Hampi, perhaps the most amazing place in all of India…

Packed to bursting with rock-cut temples, towering piles of boulders, buzzing backpacker enclaves and fascinating history, non-pushy Hampi has everything you need to have a truly fantastic time.

I first visited this place nearly ten years ago, when I was nineteen, and I’ve been coming back ever since. Throughout my two years of travel in India, Hampi has always been my favourite place to rest up, recharge and get blazed in Southern India.

Conveniently, it’s easily accessible from both Goa and Bangalore and every year more and more backpackers come to place to soak in the chilled vibes, explore the rock-cut temples, hit up the world-class bouldering and partying under the stars.

Backpacking in Hampi has well and truly caught on. When I first travelled there, there was hardly anybody there. Hampi had just about made it into the Lonely Planet and was still a couple of years of being fully developed. it was, in short, a backpackers paradise.

These days, Hampi has experienced wave after wave of development and the entire backpacker scene has been pushed to the far side of the river. Hampi’s fate has been uncertain for years as greedy Indian politicians attempt to steal land and cash in on the influx of tourists but luckily the backpacker scene has remained somewhat untouched, simply retreating further and further from developments on the ‘not so cool’ side of the river.

Historically, Hampi was the capital of the Vijayanagara Empire, a vastly powerful Hindu empire bought suddenly to its knees by a confederation of Muslim Kings. Hampi was ransacked following the Empire’s defeat and the many extravagant temples, carved from the huge piles of gargantuan boulders littering the land, were abandoned to the forces of nature.

a man sits on top of a rock by the river in hampi, india
A truly magical place.
Photo: @monteiro.online

Hampi has an air of lost glory and yet many of the temples and rock carvings, depicting beauties and beasts, gods and demons, are still in excellent condition.

Even if you have only the faintest interest in Indian history, travelling to this village offers a fantastic opportunity to soak in a sight of real historical importance.

Related: Epic, In-depth India Travel Guide

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Top Things to Do in Hampi

Hampi is jam-packed with truly incredible sites and you could easily spend a week or more travelling around this village and only manage to see half of them. Hire a moped (150RS a day) and explore away. A few of my favourite places to visit are…

1. Visit the Virupaksha Temple

This is the oldest temple in Hampi. Virupaksha means ‘the one with the oblique eye’. Lord Shiva who is said to have three eyes is the principle deity of this temple.

This temple also has the iconic broken rock chariot. I would suggest wake up early and visit the temple so you can walk or cycle back through the Hampi village and soak in the early morning rural feel of the place. You could also sit in on one of the ceremonies at the temple.

Backpacking Hampi travel guide
The iconic stone chariot.

2. Explore the Anjaneya Temple/ Monkey Temple

Hampi has special importance for the worshippers of Hanuman (the monkey God), as mythical Kishkinda (the monkey kingdom) in the Indian epic Ramayana, was located here. You can see plenty of colourful carvings of Hanuman all around the site. The vibe of the temple is crazy!

3. Chill at the Lotus Mahal

This is a pleasant deviation from the typical architecture you see in Hampi. Shaped like a lotus, this was where the women folk of the royal family chilled.

4. Swim at the Dam

Though there are signs hung all around the Hampi dam warning tourists of the crocodiles in the water, there are actually none. But just to be safe it’s better to ask the locals before you dive in.

You can go for a nice peaceful swim in the dam, the water is beautiful and clear. You could also go for a coracle ride. Coracles are flimsy, round boats found in river-dwelling communities across India. Make sure to ask the coracle guy to point out nice spots for a swim and for cliff jumping.

backpacking Hampi travel guide
Go for a fun coracle ride!
Photo: Monkey Inc

5. Check out the Elephant stables

This is one of the few well preserved structures in Hampi. The Elephant Stable is a major tourist attraction so expect a ton of camera-happy tourists to be milling around.

The row of chambers was used to house the royal elephants that were used for royal processions back in the day. The stables are huge and well worth exploring…

6. Watch the sunset at the hilltop

It’s impossible NOT to catch an epic sunset when you are in Hampi. Every day on the top of the ‘Sunset Hill’, backpackers get together to catch the sunset and play some chill tunes on their guitars and didgeridoos. More often than not local children who sell tea at the spot join them and sing along.

It’s a really beautiful experience. If you want something a bit more peaceful, simply stake out a spot on one of Hampi’s many boulders and enjoy the sunset by yourself.

a man watches the sunset alone at the top of a hill in hampi, india
Nothing wrong with a little bit of me time.
Photo: @monteiro.online

Where to Stay in Hampi

Find out where to stay in Hampi using our comprehensive insider’s guide!

