve seen several other forts around India: Alibag, Udaipur, Jodhpur, Jaislamer, Jaipur, Bundi. We were fort’ed out. If you go, it cost 650 rupees each ticket (under $8).
Instead, we visited Jama Masjid (free), and some gardens and parks. One standout is Gyarah Seehi Park (free). You can cut through the cricket field to the river bank across from the Taj for a cool view. You’ll also see a Hindu crematory and sunset, if you time it right.
Our next category is gifts. Sometimes we overpay on purpose to people who really need a little help.
One example: Bapu – the man who peddled both Theo and I 6.5 kilometers around town.
This category is for transport around Agra. The going rate from the train station to the old town section is 150 rupees, or less than $2. From old town to the river bank opposite the Taj was the same, and then back.
Even though we walked a lot, we still needed to venture over the bridge, across the river, etc.
Total Taj Mahal trip cost: $314
Wow! Five days and four nights in Agra for $314 for two people! Wooohooo! Budget slow travel score!
Could we have done it cheaper? Sure — Joey’s Hostel has beds for under $5 a night – but we prefer our privacy. Also, we could have eaten in cheaper places – but we wanted to view the Taj as we dined.
I hope this ‘on the ground’ report gives you an idea on how much things cost in Agra around the fabulous Taj Mahal site.
Life is Now – so travel now!