Kerala is one of the most sought after travel destinations in India. The backwaters, the culture, the food, the hills and adventure sports are some of the reasons why so many tourists like to visit God’s Own Country.
But those who plan to spend 15 or 20 days exploring Kerala, don’t have a lot of ideas on exploring this state. A 15 day backpacking trip in Kerala can be done in multiple ways. You can either spend your time around Coastal areas or explore the Western Ghats.
Basic information about Kerala
Language spoken – Malayalam, English
- Where is this? – Ithu yev-ada?
- Hello – Namaskaram/namasthe
- Good morning – Suprabhaatham
- Good night – Shubha raathri.
- Thank you -Nanni
- Thanks a lot – Valare upakaram
- How much is this? – Ithinu entha villa?
- I do not understand – Yen-i-qu manusilai-ila
Important Festivals around which you can plan your trip
Kochi Carnival – 31st December
Thrissur Puram – First week of May
Nehru Trophy Boat Race Alleppey – Around 15th August
Theiyyam – Starts from December and goes till mid March in different temples of Kunnur. Contact your host to arrange a visit to one of the temples where the festival is happening.
Athachamayam (Ernakulam) – First day of Onam
Typical 15 to 20 day itinerary for budget backpacking in Kerala
Before starting your backpacking trip in Kerala, you need to figure out the point from where you will start your journey. Backpackers usually prefer starting their Kerala backpacking trip from Kochi because one can go on a straight line to explore every city in the route. You can also start your Kerala solo travel from Bangalore and go to Munnar, Kochi or Alleppey by train or bus.
Top recommended points of arrival in Kerala
By train – Ernakulam
By flight – Kocchi, Trivandrum
By Bus – Kocchi or Alleppey (from Chennai or Bangalore, Munnar (from Bangalore)
Typical long backpacking itinerary in Kerala
Day 1 and 2 – Fort Kochi
Day 3 – Kocchi to Thrissur (Athirapally waterfalls + a couple of temples) Usually the hostels in Fort Kochi arrange trips for Athirapally falls
Day 4 – Thrissur to Alleppey (if you don’t get a direct bus then come to Kochi and you’ll get a bus to Alleppey from Vyttila Mobility Hub)
Day 4 and 5 – Alleppey
Day 6 – Alleppey to Trivandrum to Varkala (From Alleppey you can also go to Kumarakom but since it is not a backpacking destination, I am not including it here)
Day 7 – Varkala
Day 8 and 9 – Varkala
Day 10 – Varkala to Trivandrum to Kovalam
Day 11 – Kovalam
Day 12 – Kovalam to Trivandrum to Thekkady
Day 13 – Thekkady
Day 14 – Thekkady to Munnar
Day 15 and 16 – Munnar
Day 17 – Munnar to Vagamon
Day 18 – Vagamon to Fort Kochi
Day 19 – Fort Kochi to Mallapuram
Day 20 – Mallapuram
Day 21 – Mallapuram to Kannur (You can also choose a night bus or train that goes straight to Kannur from Kochi/Ernakulam and skipping Mallapuram completely)
Day 22 – Kannur to Wayanad
Day 22 and 23 – Wayanad
Day 24 – Wayanad to Bangalore or Mysore end of the journey.
You can modify this itinerary as per your schedule and point of arrival. If you are coming to Kerala from Bangalore then you can also follow the same route in reverse.
Budget stays in Kerala
Budget backpacking in Kerala is a little difficult because many homestays and dormitories are not available online. However, with a little research, you can easily find a nice place to spend your time everywhere.
Budget stay options in Fort Kochi
Fort Kochi has every kind of stay arrangement for backpackers as well as luxury travellers. The budget backpackers in Fort Kochi can choose from the following options
- Happy Camper
- Zostel Kochi
- Rampart Homestay
- La Masion Des Amis
- Villa 43
- Santa Maria Hostel
- Hostel by the Sea
- Casa De Amour
- Taj Mahal Hotel
- Jeen Wilson Homestay
Note: Fort Kochi is very humid even in the months of November and December. Dorms have AC while many of the budget homestays don’t provide the same facility. Choose your stay in Fort Kochi as per your convenience.
Budget stay options in Alleppey
Choosing a stay option in Alleppey has two different options. You can either stay near the beach or stay close to backwaters. If you want to stay close to beach then choose a homestay or a hostel at Cullen Road so that you can walk to the main area where the restaurants, cafes and beach is located.
Backpacker friendly stays close to Alleppey beach
- Trippr Alleppey
(Zostel and Trippr Alleppey are not close to the main beach and you’ll have to walk in order to reach the main area)
- Dream nest guest house
- Funky Art Beach House
- Déjà vu
Backpacker friendly stays close to Alleppey backwaters
Nomads homestay – This is the best hostel close to backwaters. You will be close to the starting point of Nehru Trophy Boat Race. Beach is 3 km from here and an autorickshaw will charge around 200 to 300 rs for one way journey.