Between Airbnb, Couchsurfing, and hostels, there are plenty of accommodation options in Hampi!

Actually, finding hostels in Hampi is a bit challenging, but this is India! With how dirt cheap everything is, this is a great opportunity to avoid hostels and get a nice comfy bed and room to yourself!

Best Places to Stay in Hampi

Sangapur Hampi


If you want to see this gorgeous area without having to break the bank, the best place to stay is Sanagpur! On the north wide of the Tungabhadra River, you can relax in the rural landscape whilst still being close to the main area of Hampi.

Kamalapur Hampi


This is the nest neighbourhood near Hampi if you’re travelling with the family- big or small! whether you’re into wildlife or just fancy getting out and seeing the sights, there’s so much on offer here.

Alternatives to Backpacker Hostels in Hampi

Most of the budget friendly accommodation is on the far side of the river, it costs 20RS to cross the river by boat (boats run till 6pm), and a few of my favourites on either side of the river are in the table below.

Camping in Hampi

Hampi has plenty of great accommodation options but if you’re feeling adventurous, it is also a great place to camp at. One great spot, among plenty of others, is Matunga hill.

Here you can set up shop with absolutely no problem. It is a great spot for sunset but an even better spot for sunrise! Do check around with the locals before you camp in other places since there are a few sites that are off limits on account of being temple property.

If you’d rather hang your hammock over pitching a tent, invest in a good camping hammock for your travels!

Camping in Hampi
Photo: Vaibhav Joshi (Flickr)

Hampi Travel Tips

Below I have highlighted a few Hampi travel tips, like how to get to Hampi, and a bit about the bouldering scene in Hampi!

Books to read on Hampi

Hampi: Discover the Splendours of Vijayanagar – As you know, Hampi is one of the greatest heritage sites in India. There is an exquisite collection of monuments that lie scattered across this alluring place. This book is a great insight into the history of this village.

Golden Boulders – A great climbing guidebook for Hampi. Bouldering enthusiasts might find this book helpful.

Love and Death in the Middle Kingdom – The story of forbidden love between a sixteenth-century Vijayanagara courtier and a Persian traveller, this book is an intriguing insight into the taboos and beliefs of ancient India.

Berlitz: India Pocket Guide – Discover the ancient sites of Hampi and other heritage sites in India through this great guide.

Here are some more amazing books to read during your Hampi backpacking trip.

Top Budget Tips for Broke Backpackers in Hampi

To keep your spending to an absolute minimum whilst traveling in Hampi and India I recommend sticking to these basic rules of budget adventuring….

Camp: With plenty of gorgeous natural places to camp, India is an excellent place to take a tent. Check out this post for a breakdown of the best tents to take backpacking.

Cook your own food: I took a small gas cooker with me to India and cooked a lot of my own meals whilst hitching and camping, I saved a fortune (even though the food is already super cheap!) – check out this post for info on the best backpacking stoves.

Haggle: Haggle as much as you can. You can always get a better price for things especially while in local markets.

Volunteer: If done properly, volunteering is an excellent way to cut down your costs on the road. I strongly recommend Workaway – you pay just $29 for the year and then have access to literally thousands of projects all around the world where you can help out in exchange for food and board.

Pack a travel water bottle: save money (and the planet) every day! Stop buying bottled water!

Why You Should Travel to Hampi with a Water Bottle

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You aren’t going to save the world overnight, but you might as well be part of the solution and not the problem. When you travel to some of the world’s most remote places, you come to realise the full extent of the plastic problem. And I hope you become more inspired to continue being a responsible traveller.


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Get insured

Traveling without insurance would be risky (especially if you are going to be bouldering in Hampi) so do consider getting good backpacker insurance sorted before you head off on an adventure.

ALWAYS sort out your backpacker insurance before your trip. There’s plenty to choose from in that department, but a good place to start is Safety Wing.

They offer month-to-month payments, no lock-in contracts, and require absolutely no itineraries: that’s the exact kind of insurance long-term travellers and digital nomads need.

SafetyWing is cheap, easy, and admin-free: just sign up lickety-split so you can get back to it!

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What to Pack for Hampi

On every adventure, there are six things I never go traveling without:

Somewhere to hide your cash
Pacsafe belt
Somewhere to hide your cash

Travel Security Belt

This is a regular looking belt with a concealed pocket on the inside – you can hide up to twenty notes inside and wear it through airport scanners without it setting them off.

