Solo trip to Pondicherry – itinerary, booking details, and things to do!
Hey Guys! I recently went on a Solo trip to Pondicherry, Tamil Nadu and it was a breeze because of all the prior planning I did! When traveling solo it is crucial to have a basic outline of places you want to visit and things you want to cover to be able to have a fruitful trip and make the most of the place!
Pondicherry is a city in Tamil Nadu India, known for French influence and architecture. A major part of town was a French settlement before Independence. This part, is called White town and is located on the periphery of Rock Beach. It is imperative, you look for a place to stay within White Town when you visit because this is the most beautiful place to stay. The entire area in an array of perpendicular and parallel roads, with French names for streets. The buildings within the array are either coloured bright yellow, orange, red or white with a distinct French appearance. Like this picture below, taken in the French Quarters of Pondicherry.
Since I was traveling solo, I tried my best to reduce the cost of the trip overall. So here is a detail of how I planned the trip, things I did and how I had an overall enjoyable experience.
How to reach Pondicherry (for the Frugal soul)!
Getting to Pondicherry is easy! Take a flight to Chennai (MAA) from any major airport closest to where you are located.
The best way to reach Pondicherry from Chennai on a budget is by taking a PRTC bus. It’s affordable, comfortable and one of the best bus services in the area. To book your ticket follow the link here. Alternately, you can even take a cab if you would like to stop on the way.
The PRTC bus starts from Koyembedu bus stand (CMBT). Take a metro from the airport to reach the CMBT bus station. The metro ride costs ₹45.00 form the airport as opposed to ₹400.00 by auto.
The bus halts at Pondicherry bus stop and takes roughly 4 hours.
Where did I stay and how I booked?
During the time of my visit, most places to stay were booked out because it was holiday season. I stayed at a place called Nila Homestay (Read trip Advisor review here) booked on AirBnb. Alternately, you can also book it on TripAdvisor. This homestay is in the cutest part of town and so close to the beach, it's unbelievable. It is just a 3 mins walk away! Also, it is both affordable, yet chic. It was perfect because I was traveling solo. If you are traveling in a bigger group, also check for availability of Le Mirage. They have amazing interiors, uber comfortable rooms, each done up in personalized way.
Depending on availability and time of year, search for places to stay near Rock Beach, in the heart of White Town, to enjoy a good overall experience.
Places to Visit:
Auroville: Auroville is a major tourist attraction near Pondicherry, accessible by scooty, rickshaw or shared conveyance. It takes roughly 35 mins to reach Auroville from Pondicherry via East-Coast road (Navigate on google maps). The vision of the creators of Auroville is – “Auroville wants to be a universal town where men and women of all countries are able to live in peace and progressive harmony above all creeds, all politics and all nationalities. The purpose of Auroville is to realise human unity.” It is an interesting place to visit. But the best part about visiting Auroville is entering the inner chambers of the Matri Mandir. To go inside, you must book 1-3 days in advance depending on availability, as per committee rules. However, it’s a must visit!
Serenity Beach: For the amazing waves and swim experience. This beach is a must visit! Also, you can try surfing here. For more details, read my article here. There are also some cute cafes in the area that I ate at. Images below:
Chunnambar Boat house: For reaching a nearby Beach on an island (Paradise Beach) visit Chunnambar Boat house. Tickets cost roughly ₹210 for a boat ride that takes you across to an island. The island beach is one of the most peaceful places in Pondicherry for the surprisingly less amount of people that visit it. Also, the added charm of reaching it via a boat! The beach is pristine and surrounded by blue waters. But mind you, the boat service tickets are only available till 3 pm on busy days and 5 pm for rest of the days. Ideal time to visit is morning time. Ticket counter opens at 9 am!
Activities and other information:
The number one activity that I would recommend at Pondicherry is SURFING. There are two surf schools on Serenity Beach. Kallialay Surf School and Mother Ocean Surf School. I booked a surf lesson with Mother Ocean Surf School for early morning. The best part about Mother Ocean Surf School is the owner. Shankar, a surfer who has been riding the waves in Pondicherry for 16 years now, has recently opened his place. His hospitality and service are out of the world. Also in his words, when he talked of his passion for surfing and his new lodgings on Serenity beach - he said “I don’t desire money, I just have to open the door of my house each morning and see the beach, and it's enough”. Read more about my surfing experience here.
Cycle tour at Sita Cultural Centre: At Sita Cultural Centre, you can book yourself a day or evening tour by cycle of the French Quarters of Pondicherry! If you are interested, book yourself a day tour preferable early in the morning to enjoy a morning soaked with adventure, thrill and culture.
Contact: +91 413 420 0718 for more information
Rent a scooty: To rent a scooty in Pondicherry, visit Mission Street. There are various shops that offer both scooty and bicycle on rent. I rented a scooty from Ganesh Two-wheeler! All you need is your id card, and an advanced payment (No security deposit needed)!
Some of the best restaurants:
Have Breakfast at Le Cafe on Rock Beach. It has some okay-ish food. But the advantage is eating to the best sunrise in Pondicherry if you wake up and hit the beach early.
Woodfired Pizza at Café Xtasi is almost a must. The best part is, that you can see their pizza in making at their open kitchen.
French Cuisine at one of Umami, Satsang, Café A La Villa Creole.
On your way to Auroville, do not miss the pizza at Café Tonto. It’s again a must have. One of the best pizzas I’ve ever tasted. I don't have any images though!
Theevu Plage at Serenity beach is one of the best dine in options for French cuisine at Serenity beach. Also it has the added benefit of an amazing view of the sea! Do give it a try, and order their "Fresh catch of the day - specials"
GMT ice cream parlor on Rock Beach. It is one of the oldest places in Rock beach and sells the best ice cream at the most affordable prices. This Coffee flavoured ice cream that I ordered was just ₹50! Also, this is a great way to enjoy the ocean waves lapping against the shore. Eat ice cream, you must! :)
Things you must do!
Buy handicraft at Auro Boutique, Pondicherry (at half the rate at which it is available in Auroville)
Eat lots of Sea Food (well of course!)
Try French cuisine
Eat woodfired Pizza at Café Xtasi
Drink lots of Fresh Coconut water
Cycle around the city in White Town
Catch sunrise at Rock Beach (The beaches are east facing, sun rises from the waters)
That's all for this time. Do share the article if you like it! And let me know in comments what you think? Feel free to share your Pondicherry experiences below in comments for other travelers! I promise I won't spam your inbox. Haha!
Until next time! ;)