Journey to Alleppey
We travelled from Kochi to Alleppey by public bus. If you want to do the same, head to the bus stop just outside the KTDC Tourist Information Centre on Church Road. You will first need to get a bus to Thoppumpady (New Bridge bus stop, 5km south of Fort Kochi) and change buses there. The bus to Thoppumpady costs rs.6 each and the bus to Alleppy costs rs.37 each.
Some buses have their destination written in English either on the front or on the side, but failing that then tell a local at the bus stop where you are going and they are more than likely to point you in the right direction.
Journey out of Alleppey
There is a public ferry that goes from Alleppey to Kottayam from the boat jetty for just rs.9 each. The journey takes around 2 ½ – 3 hours and it is a relaxing way to travel and also a great cheap way to see some of the backwaters.
The public boat jetty and enquiry office in Alleppey is not that obvious immediately due to the lack of signage. It is a small ugly looking concrete building on the side of canal with steps leading down to the water. There is an enquiry office just on the right at the bottom of the steps – this is not a ticket office, buy your ferry tickets from the conductor on the boat.
Unfortunately for us our ferry broke down just 200m down river so we had to jump off and head to the bus station. The photo below is taken just 25m before we had to jump off! Even though our ferry only took us 200m, we were not able to get a refund on our tickets. Typical.
The public bus station is located on the east side of Boat Jetty Road. Although the number of buses with no English signs may seem intimidating at first, head to the enquiry office inside and they will point you to the correct bus. Buy your tickets from the conductor on the bus. A ticket to Kottayam costs just rs.33 each.
Kottayam acts as a transport hub for foreign tourists as it has a large train station with good connections around the rest of India. We took a night train from here to Chennai.
Location: Cullen Road
How much does it cost? Rs.400 (double room with attached bathroom + free wi-fi)
On arrival at Dreamnest we were shown to our room by one of the guests as the owner had popped out for lunch. Our room was large, and clean with a flagged floor.
Dreamnest has a common room with a large table and chairs, in addition to a computer for guests use. We enjoyed sitting in the common room as it was a good way to meet other guests and it was a nice cool place to sit.
We found eating in Alleppey rather difficult due to the lack of local restaurants, and early closing time (most restaurants close around 7pm). I’d advise eating early at around 5pm – 6pm to avoid any disappointment.
SAS Annapoorna Vegetarian Hotel
Location: Walk east along boat jetty road, situated on the right after the boat jetty
How much does it cost? Rs.30 – rs.80
This is a nice restaurant popular with locals serving traditional Indian food. You should try the Thali here, it is listed on the menu as an ‘ordinary meal’ and costs just rs.40. It comes served with a variety of tasty dips and vegetables, and the refills are aplenty.
Location: Cullen Road (small branch) and Mullackal Road (larger branch)
How much does it cost? Rs.30 – 250
We only visited the small branch on Cullen Road for breakfast (they serve a variety of omelettes), but they also serve a variety of traditional Indian food. We visited once for dinner but actually ended up walking out as everything we asked for was out of stock. We’re not sure if this was just because we arrived late, so it’s probably still worth a visit for dinner if you’re staying nearby.
Aryabhavan Vegetarian Restaurant
Location: Cullen Road
How much does it cost? Rs.5 – 40
This small local restaurant is run by enthusiastic owner who is eager to please. The food is very tasty, especially the Thali which is served on a banana leaf in the traditional Keralan style.
Please note that they only serve certain meals at certain times of the day:
Breakfast: Idly / Appam
Lunch: Banana leaf Thali
Dinner: Masala Dosa
Location: Negotiate a cruise directly with a boat owner along the east side of the canal on either Boat Jetty Road, or Punnamada Road.
How much does it cost? Rs.250 an hour (although discounts can normally be negotiated for trips of 4 hours or longer)
The main reason tourists come to Alleppey is to explore the backwaters on a relaxing half day or full day cruise. If you are a budget traveller then I urge you to go and negotiate directly with the boat owners for your cruise rather than booking through your hotel or an agency as you could save yourself thousands of rupees.
We walked alongside the canal and negotiated a 4 hour boat ride on a motorboat for rs.900. The going rate was rs.1000 but we were able to negotiate a small discount with a little friendly banter.
Our boat driver stopped a couple of times on the way, once to show us his house where he lived with his mother, wife and children. We were treated to a nice cup of Chai then led to the back of his house to the expanse of rice fields that were now wilting ready to harvest.
He also had a flock of female ducks in his backyard, although the male duck had a piece of string tied to its leg – presumably so it couldn’t get to the female ducks!
If you want to negotiate your own house boat for a couple of days then keep walking east to the end of Punnamada Road and you will reach the harbour where all the large houseboats are kept.
Location: Walk west to the end of Cullen Road and you will reach the beach
How much does it cost? Free
Alleppey beach has a wide expanse of relatively clean white sand, although there is little shade which makes sunbathing in the midday heat rather uncomfortable. The beach is typically used by Indians, and although you may see a couple of foreign tourists wandering up and down the beach, a solo female traveller would still feel uncomfortable stripping down to her bikini on the beach.
Whilst we were sat on the beach we saw a pod of dolphins playing in the ocean very close to shore. There must be quite a few dolphins along the coast of Kerala and up as far as Goa as we also saw dolphins a few times whilst we were in Goa.