Travelling to Rishikesh is manageable independently and quite safe too. Assuming you are flying in to India via Delhi, you have 4 options:
- Rishikesh by flight - fly from Delhi to Jolly Grant Aiport in Dehradhun (most comfortable)
- taking a taxi/private car (door-to-door service)
- taking a bus to Rishikesh bus station (cheap but least comfortable)
- taking a train to Haridwar train station (cheap and a highly recommended experience for 'new-comers' to India)
Rishikesh By flight:
This may not be the fastest option but it is probably the more comfortable one. There are several daily flights via various local budget airlines as well as Air India. The nearest airport to Rishikesh is the Jolly Grant Airport in Dehradhun which is a city about 45 minutes away by car. Tickets can be quite cheap if you book early (starting around 2500INR, 2020 prices). From the Dehradhun airport, you will need to make taxi arrangements with your hotel to be picked up or get one from the stand at the airport. It will costs around 1000INR. At the time of writing, there are no other public transportation options at the airport. Some websites have mentioned autorickshaws and buses, but these options require that you walk some distance away from the airport.
How to get to the Delhi airport?
Your options will depend on whether you choose to stay longer in Delhi before going to Rishikesh. If you plan to only pass through, then a better option is to pick one of the hotels near the Delhi airport, arrange for a pick-up from the airport from the hotel and a taxi back to the airport for your flight the next day. The easiest would be if you can manage the connecting flights within the same day and not leave the airport at all but most international flights tend to arrive quite late in the evening.
If you choose to stay in the city areas of Delhi first, the easiest and most comfortable option to get to the airport is to book a taxi with your hotel. Bear in mind that there might be heavy traffic during certain times of the day.
The cheapest and fastest way to get to the airport from town is to get onto the Delhi Airport Express. It takes only about 30 minutes and cost about 60INR. They run regularly from the early hours till late at night and are not overcrowded (at least enough standing room during peak hours). The popular Parhaganj area is also near one of the stations. For more information, check out the Delhi Airport Express website.
On The Train Platform In New Delhi
Outside New Delhi Train Station
Rishikesh By taxi:
Another pretty comfortable way to reach Rishikesh from Delhi is to hire a private taxi, either through your Delhi or Rishikesh hotel. Prices will vary greatly depending on the type of car, number of people travelling, time of travel, etc. This option is convenient as it is a door-to-door service. The journey takes anything from 5 - 7 hours depending on traffic. It is probably safer to travel in the day time and you get to see parts of India in daylight. Do take down the car number just in case.
Rishikesh By bus:
There are many bus companies travelling up to Rishikesh throughout the day and they depart from several points in Delhi. You can book your tickets online for these tourist buses and it is a cheap option for solo travellers. Given the many choices available and also depending on where you are in Delhi, it is difficult to recommend one, so do a Google search and check it out. Travelling by bus in India, even tourist buses, can be uncomfortable. Experiences varies but you can often expect a crowd, lots of goods on the bus and infrequent proper toilet stops (men often request the drivers to stop just anywhere for a pee, but this may not be so comfortable for women). Travelling by train is usually a more comfortable option.
The bus journey takes about 7 to 8 hours on average and it will arrive at the main Rishikesh bus station, not at the areas most tourists would go to. From the station, there are shared autorickshaws available for 30-40INR that will take you to Ram Jhula or Laxman Jhula (about 10-15 minutes away) where you will most probably be heading, and you will need to walk further to your guesthouse. Private autorickshaws are also available and these might be able to take you a little closer to your guesthouse depending on where it is (see description on the basic geography of Rishikesh). You need to bargain your fares but it should not costs more than 200INR.