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The Alleppey backwaters are the reason that Alleppey was crowned with the title Venice of the East. Alleppey or Alappuzha is a small city located in close proximity to Kochi. Alleppey is the gateway to the Kerala backwaters. While there is more than one place where one can enjoy the backwaters, the Alleppey backwaters have their own special charm. Apart from this Alleppey travel guide, if you're interested in seeing a lot many pictures of the backwaters, head over to my Instagram profile (@thespicyjourney) for more.
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Alleppey Backwaters - A Complete Guide
The Alleppey backwaters consist of winding waterways stretching for many kilometers. These waterways pass through the main Alleppey city and continue on through villages, towns and other cities. There are many-a ways to experience the Alleppey backwaters. Thus in order to avoid confusion and take some stress off of you, this guide to the backwaters of Alleppey contains all the information you need to plan a perfect Alleppey trip.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- How to Reach Alleppey Backwaters
- Best Time to Visit Alleppey
- How Many Days to Spend in Alleppey?
- Alleppey Trip Cost
- Where to Stay in Alleppey
- Different Ways to Explore the Alleppey Backwaters
- Alleppey Beach or Alappuzha Beach
- Where to Eat in Alleppey
- Did You Enjoy this Travel Guide to the Alleppey Backwaters?
How to Reach Alleppey Backwaters
Nearest Airport to Alleppey
The Kochi International Airport is the closest airport to Alleppey. Cochin airport to Alleppey is a distance of 83 km that can be covered in approximately 2 hours via road. In order to reach Alleppey from the airport, you can either take a taxi or a bus. Taxis can be hired from the airport itself. On the other hand, in order to catch a bus, you need to reach Vytilla bus hub from the airport first. The bus hub lies in the main Kochi city and can be reached via taxi or bus from the airport.
Nearest Railway Station to Alleppey
Alleppey has a railway station called the Alleppey railway station. There are local trains running from other cities and towns in Kerala to Alleppey. Some major trains running between Kerala and other parts of India also stop at Alleppey. Once you reach the Alleppey railway station, exit through the main exit where you will see a small booth for hiring tuk-tuks. From here you can get a tuk-tuk to your hotel or hostel at nominal fares.
Kochi to Alleppey
Kochi to Alleppey is a mere distance of 53 km which can be covered by road or rail. The cheapest way to go from Kochi to Alleppey is to take the bus. In order to find a bus, you need to reach the Ernakulam south bus station first. From here, you’ll find buses going to Alleppey at regular intervals. The cost of a bus from Kochi to Alleppey will be approximately INR 120 and the journey will take 2 hours.
Alternatively, you can also take a train from Kochi to Alleppey. Train travel via the general ticket is a cheap and fast alternative in India. You will find regular trains to Alleppey from Kochi.
Best Time to Visit Alleppey Kerala
Kerala has three main seasons - summer, monsoon, and winter. Monsoon season is the rainy season where there are heavy downpours between the months of June to September. On the other hand, the summer season goes on from May to June when temperatures sky-rocket and it gets too hot to even step outside. Thus the best time to visit Alleppey is after the monsoon and before the summer sets in which is from October to April. These months have pleasant weather, the temperature isn’t as high as that during the summer months and there’s practically no rain.
How Many Days to Spend in Alleppey?
When it comes to answering the question of how many days to spend in Alleppey, the answer depends on the range of activities you want to try there. If you’re planning on staying in a houseboat, that will take up almost 2 days of your time. You will need at least 1 more day for sightseeing and other activities. Alternatively, if you’re not staying in a houseboat, you can spend 2 days in Alleppey to see all the places to visit in Alleppey and comfortably explore the Alleppey backwaters.
Alleppey Trip Cost
A trip to Alleppey shouldn’t be too expensive, provided you book budget hotels or hostels and resist the temptation of the overpriced houseboats. If you’re spending a weekend or 2 days in Alleppey, stay in a hostel, explore the backwaters of Alleppey via tourist ferries, shikara boats or kayaking, then your Alleppey trip will cost you very little. On the other hand, if you decide to stay in a houseboat or a nice resort near the Alappuzha backwaters, then the cost of the trip varies accordingly.
Where to Stay in Alleppey
Zostel Alleppey is located at a prime location directly at Alleppey beach. One gate to the hostel quite literally opens up to the beach. There’s a nice common area for guests to mingle and a spacious terrace with hammocks overlooking the beach. Zostel Alleppey comes with both dorm rooms as well as private rooms, for those picky about their privacy. The dooms are quite spacious and very clean.
Hotels in Alleppey
Alleppey, being one of the most popular places to experience the Kerala backwaters, is a tourist hotspot. Thus you can very easily find loads of hotels in Alleppey. Furthermore, many of them are located close to the backwaters which is always a delight.