Budget stay options in Varkala
Varkala is a very small settlement, so no matter where you stay, you’ll be close to beach area.
- The Lost Hostel
- Short Giraffe Hostels (best in town)
- The Lungi Vibe
Budget stay options in Kovalam
Kovalam is not a backpacker destination so finding a hostel is a little difficult. You can still go a little overbudget and choose a resort or a homestay around the beach.
- Vaiga Homestay
- The Lost Hostel (not sure if it is still open)
- Marina Guest House
Budget stay options in Kumarakom
Kumarakom is basically a honeymoon destination. You’ll find houseboats starting from INR 12000 ($150). But there are stay homes around the region the prices for which start from $15 (INR 1000).
- Brickhouse Inn (Rated 7.9 on booking)
- Lake Palace Family Resort
- Illikalam Lake Side Cottages
Budget stay options in Thekkady
- Summer Cottage (best in town)
- JungleParadiso Hostel
- Able Residency Hotel
- Jungle View
- House of Blue Mangoes
Budget stay options in Munnar
Munnar is a scattered town. Most of the homestays and hostels are far away from the city centre. But they are located in middle of pretty surroundings so the stay is worth it. Although, the advantage of staying around Munnar City Centre is that you’ll get buses to travel around the town for sightseeing.
- Lost Hostel (Amazing surroundings)
- Namasthe Munnar
(The price of bunk bed is only $4 but you may need a taxi to reach both hostels. The surroundings and the view of the hostel are amazing so its worth it.)
- Munnar house hostel (Close to bus stand)
- Share hostel
- M3 Homes
Hotels close to KSRTC Munnar Bus Stand
- Kaippalallil homestay
- Voyage lake view adventure camp
- Maharaja Cottage
Budget stay options in Vagamon
If budget is your issue and you want to interact with other travellers, find nice package for paragliding and sightseeing then I’ll recommend you to stay at Zostel
- Zostel Vagamon
- Spice Green
- Vagamon Lake Resort
Budget stay options in Mallapuram
Mallapuram is not in Kerala. It is in Tamilnadu state but is a nice halt when you are going towards Kannur. You can also choose to stay in Yercaud because it has cheaper stay options.
- MVR Lodge (away from town)
- Hotel Grace Residency
- Hill Fort
- Royal Tourist Home
Budget stay options in Kannur
- Saj Rest Inn
- CBR Ayurhealth
You will find amazing Airbnbs around Kannur so if budget is not an issue then you should keep this option open.
Budget stay options in Wayanad
Similarly to Kannuar, the number of Airbnbs are endless in Wayanad region. Also, you need to keep in mind that Wayanad is a scattered area so you will always be away from city centre.
It is a better idea to stay in Kalpetta, choose Zostel and join their group tours
- Backpackers Heaven
- Evergreen (tent stay)
- Whitebee residency (It is in Kalpetta which is the central point of Wayanad)
- Hilliya Resort
- Zostel Wayanad (Kalpetta)
How to choose your transport while backpacking in Kerala
Kerala State Transport Corporatation or KSRTC has an amazing connectivity. You can walk up to the nearest bus station in the town you are and you’ll find deluxe (ordinary buses with no windows) or AC buses for next destination. You may have to change a bus in between but that is not an issue.
You can also choose Redbus.com to book luxury buses. Luxury buses cost almost double of what local buses charge but they are the best when it comes to travelling long distance and for night journey. Make sure that you check rating and reviews while booking a bus.
Backpackers can also check BlaBlaCabs (app) to find ride sharing.
Bike Hiring in Kerala
There are several bike hiring points around every destination of Kerala. You can either hire one for local sightseeing or look for something that you can use for a long term use.You can contact your hostel or hotel reception and they’ll connect you with a reputed dealer.
Precaution: Make sure that you don’t drive through forest areas during night as chances of attack from wild elephants increase in dark.
Responsible Travel tips in Kerala
Kerala is one of the most eco conscious states in India. As a traveller, it is your responsibility to reduce your carbon footprint and only opt for eco-friendly practices.
- Kerala has a complete ban on Single use plastic. When you order your drink, ask if they give paper straw, metal straw or no straws
- Avoid jungle safari in night
- Choose a local homestay so that your hosts are able to live a better life
- Choose public transport over private ones
- Don’t purchase mineral water bottles and if you do, dispose them carefully
- Don’t play loud music while camping or staying close to forest areas
Best time to visit Kerala
Best time to visit Kerala is from last week of September and Mid February. The monsoon season (early July to mid September) is the most dangerous time to explore Kerala as unexpected floods will ruin your sightseeing chances. Summers in Kerala are extra humid, you won’t be able to spend much time outside but you can skip the coastal area for the hilly ones as the weather there is calmer.
Hope this Kerala travel guide for budget backpackers helped you plan your trip better. For questions related to sightseeing and food, connect with me on Instagram or Facebook.