The Ideal 8-Day Kerala Itinerary For Backpackers
Category : India
I was skeptical about Kerala because lately I’ve been traveling to places I’ve heard such good reviews of but came back disappointed. Keeping my expectations on the floor, I booked a flight to Kochi and planned to explore Kerala for 8 days. Not to forget, I traveled with my not-so-little sister who just turned 18 and has never traveled alone, backpacked, hitchhiked, or even stayed at a hostel. This trip had to be flawless! Now my definition of flawless is a trip full of unexpected situations, no planned itinerary, no idea about where and how to travel, and so on.
However, like always, in this article I will be mentioning how I traveled from one city to another, where I stayed, cost of the trip, and alternate options if my way doesn’t meet your convenience.
The itinerary goes as follows: ALLEPPEY -> MUNNAR -> THEKKADY -> KOCHI
So, if you plan to go anywhere else in Kerala other than these places, stop reading! There’s nothing for you in here. But if you intend to cover these places then read more because I’ve got it all covered for you.
Kochi was off the list for us since we had only 8 days. Upon hearing that there’s not much to do or see in Kochi and that it’s just a regular city, we decided to skip it. Our flight landed at 11:30 am in Kochi. The moment we got off the plane, we were searching for cheapest ways to reach Alleppey.
The distance from Cochin International Airport to Alleppey is 90 km. The cheapest option was to reach Vytila or Aluva Bus Stand and take a bus from there to Alleppey. But it turned out the last bus which was in our budget left few minutes ago. We could have taken the next bus but it would have cost the same as a taxi would. Thinking wisely, we took a pre-paid taxi from the airport. (Only because the amount got split into two)
How to reach Alleppey from Kochi?
Option 1: Take a pre-paid taxi, Ola or Uber (all cost the same from the airport) and reach Vytila or Aluva bus stand. Enquire the tourist information counter at the airport about the bus timings and decide accordingly.
Approximate cost of traveling this way = cost of taxi till the bus stand + cost of bus from Kochi to Alleppey
= 600 + 250
= INR 850 per person
Option 2: Take a pre-paid taxi from Cochin International Airport for Alleppey. Seems so easy right? Well, it is!
Approximate cost of traveling this way = INR 2300
I recommend this option if you’re not solo. The price gets divided and is much more convenient than traveling in a local bus.
ALLEPPEY – 2 DAYS
We checked in at our hostel at 1:30 am. Not wasting any time, kept our bags, went out for lunch and Alleppey darshan. Our hostel was at the beach, so we strolled there for a while. Cutting all the crap I will straight away list the things we did and you can do in Alleppey.
Alleppey is all about The Great Backwaters. It’s called the Venice of the East as the canals pierce through the city and connect to the magnificent Backwaters. One can book a stay at the house boat too. We didn’t because 1. it was out of budget and 2. I could not stay restricted to the waters. That’s just the kind of a person I am. 😛 and 3. both shikara and house boat cover the same region so it’s not that we would miss out on any scenic spot.
Now, booking a shikara ride is a task in Alleppey because every person has a different quote and package. One of the many perks of staying at a hostel is that you meet people who have already done that and in a price that a backpacker can afford. Call 8089119111, talk to the guy, book a slot! He is reliable and would not charge unreasonably. I forgot the name of the guy. I saved it on my phone in the of ‘backwater boy’. 😛
A girl at the hostel wanted to go for the ride too. So we booked an early morning slot for 3 hours in INR 600 per person. It was heaven to have the shikara all to ourselves. I read on the internet about a village in Alleppey, named Kuttanad. Being a lover of experiencing the local life, I desperately wanted to visit it. Turns out, the shikara gives you a tour of the village. The unique thing about the village is that there are no road connections. People commute through boats. Like we have bus stops or taxi stand, they have boat stands.
