The Backwaters of Kerala are probably one of the main tourist attractions in all of Kerala – and after I tried out one of the Alleppey Houseboat Experiences I can tell you: It truly is an amazing adventure, that you can’t experience everywhere.
Alleppey (also known as Alappuzha), from where most Kerala Backwater tours start, is often referred to as the “Venice of India”, and I could clearly see why. With its beautiful nature and colorful canal-side villages, it is a sight that you should include when traveling to the state of Kerala in India – especially if you love nature.
Where to book your Alleppey Houseboat Tour?
The easiest way to get on an Alleppey Houseboat adventure is by booking it online in advance. There are various tour operators that offer different routes (more about that later in this post), rooms, level of service and much more. So it’s, in my opinion, best to decide before your trip and book a tour that suits your needs.
If you are already in Kerala, you can also ask in your hotel and/or find agencies within the country. The Kerala Backwater Tours are a huge attraction, so you shouldn’t have a problem finding a suitable tour for you to explore the backwaters of Kerala.
I personally did an overnight boat trip with Lakes & Lagoons, which provided a basic room with air-conditioning, lovely service by the staff and delicious food.
What you can expect on the Alleppey Houseboats
That isn’t something I can answer generally, as every tour operator is different. For example, it is possible to rent a complete boat (e.g: you are without other tourists) or sharing the boat with others (e.g: you just have your own room). Other factors are space, air conditioning, level of service, quality of food and much more.
In the end, it’s a personal preference and you should book a houseboat tour which suits your needs. Generally talking taking a Houseboat in the Backwaters of Kerala is an incredible experience – and the kind of boat you choose will just change the level of comfort during your trip.
Staying overnight on the Alleppey Houseboat
Another great option is to do a 2-day houseboat trip in the Kerala Backwaters, which I highly recommend. After you enjoyed the beautiful sceneries during your first day and had a nice dinner on the Houseboat – your captain will dock the boat somewhere – your place to sleep overnight. But you will not leave the boat, as it is perfectly comfortable to sleep while your boat is softly floating in the water.
In the morning you can experience a sunrise inside the wonderful nature, and even meet some lovely locals on land (if you happen to be close to a village like we did). Overall, the overnight stay on the boat made my stay even more unforgettable.
Popular Kerala Backwater Routes
There are several routes you can take to explore the Kerala Backwaters. Most people will depart from Alleppey and do a roundtrip, eventually returning back in Alleppey. Though, it is also possible to do a one-way trip (that’s what we did), which makes a lot of sense if you want to directly reach another destination after your houseboat trip in Kerala.
Here are some of the most common routes:
- Alleppey-Kuttanad: This route features a big network of narrow backwaters and is perfect to experience local village life – one of my favorite things in Kerala.
- Alleppey-Alumkadavu: The route leads to Alumkadavu, which is near Kollam and covers quite a long distance. Fun fact: The Kerala Houseboats are originally from there.
- Alleppey-Kumarakom: On this route, you will be inside much bigger canals, which is a much different experience.
In the end, it depends on you where you’d like to go – and which route fits best for your whole itinerary. But one thing is for sure: The Houseboats in the Kerala Backwaters are an attraction not to miss.
How much does a Kerala Houseboat experience cost?
How much you will pay depends on a lot of factors, such as the quality of your boat, the length of your stay, the route and even the time of the year you are traveling (it’s more expensive during high-season).
Rates can honestly vary from around 80$ (for a basic, non-airconditioning houseboat) up to more than 300$ for a private houseboat for your whole family. That’s why I recommend doing some research beforehand to know exactly what you’re looking for – and then booking your trip in advance to avoid any bad surprises.
These rates usually include food (made by a cook on board) and non-alcoholic drinks, but please also make sure beforehand that this is the case, as every houseboat in Alleppey is different.
Best time to see the Kerala Backwaters
The Houseboats in the Backwaters of Kerala can be booked all year – however, every season has its advantages and disadvantages.
- December – January: Peak Season! Probably the best time to visit the Kerala Backwaters, as it is colder and drier, which makes for a comfortable experience. However, prices are higher and there will be more other tourists.
- February – May: Summer! If you can stand hot temperatures you might think about doing the Houseboat tour during that time. Prices are cheaper and there will certainly be fewer people around. I did the tour during that time and loved it! However, I’d highly recommend an air-conditioning room as it gets super hot!
- June – November: Rain season with the monsoon (most of the times). Prices during this time are attractive, however, it is raining a lot in Kerala. If this is okay for you, it might be worth a shot.
Doing a Houseboat tour from Kochi
Most tourists will initially arrive in Kochi, where you can arrive by air from destinations all over the world. While the main starting point for the houseboats is Alleppey, it is also possible to book a Houseboat tour from Kochi. This is especially an option if you’re only staying for a short time.
If you are interested in some more information about Kochi, including accommodation tips and the best things to do, then check out my Kochi blog post.
I hope you liked the blog post and if you have any questions or additions, please comment below!