Overview

Classic Kerala Tour​

Kochi – Munnar – Alleppey – Varkala - Kochi

Start: Kochi, India
Finish: Kochi, India
Country: India
Theme: Culture & beach adventure
Trip code: SCKT
Ages: Minimum 15
Group size: 2 to 16

Uncover the delights of tropical lush Kerala- South India on this relaxing exploration of idyllic beaches, tranquil backwaters, beautiful hill station, aromatic spice trails, fascinating local cultures and impressive medieval architecture, this trip has it all. Explore Fort Kochi from spice routes to Portugese and Colonial architecture, picturesque Chinese fishing nets to beautifully decorated local markets. Enjoy the hill station Munnar and Visit tea plantations and spice plantations. Cruise through enchanting palm fringed backwaters and meet the locals in their fishing villages. Relax at the sunshine beaches of Varkala with freshest food and refreshing drinks watching the sunset.

9 Days Customize Dates Kochi to Kochi
Inclusions/Exclusions
What we'll give. What we won't

What is included in the tour

Meals:

  • 8 Breakfasts, 1 Dinner, 1 Lunch

Activities:

  • Kochi: Mattancherry palace
  • Kochi: Chinese fishing nets
  • Kochi: Jew Synagogue (closed on Jew holidays or Saturday)
  • Kochi: St. Francis Church
  • Munnar: Tea Museum
  • Alleppey: Houseboat cruise
  • Varkala: Janardhan swamy temple, Sivagiri Mutt

Accommodation:

  • Hotel: 7 nights, Houseboat: 1 night

Transport:

  • Car, Private vehicle, Boat

What is NOT included in the tour

  • Any Airfare
  • Travel Insurance
  • Anything other than mentioned in inclusions
Highlights
What makes this tour special
  • Kochi – Explore the Old Spice routes and architecture of the Portugese, Dutch, Jews, British, See the fresh catch by Chinese Fishing nets or shop for souvenirs/spices through the lanes of Fort Kochi
  • Munnar: Enjoy the beautiful hill station and its cooler climate and wander through tea plantations.
  • Alleppey: Cruise through amazing backwaters on traditional houseboat and see the fascinating rural life
  • Varkala: Relax at the sunshine beaches and sip refreshing drinks watching sunset over the Arabian Sea
Itinerary

Itinerary brief:

Day 1: Kochi- Start Kochi and Free afternoon
Day 2: Kochi/Munnar- Morning sightseeing including Fort Kochi, Mattancheery Palace, Jew town & Synagogue, Chinese Fishing nets & St. Francis church & afternoon transfer to Munnar
Day 3: Munnar- Morning Tea Museum, Afternoon relax
Day 4: Alleppey- To Alleppey and afternoon explore backwater villages
Day 5: Alleppey- Morning free & Afternoon Houseboat cruise through backwaters
Day 6: Varkala beach- Drive To Varkala, Relax & enjoy the beach
Day 7: Varkala beach- Free day to relax or enjoy Ayurvedic massage or Visit JanardhanSwamy temple, Sivagiri Mutt
Day 8: Kochi- Drive to Kochi back & afternoon relax or enjoy Kathakali dance show
Day 9: Kochi- End Kochi

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Kochi

  • Namaste. Welcome to India. Upon arrival at the Kochi airport you will meet our representative and will transfer to hotel. After the long journey you might be tired and jet legged so relax and get prepared for the great adventure. If you are arriving early in the day you can explore the nearby places from hotel or ask us for suggestions.