Beaches are good for a walk. Okayish for sunbath in a bikini. You will spot locals in sarees at the beach. So, it’s totally up to you what wish to wear. There’s a beach 15 kms from Alleppey, Marari Beach, known for its white sand, less crowd and beautiful sunset. I didn’t get a chance to visit it. Probably because the auto takes INR 300 to reach there and like ALWAYS I was broke. It was the first day and I should not have been out of money but due to unexpected circumstances, we had to cut down on our budget. Please go there and let me know if my decision of not going to Marari was right! 😛
I stayed at Zostel which is situated at the Alappuzha beach. Best part about the property is its location. Everything is in close vicinity and look at that gorgeous sunset in the picture below!
How to reach Munnar from Alleppey?
Option 1: Take a bus. If you’re traveling in Kerala, favorite these three websites: Kerala State Road Transport Corporation, Kerala Urban Road Transport Corporation and Kyros Connects. There is no other bus service that operates in Kerala other than these. While the first two are state buses, Kyros is private. This would not cost more than INR 450 per person. In case of a state bus, it’s way less. Trains don’t go to Munnar.
Option 2: The most obvious option of all, taxi. Got money? Go spend! Taxi costs INR 4500 from Alleppey to Munnar.
MUNNAR – 3 DAYS
I’ve never seen a place as green as Munnar. The perfect description of it would be a home full of carpet of tea plantations. No exaggeration whatsoever, Munnar will give a feel of being at home as the people of Kerala are so warm, welcoming and humble. No matter where you take out your camera, the picture will be beautiful. Every corner of Munnar is breath-taking.
This plantation-covered hill-station has tons of viewpoints, dams, and so on. But I’d still say to make the most of Munnar sit back, relax and let the place work its magic. Walk for miles to soak in the vibes.
Exploring Munnar is a bit confusing because of its topography. You can refer to the map I have made which I’m sure is everything you need to know about Munnar sightseeing. 😀
There are four routes:
One, ending at Chinnar covering Anamudi Peak, Marayoor Sandalwoods and Thoovanam waterfalls.
Two, ending at Top Station covering Mattupetty Dam and Echo Point.
Three, ending at Anayirankal Dam covering Lock Hart Gap, Devikulam Lake and Periyakanal waterfalls.
Four, Valara and Cheeyarappa waterfalls.
Munnar town is the center point from where the four routes dissect. Take a taxi or auto to explore these four routes as they are around 35-40km from the town. There’s no way you can walk obviously. I tried though. 😛 Both taxi or auto would charge INR 1500-INR 2000 for one route. So, yes! It’s going to be shit expensive.
During off-season, there will be no water in the waterfalls. So, make sure to pick a route which has less waterfalls and more viewpoints. And, don’t worry if you miss out on any waterfalls. Kerala is known for three things – backwaters, greenery and its people. (according to me) And, the greenery in Munnar is splendid.
Consider hitchhiking too. Locals in Kerala are safe and very helpful. On our first day in Munnar, we got lift from a super cute family. They had come from Alleppey to spend the weekend amidst the tea plantations. Turns out the man runs a luxury resort named Fog Resort and Spa in Munnar. How cool is that? We ended up spending the day with them, and covered the second route too.
In Munnar, your accommodation can either make the journey or break the journey. There’s no way you should stay in Munnar Town. It’s a very dull market place. Believe me you don’t want to spend your evenings there. I stayed in a hotel cum homestay – Gruenberg Tea Plantation Haus in Chithirapuram.
The area lies somewhere between the Attukad waterfalls and Valara waterfalls on the map above. I could not have asked for a better accommodation. There’s no other place I’m staying next time I head to Munnar. I usually don’t mention this much about any stay in my articles. But this is worth all the space on my blog. You wake up with a sunrise surrounded by tea plantations on the left and spend your evening sipping hot coffee with a dazzling sunset on your right. IT’S MAGICAL! They even give a free 3 hour tour of the plantations.
The rooms, the location, the staff – PERFECT!!! Stay there and you’ll thank me later!
