Tailor-Made Holiday

Highlights of Kerala - Cochin, Munnar & Backwaters

Visit Cochin, tea estates, wildlife reserves, the backwaters and beach

13 days

from $3,895pp (excluding flights)

Kerala competes with Rajasthan as India's most popular destination – and this 13-day itinerary suggestion highlights exactly why.

Arrive into the harbour city of Cochin before travelling inland through the beautiful tea gardens and coffee estates of Munnar, to the wildlife reserve of Periyar and the serenity of Kumarakom. You’ll experience an unforgettable cruise on the backwaters of Kerala, before you have time to relax and unwind on the sandy beaches of Marari.

  • Visit the old port city of Cochin, a mixing pot of cultures and religions.
  • Wander through the lush green paddy fields and spice plantations of Thekkady
  • Take a jungle walk in Periyar National Park to see the variety of flora and fauna on display
  • Spend a night on a houseboat and float down the backwater canals


With its rich past, Cochin is the oldest European settlement in India, making it an eclectic mix of architectural styles, with Jewish, Chinese and Arabian influences. Hunt for bargains in the local antique shops of Cochin and Fab India for affordable homemade gifts and linens.


Spend time in Thekkady, a region adorned with rubber and spice plantations. Take a farm or village walk and taste traditional recipes passed down through the generations. Cooking lessons are available to anyone showing a passion for local Keralan food.

Periyar, located in the Cardamom Hills, lends itself to early morning walks accompanied by forest guides. For the adventurous take to the lake by a bamboo raft for a greater chance of seeing more endemic wildlife.


Heading to the coast and backwaters of Alleppey, join your houseboat on which you spend the night. A visit to Kerala is not complete without a day or night on the river. Take to the waters on a rice barge for a private cruise where sumptuous meals will be served as you glide along the canals.


A short drive from the backwaters brings you to the Keralan Arabian coast. Traditionally a fishing village, Marari Beach Resort is the perfect place to unwind after touring. Don’t miss the nightly fish grill on the beach.

For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

Price Excluding Flights $Flight cost from 
$ 5258.25 $ 877.5

Itinerary at a glance

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Day 2

Evening Kathakali Dance Performance
Witness a spectacular Kathakali dance drama, a Keralan art form that dates back to the 17th century. These performances are famed for their elaborate costumes and colourful makeup.

Set on a cluster of islands and narrow peninsulas, linked by a network of ferries and bridges, the ancient water city of Cochin (Kochi) reflects the eclecticism of Kerala perfectly. With its rich past and bustling present, it has been the business hub of the region for centuries. Cochin is the oldest European settlement in India, with an amazing blend of architectural styles making it a delightful place to stay.

The influence of Chinese, Jews, Arabs and Europeans is evident throughout Cochin and its people, with colonial houses sitting alongside Chinese fishing nets and an ancient synagogue. Cochin is an attractive city with serene back-waters, lagoons overhung with feathery coconut palms and picturesque islands.

It's always fun to ride on one of the local ferries and visit the wonderful spice markets. Cochin also stages performances of Kathakali, a classical Keralan art.

You will be staying at Malabar House Residency, bed and breakfast

Day 3

Half Day City Tour
A city of peninsulas and islands with a mainland centre, Cochin has a magnificent natural harbour, almost in the middle of the city, created by the underwater Malabar mudbanks that ensure calm waters. Visit the famous Chinese fishing nets, Mattancherry Palace and the Jewish Synagogue.

Evening Harbour Cruise
During this sunset cruise on Cochin harbour admire the seaside views of the Fort Cochin, Bolgatty Island, Willingdon Island, the shipyard and the impressive Chinese fishing nets. Though no food and drinks are available on board, you are welcome to bring your own snacks.

You will be staying at Malabar House Residency, bed and breakfast

Day 4

Drive from Cochin to Munnar (Road Journey)

Munnar is a popular colonial retreat at an altitude of 1,524 metres. The tea plantations around Munnar thrive due to the cool climate , which provides a welcome relief from the heat of the plains. The surrounding hills are covered in a dense carpet of tea and are home to some fo the highest tea estates in the world . A short guided stroll or a longer walk through the plantations are a must do, which allows interaction with local tea pickers. The Rajamala National Park is 15 kilometres to the northwest, and is home to the worlds rarest goat, the nilgiri tahr. Munnar is easily accessible from Cochin and shows a different side to coastal Kerala. The town itself is faded but the landscape on the doorstep is perfect for trekking, rafting or adventure sports, or for admiring over a quiet cup of tea.

