I also think a canoe tour can be part of a perfect one day in Alleppey.
Touring the backwaters by canoe can be the perfect way to experience the Kerala backwaters, and it can be one of the best things to do in Alleppey!
Taking the ferry around the Alleppey backwaters isn’t so bad either.
But with a village canoe tour, you’ll get a bit more than going for a ride on a ferry.
The most important thing to know is that a canoe village tour in the Alleppey backwaters can be so much more than just a ride on the water.
Kayaking can be another good option!
I would say that I have done a fair bit of the touristy backwaters activities.
And I REALLY think that a full-day canoe tour in Alleppey is THE best way to experience the Kerala backwaters when you are only here for a very limited time!
Basically, a canoe tour encompasses a bunch of very Kerala experiences, so I really think it can be a perfect way to spend your day in THE hub of the Kerala backwaters!
You don’t need a houseboat in Alleppey to see the Kerala backwaters
For many (most?) people, when they think of the Kerala backwaters, a Kerala houseboat comes to mind.
But a houseboat in Kerala is not the only way to see the Kerala backwaters!
If you’re with a group, or if you’re looking for a bit of luxury, then maybe you’ll want to look into getting a houseboat in Alleppey.
Otherwise, going for a canoe tour can be a perfect way to see the Alleppey backwaters!
And, a canoe ride is much more environmentally friendly than a houseboat.
There are hundreds (if not 1,000+) houseboats in Kerala. These houseboats float on (pollute) the same waters that people fish for food and kids go swimming in… not to mention a canoe tour comes at a cheaper cost.
First, the quick list of what was included in my canoe tour.
Then, a little bit more about each of these things.
A bunch of the best things to do in Alleppey can be done right during your backwaters tour!
What do you get with a Kerala backwaters Alleppey canoe tour?
Different tour operators may provide a different experience. This is what was included in my eco-friendly canoe tour in Alleppey.
1. Pick-up from my Alleppey Beach guesthouse with a ride to ferry station in town
2. Public ferry ride for trip to backwaters
3. Traditional Kerala breakfast at a village home
4. Canoe ride with a rower
5. Stop at traditional Kerala palm wine toddy shop
6. Stop to drink coconut water straight from a coconut
7. Stop for a walk along the backwaters
8. Traditional Kerala lunch at a village home
9. Public ferry ride back to ferry station in Alleppey town
10. Drop-off back to my guesthouse near Alleppey Beach from the ferry station
How much does an Alleppey canoe tour cost?
The cost of the backwaters canoe village tour that I did was 1,000 rupees per person, which is around US$15.
I found this to be the standard rate for this kind of canoe tour.
I did my canoe village tour through this guesthouse near Alleppey Beach… and you can stay here for an open-air space on the rooftop kind of hostel-style for a unique overnight stay in Kerala!
I wasn’t staying there at the time that I did the tour though, so I think you can arrange it through there even if you don’t stay there. I did stay here later though, and it’s perfect if you’re looking for a place to chill for a few days!
You can call Funky Art Beach House direct for a canoe tour or to book a stay: 074035 72116 or +91 74035 72116. (whatsapp works too)
Is the canoe tour worth it?!
Now, if you’re planning your trip to Kerala from home in the US or Europe right now, $15 may not sound so bad. But once you’ve been traveling around India for even a short time, 1,000 rupees can feel like a lot.
The important thing to remember once again is that a canoe tour in Alleppey can actually be more than just a canoe ride.
Can you get just a canoe ride?
If you want it to be just a canoe ride on the water and nothing else, you can get that too.
You can get that by walking around the main ferry station in Alleppey or along the waterways in town.
There’s a good chance that you will find an offer of a canoe ride of 2-3 hours that would include nothing but a ride. That will probably be around 300-500 rupees (US$4-7).
You probably don’t want to do a ride for less than 2 hours because that may not get you very far.
Remember that it’s a human-powered boat (rowing!) and it takes time to get to the smaller canals from Alleppey town.