Day 2: Kochi / Munnar

  • After breakfast start your Kochi sightseeing and explore the old town of Fort Kochi which has been a gathering place for merchants and traders since antiquity who came here to barter goods for spices. Fort Kochi is the earliest settlement of Europeans (since 1500) and has a mixture of Portugese, Dutch and English influences. We will visit Mattancherry palace aka Dutch palace and see some of the best murals depicting scenes from Ramayan and other great legends. Stroll through the Jew town and warehouses filled with antiquities, spices and souvenirs you will reach Jewish synagogue (closed on Saturday and Jewish holidays) where Kochi’s surviving Jews come to worship. From here we make our way to St. Francis Church which is one of the oldest European churches in India and visit the old harbor and nearby cantilevered Chinese fishing nets.
  • After our Kochi sightseeing in the afternoon we drive away from the coastal plain towards east through an area of spice and tea plantations to Munnar. It is a beautiful hill station set amongst the highest mountains of Kerala at about 1600 m above sea level. Situated on the western ghats at the confluence of three mountains streams and is surrounded by lakes, reservoirs and forests. It offers breathtaking views of surrounding hills carpeted with tea plantations and is a pleasant place to spend time with its green tropical forests and fresh mountain air. From many places in Munnar you could see Anamudi (2695mts), south India’s highest mountain peak. Arriving there by evening, you may relax or explore the surrounding areas.

Day 3: Munnar

  • This morning after leisurely start we visit a fascinating tea museum where we can learn about the various teas and their processing. It is usually women who pick the tea with their nimble fingers. We may stroll through the tea plantations and later visit a local market before going back to the hotel. Rest of the afternoon is free to spend at your own leisure.

Day 4: Alleppey

  • Today we descend through the hills and make our way to the backwaters at Alleppey (175 kms/5 hours).  Alleppey backwaters are made up with intertwined or connected lakes, ponds, waterways and various small rivers. Often called the “Venice of the east” owing to the ravishing beauty of Alleppey is a visual treat to behold. From green paddies to the temples, backwaters to beaches, everything about Alleppey lies in it’s ageless beauty. Alleppey is one of the best places in Kerala to enjoy a few days of bliss and serenity.
  • Later afternoon you can explore the area, meet the locals and learn about their everyday living. You can find fascinating life of rural areas with locals doing fishing, carrying goods on rice barges, mud-diggers, toddy-tappers and farming on beautiful lush rice fields.

Day 5: Alleppey

  • Later morning you will board a houseboat for a journey through the lush backwaters. The houseboat cruise is one of the highlights of the trip and no trip to Kerala would be complete without the wonderful experience of the backwaters aboard these traditional vessels. These boats were traditionally used for hundreds of years to transport goods through the network of waterways. As you gently drift through the backwaters you will take in breathtaking scenery aboard your very own thatched houseboat. You will witness village life, bowing coconut palms, brightly hued temples and plenty of bird life.
  • The houseboats are equipped with comfortable twin bedded rooms with ensuite bathrooms. Each boat has driver, cook and an assistant. Watch beautiful sunset over backwaters and enjoy tasty traditional authentic Keralan cuisine (lunch, dinner & breakfast) using fresh local produce prepared by on-board chef.

Day 6: Varkala beach

  • After our amazing cruise experience we make our way to Varkala (approx.170kms/ 5 hours). Varkala is a coastal town with pristine beaches, hills, lakes, forts and lighthouses. It is located on a uniquely formed sedimentary cliff and is popular for its fisheries, natural springs and Samadhi of famous Kerala’s saint Sree Narayan Guru. Enjoy rest of the afternoon exploring the beaches or find a restaurant at a perfect spot on the cliff overlooking the Arabian Sea and serving fresh, local seafood.

Day 7: Varkala beach

  • Enjoy a leisurely free day and just sit back and relax. You may enjoy a relaxing Ayurvedic massage at one of many Ayurvedic treatment centres located around the area. To get more active there are plenty of water activities like parasailing, paragliding, surfing on offer. Or you may spend the morning wandering the peaceful gardens of Sree Narayan Guru’s ashram, the saint being one of the most eminent spiritual and social reformer, Visit Janardhana Swamy temple, lighthouses, Vishnu temple and Sivagiri Mutt. Feel free to make your own choices and enjoy this free day.

Day 8: Kochi

  • After a leisurely start in the morning, we make our way back to Kochi (170 kms/ 5 hours). Spend your afternoon either to wander through the fascinating streets of Fort Kochi, do some last minute shopping or just relax and cherish the memories of your unforgettable trip.
  • In the evening you have the option to see one of the traditional dance performances called Kathakali. The dance portrays events from Ramayan and Mahabharat – great Indian epics and emphasis on facial expressions and eye movements requiring total body control.

