Should you visit Dharamsala or Bodh Gaya?
Should I visit Dharamsala or Bodh Gaya? This is a common question asked by many travelers. By figuring out which city is more affordable, you'll understand where you can get more bang for your buck. So, let's dive into the data, which all comes from actual travelers.
With a name that literally means "a spiritual dwelling," Dharamsala roughly translates as a shelter or rest house for pilgrims and travelers. Home to the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Government in Exile, Dharamsala is today a popular destination for foreigners on vacation, backpackers seeking the surrounding mountains, as well as students of Buddhism.
Located in the state of Bihar in the northeast of India, Bodh Gaya is the most respected place and pilgrimage destination for Buddhists. Bodh Gaya is believed to be the site where Buddha Shakyamuni achieved enlightenment while meditating under the famous Bodhi tree.
Prince Gautama Siddartha was born in the sixth century, B.C. in what is modern-day Nepal. Siddartha lived a comfortable life of extravagance as he was born the son of King Suddhodana of the Sakya clan, but after witnessing human suffering, Siddartha decided to give up all of his possessions and embarked upon a quest to seek knowledge and the solution to such suffering. It is underneath a Pipal tree near the city of Gaya, that it is believed he began to meditate until he became enlightened. Today, a descendent of the original Bodhi Tree is located in the Mahabodhi Temple Complex in the city of Bodh Gaya.
Weather in Bodhgaya is generally warm throughout the year, with daytime highs in the 90s during summer and nighttime lows in the high 40s during winter. Because Bodhgaya is centered around religious sites, pack light layers and plan to dress modestly. Remember that you'll be expected to take shoes off at all temples, so sandals may be easier to wear and a good time-saver.
Which city is cheaper, Bodh Gaya or Dharamsala?
These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.
The average daily cost (per person) in Dharamsala is $33, while the average daily cost in Bodh Gaya is $48. These costs include accommodation (assuming double occupancy, so the traveler is sharing the room), food, transportation, and entertainment. While every person is different, these costs are an average of past travelers in each city. Below is a breakdown of travel costs for Dharamsala and Bodh Gaya in more detail.
If you're traveling alone, you may be able to find a budget hotel or hostel for around $21. But for two people in a standard two-person hotel room in Dharamsala the cost is $42 on average.
The prices for places to stay in Bodh Gaya can vary by date, location, and type. Generally, the average cost for accommodation per person is $21, while a typical double-occupancy hotel room for two people will cost around $42.
The average traveler spends about $7.70 per day in Dharamsala for food, but obviously this is dependent on the type of restaurant and the amount of food ordered. To save money you can grab a lighter lunch or dinner, or you can try fast food or street food.
Bodh Gaya food costs typically run travelers around $15 per day. Eating every meal in a nicer restaurant will drive the cost up, and grabbing fast food or casual meals will help you save money.
Meals for one day
Bodh Gaya $15
Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Dharamsala
Also, here are some specific examples of food and dining related activities in Dharamsala.
Private Full Day McleodGanj City Sightseeing & Cooking Class:
The average price of local transportation around Dharamsala is $4.74 per person, per day. As this average includes both taxis and public transport, keep in mind that the prices of private drivers and taxis are significantly more expensive than public transportation.
Bodh Gaya's transportation costs can vary by the type of transport chosen by visitors. Naturally, taxis and private drivers cost much more than public transportation options. On average, visitors spend $21 per person, per day on transportation in Bodh Gaya.
Hired Cars and Shuttles in Dharamsala
Some specific examples of transportation prices in Dharamsala:
Dharamsala- Transfers+Hotel+Sightseeing (3 Days):
Affordable Dharamshala Airport Transfer:
Hired Cars and Shuttles in Bodh Gaya
Also for Bodh Gaya, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:
Private Transfer from Bodhgaya Hotel to Gaya Airport:
Affordable Bodh Gaya Airport Transfer:
Dharamsala's costs for entertainment, tickets, attractions, and tours will often cost around $5.13 per person, per day. This cost can vary widely by the type of activity, however, as this includes admission tickets, day tours, museums, and other things to do.
Sightseeing, admission tickets, things to do, and other entertainment expenses in Bodh Gaya can vary widely by price. On average, visitors spend around $9.08 per person, per day on entertainment and sightseeing here.
Tours and Activities in Dharamsala
Some specific costs of activities, tours, and entrance tickets for Dharamsala are as follows:
Dharamsala Half Day Sightseeing Tour:
Half-Day Private Kangra Valley Cycling Tour from Dharamshala:
Hiking Day Tour to Triund from Dharamshala:
Tours and Activities in Bodh Gaya
For Bodh Gaya, here are a few prices for actual activities, tours, and tickets provided by various companies:
Guided Virtual Tour of Bodhgaya:
Bodhgaya Day Tour (Hotel Pickup):
Full-Day Private Guided Tour of Bodh Gaya with Lunch:
Excursion tour of Rajgir & Nalanda from Bodhgaya:
Bodhgaya Sightseeing With Monuments Entrances:
Bodhgaya Rajgir Nalanda Tour:
Exclusive Guided Tour of Bodh Gaya:
8 Days Divine Steps of Buddha Tour from Bodhgaya:
8 Day Buddha trail Tour- Bodhgaya, Rajgir,Nalanda, Kushinagar, Vaishali, Lumbini:
The average person spends about $5.13 on alcoholic beverages in Dharamsala per day. The more you spend on alcohol, the more fun you might be having despite your higher budget.
Typically, people visiting Bodh Gaya spend on average $5.21 on alcoholic beverages per person, per day.
When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Dharamsala and Bodh Gaya, we can see that Bodh Gaya is more expensive. And not only is Dharamsala much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Dharamsala would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Dharamsala and be able to afford a more luxurious travel style by staying in nicer hotels, eating at more expensive restaurants, taking tours, and experiencing more activities. The same level of travel in Bodh Gaya would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Bodh Gaya than you might in Dharamsala.
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