So rowing 1 hour out (to allow time for 1 hour back) may not be as good as a longer canoe ride coming from town. (That’s if your canoe ride starts in town. If you’re taking a bus to start your canoe, then chances are you’re starting quite close to the smaller backwater canals. In that case, 1-2 hours will be fine if you want JUST the canoe ride!)
A proper full-day village canoe tour can encompass a few different aspects that can make you feel like it is totally worth it… depending on what’s worth it to you!
If you’re still looking for a cheaper way to get out on the water, this is the ultimate cheap way to see the Kerala backwaters.
More about what was included in my canoe village tour!
Ride to the ferry station
Knowing that you don’t have to arrange your own ride to get to the start of the tour is kind of convenient.
So no matter which canoe tour (or another backwaters tour) you do, make sure to ask if this is included. If not, make sure to ask the best way to get there.
Public ferry ride to a village in the backwaters
If you didn’t take a tourist ferry to get to Alleppey, then this might be your first public ferry ride in Kerala!
How exciting! 😉
This is how people who live around the backwaters get around, so it’ll be your first glimpse of “local life” on the tour.
If you want to arrive to Alleppey in style, aka by way by the Kerala backwaters, you can take a ferry in part to get to Alleppey from Varkala, from Munnar, and from Thekkady. Also see other ways of how to get to Alleppey by public transport.
Visit to a village home
On the ferry was another person who would then take us to his home. (I signed up for the tour alone, but I was in a group of 3.)
This house was a short walk from one of the ferry stops.
Eat a Kerala breakfast
At the home, we were served with a Kerala breakfast.
I LOVE Kerala breakfast foods.
During the canoe village tour, they gave us idli.
Canoe ride through the canals
Once finished eating, it was then time to start the “canoe” part of the canoe tour.
We next met up with another person who would be our canoe “guide.”
He’s the one that rowed the boat and took us through different parts of the backwaters and smaller canals.
If you want to paddle the boat, there’s an oar for you too.
Drink Kerala palm wine (aka toddy) at a toddy shop
Kerala toddy is an alcoholic drink made from the sap of palm trees.
And you could say it’s a very Kerala drink, so you might as well give it a try!
This will be an additional cost, and it’ll likely be around 200 rupees (US$3) for a half liter bottle.
Tell your canoe guide once you meet him that you want to go to a toddy shop so he can be sure to stop at the toddy shop for you.
If no one in your group wants to go, then it’ll be skipped.
Tip: If you’re going for a canoe tour on a hot day and you buy your toddy to-go…
Be sure to open up the bottle every so often to release the pressure that’s built up… or else it may explode when you least expect it.
Yes I speak from personal experience. 😉
Here’s more to know about toddy in Kerala, including why you may NOT want to drink toddy.
More time on the canoe and the backwaters!
Stop for coconut water
Well, Kerala literally means “land of coconuts” in the local language of Malayalam.
So what better way to drink coconut water than while on the Kerala backwaters!
This is another additional cost, around 20-30 rupees (50 cents).
Once you’ve finished drinking the water, be sure to ask to have it cut open so you can eat the coconut meat too!
More time on the canoe and the backwaters!
Eat a Kerala lunch
Soon we made our way back to the same house that we had our breakfast.
This time we were served lunch. This was more of a late lunch.
Ferry back to Alleppey ferry station
Once we were finished eating, it was time to go back to Alleppey.
Ride back to my guesthouse near Alleppey Beach
And then once I got back to the ferry station, another ride was arranged back to my guesthouse.
And there was probably a pretty good sunset that evening. 😉
Alleppey Beach can also be a good place to see some local life too. Be sure to go a little north of the main tourist area of Alleppey Beach.
Should you go with the village canoe tour offered by your hotel or guesthouse?
Most guesthouses you stay at will likely be able to refer you to a full-day canoe tour if you ask them.
And it could work out perfectly and you could end up having the best day EVER if you go through your guesthouse!
