In photos: the backwaters of Alleppey, Kerala

The backwaters of Alleppey (also known as Alappuzha) are a common stop on many a tourist’s trip through Kerala, India. Here are photos to prove why you need to go, and a tip for the cheapest way to see the Alleppey backwaters in Kerala, India. No expensive boat hire required!

 

Ah, Alleppey. Its winding waterways and palm-shaded streets are a sight to behold… and it’s no secret! Alleppey is one of the most popular spots for those looking to explore Kerala’s famous backwaters.

Boats on the canals in Alleppey (Alappuzha), Kerala, India - Lost With Purpose

Alleppeys’ main street canal

The most common way to see the backwaters is to hire a boat for one to four hours, sometimes more. A motorboat trip around the backwaters and to several small stops can cost anywhere from 1,200 Rs. total ($18) for a few hours to 2000 to 3000 Rs ($30 – $45), depending on the season. That’s all well and good for groups, or those on a bigger budget, but what about backpackers and budget travelers?

 

The Alleppey (Alappuzha) backwaters in Kerala, India, are a famous stop on the southern Indian tourist track. With lush palm trees and winding waterways, they're a pleasure to boat around. But boat hire can be expensive for budget travelers and backpackers! Here's the cheapest way to see the Alleppey backwaters in Kerala, India.

 

The cheapest way to see the Alleppey backwaters in Kerala, India - Lost With Purpose

Ahoy!

The cheapest way to see the Alleppey backwaters in Kerala, India

If, like us, you’re not too picky about stopping for touristy “village tours”, there’s a super cheap way for you to boat on the backwaters: the local ferry system.

A cheap ferry in Alleppey (Alappuzha), Kerala, India - Lost With Purpose

A local ferry in Alleppey

The region has an extensive network of ferries that carry residents up and down the rivers and canals throughout the day. Given Alleppey’s problem with pollution from the tourism surge, mass transit is a great option to see the backwaters in a responsible way.

Tourist boats in Alleppey (Alappuzha), Kerala, India - Lost With Purpose

Tourist boats in Alleppey

If you want to play local, be a bit more sustainable, or just save yourself boatloads (PUN!) of money, this is the way to go.

Where do the ferries go?

You can find a ferry schedule on the Kerala government’s State Water Transport Department (SWTD) website. Basically, boats go to and from the ferry jetties in Alleppey until about 21:30.

Schoolboy drawing on the evening ferry in Alleppey (Alappuzha), Kerala, India - Lost With Purpose

A schoolboy drawing on the evening ferry.

There are several locations serviced by regular ferries all day: Nedumudy, Kottayam, and Krishnapuram. These are your best bets, as you can be assured there will be a boat back to Alleppey as long as you don’t leave too late in the day.

We took the route to Kottayam, which goes over the lake and ends halfway up a waterway to the town next to a school. The ride took 2 hours in one direction, and a ticket was 33 Rs. ($0.50) per person round-trip. The ending point was definitely middle of nowhere status, so if you want to get to Kottayam town, you’ll need to hire an auto.

Kottayam boat jetty - The cheapest way to see the Alleppey backwaters in Kerala, India - Lost With Purpose

The ending point for the Kottayam ferry.

A fisherman in Alleppey (Alappuzha), Kerala, India - Lost With Purpose

A fisherman on the lake.

The cheapest way to see the Alleppey backwaters in Kerala, India - Lost With Purpose

There are a lot of wide waterways on the way to Kottayam.

The route to Nedumudy goes through more winding waterways, which should be more scenic. It’s a bit closer to Alleppey than Kottayam, so it’s a shorter route, but potentially more lush and scenic.

An overgrown waterway in Alleppey (Alappuzha), Kerala, India - Lost With Purpose

Can you believe there’s water under all of that green?

Krishnapuram is a long ways away from Alleppey—about 8 hours. We recommend bringing your bags with you and staying there if you take this route.

A tiny house on a canal in Alleppey (Alappuzha), Kerala, India - Lost With Purpose

One of many tiny houses along Alleppey’s waterways.

