Tips for Backpacking in KeralaKerala, fondly referred to as the ‘God’s own country’, is one of the tourists’ favorite. The Indian state welcomes more than 1 million vacationers annually, and the number is constantly on the rise. Kerala is one of the most affordable tourist destinations of India and is highly recommended for vacationers on shoestring budget. Backpacking in Kerala is highly recommended for two reasons besides being easy on the pocket. Firstly, backpacking gives you a chance to explore the nooks and corners of Kerala (that are often missed out on the package tours). And secondly it helps in soaking in the unfiltered beauty of the country and the region.
Being a popular destination for tourists, backpacking through Kerala can be an interesting proposition. Here are some of the pointers that can help you in planning a comfortable and memorable trip.
An Itinerary for Backpacking in KeralaThis itinerary for Kerala backpacking trip would guide you on planning your trip throughout the state. The trip would start from Kochi and end at Trivandrum, covering Munnar, Thekaddy, and some other important tourist places of the state.
But before you begin, let’s understand a few of the basic questions asked by an average backpacker.
1. Best Time for BackpackingKerala is on the tropical zone of the earth, and during summers the weather can be too hot and humid. Most tourists prefer to backpacking in the state during the winter times when the weather is clam and comfortable.
During the winter, especially after October, the weather is mostly dry with occasional showers. Average temperature of the state during this time of year is mostly 27℃ (81℉).
Read more about Kerala Weather
2. Visa and Other FormalitiesInternational tourists should obtain visa to enter India unless they are coming from the visa-exempt countries or are citizens of the country, eligible for e-visa or visa on arrival in India. Tourists from Nepal and Bhutan can enter the country without a passport or visa.
Citizens from more than 113 countries are eligible for e-visa. In Kerala, tourists can avail e-visa from the following airports:
• Cochin International airport
• Kannur International Airport
• Calicut International Airport
• Trivandrum International Airport
Additionally, tourists entering India via Kochi/Cochin Port can also avail e-visa.
P.S: Travelers planning on availing e-Visa should apply for the same within 4 to 120 days prior to the date of traveling.
3. Currency in KeralaThe Indian Rupees (INR / ₹) is the official currency in India. No other currency is accepted in the country. International tourists traveling to the country can exchange their home currency at the recommended money exchangers.
4. How to travel in Kerala?
Kerala is connected to rest of the country and the world via good network of roads and rails. The connectivity via flights is commendable as well. For traveling within the state, tourists can rely on Indian Railways or government-backed bus services. The train or bus tickets are cheaper than flight, and ideal for vacationers backpacking in Kerala.
Read more about Kerala Transportation
5. Staying in KeralaBeing a popular tourist destination of India, finding accommodation in Kerala is not that difficult. There are different resorts, hotels, holiday homes, as well as homestays available in different cities of the state and vacationers can choose these places according to their budget. Also, a short stay at Kerala’s house boats is highly recommended.
Route for Backpacking in Kerala:Kochi -> Alappuzha -> Munnar ->Thekkady -> Varkala -> Trivandum
Number of Days
Things to Do
Day 1, 2
Fort Kochi, Marine Drive, Chinese Fishing Nets, Jew Town, Kerala Kathakali center, Shopping
Day 2, 3
Marari Church, Alappuzha Beach, Houseboat Cruise
Day 3 evening, Day 4
Tea Plantations, Hiking or Bicycle Tours
Periyar National Park
Day 6, 7
Beaches and Temples
Day 8, 9, 10
Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple, Sightseeing and Shopping
Day 1 – Kochi / Cochin
Most tourists backpacking in Kerala prefer starting from this city instead of others. Kochi houses one of the most well-connected airports of South India, which is accessible from some international cities like New York, Paris, London, Sydney, etc.; and India’s popular tourist cities like Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore.
Kochi has been an ancient trading center, and one can find its mention in ancient Greek and Roman documents. One of the biggest attractions of the city are Fort Kochi, the sea facing Marine Drive and Chinese Fishing Nets, Jew Town. The Kerala Kathakali Center in Kochi showcases traditional Kathakali performances, well worth visiting.
Have some breakfast and hop on a bus to head to Alappuzha.
Day 2, 3 - Alappuzha
Kochi to Alappuzha bus ride takes around 2 to 3 hours to complete. Upon arrival, check into your booked accommodation and freshen up. You can either rest or head out for sightseeing. Explore the Marari Church, Alappuzha Beach, and lighthouse, etc.
In the evening, reserve a houseboat for an overnight trip. The houseboat experience is highly recommended for backpacking in Kerala. You can also book daytime sailing trip through Kerala backwaters, which are a cheaper option.
P.S: House stays are not cheap and might need some cost cutting for backpackers – but completely worth it.
Day 3 (evening), 4 – Munnar
On the day 3 evening of the backpacking in Kerala, take a 4-hour long bus ride from Alappuzha to Munnar. Evening trips are recommended for catching the gorgeous sunset views and taking some catnap during the travel.
The scenic Munnar, located on the Western Ghats, is one of the most popular hill stations of Kerala. In the morning, make sure to catch the sunrise from the viewing points of the hill station. After breakfast, take some time to explore the picturesque tea gardens of Munnar.
If you are a tea aficionado, then pack some tea to take back home.
Day 5 – Thekkady
Stop at Thekkady for a day during the backpacking in Kerala trip. Buses usually take 5 hours to reach the small town. The gateway to Periyar National Park, the detour to Thekkady is recommended for wildlife lovers.
In the evening, if you can explore the Mudra Cultural Centre – home to ancient martial arts traditions of India. The 60-minute show is breathtaking and worth a watch.
Day 6, 7 – Varkala
The laid-back sea-facing town of Kerala is ideal for taking a small break from traveling. The combination of beaches and an addictive hippie vibe makes Varkala the hub of backpackers. One can find chic accommodations in the town for the stay. At the city, you can explore enchanting beach or head to the different temples.
Day 8, 9, 10 – Trivandrum
The last stop on the backpacking in Kerala is Trivandrum. Being an important tourist destination, the place is connected to rest of the world through its international airport. Tourists can shop or explore the city at their own pace.