what to do in india with kids


Rishikesh is one of the best known places in India. It’s hard to miss when travelling in India with kids and families from all over the world go there.

She’s a pleasant and quiet city. For India, that is. I personally really liked the atmosphere at the city itself. It might be packed with people but it has something that makes it much more calm than other Indian cities.

It’s likely you won’t actually stay in the city itself but near the Ganga River in one of the touristic neighborhoods- Laxmanjhula or Ramjhula. They say that Laxmanjhula is the quieter. They’re wrong. It’s more touristic in nature, bigger and noisier and full of Israelis. Ramjhula is laidback, more ‘spiritual’ and has mostly European tourist.

If you go a bit further from the bunk you can find sweet, clean rooms with a kitchen and a garden. You can even find a guesthouse where you can rent a whole apartment with a kitchen and a living-room and everything.

∴ In Rishikesh we met the nicest Cows in India. They’re friendly and enjoy being petted and we really knew some of them personally.

People mostly come to Rishilesh for the courses on offer there- yoga and spirituality and Ashrams plenty. With kids it’s a bit different but plenty of courses let kids in for free.

If its your first time in India, look at the food and drinks safety rules page.

In my opinion, the biggest attraction Rishikesh holds is the Ganga. Soft white sandy beaches and cold water. You can swim every day and pass a month without even feeling it…

♦ And of course the Puja ceremonies that are done in all different ways both right on the Ganga and in temples. Within a week the kids turn to experts.

♦ And the Monkeys! Two kinds rule Rishikesh, and especially the bridges, with an iron fist. The yellow monkeys, wild, full of mischief and pretty aggressive. And the grey-black Monkeys that are very friendly and much less aggressive. So as long as you aren’t holding food in your hand you’ll be fine.

♦ I found the guesthouses in the tourist centers to be run-down and for the most part more dirty than guesthouses in other parts in India. That doesn’t mean you can’t find something good or newly opened. The prices, by the way, are very low. If they tell you there’s hot water 24/7 take it with a pinch of salt.

♦ The food in the local restaurants is spicy and thickly seasoned. The Chai is excellent. The restaurants that serve western food are good but the prices are above average. They have great shakes (even Oreo shake) and cold coffee. And Chocolates Pralines. Yum.

see also our special route for food-loving families traveling to India

♦ There’s also a selection of Ayuverdic restaurants and lodges.

♦ As well as a great selection of organic products and supermarkets, that even sell some home-made healthy and all-natural, vegan foods.

♦ Many go to the waterfalls around. I didn’t go but my son did and he says they’re really nice. it’s a nice hike just out side the urban area.

♦ There’s also a Waterpark nearby. They say it’s also very nice. and a Bungy jumping site.

we also have a full list of activities specifically for crazy, Adrenalin seeking families :-). 

♦ In general you can say that Rishikesh is a real touristic marvel. It has all the luxuries and comforts you need. But it takes time to get used to it. Don’t run away too quickly, give it the time it needs to charm you.

♦ From Rishikesh leave a few beautiful treks. Check with a travel agency.

♦ There’s also wonderful rafting trips in the season.

♦ If you rent a scooter you’ll be a lot more mobile and could jump for visits in nearby villages and rivers.

♦ You could also visit the city daily and go to one of the true pearls of the area- Papu Lassi. Cold, sweet, and delicious. Entirely addictive. In addition, in the city there are a few restaurants that pride themselves in a beautiful and very tasty collection of traditional Indian sweets.

♦ It’s also recommended to visit the colorful fruits and vegetables market.

♦ And to go to the cinema at least once. We’re talking about a real India Cinema, where the crowd is an active participant in the movie and kids with trays of Chai and snacks go between the rows selling throughout the entire movie. A highly enjoyable experience.

♦ As a city located near the Ganga, the sale of meat, Alcohol and Eggs is banned (in the inner burrows of the city you could find all these things if you’re really persistent). To fill up the protein needs eat lots of legumes. It’s recommended to use the Chole stands (cooked Chickpeas, served with spiced vegetables, Salt and Lemon) in the area. 10 Rupees per plate.

♦ In Ramjhula there is a small restaurant called ‘The Office’. It serves very good Chai but its crowning glory are the famous dessert Samosas filled with Cinnamon Apple or Banana and Chocolate. Don’t miss!

Warning: dear girls. Never walk in Rishikesh alone after dark. The streets look safe and innocent but a few very violent cases have happened. Don’t walk alone and definitely not with a revealing outfit.
Please: the Ganga is an extremely holy place to the Indians. Respect that. Don’t swim in a Bikini and keep to the respectful guidelines of the place.

Here is a nice family-friendly route in south India

Prices for example:
A decent room– 350-500 Rupees a night.
Papu Lassi– 20 Rupees.
Thali– 50-80 Rupees.
Scooter per day– 250 Rupees.
Rickshaw bus to the city– 5 Rupees per person (and don’t let them fool you!), kids go for free.
Chai– 10-20 Rupees.
Cold Coffee– 50 Rupees.

*** 7 years of continuous travel with my kids are gathered into my ebook. you are welcome to download and join me.

They say that the first person to come here was a yogi with his four wives. Or maybe forty, I am not so sure. Anyway, the feminine energy in that place is hard to ignore. that little village is doubtlessly surrounded by a powerful feminine vail.