Day 9: Kochi

  • The trip comes to an end after breakfast.

Optional Excursions 

During the trip you may have the opportunity to see some optional sights/ excursions (not included) which will cost you extra. Please confirm with us the charges for any optional excursion and let us know if you would like us to make any arrangements.

  • Varkala- Ayurvedic Massage – INR 1500-2000
  • Kochi- Kathkali Dance Show- INR 500

What to take:

  • Essentials:-
  • Sunhat and sunglasses
  • Sun cream
  • Light casual clothing
  • Warm sweater/fleece (for winter months November to February)
  • Torch/Flashlight/Headlight
  • Reusable Water bottle
  • Trainers/Walking shoes
  • Sandals/Flip-flops
  • Anti-bacterial hand gel
  • Insect repellent
  • Small personal first aid kit
  • Toiletries
  • Additional warm base layer (for winter departures)
  • Scarf (for winter departures)
  • Gloves (for winter departures)
  • Cash, credit and debit cards
  • Day pack (used for day excursions)
  • Ear plugs (optional)
  • Locks for bags
  • Moneybelt
  • Outlet Adapter
  • Wind proof rain jacket
  • Conservative Dress: (for temple visits)
    • Modest clothing that covers knees and shoulders (Long pants, long skirts, shirts that cover shoulders)
    • Shawl or scarf
    • Men’s and women’s clothing should cover shoulders and be on or below the knee. Women especially should always dress conservatively to avoid unwanted attention and not to cause offence; vests, tight fitting trousers, short skirts and shorts are not recommended.
  • For your own convenience we suggest that you pack as lightly as possible as you are expected to carry your own luggage for short distances. You will also need a day pack/bag to carry water, cameras and other electronics like mobile phones, etc.

MAP

Tour details:

The information below is intended to assist you as you consider your travel options. In addition to the detailed itinerary each trip has been supported with some useful information to provide you with an overview of your accommodation & meals, all things money, passports, visas, vaccinations, insurance, clothing, personal equipment and much more to help you with your travel preparations.

  • Physical rating: 1
  • Joining point: Your trip normally starts at our accommodation in Delhi in the morning of Day 1 of the itinerary. Details of the hotel are sent to you in the Final Joining Instructions ‐ sent approximately two weeks before departure.
  • Accommodation check‐in times are normally from around 12 noon.
  • Joining instructions: Our customers receive a complimentary transfer from the airport or train station to the joining point of your tour, and then back from the ending point to the airport or train station. , provided you arrive and depart on the tour only itinerary start and end dates. Please send your arrival flight details to us in advance.
  • After custom clearance you will be met by our representative at the arrival hall with sign board near Costa coffee next to exit gate number 5 who will escort you safely to your hotel.
  • In case of any emergency, please contact us 24*7 on 0091-8529577782.
  • Important: Please avoid touts at the airport offering you pre-paid taxi to hotel and later charging hefty amounts. Worst case scenario if you are unable to locate your transfer and are unable to contact us then you can take pre-paid taxis offered by Delhi traffic police and make sure you hand over the pay slip once you have reached the right hotel. Normally it takes around 45 minutes to 1 hour to reach the hotel and cost around INR 400 – 500.
  • Emergency contact: Please feel free to contact us for any information or for any issues anytime 24*7 on 0091-8529577782. (same number for Whatsapp as well).

Accommodation:  

  • The hotels used are comfortable & standard city tourist hotels to characteristic heritage hotels built in former forts & palaces and are chosen on the basis of comfort, location and character. Services and amenities are generally adequate with running cold/hot water, western style bathrooms, air-conditioned, high level of hospitality, clean, mostly wifi, restaurant, some may have swimming pool.
  • All of our group tours are planned and operated on a twin-share basis, meaning that the standard cost is based either on individual travelers sharing accommodation with another group member of the same sex, or people who book together sharing accommodation.
  • Single supplement rooms are available to purchase for this trip. Please advise us at the time of booking if you wish to add this to your booking and we will confirm the price for you.