How to reach Thekkady from Munnar?
Option 1: There are no private buses that go to Thekkady. Ask locals for a direct bus to Thekkady. The state bus site will show Thekkady as a destination but then it shows no service available. There’s a bus stop outside Orchid Highlands Hotel in Chithirapuram where a KSRTC bus operates daily at 7 am from Munnar to Thekkady. It costs INR 90.
Option 2: Taxi of course. Cost is approximately INR 2500.
THEKKADY – 1 DAY
Thekkady is famous for Periyar National Park – an elephant and tiger reserve. Honestly, I went there to take the elephant bath and watch Kathakali dance. Due to off-season, a lot of things were shut in the National Park and there was no assured way that I could spot a Tiger. So, I obviously skipped it.
However, the elephant bath is putting me in guilt now. I had no idea what torture an elephant goes through in order to obey people’s instructions. They are kept in captivity, exploited and abused. I blame myself as I too am responsible for it. People are consoling me that I at least realized that I do no want to be that kind who tortures animals for my own good. What can I do is not encourage others to engage in such activities. I am not going to put any pictures of it no matter how good they are because frankly the experience is quite normal. It’s like taking a shower in your bathroom at your own place! NOTHING SPECIAL. NOT FUN. NO ADVENTURE.
There is a reason why god made us humans and them animals.
If my words don’t make any sense to you then please read this before going for the ride or bath: The tragic lives of India’s mistreated captive elephants
Now you might feel then what is the point of visiting Thekkady? Well, you could always feed the elephant, walk with it, or give him a bath. NOW THAT IS FUN!!!
We booked a homestay and as usual met an amazing host who booked everything for us. You could book the same homestay here.
We went to Navarasa Kathakali Center to watch a one hour performance. Entry ticket is INR 200. Our host however got it for INR 150. I assumed how much of Kathakali can we actually watch and that one hour is too much. But those artists proved us wrong! It was not just dance. It was drama and depiction of dance through various face expressions and body movements. A must watch on a trip to Kerala.
How to reach Kochi from Thekkady?
Option 1: Kochi being the capital city can be reached from almost everywhere. Hop on a local bus at the Thekkady Bus Stand also known as Kumily Bus Stand. Cost is INR 150. Timings you have to ask the conductors at the bus stand.
Option 2: Taxi. No idea about the cost this time because I didn’t even bother to look at the fare. *too broke*
KOCHI – 2 DAYS
We thought of going to Varkala but then we had our flight back to Delhi in 1.5 days. There was no point traveling so long for 1 day. So, kept Varkala for the next time.
The best place to stay in Kochi is the Fort Kochi area. The area has beautiful homestays and super-cool backpackers hostel. The best way to explore Kochi is by cycling through the city. Fort Kochi is a photographer’s dream. It’s all about artistic cafes, museums and art galleries. Rent a bicycle in INR 50 for 6-7 hours. Don’t forget to keep your Id card with you. Cycling in Kochi was quite similar to cycling in Pondicherry. It has the same vibes and similar French architecture but with more amount of greenery. 😛
Eating in local restaurants or at the hotel is not something that you should be doing. Fort Kochi is full of intriguing cafes that deserve attention. My personal favorites are Kashi Art Café, Qissa Café and The Drawing Room. Moreover, you can rent a bicycle right outside Qissa Café.
Watch the sunset at the Chinese fishing net. Kind of mandatory. 😀
ESSENTIALS TO CARRY IN KERALA
Go to Kerala for its flora, backwaters and its people. There’s no way you could come back disappointed, it’s THAT beautiful. Also, I guess I’m going to take another trip to Kerala as I’d love to explore more of Malabar coast and lesser known hill-stations.
In case you try anything from this itinerary, do let me know in the comments below. Nothing makes me more happy than my work making sense to people. 😀
PIN THE KERALA ITINERARY FOR LATER!
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