The Alleppey backwaters are a common stop on many a tourist’s trip through Kerala, India. Here’s a guide on how to make the best of your trip to the Alleppey backwaters, including plenty of photos for inspiration.
Ah, Alleppey (also known as Alappuzha). Its winding waterways and palm-shaded streets are a sight to behold… and it’s no secret! Cruising the Alleppey backwaters is one of the most popular ways of exploring Kerala.
Taking a tour of the Alleppey Backwaters in Kerala
The most common way to see Alleppey’s backwaters is to hire a boat for one to four hours, sometimes more. A motorboat trip around the Alleppey 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. And if you want to live it up, you can even stay on an Alleppey Boat House, with all the luxury that this entails. This all well and good for groups, or those on a bigger budget, but what about backpackers and budget travelers?
If you want to book a tour, there are several ways to go about. You can book a tour online, at a travel agency in Alleppey, through your hostel or hotel, or with one of the many boatmen lounging around in Alleppey.
When you book online or with a tour agency, make sure to use only reputable agencies, preferably ones that are recommended to you by other travelers. Not all agencies are honest about the state and luxury level of your boat. This is especially the case if you want to book a multi-day houseboat tour.
To avoid disappointment, it’s best to inspect any boat before making a final agreement. So we advise you to show un in Alleppey and organize your Alleppey backwater tour on the spot, instead of booking ahead. Make sure to bargain.
The cheapest way to see the Alleppey backwaters in Kerala
If you’re not interested in going on a tour of the Alleppey backwaters and don’t care about staying on a houseboat either, there’s a super cheap way for you to boat on the backwaters of Alleppey: the local ferry system.
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, and it won’t break the bank, either.
Looking for more things to do in Kerala? Check out this article on places to visit in Kerala!
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 around Alleppey 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.
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 from the jetty when you arrive.
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.
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.
Where (and how) to catch the ferry from Alleppey
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.
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.
Food and drinks on the backwaters of Alleppey
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.
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.
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! You can book Monkey Republic here. If that’s full up, check out Lotus Homestay.
And there you have it, our guide on visiting the backwaters of Alleppey on a budget. Let us know in the comments if you have any questions.
In Kerala? Don’t miss experiencing a Theyyam ritual in northern Kerala!
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