It seems certain words complement each other so well, for example Hampi and shoestring! The very virtue of Hampi supports your idea of a shoestring budget tour of the place. Let’s look at it the other way around. Hampi is more charming and memorable when you explore it in a typical backpacker style rather than in the luxury guided tour with stay in plush hotels . First we’ll explore the means of transport to Hampi.
So where do we start?
For the sake of simplicity let us assume that you are from a night (or a day’s) journey away from Hampi. If you are coming to Hampi from a further distant place in India, find your best travel option, most likely by a long distance train.
See How to reach Hampi & Trains for Hospet . Traveling by bus or train, preferably train, is the best option to access Hampi ( ie to Hsopet , the town very close to Hampi ).
There are many types of bus services and trains that connect Hospet with a number of major towns and cities. A great majority of the buses to Hospet are operated by the state run operator , KSRTC ( Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation ). They operate various types of services to Hospet . A few of them are listed here with the cost comparison. (The costs mentioned are bit dated, nevertheless gives an indication.)
A typical overnight journey (about 360 kilometers) by the Express type (example : Karnataka Sarige ) bus cost you approximately Rs170.
The next higher option – Rajahamsa bus service with recline type seats and a bit more legroom – cost about Rs260 for the same travel as above. The luxury AC bus service ( Airavat ) ticket cost about Rs340 for the same journey. This is the highest possible luxury bus in with the regular operating schedule.
The costs follow the similar pattern for the few private bus operators too; they charge 30-50 % more than the state run buses, even more during the peak season.
The train option next. In general people prefer to travel by train, thanks to the relative comfort it gives with respect to the bus services. There are primarily two types of trains – the Express Trains and the (very!) slow running passenger trains. Though the passenger train tickets are the cheapest, these are very slow trains that take hell of a lot of time to cover long distances. Nevertheless some of the passenger trains connecting Hospet come handy, especially to reach the next major railway station to catch your onward journey connection.
A typical express train has five classes – the Second Class, Sleeper Class, AC 3 Tire Sleeper, AC 2 Tire Sleeper and AC First Class In other words shoestring budget necessarily means you’ve to go for the cheapest option available.
Once in Hospet you have mainly two choices to head for Hampi – by the local bus or by the auto- rickshaw (3 wheeler taxi). Local bus fare is Rs10 (about 20 cents) . It will drop you at the Hampi bus stand located in the middle of the Hampi site.
The auto-rickshaw charges about Rs100 to Rs200 (about $3) . If you you need a still cheper option go for the ‘share auto- rickshaw ’ for Rs10 to Rs20 (about 40 cents) for a drop at Hampi. These share services operate from the Hospet bus stand/Railway station area.
Hampi has an impressive number of budget ( guest house ) accommodations located close to the ruins site. Just explore locally, like any other backpackers do, to find one that suits to your budget. Can get a basic ones (twin bed) for Rs300 to Rs600 ($5 to $10) range near the Hampi Bazaar or across the river a backpacker hideout area called Virupapur Gadde. For local sightseeing, you can hire bicycle (Rs50/$1-2) of go for a moped (about Rs200/$3 plus fuel cost).
Except a few , the vast ruins site is free of entry fees. For Vittala Temple, Zenena Enclosure , Elephant Stables the ticket cost Rs10 (Subsidized fee for citizens of India, SAARC and BIMSTEC countries). For others its $5.The same ticket valid for the three monuments, if visited the same day. Virupaksha Temple charges a nominal fee (4 cents for entry, $1 for camera) There are plenty of budget type eateries around Virupaksha Temple and Kamalapura area.See Food in Hampi.
Many backpackers tend to stay at Hampi for extended days, even weeks, and explore the place at their pace.