For those unexpected messes
For those unexpected messes

Microfiber Towel

Hostel towels are scummy and take forever to dry. Microfibre towels dry quickly, are compact, lightweight, and can be used as a blanket or yoga mat if need be.

When the power goes out
Gifts for backpackers
When the power goes out

Petzl Actik Core Headlamp

A decent head torch could save your life. If you want to explore caves, unlit temples, or simply find your way to the bathroom during a blackout, a headtorch is a must.

A way to make friends!
A way to make friends!

‘Monopoly Deal’

Forget about Poker! Monopoly Deal is the single best travel card game that we have ever played. Works with 2-5 players and guarantees happy days.

Keep your laundry organized and stink free
Keep your laundry organized and stink free

Hanging Laundry Bag

Trust us, this is an absolute game changer. Super compact, a hanging mesh laundry bag stops your dirty clothes from stinking, you don’t know how much you need one of these… so just get it, thank us later.

For plenty more inspiration on what to pack, check out my full backpacking packing list.

Hampi Travel Guide to Getting Around

Hospet is the nearest railhead and there are trains from both Goa and Bangalore. From Hospet, it’s a mere thirty minute tuk tuk journey to get here, you then need to cross the river and find a backpacker friendly place to crash. You can catch a bus from Gokarna all the way to Hampi itself.

Stay in Hampi for Free

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Bouldering in Hampi

Hampi used to be a bouldering mecca only for those in the know but not anymore. Hampi has exploded in popularity amongst climbers and many travel to India specifically to check out Hampi. Make sure to take an experienced climber with you if you are new to this since Hampi rocks can be pretty tricky.

November and December is the best time of the year for bouldering in Hampi. It’s better to avoid the rainy season. Make sure you have the right gear before you venture out. You can usually hire bouldering mats from your guesthouse and go climbing on the amazing piles of rocks littering the area.

lying down on a mat after a session of bouldering in hampi, india
“Let’s meet at 7AM and go climb.”
Photo: @monteiro.online

Marijuana in Hampi

Hampi is pretty famous for its blazed backpackers enjoying the cheap and plentiful weed that seems to be pretty much everywhere in Hampi. It’s easy to find, just avoid smoking in the main town or you may find yourself having to pay a bribe.

So there you have it, folks, my Hampi Travel Guide! Let me know in the comments if I missed anything or if you have any questions! Cheers!

Being a Responsible Backpacker in India

Reduce your plastic footprint: Perhaps the best thing you can do for our planet is to make sure you do NOT add to the plastic problem all over the world. Don’t buy one-use water bottles, the plastic ends up in landfill or in the ocean. Instead, pack a tough travel water bottle.

Go and watch A Plastic Ocean on Netflix – it’ll change how you view the plastic problem in the world; you need to understand what we are up against. If you think it doesn’t matter, get off my fucking site.

Don’t pick up single use plastic bags, you’re a backpacker – take your daypack if you need to go to the shop or run errands.

Bear in mind, that many animal products in countries you travel through will not be ethically farmed and won’t be of the highest quality. I’m a carnivore but when I’m on the road, I only eat chicken. Mass-farming of cows etc leads to the rainforest being cut down – which is obviously a huge problem.

Need more guidance? – Check out our post on how to be a responsible backpacker.

Backpacking Hampi and India at large can be one hell of a crazy party at times. Take it from me, it can be easy to get carried away. It is important to keep in mind that you are an ambassador for your country, which is awesome. We can make a positive impact on people when we travel and get rid of any ugly stereotypes that may be associated with your country.

If you visit indigenous villages or small communities in the rural areas always ask before taking photos. The people who live in these villages are not exhibits in a museum. They are normal folks just living their lives.  Always show them the complete respect that they deserve.

When buying a local craft, do not haggle so low that the price is unfair to the person who spent countless hours crafting it. Pay people what they are worth and contribute to the local economies as much as possible.

I know it can be hard, but do your best to use the least amount of plastic water bottles that you can. Refill the ones that you do buy! Use a Grayl Geopress. Refill at your hostel! There are plenty of ways to reduce plastic!!!

Backpacking India or any region for that matter often illuminates some of the great socio-economic inequalities of the world. Never take it for granted that you are healthy and financially able to go traveling. Show the world around you some gratitude and help to make a positive impact on it. Most of all have the time of your life and spread the love!

And for transparency’s sake, please know that some of the links in our content are affiliate links. That means that if you book your accommodation, buy your gear, or sort your insurance through our link, we earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you). That said, we only link to the gear we trust and never recommend services we don’t believe are up to scratch. Again, thank you!