Transport:

  • Trains, Private car (air-conditioned), Mini coach (air-conditioned) for city to city transfers and for local sightseeing.
  • Auto rickshaw (tuk-tuks), Cycle-rickshaw, Metro for some sightseeing locally.
  • The best way to see and insight into a country is to travel on roads or by trains to see it’s landscape, countryside, meet locals and experience it’s culture. To travel on Indian roads is itself an experience with loud horns, sometimes bumpy roads, cows sitting on the middle of the road, chaotic traffic jams, vehicles jig jagging but everything seems to work efficiently and smoothly and as such there are no issues and it is safe. It is one of the most interesting part of your experience. Travel time covering relatively short distances is longer in comparison to Western countries.

Money:

  • India's Currency
    • The national currency of India is the Indian Rupee (INR).
    • Please refer www.xe.com for latest foreign exchange rates of any currency.
    • It is illegal to bring-in or take-out rupees. Do not accept torn or (very) dirty Indian banknotes from banks or in change as they will almost certainly not be accepted as legal tender in India. You can change money back from Rupees into US Dollars/ home currency at Delhi airport, but you must produce an exchange receipt showing that you changed money in India.
  • ATM availability
    • ATM machines are now widely available everywhere (Visa and MasterCard are best) but still for the worst case scenario please take some cash (USD/AUD/Pound) with you as well. Please inform your bank before departure that you are travelling to India and carry the relevant telephone number with you in case they put a block on your card.
    • You can pay with credit cards in bigger shops, many hotels/restaurants all over India.
    • Traveller’s Cheques of reputed banks can be exchanged in big cities but are becoming difficult and rare.
    • You can bring US Dollars/AUD/Pound/etc.
  • Extra Expenses and Spending Money
    • Every traveller is bit different and therefore spending money requirements will vary. Some travellers may drink more than others while other travellers like to purchase more souvenirs than most. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, food, shopping, laundry and tipping.
    • Shopping opportunities throughout this tour are endless and we suggest that you take money for souvenirs ‐ even if you are generally not a keen shopper we have found that most people succumb to some of the wide variety of handicrafts on offer.
    • India has very good opportunities for shopping, especially for locally made goods, and during your trip it is highly likely that your local guides will take you to emporiums as well as workshops where these goods are made. Many people find this a great opportunity to buy local handicrafts, textiles, jewellery and carpets. Guides will often assume that visitors will want to go shopping, it is very much part of the culture, but if you do not wish to go please make this clear to your local guide at the time.

Tipping

  • Tipping is very much part of the culture in India and is usually expected. Through our experience we have found that tipping can often be an awkward affair, especially when in an unfamiliar country where you are not sure when or how much to tip and travelers get confused, frustrated or embarrassed. To overcome this, at the start of the trip for your convenience we will discuss and establish a ‘Tipping Kitty’  which will be used to tip porters, hotel staff, local sightseeing guides, toilet stops, shoe keepers as well as any other support staff used throughout your trip. We will suggest how much to contribute, depending on group size, but it is usually in the region of 1000- 1500 INR  per person.
  • Please note that this tipping kitty will not include the tour leader & driver.
  • If you have enjoyed the knowledge, service and expertise of your guide and driver a tip (though not compulsory) is appropriate towards the end of the tour. It may not be customary in some countries but in India tipping is entrenched in culture especially within the tourism industry. It helps reward, appreciate and inspire excellent service. The following is the guidelines to assist our guests, but we leave the decision to provide a gratuity entirely at their discretion:
  • Group leader: Based on their overall service our past guests have left gratuities of USD 5-6 per person per day.
  • Driver: Based on their overall service our past guests have left gratuities of USD 2-3 per person per day.
  • Restaurants: Generally depending on the service around 10% of your bill.

Budget for Meals & Drinks:

  • Food: All breakfasts are included. Lunch & Dinner -USD 200 approx.
  • Food is one of the biggest part of travelling experiences. We always encourage people to try local restaurants and street food vendors. We always recommend to try various local specialties and regional delicacies. You can eat out very cheaply in India, but if you go to the standard restaurants most of the time, you will spend around the suggested amount. In various places you will see how the food is made e.g. masala chai (tea), dosas (rice pancake), Vadas (Indian savoury doghnuts), fresh sea food & fishes. In most of the towns there is a good choice of restaurants and a choice between Indian and Western style food. If you are a vegetarian, India is probably one of the best destinations to travel to. Tea and soft drinks are very cheap. A (large!) bottle of beer is approximately USD 4. Mineral water is widely available.

