As I swung my feet into the isle and looked down the bus, I saw the show continue with 8-10 touts seeming locked in the door as if they'd all tried to board the coach at once and become stuck. What is more likely is that they have an agreement with the driver that they will not come aboard, but the volume was impressive.
When 20 people are trying to talk to you at once about tours/taxis/rooms, it's hard to lock onto a single voice and decipher what's being said, but fortunately one guy quietly mentioned to Elle "I don't work for a hotel, I just drive an auto rickshaw", so we strolled off with him. My clambering friend was particularly put out by this and demanded his map back immediately because we didn't take him up on his incomprehensible offers. At this point, tired Nick kicked in with a less polite version of "Take your map! I didn't want it and have no idea why you threw it in my window in the first place." It was most definitely time to find a room and get some rest.
Away from the madness we could consider our options of where to stay. A little research before hand suggested we may want to stay across the river from the main ruins (in Virupapur Gaddi) and when we arrived I had to agree. Much of the village that was built too close to the ruins was destroyed by the government about four years ago and the mass of resulting rubble still remains. This leaves the remaining buildings situated in a largely unattractive area.
Crossing the river by boat costs around 20Rs per person (although the cost seems to fluctuate) and the service is available from 7.30am - 5.30pm. There you'll find a long road of guest houses that look across the rice fields to the distant hills. There are no views of the ruins from here, but it's a far more chilled out area where you'll find plenty of huts and standard rooms at decent prices. Most feature a dining area where low tables are surround by pillows and lamps and the mellow music helps you kick back.
We settled on the Hema, where we paid 1,200Rs/night for a hut with a hammock out front.
Don't believe the touts, it's not actually a 32km walk between all the ruins, but you've got to admire their conviction when they tell you. We worked it out to be about 10kms of walking between the key points, but it's a hot, tricky slog with minimum signage.
We caught the boat across the river in search of a driver for the day and were again swarmed. What we've taken to doing is engaging the least in-your-face prospectors in these situations and, to the credit of the others, once the conversation has started they back off. We heard taking a tuk tuk to the main sites should cost around 800Rs, our man wanted 1,200Rs, so we settled on 1,000Rs.
Our tour took us around a dizzying number of ruins which you can find a list of here, but there were a few stand out favourites. Virupaksha Temple sits next to the main bazaar, with its soaring structure that still operates as a working temple. The temple's own elephant, Laxmi, wanders the short distance to the river bank each morning to bath and bless the locals in water from the Tungabhadra. You'd be hard pushed to miss it.
The Hanuman Temple sits high up on a local hill and the hour-climb up earns you a complete view of Hampi. Getting there is a couple of hundred rupees from Virupapur Gaddi by tuk tuk, but it's just as affordable to rent a scooter and tour the local area before heading over to the temple.
1) If you go looking for accommodation on the first boat across from Hampi in the morning, be fairly quick about it. Lots of people head over at this time of day and rooms fill quickly at the better places.
2) Be firm with the touts. This stands for India in general, but it pays to say "I'll think about it" and return later because you'll find the price magically drops as you go to walk away.
3) If you're getting a bus onwards from Hospet later in the day, don't be afraid to drive a little harder for a bargain. Some tuk tuk drivers live there and need to return home anyway, so will accept a lower rate on their way back.