Alleppey to Varkala through the backwaters

The most beautiful way to travel in Kerala

We were told by many people that Kerala is the place to go for relaxing, sunbathing, surfing, eating – basically for a holiday! Varkala was the place on everyone’s lips when it came to talking about the best place in India. We were so excited to get there we didn’t spend much time in the rest of the amazing places in Kerala, although we did make the most of our time! We spent 24 hours in Kochi and 24 hours in Alleppey, where we then caught the ferry to Varkala! This post will share how we spent our day in Alleppey and how you too can explore the Kerala backwaters and not pay an arm and a leg!

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Also read: Guide to the Best Restaurants in Varkala

24 Hours in Alleppey

There’s no better way to spend your day in Alleppey than on the beach! Alleppey boasts a gorgeous long beach, perfect for swimming and sunbathing in the day, and watching the incredible sunset in the evening. PLUS there’s playful doggos!

Where to Stay

Pine Beach Residency – Located right on the beach and walking distance from town. There’s a couple of restaurants really close by offering both indian and western food. Clean, modern private rooms with a/c and only £8/ night! It’s probably not the place for you if you’re looking to meet backpackers/ socialise. Its got more of a hotel vibe but you can meet people at the beach and as we were only staying for 24 hours it was PERFECT! Click here to book.

Pine Beach Residency Beach, Munnodi Temple Rd, near Vijay Park, Sea View Ward, Alappuzha, Kerala 688007, India

Kerala Backwaters Journey

The most popular way to explore the backwaters is to hire a houseboat, however this can be very expensive. We’re sure there are tons of reasons to hire a houseboat, but for Rs. 5,000 ($95)/ night with only a fan, this was wayyy out of our budget zone. Instead, we took the government run long distance ferry to Kollam which covered 8 hours of backwater exploring. Granted, this is a long time, but it’s by far the cheapest way to get to Varkala, and the most interesting.

The ferry leaves at 10am everyday, we’d suggest turning up at about 9.30am to ensure you get a seat (no pre-booking available). It costs Rs.400 each (£4.30), this is a fixed price and is the genuine, local way to travel. Top deck isn’t as comfy as bottom but it has the BEST views! You’ll be sharing seats with the locals who, if they speak English, will be happy to chat and give you great tips about Kerala. Great views and company make those 8 hours fly!

There’s a toilet on board (not very nice but useable), but there is a rest stop for lunch and a tea & snack break. Lunch is a super cheap, super delicious thali with a piece of fried fish. The tea break is chai and a fried banana (and a nice toilet). All food and drink is at an extra cost, but both stops are very cheap.

You’ll arrive at the ferry port at about 18.00pm where you’ll need to hop in a tuk-tuk to the train station. Agree the price before you get in, it should be no more than Rs.400 for the 10 min drive. Head straight to the ticket counter and ask for a ticket for the 19.55pm train to Varkala. It’s a 30 minute journey, so second seater class is fine if you’re ok with crowds & it only costs Rs.70/person (75p). You should arrive in Varkala at about 20.14pm. We were on time but Indian train services are known for delays so don’t hold your breath! 

TIP: book your accommodation in advance as it’ll be dark when you arrive. Check out our Guide to Sightseeing in Varkala which includes our favourite hostel during the whole of our travels!

The total journey time will be about 12 hours. It’s a long time but LOADS of fun and super cheap! The whole trip will cost about £5/person for the ferry & train and about £7 for food, dinner & taxis. The journey can get a bit boring, but there’ll be plenty of people to chat to! You can even take a nap on the floor at the front of the boat (we did). The lunch stop is a proper local experience and breaks up the journey well. At Rs.400 to explore the Kerala backwaters, you can’t complain. Check out our guide on the best restaurants in Varkala (our FAVOURITE place in India), and also to find out the best hostel we stayed in during our India travels!

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