You will be staying at Windermere Estate, bed and breakfast

Day 5

Half Day Sightseeing Tour
Spend time exploring Munnar and the surrounding area, accompanied by a guide. Highlights include a local tea factory, a nearby waterfall and the Eravikulam National Park. There are also plenty of walks in the area ranging from an hour to several hours.

You will be staying at Windermere Estate, bed and breakfast

Day 6

Drive from Munnar to Thekkady (Road Journey)

Nestling amongst the lush Cardamom Hills, Thekkady is the gateway to Periyar National Park, one of India's largest reserves. Wild elephants, Indian bison, monkeys and even the elusive tiger are just a few of the park's residents. Thekkady itself was founded on the local spice trade, and visitors can take a trip to working pepper, nutmeg and cardamom farms found around the area, or take a hike through the picturesque tea plantations.

You will be staying at Spice Village, bed and breakfast

Day 7

Day in Periyar Park
This is one of the great community based initiatives involving the native tribal community. This full day excursion takes guests on a walk of about two hours deep into the National Park. Part of the walk involves boarding a Bamboo raft to reach the more remote areas of the lake and park. This particular excursion gets you up close and personal with the flora and fauna in the park.

You will be staying at Spice Village, bed and breakfast

Day 8

Drive from Thekkady to Kumarakom (Road Journey)

Located on the shore of Lake Vembanad, Kerala's largest lake, is an unhurried backwater with a good share of top end accommodations. In the vicinity is the Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary, a five-hectare site of a former rubber plantation now home to domestic and migratory birds. A couple of days spent land based on Lake Vembanad is relaxing, with spa facilities, extensive grounds and attractive swimming and dining options. Sunset cruises, rice barges and village walks can be arranged from your chosen hotel.

You will be staying at Coconut Lagoon, bed and breakfast

Day 9

Drive from Kumarakom to Alleppey (Road Journey)

Alleppey is the backbone of South India's waterways. A sleepy easy going town sitting on the waters of Lake Vembanad, surrounded by green paddy fields, it is the gateway to the backwaters. A small spit of land divides coastal Alleppey with beachfront hotels from the inland water ways and river banks.

You will be staying at Traditional House Boat, full board

Day 10

Drive from Alleppey to Mararikulam (Road Journey)

The small fishing village of Mararikulam is only 14 kilometres from Alleppey and just over an hour south of Cochin. It is the perfect place to relax after a tour of Kerala, or when disembarking from your rice barge experience on the backwaters. Marari Beach has a limited selection of hotels, however there are a number of handpicked villa type properties here alongside boutique hotels and Marari Beach Hotel.

You will be staying at Marari Beach Resort, bed and breakfast

Day 11

Village Visits
Life in the fishing villages around Marari Beach Resort is both fascinating and endearing. While the men come home with the catch of the day and stories of the sea, the women set up small scale units at home to convert natural resources around them to produce for their daily lives. It can be a revealing experience to spend some time on your holiday exploring these villages and the ways of life they represent. You can choose to walk, cycle or cruise to any of these villages.

Day at leisure

You will be staying at Marari Beach Resort, bed and breakfast

Day 12

Day at leisure

You will be staying at Marari Beach Resort, bed and breakfast

Day 13

Drive from Mararikulam to Cochin (Road Journey)


Below you can see some of the wonderful places we recommend you stay on your journey.

Malabar House Residency

Malabar House Residency

The Malabar House Residency is a pretty, boutique hotel with just 17 rooms and suites....

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Marari Beach Resort

Marari Beach Resort

Sprawled expansively across 25 acres of land, Marari Resort is separated from the sea by a windbreak of stretching palms....

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Coconut Lagoon

Coconut Lagoon

This traditional-style, eco-friendly hotel promising complete escapism....

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Windermere Estate

Windermere Estate

Once the summer resort of the British Government in South India and set at the confluence of three mountain streams, Windermere is a 60-acre Cardamom Plantation known for its excellent hospitality....

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Spice Village

Spice Village

Spice Village is a collection of individual cottages set in a landscaped spice garden in Thekkady, close to Periyar Wildlife Reserve....

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Traditional House Boat

Traditional House Boat

Cruising the serene backwaters of Kerala's canals are the traditional houseboats or ricebarges which have plied the waters for hundreds of years....

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For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

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"It was extremely helpful to work in conjunction with Joe and his much more up to date knowledge of India and arrive at an itinerary which we were happy with. We enjoyed the whole trip and probably what made it special for us was the fact that all the arrangements worked so well and we really didn’t have to worry about anything at all. Even when we decided to make a small change it was dealt with efficiently and promptly. We can't think of anything that would have made our trip more enjoyable."

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"We asked for a rather particular kind of Indian holiday. You delivered it in full. Highlights? Honestly, each day was a highlight in itself. "

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For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

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