This Kerala Travel Guide with tips on how to travel there, best time to travel and top places to see in Kerala is all you need to know.
From dense forests to beautiful tea plantations, and rich culture to amazing food – Kerala has something for everyone.
It’s an ideal place for luxury travel as well as budget backpacking. And thanks to its natural beauty, the state has established itself as one of India’s top travelled destinations.
The culture in the state is moreover unique to the rest of India and has been carefully preserved for centuries.
Kerala Tourist Guide
I have been to this Indian state more times than I can remember since I quit my job and became a travel blogger.
Before discussing the top places to see in Kerala, let’s move further in this Kerala travel guide, and talk about a few useful travel tips:
- Train journeys in Kerala are mesmerizing. Choose them over boring bus journeys wherever possible.
- There are many temples to explore. Where most temples allow people to enter in any attire, some require a strict dress code. For general practice, never visit a temple without having your shoulders or knees covered.
- Smoking in public is strictly banned here and you can actually get a challan if found guilty.
- Kerala is one of the safest Indian places for Solo Female travellers.
- The three major mobile networks: are Airtel, BSNL and Jio.
- Kochi, also known as Ernakulum, is the capital and hub of all transport.
Top Places To See In Kerala
You write a guide on top tourist places in Kerala and do not mention Kochi, not possible. Hence the first place that even I want to mention in my Kerala travel guide is Kochi.
Just like Alleppey, I have been to Kochi twice too. And the most recent trip was in 2021 when I stayed in Fort Kochi for 4 days.
If you enjoy history and colonial architecture, Kochi will be one of the best holiday destinations in India for you. I would also recommend it for finding some amazing street photography. Other than history and architecture visit Kochi for great food and cafe culture.
Some of the defining attractions are Chinese fishing nets, The Jew Town and a 15th-century synagogue.
Walk around the streets in Fort Kochi, and experience the colonial powers that once ruled this land.
Kathakali is a traditional temple dance drama with masked men performing crazy dance moves.
If travel to Kerala and cultural activities interest you, watching a Kathakali performance is a no-miss, and hence an obvious mention in this Kerala travel guide.
You can watch a Kathakali performance in most of the big towns, but if you come to Kochi, book a show at Kathakali Centre in Kochi. A similar folk art form (to Kathakali) is Theyyam, which is performed in the North Malabar region.
One of the best tourist experiences in Kerala is sailing through the backwaters, where you can rent a houseboat and explore a maze of interconnected lagoons, canals, and lakes, for days on end. You read any Kerala travel guide and you will see its repeated mentions.
Though you can find backwater in a few places in Kerala, including the town of Kollam, Kottayam Alumkadavu, Kumbalangi, and Alleppey, the backwaters of Alleppey is bigger and more popular. Renting a houseboat in Alleppey can cost over six or seven thousand Rupees per day. A cheaper deal to experience the backwaters, however, is the passenger ferry which takes you places for a price as low as 10 Rupees. A comparatively better option is the Tourist Ferry which takes around 50 Rupees for a 45-minute ride. [Note: Check this state water transport website for an updated ticket price and timetable].
Sivananda Dhanwantari Ashram
If yoga fascinates you, this is perhaps the best (also my personal favourite) option for learning yoga in India. Other than Indians, a number of western tourists come here every year to learn yoga. You can do a basic yoga learning course or stay as a guest for a few days.
Remember that there are two Sivananda Ashrams in India. The main one, where Swami Sivananda’s Samaadhi is located is Sivananda Ashram Rishikesh.
Next in this Kerala travel guide is Varkala, which is, by far, my favourite beach city in India.
Divided into three parts – North Cliff, South Cliff, and Papnasham beach, most of the backpacker activity happens near the North Cliff beach, where accommodation is cheap, and the local markets are more vibrant. Read my Varkala Kerala blog for more about Varkala.
Eating On Banana Leaf
Among the top places to see in Kerala, let’s talk about a recommended experience as well, and that is… eating on a banana leaf.
Though you can experience eating on a banana leaf in the neighbouring states of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, if you get to try it in Kerala too, don’t miss it.
Widely known as ‘Toddy’ the coconut beer is by far one of the best local beverages I’ve had in India.
There are many government-approved Toddy shops across Kerala where you can sit and drink. It costs about 150 Rupees for half a litre of Toddy in a Toddy shop near Kochi as I happened to visit during my Delhi to Bangalore motorcycle ride.
Visit Munnar for its sprawling tea plantations, the rich natural beauty of winding lanes, comely hills, and dense forests. You can also try a few adventure activities around here, and the trek to Anamudi – the highest peak in south India – is totally awesome. Munnar moreover a quick escape from other warm-and-sweaty places.
That’s all about the top places to see in Kerala. If you want to read about more suggest tourist places, check the Kerala tourism website. You may also be interested in reading a sponsored article I did for them under the campaign Human by Nature by Kerala tourism.
Next in this travel guide on Kerala is the best time to travel…
What Is The Best Time To Travel Kerala
Given tropical and hot weather, the best time to travel to Kerala is only between October and March, when the climate is pleasant and the temperature remains at a minimum.
The monsoon season between July and August is also usually favoured by many who love to hang out in rain. But since I have travelled to Kerala in the monsoon, I don’t have much to add to this Kerala travel guide and best practices.
Now, moving forward…
What Is The Cost of Travelling In Kerala
Except for a few popular tourist destinations, which particularly includes the town of Varkala and Alleppey, food in Kerala is cheap.
You can get a plain small size dosa with chatni at a roadside stall for as low as 20 Rupees, though you might need to eat about 6-8 of those to fill your stomach. Rice is commonly available. A simple fish and rice meal in most places cost about 90 Rupees. Try to dine at the local south Indian restaurants rather than those offering north Indian cuisine to save some cash.
You can also look for ‘Indian Coffee House, a chain of government-owned restaurants that have reasonable prices for good quality, hygienic food.
Accommodation in Kerala, in most places, is moderately expensive if compared to the rest of India.
From Kochi to Varkala to Alleppey to Munnar – expect a private room for no less than 500 Rupees per day, and this is an off-season rate. These prices can soar to a whopping 1000 Rupees per day during peak season time. For a cheaper deal, you are required to stay outside of the main tourist town, if there’s an option. For example, you can stay in Ernakulam, which is about 9 km away from Fort Kochi for a cheaper deal of Rs 300 per day.
You can also find backpacker hostels in most places, including Kochi, Alleppey, Munnar and Varkala.
That’s all in this Kerala travel guide. If you have any questions or more destinations to add to the list of top places to see in Kerala, please leave a comment below.