And maybe that’s why I fell in love with it. After you leave noisy, smoke filled Manali, and take the rickshaw all the way up, to where there’s no vehicle entry, you can finally breath freely. The temple courtyard is the heart of the village welcomes you into a delightful mix of orange robed Babas, pampered Indian tourists and wild local kids. 

It looks like beyond that there isn’t much to do here. Looks like. A million times I saw young backpackers asking each other ‘what, that’s everything?’ most only come here for half a day. A rare few stay a few nights. And we stayed here three months.

So the truth is there isn’t much to do here. But your day is made of such a high life quality, so rich, that it’s hard to leave. 

The hot springs and the temple within are the reasons everyone comes here. And honestly, they’re they cultural, social, and spiritual heart of the village. Every day the women meet to wash, do laundry, gossip. It’s hard to describe the deep meaning that little washing rooms, that at first sight look lame, but when you take off the western glasses and loosen up a bit, you discover an amazingly fascinating world 

We go in. hang the bag and take a towel, bucket and soaps. Take off our clothes (everything but the underpants) and hang them on the wall. We go slowly down the stairs, staying a bit on each step, let my body get used to the heat of the water. The girls are already in, just like the local girls that treat it like the community swimming pool. 

My whole body in the water. I let my hair fall, soak all of me inside Sulphur smelling nature water. Ten nice, quiet, relaxing minutes. Afterwards I come out, sit on the edge of the pool with the other women, cooling down. The village women pull out the laundry soap and start rubbing the clothes on the floor. Laughing, soaping each other, scrubbing well. Rub their bodies in oil.

Afterwards I go in again. This time it’s easy to get used to the heat. Go out and move to the taps. Sit down on the floor, with the bucket and soaps, wash my hair, put a mask on my face. Just like a spa. Next to me is sitting a very old Indian woman. She doesn’t speak English but turn to me with a smile, soap in hand, and asks me to help her wash her back. Roni, my older daughter, sits next to her and washes her back. It feels like the most natural thing in the world.

By the way, those waters serve the village for almost everything. You can see them doing laundry in the taps outside the temple, washing dishes, clean their shoes. Sometimes they just fill a bucket or two and go back home.

The girls leave the washing rooms and enter the small temple. They already know everyone, they do Puja and get a Tika and a few sweets. Explain to the Indian tourists that they can’t take pictures, ring the bell and go help the guy that watches the shoes.

On full moon nights there are parties and dancing and they really enjoy it.

In Vashisht there are loads on guesthouses of all kinds and the prices are comfortable. There are nice restaurants, and we enjoy various cuisines. Sometimes Indian, sometimes Italian, sometimes Sushi :-).

There’s no entry for vehicles. It’s all small alleys the cows barely fit through, and lots of stairs. It’s very easy for me to allow the kids to wander alone, go visit friends, go to the court to play, or swim in the hot springs, it’s a very small village, everyone knows everyone and so everyone already knows them. They feel safe and enjoy meeting nice people almost every day. When Roni was doing a school project on Babas she simply walked in the street and asked her Baba friends all the questions she had.

In 10am the girls go to a laughing yoga lesson. Afterwards we sometimes go to the big waterfall (half an hour walk most of it in a magical forest), sometimes to the small waterfall, ten minutes’ walk in woods dotted with beautiful village houses. We dip in the cold water and sun bathe on the rocks. 

After that me and the girls go the hot springs. It’s a daily ceremony we try not to miss.

In the three months we lived here we celebrated two weddings. One that took 5 days and another humbler one, only three days, three days and three nights of music and trumpets and plenty of food. Fireworks that light up the sky and dancing in the streets.

And also one funeral. All the shops were closed for a whole day and all the men in the village, old and young, suddenly became bold. We felt the mourning everywhere and that’s how we understood that this village may be a tourist destination like many others, but below the outer shell of guesthouses and Sushi bars, there is still a beautiful village authenticity in every sense of the word.

watch the girls talk about their experience here.

Many families that come to north India prefer to stay away from the hustle and bustle of Manalil and old Manali and instead locate in Vashisht. And with good reasons.
  • In Vashisht there’s no entry to any motorized vehicle. So it’s much easier and safer to walk with the kids in the narrow alleys.
  • Everything in Vahsihst is cheaper than neighboring Manali, and the quality is the same.
  • The view is better. In almost every guest house you can find a nice big room with a balcony in the mountains direction.
  • The hot springs are a daily pleasure for the whole family.
  • Near the village, a walking distance away, there are a few waterfalls and natural pools. A good way to spend a day. Or at least half a day.
  • Lessons in yoga, music, juggling, and dancing. Kids are very welcome and usually don’t pay.
  • Everything is close to home. Grocery stores, internet, restaurants and cafes offering a wide range of foods, and the rickshaw stop. The Ayurveda clinic is of the communal sort and doesn’t require payment (even for the medicines).
  • The village is small and within a few days everyone will know the kids and will be happy to play, walk, or host them.
prices and costs in vashisht for example:

Natural fruit juice, mixed fruit juice or shake: 40 rupees

Local thali: 80-100 rupees

Average room: 500 rupees

Internet: 50 rupees an hour

Hot spring, waterfalls, crazy view free !