But before I went on a canoe tour through a guesthouse, I talked to a couple of people who went on other full-day canoe tours.
And while they would call their overall tour a good experience, there were some things they said that were not so good:
Issue #1: Being forced to stay at the shop of the guide’s “friend” for an hour even though everyone in the group was ready to leave.
Issue #2: The day feels LONG.
In fact, people who HAVEN’T been on a canoe tour will make excuses about how they chose not to go on a canoe tour because they don’t want to be sitting in a canoe all day.
Once again, the thing about these full-day canoe tours is that it’s not just a canoe ride.
I definitely don’t like sitting for long periods of time, and I didn’t feel like I was. I think it’s because there were enough random stops to get up and walk around the backwaters.
When I did the backwaters kayak tour on the other hand… I kind of felt like I was sitting for a long time.
Still, if you’re looking for another unique way to see the Kerala backwaters, an Alleppey kayaking tour is worth a look too!
Be sure to take a look the Best of Alleppey Travel Guide so you can plan the PERFECT trip to Alleppey!
Also be sure to take a look at ideas for one week in Kerala so you can plan the PERFECT trip to Kerala, as well as ideas for one month in South India so you can plan the perfect trip to South India!
HAPPY BACKWATERS CANOE TOURING IN ALLEPPEY!
The need-to-know India travel tips!If it's your first trip to India, be sure to see these tips for getting around India on a budget, and more! You might wait until India to buy this mosquito repellent that works for many foreigners! Also be sure to see how to spend one month in South India and 2 weeks in North India, as well as tips for the Golden Triangle. And, overnight sleeper bus travel isn't so bad, and neither is traveling in general class on the train! Also see the easy way to get an e-visa. And this is the easy way to book train tickets online as a foreigner. I've used it, and it's simple! You can just show the e-ticket on your phone.
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Hostels in KeralaFor a hostel with international standards in Kerala, try Zostel!
More Zostels in Kerala:
Zostel is a top backpacker chain across India, and I've stayed at many Zostels in India! And outside of Kerala, if you'll be passing through Gokarna as you go from Goa to Kerala (here are options of how to get from Goa to Kerala!), then Zostel Gokarna is in an amazing location too! Here are pictures from the on-site cafe that overlooks the ocean.
Where to stay on the tourist trail in KeralaThese places basically go down the coast from north to south!
- Cochin: Try a homestay in the cute heritage area of Fort Kochi.
- Marari Beach: This is an "off-beat" location as Marari is mostly unknown to backpackers, but it can be a convenient stop to make between Cochin and Alleppey with chill laid back vibes. For an idea of what type of beach can be nearby, see my beach walk from Alleppey to Marari.
- Alleppey Beach:
- Funky Art Beach House again for chill vibes with a location among locals in a residential neighborhood
- And there's Zostel Alleppey too for another beach location to stay several days
- OR if Alleppey is a quick visit, try Dream Nest to be closer to town
- And see how to spend one day in Alleppey (short version: go for the backwaters village canoe tour instead of a houseboat!)
- Alleppey backwaters:
- Munroe Island: This is another generally kind of more off-beat location, and you can see a different part of the Kerala backwaters on a quiet island
- Varkala cliff:
Retreats in KeralaFor relaxation and rejuvenation for health and wellness, also see:
- Yoga retreats in Kerala
- Ayurveda retreats in Kerala - ayurveda is basically healthy living through natural herbs and remedies, and Kerala is the birthplace of ayurveda!
How to book India train tickets online as a foreignerIf you don't want to go through the complicated process of setting up an IRCTC Indian railways account as a foreigner...
Then the most convenient way to buy train tickets online is through this booking website. I've used it, and it's super simple! You buy the ticket, and then show the electronic version on your phone once you're on the train. Compared to buying directly through an Indian ticket booking website (IRCTC account required) or directly at the train station in India, there is a small convenience fee, as well as a less flexible cancellation policy, though!