A Travel Price Comparison for India Varanasi vs. Dharamsala for Vacations, Tours, and Honeymoons

Should you visit Varanasi or Dharamsala?

Which is cheaper to visit? Which is more expensive for vacation?

Trying to figure out where to travel next? This travel comparison between Varanasi and Dharamsala can help. It includes a travel cost comparison in addition to other factors. For many travelers, the cost of a destination is a primary consideration when choosing where to go.

Where Should I go: Varanasi or Dharamsala?


Known to be one of India's holiest cities, many come to Varanasi on a spiritual pilgrimage looking to bathe in the sacred waters of the Ganges River. Dating back to the 11th Century BC, it is also one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. Centuries old temples make up the backdrop, as many come and come again to perform their holy rights at the edge of the historic river.


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.

For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best Bicycle Tours in India, Tours for Outdoor and Nature Lovers in India, The Best Adventure Tours to India, and The Best Sightseeing Tours in India.

Which place is cheaper, Dharamsala or Varanasi?

These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.

The average daily cost (per person) in Varanasi is $30, while the average daily cost in Dharamsala is $35. 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 destination. What follows is a categorical breakdown of travel costs for Varanasi and Dharamsala in more detail.

  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Varanasi $16
    Dharamsala $23
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Varanasi $32
    Dharamsala $46
Compare Hotels in Varanasi and Dharamsala

Looking for a hotel in Varanasi or Dharamsala? Prices vary by location, date, season, and the level of luxury. See below for options and compare which is best for your budget and travel style.

Hotels in Varanasi

Hotels in Dharamsala

Kayak helps you find the best prices for hotels, flights, and rental cars for destinations around the world. Compare prices for multiple destinations when planning your next trip.

Our Analysis
We've analyzed the average and typical hotel prices based on guest reviews, star ratings, and hotel amenities here: Varanasi Hotel Prices and Dharamsala Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Varanasi $4.95
    Dharamsala $5.13
Typical Local Transportation Prices in Varanasi

Here are some examples of typical transportation prices from actual travelers in Varanasi:

  • Tuk Tuk Through Town
  • Rickshaw Ride

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Varanasi

Also for Varanasi, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:

  • Private Transfer: Varanasi Station to Hotel: $12
  • Varanasi Airport : Transfer To Hotel / To Airport: $12
  • Private Transfer Varanasi Airport (VNS) To Varanasi Hotels Drop: $12
  • Varanasi Airport to hotel private transfer: $18
  • Varanasi Airport: Transfer to/from Varanasi Hotels & Airport: $18
  • Varanasi Airport : Transfer to Hotel / To Airport: $22
  • One-Way Transfer Airport to Hotel: $24
  • Private Departure Transfer from Varanasi Hotel to Airport: $28
  • Private Varanasi Heritage Walk with Hotel Transfer: $28
  • Varanasi Airport Transfer: $30
  • Private Departure Transfer to Airport from Hotel in Delhi By Car: $34
  • From Varanasi Airport Transfer: $36

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Dharamsala

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Dharamsala:

  • Dharamshala Airport Transfers : Budget Sedan and SUV Cabs: $35
  • Chandigarh to Dharamshala Transfer: $85
  • Airport to Dharamshala transfer: $50

Is it cheaper to fly into Varanasi or Dharamsala?

Prices for flights to both Dharamsala and Varanasi change regularly based on dates and travel demand. We suggest you find the best prices for your next trip on Kayak, because you can compare the cost of flights across multiple airlines for your prefered dates.