Climate & Weather information:

  • October/November/February/March/April: The days are normally warm to hot and nights cool or mild. Generally there is no rain expected and humidity is very low.
  • December/January: It can get very cold in the early mornings and evenings. Fog can be a possibility as well. Warm clothes are essential. 
  • April/May/June: These are hot months with high temperature and it is dry heat. 
  • July/ August/September: South-West Monsoon brings rain and cools down the area. Occasional showers and humidity. 

Practical Information:

Passport & Visas

  • Please note it is mandatory to get Visa for India and it is the responsibility of an individual traveler to make sure that he obtains a right Visa of right time and duration.  Holders of passport of many countries including Australia, New Zealand, USA & UK and many other are eligible for the e-Tourist Visa to enter India. 
  • The visa can be applied for through the official Indian government visa website only - https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/visa/tvoa.html. Please check all eligibility criteria that can be found on the website but important points are listed below - 
  • You must be arriving into one of 24 selected entry points which can be found via the official Indian Government website link above. However, you can exit from any of the authorised immigration check posts in India.
  • Passports must have at least 6 months validity from the date of arrival in India and at least 2 blank pages for stamping. The visa application will take approximately 4 days to process. But it is always a good idea to apply and get the Visa well in advance. It is valid for 60 days from the date of arrival in India, and single and multiple entry is permitted on the e-Tourist visa. You can only obtain 2 e-visas for India in a calendar year. 
  • Biometric data will be collected on arrival in India.
  • Please note that travelers entering India overland from Nepal will not be issued Visa at the border and are required to obtain appropriate Visa in advance from their own country. The e-Tourist visa does not apply to traveler travelling overland. Also it is very difficult and tiresome and sometimes not possible to get Indian visa in Nepal.

Vaccination

  • There may be certain vaccination requirements for the trips depending on which areas you are visiting, how long you are visiting and where are you coming from and going to. Routine Recommended vaccinations are:  Tetanus, Typhoid, Diphtheria, Hepatitis A, Polio.
  • The risk of malaria on this trip is slight, but you may wish to consult your GP or travel health clinic for further advice.
  • Dengue fever and/or Chikungunya are known risks in places visited on this trip. Both are tropical viral diseases spread by daytime biting mosquitoes. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available for either, and therefore the best form of prevention is to avoid being bitten. We recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites.
  • Travel health can often be something people forget about before going away, but a little preparation and knowledge can go a long way to help you stay fit and healthy while abroad.
  • The above information can change at short notice; as we are not qualified to answer all your questions about travel health we strongly recommend you contact your Medical Professional or a Travel Health Clinic at least 8 weeks prior to departure for up-to-date information.
  • For additional information please visit: https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/countries , http://www.traveldoctor.com.au/

Travel Insurance

  • Travel insurance is compulsory in order to participate on any of our trips. When travelling on a trip, you will be required to give your adequate valid travel insurance details to us on Day 1. Your Insurance Policy must fully cover you for medical expenses and emergency repatriation to your home country.  We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects. If you have credit card insurance we require proof of purchase of the trip (a receipt of credit card statement) with a credit card in your name. Contact your bank for details of their participating insurer, the level of coverage and emergency contact telephone number.

Feedback

  • You are the best judge for our trips. We would like to hear from you about your experiences and holidays with us. We believe in regular learning so we can understand in a better way what we are good at and where we can improve. You are the most important inspiration and motivation for us to keep doing better.
  • Please send us your feedback at hello@sunshineindiatours.com

Responsible Travel

  • Responsible tourism is tourism which: minimizes negative social, economic and environmental impacts. Generates greater economic benefits for local people and enhances the well-being of host communities.  We believe positive impact tourism can bring benefits to many communities, help preserve the environments we travel to see, and provide real and positive social exchanges. At Sunshine Responsible tourism is our core policy and our trips and experiences always focus on these principles and cater accordingly.