Kerala backwaters

The Kerala backwaters are a popular tourist destination. The backwaters of Kerala are basically a network of lakes, canals, rivers and lagoons, running inland from Kerala’s coast. Just like the rest of Kerala, it is a magnificent wonder of nature- picturesque and calming.

There is a host of ways to explore these backwaters. The most common and quintessential among the tourists is the Houseboats. But a houseboat ride is not the only way to explore and experience the Kerala backwaters. Read along this article to check out the various ways to explore the Kerala backwaters and the budgets for the same.


It has gained popularity among the tourists and rightly so; it offers an experience like no other. A thatched house boat, known as Ketuvallam, used to be a mode of transport in ancient Kerala, which has now been converted entirely for tourism. Majority of the houseboats are hired from Alappuzha. From Alappuzha, the house boat slow travels to various places like Kottayam, Kollam and Kumarakom. One can take half day trips, full day trips, overnight trips or even week long trips. These houseboats come with bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchen as well as in AC and non- AC variants. They also provide chefs who cook delicious meals. Since houseboats in Kerala are luxurious, they are also the most expensive way to explore the backwaters.

Kerala Houseboat Cruise
Alappuzha Ferry

Tourist Ferries

The cheapest way to explore the Kerala backwaters is by taking the government organized, 8 hour ferry trip between Alappuzha and Kollam or reverse. There is a daily departure from Kollam as well as Alappuzha at 10.30 am in the morning. The cost of this ferry is about 300 INR. This ferry also stops at Matha Amrithanandamayi Mission, an ashram of India’s only female guru, popularly known to the western world as Hugging Mother.

There is another government run ferry from Alappuzha that takes about five trips throughout the entire day. The entire to and fro trip lasts for 2hrs and costs about 40 INR.

These tourist ferries are ideal for travelers on a strict budget. The only drawback is that, these ferries traverse though only the main wide canals, so the travelers can miss the views of villages.

Local Ferries

These local ferries operate from all over, not just Alappuzha. They are a non-touristy way of exploring the backwaters, as they are meant to take the locals from one place to another. They go though the big as well as medium sized canals. The rates here are very economical.

Jhankar Ferry Kochi


The Chakara is a long boat that has a roof and chairs for seating. They come in various sizes and can accommodate anywhere between 6 to 25 people. There are way cheaper than the houseboats but expensive than the ferries. During peak season they can charge up to 1000 INR and during off season can come as low as 150 per person, per hour. If you want a backwater tour that provides luxury without being too heavy on the pocket, then the Chakara is the way to go.

Kayakking Kerala


This is probably the best blend of money and experience. A canoe is ideal for two people. The charges are approximately 200 INR per hour for two people. Since a canoe is a small boat, it goes through the small canals, and one can experience a rare sight of Kerala, including but not limited to its villages. It is not luxurious, but an ideal way for people wanting to gain maximum experience of the place for a low cost.