India cycling vacations travel guide

2 Minute summary

The wonderful thing about cycling in India is that you are traveling with the local people. At their speed, through their terrain, stopping to drink chai and talk bikes with them. The routes you can take vary greatly, and we do recommend traveling in a small group tour for most of them. This makes it easier to negotiate getting bikes on and off house boats in Kerala’s backwaters, for example. Or take an overnight train to Jodhpur to begin a Northern India odyssey. Also you will be cycling with such a wide array of fellow travelers. A father and son celebrating the first born flying the nest by cycling from Manali to Leh. A group of friends turning 50 together while cycling from the Bay of Bengal to the Arabian Sea. Or a 30-something couple training for a triathlon but vacationing at the same time, with the hills of Kerala’s Western Ghats ticking all the boxes. Cycling and India – it’s a magic combo.

Read more in our India cycling vacations travel guide for more details.

Is an India cycling vacation for you?

Responsible Travel recommends

Go on a cycling vacation in India if...

… you want to experience ‘real’ India. Less Taj and temples, more mountains and remote monasteries.
… you enjoy the company of an expert, local guide. Not all cycling vacations are guided, but good ones take you, and your vacation, to another level.
… you want to experience the Himalayas, but don’t think of yourself as a trekker.
… you are open to the unpredictable. From a flat tyre to an eagle swooping past, or a bus full of kids laughing at you hysterically.

Don’t go on a cycling vacation in India if…

… you don’t have some level of fitness. Talk this through with your tour operator as these guys know their gradients.
… you like a lie in every day. Early starts are important to avoid the hottest part of the day in places like Rajasthan. But you’ll get to see the sun come up over mountains, or hear the Buddhists chanting at dawn.
… you love freedom, but being sociable isn’t a strong point. Many India cycling trips include homestays, camping and plenty of hanging out as a group.
… the word ‘chafing’ upsets you.

Best time to go on an Indian cycling vacation


Click on a location: Kerala | Rajasthan
For cycling in Kerala, avoid the Jun-Aug monsoon. Kerala is busy around Christmas, but cycling takes you well off the beaten track and up into the Ghat Mountains, for example. In Rajasthan, the best times are Oct-Mar as days are sunny, not too humid, with cooler nights. It’s too hot after that and then monsoon comes Jul-Sep. For the Manali to Leh route, trips tend to go in Jun-Aug as it’s too cold after that and roads can be impassable. This is high altitude desert, so be prepared for 30°C plus during the day, but it can be freezing at night. And it can be windy up there too. Read trip notes carefully.
Photo credits: [Topbox: Bill Bourne] [Temp chart: Magentic Manifestations] [Helpdesk: Bryce Edwards]
Written by Catherine Mack
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