Located on the southern coast of the Arabian Sea in Kerala, India, Alleppey (also known as Alappuzha) is slowly becoming the destination of choice for tourists looking for some rest and relaxation in India. With a cool, clear climate year-round, Alleppey is easily visited at any point of the year. Located an hour from a major city, Kochi, Alleppey is also connected by buses and trains to most small and major cities in Southern India. Monsoon season affects this city for only two months of the year, allowing high season to reign for ten months - and it doesn’t disappoint. With kilometres of sandy beaches, a beautiful ocean and interconnecting backwaters that weave themselves through the town, there’s a lot to look forward to in Alleppey.
1. Sail down the tranquil backwaters
If the hustle and bustle of traveling in India has gotten to you, Alleppey’s laid-back attitude will entice you. Don’t be surprised to meet travellers who have visited this city, nicknamed The Venice Of The East, several times in the last decade. Get chatting and you’ll be more than likely to meet long-term travellers who have decided on staying here for a few months (or even a year!) to write a book, get a break or take part in an artist residency. The easy attitude of Alleppey is epitomised by its famous backwaters. Tranquil waters that are connected as far as Kochi to the west and Varkala to the east, a trip down these backwaters is a must! The costs range from 200 INR (3 USD) to 2000 INR (30 USD) depending on your mode of transport (canoe, houseboat, luxury boat) and whether you want a meal on board and if you’re doing it only for an hour or two, or the entire day. Hint: If you’re on a budget, flag down a government boat transporting locals and get the same experience for 10 INR (0.15 USD).
2. Lay down on the beach to ease your troubles away
The most popular thing to do in Alleppey is to lie on the beach. With kilometres of untouched, serene, soft, sandy beach awaiting you, throw down your towel. When the heat gets unbearable - between 12.00pm and 4.00pm - hide away at any of the numerous beach-side restaurants on offer (India Coffee House is your cheapest and best bet in terms of quality). Most accommodations are on the beach itself, giving tourists their own private section of the beach, but walk down a little further and revel in how the locals enjoy the beach. From 5.00pm onwards, locals flood this section of the beach and don’t be surprised if many families, especially on the weekend, have a sunset picnic for dinner. It’s a beautiful experience and with the town hall located here, you’ll more often than not come across some kind of event - especially on Sundays.
3. Get a taste of the vastly different local life
If you’re staying by the beach in Alleppey, there’s not a lot of activity around you. To get some excitement or to see how the locals in town live, take a rickshaw for 50 INR (0.75 USD) a few kilometres into town. Explore the several streets that criss-cross over the canals. Eat some banana chips, enjoy a local meal and if the traffic and energy remind you too much of mainland India, make your way back down to the beach. But, before you do, turn off onto the highway to Kochi and explore the surrounding villages. It’s recommended to hire a scooter for 400 INR (6 USD) and explore further villages. Understand the local culture better, see how the fishermen work on land, enjoy a local Keralite meal, which mainly comprises of fish curry, and get absorbed by the villagers’ daily life. It’s quite unlike the rest of India.
Alleppey is safe, fun and relaxing for all visitors
Alleppey is renowned for its safety. Ask the locals or other foreigners and they’ll tell you the same thing. One can feel comfortable walking around at night and with the numerous bonfires and tourist parties that happen on the beach, you can feel safe here 24/7. Alleppey may not be the most exciting place in India, but it has one of the quietest and best beaches you could imagine. Combine that with the friendly, hospitable people and you’ll see why many foreigners stay here long-term or keep coming back.
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