Hampi is an incredible place, different from any other city in India. It consists of temples and ruins and is listed as a UNESCO world heritage site. It is an absolute must-see if you are visiting India, so we have jotted down some tips to make it even easier.
- If you are travelling on a budget (or just don’t like to waste money unnecessarily) do not book a room online in advance. This will of course depend somewhat on the season, but as a general advice it stands. The prices are significantly higher than the what you can find once you arrive. Staying in the Hampi Bazaar area is super cosy, central and cheap, and all the guesthouses are within a 5 minute walking radius. Go around, haggle a bit, and find a suitable room for cheap. Prices range from 500 and up for a decent double room. Half of that for decent dorms. If your cheap stay lacks a rooftop restaurant or a cosy seating area, just cross the road and you will certainly find one next door. We did not stay on the other side of the river, but we heard it is very chill and more of a hippie-vibe. Just remember that the boat crossing the river stops at 5:30PM when you want to get back!
- If you are taking the bus to Hampi you will arrive a 2 minute walk from the bazaar area. Still the tuktuk drivers will try to convince you that it is best to get a ride from them to where you are going. It is not necessary. Our bus made a 20-minute stop in Hospet before we arrived in Hampi. This is completely unnecessary, as the final destination is 13 km away, but it surely plays out well for the tuktuk drivers who have lined up for this special chance of getting tourists to book a ride to their place to be on the “safe side”.
- If you happen to buy bananas from one of the countless people selling them, make sure to hide it – in your backpack, under your shirt, anywhere the sun don’t shine. If you do not, you are almost certain to have to fight of naughty monkeys who would like at least a piece.
- Expect a lot of tricky hiking. Hampi’s sights, sunset spots and waterfalls are usually on top of rocky mountains, or through small hidden paths within banana plantations. You are likely to have to use both arms and legs to navigate up steep rocks to find the nicest spots or just to follow the tricky trails. This means that you should always have a bottle of drinking water handy, and choose something more sturdy than flip-flops for your feet.
- Do not stay in Hospet. For some reason travel guidebooks mention Hospet as a possible place to stay when you are visiting Hampi. We do not see any reason why anyone visiting Hampi should stay in Hospet. Tuktuks are quite expensive in and around Hampi, so the money you may save on staying in a noisy place with no view, will be spent on travelling in to Hampi. Additionally, the heat in Hampi in the spring months (Jan-April) also makes it a blessing to have a shower and a fan within reasonable distance.
- The WiFi in Hampi is terrible. Everywhere. So is the data connection with an Indian SIM-card, at least for both Airtel and Vodaphone. You may get 3G, but it would be a miracle if you are able to make a booking with online payment or similar here. It is not really a problem, as you can do smaller tasks, and people usually just stay here for a few days. However, the tip is to make sure you do not have important undone business to do online. Do not schedule a Skype conversation or plan on making bookings or placing orders online in Hampi.
- On weekends the amount of visitors in Hampi increases by a tenfold. It is not a big problem accommodation-availability-wise, as a lot are locals from surrounding cities who come for daytrips. However, the sights get more crowded, queues are created and it is difficult to make a bargain price when there is a horde of people behind you wanting to pay for the same thing. As what we loved most about Hampi was the peaceful atmosphere and the beauty of being able to walk around surrounded only by breath-taking monuments, we would definitely recommend staying outside of the weekends. It can be fascinating in itself, seeing the city get crowded and colourful, but make sure to have some weekdays as well.
- Hampi is incredibly warm. The whole of India is warm, but the beige and grey stone-formations in Hampi gives it a bit of a desert-feel. The sun is reflecting on the ground and surroundings, it does not really get windy, the mountains and stones get really hot during daytime, and there is hardly any A/C, which altogether makes it seem like the heat is trapped within the stony mountains that circles Hampi. March and April are even warmer than now (Feb), so if possible we would recommend to avoid it just to be able to see the sights without daily heat strokes.
- Last, but most importantly, GO THERE! Do not skip Hampi. It can be accessed from both north and south of the country – a tad easier from the south. However, if you are in the north: go to Mumbai. It is so cool. From there you can stop by the beach in Goa on your way or go directly to Hampi. From south, buses go daily from Bangalore and Kochi. Getting to Hampi by train is also possible, but the trains stop in Hospet (3km outside Hampi), and usually requires that you change train in Hubbali. Even though the train in India is fascinating in itself, and it might save you some money, the bus is super convenient and is a brilliant way to meet the people you will see around in Hampi during your stay.
M & M out