Homestays in Alleppey
Kerala has a nice culture of homestays where you can stay with a local family. This gives you an opportunity to learn about a place from a local’s perspective, not to mention the heavenly local food that you’ll get to try. There are quite a few homestays in Alleppey as well. Ideally, if you’re gravitating towards booking a homestay then pick one that’s located near the backwaters.
Resorts in Alleppey
Just like hotels and homestays, there are a few resorts in Alleppey as well. Most of them are located close to the Alleppey backwaters. Additionally, the resorts can organize houseboats or canoe tours as well so you won't have to worry about the hassles of figuring this stuff out on your own.
Different Ways to Explore the Alleppey Backwaters
There are numerous ways in which you can explore the Alleppey backwaters. While renting a houseboat in Alleppey used to be the traditionally popular option, it happens to be an expensive one. For those of you who are budget travelers like me and would like to explore the Alappuzha backwaters without spending a bomb, good news for you. There are actually lots of budget-friendly ways to see the backwaters. Take a look at all your options below.
A canoe is one of those small boats that need to be manually rowed. You'll see locals getting around the backwaters using their own canoes. While a canoe ride is an experience in itself, if you do go for it, take a canoe ride in the smaller canals since the bigger ones will have the big houseboats going through them. Even though a canoe ride is a great authentic experience, I felt the Alleppey backwaters were too big for a humble canoe, especially because of all the bigger boats.
Coming to fun and cheap alternative to Alleppey houseboats, Kayaking is #1 on my list. Not only is it a cheaper and more fun way to see the backwaters of Alleppey, it is also a great way to sneak in some workout during a vacation. Zostel Alleppey, where I stayed, had contacts of tour operators that organised kayaking. Ask your hotel or hostel to arrange this activity for you in case you are unable to choose a kayaking operator for yourself.
Shikara boat in Alleppey is a motorboat that has a roof over it and a lookout in front resembling a balcony. A shikara can hold approximately 8 people and the entire boat can be booked on an hourly basis. If you walk in the vicinity of the SWTD ferry point in Alleppey, you'll see lots of shikara boats and you'll even be approached by the owners. You can negotiate a good rate for the number of hours you would like to take a shikara boat ride for. I and a couple of friends I made in Alleppey negotiated a shikara ride for 3 hours costing us a total of INR 1200 which I felt was a really good price for getting a whole boat for yourself.
One of the best ways to experience the Alleppey backwaters like a local is to hop into a public ferry and go wherever it takes you. No, really, I’m not kidding. When you’re at the ferry terminal, you’ll see these single-decker public ferries that go to nearby villages and towns. You’ll see local commuting to work, kids going to school and a few curious tourists in these ferries. The best part is that you can hop off at any point, if you want to, and just wait for the next ferry back. Fares of the public ferry are incredibly cheap, mainly because it’s used by the locals for their day-to-day commutes.
The government, not very long ago, launched the tourist ferry which is bigger than the public ferry and it’s popular among visitors in Alleppey. These public ferries are spacious double-decker boats. Each ferry goes to a different place and takes a different amount of time. For example, the Alleppey to Kottayam ferry takes roughly 4 hours one-way whereas the Alleppey to Kinakary Road takes 2 hours one-way. You can find the timing of the ferry on the SWTD official website. Tickets are extremely inexpensive and if you sit on the upper section of the ferry, you honestly won’t feel like you’re missing out on the houseboats.
While the Alleppey houseboats are an appealing option, I personally wasn’t drawn to them simply because the houseboats seemed too simple compared to the houseboat I had stayed at in Srinagar. But then, if you’re keen on experiencing staying in a houseboat, go right ahead. Not only will you get to explore the backwaters in a fancy boat, you’ll even get meals and have a bedroom to sleep on-board. When it comes to finding and booking a houseboat, you can either ask your hotel to help you arrange once or explore your options online. The price of these houseboats varies depending on the level of comfort and amenities they provide.
Alleppey Beach or Alappuzha Beach
Apart from the Alleppey backwaters, you can even laze around at Alleppey beach during the duration of your trip. Although the beach doesn’t really have that much going on, it’s a nice spot to watch the sunset. Since I stayed at Zostel Alleppey, which opened up at the beach, I managed to catch the sunset at the beach every evening. Plus there was a restaurant called Cafe Catamaran right at the beach with comfortable seating and great views of the ocean too.
Where to Eat in Alleppey
There are a few restaurants in Alleppey that are well-known for their local speciality dishes. Thaff Delicacy is one such restaurant where you can indulge in hearty Keralite dishes. On the contrary, Cafe Catamaran at Alleppey beach serves continental as well as Indian food with a view to die for.