Currency & Spending Money (India)

In India, the local currency is known as the ‘rupee’ and is written as INR or Rs. It is divided into coins called paise, where Rs1 = 100 paise. Rupee notes are available in denominations from Rs5 to Rs1000 but the Rs500 note is the highest note commonly available. 

Here is a reference table of approximate exchange rate (for up-to-date exchange rates, please check before you travel):

1 Unit of currency Indian Rupee (INR)
AU$1 54.67
NZ$1 50.85
US$1 83.38

Correct as of December 2023

We recommend that you have access to more than one source of money – bringing a combination of cash and a credit/debit card will give the most security and flexibility while travelling.

Exchanging money

While it is possible to obtain Indian rupees in Australia; it is technically illegal to import and export the currency to and from India. We recommend that you exchange your money on arrival in the airport or at a reputable bank (your guide can help you to do this). If you wish to take rupees into and out of India, you do so at your own risk.

Plan ahead

Be prepared with enough cash in hand for the next few days. Once you have started your tour, you will quickly get a sense of how often or how much you need to exchange money. Try not to leave this to the last minute: exchange desks can close, ATMs can run out of cash and your group could be scheduled to leave your hotel at 7am tomorrow morning!

Spending money

We recommend you take some local currency, where possible, for the country you are visiting as well as US Dollars. We also recommend taking a debit and/or credit card. Please ensure you have sufficient funds to pay for personal expenses such as drinks, snacks, souvenirs, additional tipping and optional extras. On an average two week tour, we would recommend approximately $500-1,000 per person spending money, depending on your needs.

Please ensure that you organise your spending money before you leave a major town and take enough cash in local currency or USD to exchange or spend during your stay.

The cost of food and drinks in India can vary depending on where you are and what you are looking for. Here are some rough estimates of the cost of common food and drink items in India:

  • Samosas: around 10 to 20 INR (0.17 to 0.35 AUD) per piece
  • Dosa or Chaat: around 50 to 100 INR (0.87 to 1.73 AUD) per plate
  • Chai (tea): around 10 to 20 INR (0.17 to 0.35 AUD) per cup
  • Lassi: around 50 to 100 INR (0.87 to 1.73 AUD) per glass
  • Meal at a local restaurant: around 100 to 200 INR (1.70 to 3.50 AUD)
  • Meal at a mid-range restaurant: around 400 to 800 INR (6.90 to 13.80 AUD)
  • Meal at a high-end restaurant: around 1,500 to 3,000 INR (25.90 to 51.90 AUD)
  • Cup of coffee at a coffee shop (e.g., Starbucks): around 100 to 200 INR (1.70 to 3.50 AUD)
  • Bottle of water (500ml): around 15 to 20 INR (0.25 to 0.35 AUD)
  • Bottle of beer at a local bar or restaurant: around 150 to 300 INR (2.60 to 5.20 AUD)

It's important to note that prices can vary depending on the location and type of establishment. In general, eating at a local restaurant or street vendor will be more affordable than dining at a higher-end restaurant or café. Whilst inexpensive, it is important to check that street food is prepared in hygienic conditions.

Keep some of your exchange receipts

You can convert any unused notes at the international airport exchange desks when you depart. You will need to present your passport, airline ticket and some receipts of the money exchanged/withdrawn in India.

Counterfeit cash

This is a problem in India and Sri Lanka so shop owners and clerks at banks or exchange desks are very cautious and can refuse to accept notes in bad condition. It is a good idea to stand at the desk to count and check the condition of each note. Do not accept any notes which are torn, very faded, a different shade, have ink stamps or any writing on them. If you accept the notes and sign the exchange receipt, then notice a problem, you will not be able to exchange them.

Credit/debit card

Taking one credit/debit card is recommended in case of emergency and may be used for large purchases in most of your hotels, department stores and souvenir stores. The most widely accepted credit cards include Visa, MasterCard and American Express. However, please do not rely on a credit/ debit card as your only source of spending money and keep a photocopy of your card(s).


ATMs are available, but can be difficult to find in some areas. We do not recommend you rely on this service because ATMs can be unreliable, and overseas withdrawal fees for credit and debit accounts can be very high (we recommend checking your bank’s fees before departure).

Remote areas

Banking facilities are very basic and you will need to plan ahead with more care. ATMs in remote areas or rural regions are unreliable and should not be used as a source of money. Few hotels, restaurants or shops are able to take credit/ debit cards and Australian/New Zealand currency is not well recognised.