A variety of holiday destinations within your reach? That's what TripAdvisor's TripIndex offers

Swap an evening in Delhi for one in Cape Town. According to travel site TripAdvisor's latest TripIndex, you will spend the same amount of money in both cities anyway (approximately Rs. 12,800). Similarly, trade Chennai for Macau. Or Kolkata for Warsaw.

TripAdvisor has just announced the second edition of its annual TripIndex. Aimed at helping travellers find destinations that match their budgets, this travel planning tool offers a price index, comparing the cost of a night out for two people in 48 destinations. Tracking current prices in each city, it helps people create realistic budgets for upcoming holidays.

At a press conference to announce this year's TripIndex findings, Nikhil Ganju, country manager of TripAdvisor, explained how it was created, calculating how much a typical night out — martinis and dinner for two, a taxi ride and one night at a four star hotel — will cost in each city. This year London, just ahead of the Olympics, is the most expensive, with a TripIndex cost of Rs. 28,879.50. That's four times more than Hanoi, the cheapest destination.

South East Asia is going to get even more popular, with four of the cheapest cities in the world: Hanoi, Beijing, Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur. Want a luxury vacation without breaking the bank? Hotels are cheapest in Bangkok, costing an average of about Rs. 4,500 a night. That's one fourth of what you would spend in London. And while we're on the subject, drink your martinis in Bangkok, where they cost the least, about Rs. 526 for two. Paris might be more romantic, but it's also six times more expensive for a drink.

South India, expensive

Dharamsala emerges India's most budget-friendly destination, at Rs. 3,876 on TripIndex. Nasik, in spite of its burgeoning wine tourism, comes next. The big surprise is the country's most expensive holiday destination: Mahabaleshwar at Rs. 9,331 followed by Kochi at Rs. 9,217. South India is the most expensive region to holiday in. Ganju says this could be because of Kerala, which has become a luxury travel destination.

TripAdvisor has now moulded itself into the “world's largest social travel site” with some help from Facebook. Ganju says, “Now, instead of the wisdom of crowds, you can rely on the wisdom of friends.” Their ‘instant personalisation' feature directs you to friends' reviews. He adds: “We've now added ‘friends of friends', thus multiplying your network by 10.”

Started above a pizza shop in 2000, TripAdvisor draws 50 million users worldwide. With 20 million members, the site is constantly updated with reviews from all over the world. “We get 40 contributions every minute,” says Ganju, adding that their advantage over every other travel site is the “fresh, authentic wisdom of crowds.”