 

The Alleppey (Alappuzha) backwaters in Kerala, India, are a famous stop on the southern Indian tourist track. With lush palm trees and winding waterways, they're a pleasure to boat around. But boat hire can be expensive for budget travelers and backpackers! Here's the cheapest way to see the Alleppey backwaters in Kerala, India.

 

 

A man waiting for the budget ferry in Alleppey (Alappuzha), Kerala, India - Lost With Purpose

Waiting for the ferry to arrive

Where (and how) to catch the ferry

To find the Alleppey (Alappuzha) boat jetties, check out the map above, or just hang around on one of the small boat jetties on the main canal through Alleppey. The ferries will stop at any jetty, as long as you wave them down. Make sure to ask where the ferry is going before getting on. The locals will be happy to point you onto the right boat.

A boat jetty in Alleppey (Alappuzha), Kerala, India - Lost With Purpose

One of the boat jetties on the main canal in Alleppey

The same goes for getting off the ferry. Jump off wherever you’d like (even into the water, if you so choose), all you need to do is point to where you want to get off.

A man getting off the ferry in Alleppey (Alappuzha), Kerala, India - Lost With Purpose

Talk about hop on, hop off!

Food and drinks

Bringing water and snacks is always a good idea for long trips. However, if you’re looking for a bite while on the water, there are a decent number of tiny restaurants situated near boat jetties along the waterways.

A small restaurant on the water in Alleppey (Alappuzha), Kerala, India - Lost With Purpose

Just point one out to the boat hands and tell them you want to get off there. You’ll have to wait for a new ferry to continue on in your journey, but there are plenty of boats running up and down the main waterways. 

 

Non-motorized boat in Alleppey (Alappuzha), Kerala, India

Punting boats are another cheap/responsible alternative to motorized tour boats. Just don’t make them row you too long!

Where to stay in Alleppey, India

It’s wise to book ahead in high season (December-January), as Alleppey is super popular with local and foreign tourists alike. Kerala is one of India’s hottest destinations, after all!

We stayed in Monkey Republic guesthouse, and it was cheap and good value: free breakfast (with coffee) and wifi that actually worked—amazing for India! If that’s full up, check out Lotus Homestay.

 

The Alleppey (Alappuzha) backwaters in Kerala, India, are a famous stop on the southern Indian tourist track. With lush palm trees and winding waterways, they're a pleasure to boat around. But boat hire can be expensive for budget travelers and backpackers! Here's the cheapest way to see the Alleppey backwaters in Kerala, India.

 

Want more? A must-read for travelers in India: Please stop giving pens to children in India

 

Yay transparency! There are affiliate links in this post. If you book a stay with one of our links, we’ll make a small commission at no extra cost to you. Never fear, we only recommend places we’ve used or would use ourselves. We’re good people, we promise!

Alex

American by birth, citizen of nowhere in particular by nature. Addicted to ice cream. Enjoys climbing trees, dislikes falling out. Has great fondness for goats which is usually not reciprocated.

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6 thoughts on “In photos: the backwaters of Alleppey, Kerala

    Etaporama says:

    Good stuff!!
    btw have you ever experience some bad treatments especially as a woman while traveling in India? as we heard recently on the news that nasty things happened (again) to an American woman tourist and some other before hand. Need your insight for traveler to India as a safe solo woman destination. ?

    namaste

    Yeah, I’ve been touched several times, and had a bunch of men surround me once. However, I think overall people in the south of India are quite friendly and relaxed as a whole. Can’t speak for north India yet, as we’ve only seen Delhi for a couple of days.

    But, that’s not to say women shouldn’t travel alone in India! Women do so all the time. It depends on how much you can tolerate, and of course precautions need to be made, just like traveling alone in any other country. Don’t walk around late at night alone, don’t be too friendly towards men you don’t know, don’t go off with men alone, etc.

    The good thing about India is there are many places where finding a traveler companion for the day will be easy. It’s a popular tourist destination, and there are backpackers here year-round. Solo girls included.

    If you want to go to India alone, do it! Don’t let men stop you 😉

    Sapna Garg says:

    Wow. Getting in Love with your Pictures. I have also written my experience on Alleppey at my blog. You may check out-
    http://www.nitsatraveldiaries.com/2017/04/backwater-that-redefines-alleppey.html

    Thanks for letting u know.

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