Alleppey is one of the most popular destinations in Kerala. It is the houseboat hub and a good place to set off and explore the Kerala backwaters. However the number of houseboats here has grown over the last few years and houseboat traffic jams are now a common sight. This takes away somewhat from your relaxing houseboat experience, and also causes a lot of water pollution in the local area.
A Kerala houseboat trip can be a wonderful experience though, so as part of our ongoing Quiet Alternatives Series here are some other places you could try for your houseboat journey.
Kollam is an easy place to rent a houseboat, but sees far fewer visitors than Alleppey. We took an overnight houseboat trip from Kollam-Alleppey and the backwaters near Kollam were definitely quieter and more unspoilt. We also liked Kollam as an authentically Indian town without the hassle and touts that you find in more touristy places.
To hire a houseboat just head down to the jetty and ask at the tourist office. They’ll arrange a houseboat for you. We arranged ours the day before, but you could even head down early in the morning on the day you want to leave, as the boats don’t leave until around 11am. Read our Essential Guide to Kerala Houseboats for more on what to expect on your journey.
Kollam is also a good place to stop between the southern beaches of Kovalam and Varkala, and Cochin. It’s only a 30 minute train ride from Varkala. Read our Keralan coast itinerary in our 1 Week Kerala Suggested Itineraries post for an idea of how to fit Kollam into your trip.
If you really want to avoid the crowds then you need to leave the southern backwaters behind and head to Northern Kerala. The houseboat scene is far less developed in the Valiyaparamba backwaters, so you’ll have a much more tranquil experience.
The backwaters are 50km north of Kannur (a great place to stop for a quiet beach break). There aren’t many houseboat operators so you’ll need to be more organised than in Alleppey, but Bekal Boat Stay offers cruises on traditional rice barges. It’s more expensive than Alleppey but the trade off is beautiful backwaters all to yourself.
Have you experienced a quiet houseboat trip? Leave a comment and tell us about it.