Traveling across the length and breadth of India will not cost you a fortune but hitch-hiking through this country will definitely help you earn some. Exploring this diverse land through hitch-hiking gives you an opportunity to absorb all the unique culture and the colors of the nation. Through the course of time, we have hitchhiked from north to south and east to west and so far the experience has left us more in love with the land than we ever were. When we started, our major concern and the biggest question was – is it safe? So, after having all the experiences, the good and the bad, we have listed down some safest and best places to start hitchhiking in India if you are still afraid of trying it out because your friends told you it’s not safe.
1. Leh, Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir
Until we have Ladakh, every Indian adventure list will have its name on the top and we will make no exception. With all the riders and adventure seekers that Ladakh lure’s in every year, It has topped our charts for the safest destination for hitch-hiking in India. Since the place attracts a lot of solo and foreign travellers, the locals and other tourists/travellers are well versed with the notion of hitch-hiking and the possibility of getting a host is the highest. To give you more assurance, army camps are spread out throughout the entire land. Hence, you will never be too far away from help, if needed.
Waiting for a Ride somewhere in Ladakh
I have hitch-hiked throughout the entire Ladakhi region starting from Manali, going up till Nubra valley and back. I never had to wait longer than 15 minutes for a ride and the hosts varied from riders to truck drivers. I also helped two French guys hitch-hike and they could not help smiling and laughing about it throughout the journey. Drivers and riders are more than helpful to give you a ride along their way and sometimes might ask charge a negligible amount but most of the times, its entirely free.
Best time to Hitch-hike: June – mid-September
Route: Srinagar – Leh/ Manali – Leh, Leh – Nubra.
2. Spiti, Himachal Pradesh
Spiti is often referred to Ladakh’s little cousin and we cannot agree with the title enough. So, it had to be number two on the list. Much like Ladakh, it is very popular amongst travellers and has been gaining a lot of attention lately. Similar to the Manali – Leh Highway, this route too doesn’t offer regular public transport and hitchhiking is perhaps the best way. The tourism in Spiti is highest during summers so that is when we advise you to hitch a ride there as you can easily find one. The people are really generous and might even invite you to their home for a cup of tea or food and if you are extremely lucky to stay for a night or two.
Spiti will always be close to my heart as that is where I hitch-hiked for the first time. From Nako to Kaza and to places and villages I don’t even recall, it has been a beautiful memory. The first time always creates a dent that just gets deeper with every other ride.
Best time to Hitch-hike: May – October
Route: Shimla – Kaza/ Manali – Kaza
Rajasthan is the land of tradition and tales, food and folk, music and masala. No wonder tourists and travellers rush to this land to bath in its unique unified diversity. The local folk of this state is extremely warm and always on their feet to serve the guests of their land which allows a hitch-hiker to travel around freely without the risk factor. This welcoming nature can also end up within finger licking meals with your host. With hundreds of festivals like Pushkar camel fair, folk festivals and desert festivals, that make Rajasthan glitter like the jewel it is, thousands to explorers swarm in and hence, it is number three on our list.
We had a gala time hitch-hiking in the land of the Rajputs and at times slept outside dhabas, not because we were out of money, but just because our hosts were truck drivers. We spent nights under the stars, conversing with them which made us understand their lifestyle and eventually, made us respect them a lot more. Udaipur had always been one of our favorite city in Rajasthan but you can also hitch-hike to villages like Mandore, Khichan, Osiyan to get the in-depth understanding of the land.
Best time to hitchhike: November – February
Route: Jaipur – Udaipur – Jaisalmair – Jodhpur – Bikaner – Pushkar
4. Arunachal Pradesh
According to me, as a wide region, north-east India is the safest area not only for hitchhiking but otherwise too. The people are extremely helpful and will leave no stone unturned to make you feel safe. With the increasing number of festivals such as the hornbill festival, zero festival, red panda festival, and numerous more the tourism of northeastern states like Darjeeling, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim have significantly increased too.
Valleys of Arunachal Pradesh
The reason why Arunachal Pradesh is on the top five list is because the infamous yet the spectacular route i.e. Guwahati – Tawang – Itanagar – Zero. The best part about this route is that a lot of trucks pass this route which makes it easier to find a host. However, do make sure you have all the permits to travel through and across the state. Also, keep in mind to have your ID card handy as you can be stopped at any given moment but, you don’t have to worry about it as it is just a general practice in this part of the country. Along the route, you would find plenty of dhabas for you to feast on and the food is amazingly good so do not miss out. Do make it a point to start looking for a ride early in the morning as that is when most of the trucks pass. The best part about this route is the sharp bends so hold on as your driver races through the obtuse bends.
Best time to hitchhike: February – May
Route: Guwahati – Tawang – Itanagar – Zero
5. Rann of Kutch, Gujarat
Our very own kutch is known to be the worlds largest salt desert and we very humbly believe in the saying,’kutch nahi dekha, toh kuch nahi dekha.’ This journey will test you for the worse. It is mountains and a cool breeze with Lucky Ali playing in the background; it is more of a sunny, sweaty, and humid air affair. You will be passing through vast stretches of desert land and your eyes will hurt from all the brightness but then again, you are a hitch-hiker and come what way, we always find the good in the bad. The best part of this route is the small villages that fall in the way. These villages are full of locally created handcrafts that you won’t easily find elsewhere. Stop at a village, chat with some artisans, buy some authentic relics for your loved ones back home and get back on the journey. Finding a ride from Ahmedabad is easy but you might have to change a few rides before finally reaching your destination.
We planned on doing a cycling trip from Ahmedabad to Rann of Kutch. In the middle, however, we got tired of the blazing sun overhead and switched to hitch-hiking instead. No matter what happens, hitch-hiking always has your back.
Best time to hitchhike: November – February (Do spend a night at the white desert under the full moon. It is way more exhilarating than anything that could be described in words)
Route: Ahmedabad – Bhuj – Rann of Kutch