  • Food Meals for one day
    Varanasi $7.15
    Dharamsala $8.35
Typical Food Prices in Varanasi

For Varanasi, here are some examples of average food and meal prices for travelers:

  • Dinner In Town

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Varanasi

For Varanasi, here are some samples of tours and activities related to meals and dining experiences:

  • Food Tour: Highlights Tour with Tasting &Sunset in Varanasi: $16
  • Taste of Varanasi (2 Hour Guided Street Food Tour): $21
  • Varanasi Food Tour with Monu: $22
  • Varanasi Cooking Classes with Indu and Shobha: $32
  • Varanasi Cooking Classes with Indu and Shobha: $40
  • From Street food tour with Evening Ganga Aarti: $42
  • Private Evening Rooftop Dinner: $44
  • 3-hour Shopping and Street Food Tour on a tuk-tuk ride: $46
  • Evening Dinner with Private Transfer: $50
  • Afternoon tour of Varanasi with Boat ride over Ganges & Dinner on a tuk-tuk : $59
  • Night Boat Ride, Aarati Ceremony and Dinner: $62
  • Private Evening Street Food Tour: $63

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Dharamsala

Also, here are some specific examples of food and dining related activities in Dharamsala.

  • Flavors of Dharamshala: 2-Hour Guided Street Food Tour: $26

  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Varanasi $11
    Dharamsala $5.56
Typical Entertainment Prices in Varanasi

Below are a few sample prices from actual travelers for Varanasi's activities, tours, and tickets:

  • Boat Ride

Tours and Activities in Varanasi

For Varanasi, here are a few prices for actual activities, tours, and tickets provided by various companies:

  • Varanasi Scavenger Hunt and Sights Self-Guided Tour: $3.38
  • Varanasi Scavenger Hunt and Sights Self-Guided Tour: $6.90
  • Sarnath Audio Tour on HopOn India App – Land of Buddha's First Sermon, Varanasi: $7.66
  • Spiritual and Heritage Walking Tour in Varanasi: $8.57
  • Varanasi's Spiritual & heritage walking tour: $11
  • Varanasi:- Morning Varanasi Short Tour with Boat Ride: $11
  • Temple Walk Tour Varanasi: $12
  • Varanasi Walking Tour : $12
  • Spiritual Tour in Varanasi with a local- Experience true essence of spirituality: $12
  • Vibrant Markets of Varanasi (2 Hours Guided Walking Tour): $12
  • Vibrant Markets of Varanasi (2 Hours Guided Walking Tour): $13
  • Cycle of Life, Death & Rebirth (2 Hours Guided Walking Tour): $13

Tours and Activities in Dharamsala

Some specific costs of activities, tours, and entrance tickets for Dharamsala are as follows:

  • Best of Dharamshala with a local - Full Day Guided Tour: $130
  • Best of Dharamshala with a local Half Day Tour by a AC Car: $82
  • Cultural tour - Dharamshala & Mcleodganj for full day: $30
  • Dal Lake & Kangra Fort Guided Day Tour From Dharamshala: $79
  • Dharamshala Dalhousie Tour from Amritsar: $297
  • Dharamshala Mcleodganj Tour: $48
  • Dharamshala Street Food Crawl ( Guided Food Tasting Tour): $25
  • Dharamshala: Monasteries and Nunneries Guided Tour: $56
  • Guided Andretta Artists' VIllage Tour: $98
  • Guided Kora Circuit & Walking Tour Around McLeod Ganj: $42
  • Hiking Day Tour to Triund from Dharamshala: $42
  • Historical Tour, Kangra fort &Rock cut temple from Dharmasla: $98

  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Varanasi $7.86
    Dharamsala $5.56

When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Varanasi and Dharamsala, we can see that Dharamsala is more expensive. And not only is Varanasi much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Varanasi would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Varanasi 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 Dharamsala would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Dharamsala than you might in Varanasi.

If you're trying to decide if either of these two destinations are within your price range, also see Is Varanasi Expensive? and Is Dharamsala Expensive?.

Which is Bigger, Varanasi or Dharamsala?

Varanasi has a larger population, and is about 60 times larger than the population of Dharamsala. When comparing the sizes of Varanasi and Dharamsala, keep in mind that a larger population does not always imply the destination has more attractions or better activities. So, always research the type of place that you want to visit along with the activities and attractions that interest you.