Cheap Alleppey ferry backwaters activities
Kerala is famous for its backwaters and there are many ways that you can get on the backwaters.
There’s public transportation on the backwaters, and that means that riding a government boat is one way!
You can even take one of these ferries to leave Alleppey or arrive to Alleppey from another backpacker city in Kerala.
So, if you are on a serious budget when traveling in India, then this would be the must-do backwaters activity for you!
It’s a public boat ride cruising the backwaters.
And as a visitor, there are a few routes that can make for the best ferries:
- Map of the best ferry routes
- Alleppey to Kottayam
- “See Kuttanad” – Alleppey to Kuttanad
- Alleppey to Kollam
- Alleppey to Kumarakom
- Cochin to Alleppey?!
Below will go over each of these ferries and why you might want to take them – including possibly as a way of getting to your next destination!
With people living right along the backwaters, locals take the public ferry to get around. And you can hop on a ferry right along with them!
Since ferries stick to the main waterways, you wouldn’t get to experience the smaller canals with a ferry ride, but you can get an introduction to the Kerala backwaters.
How to take the ferry in Alleppey
Taking a public ferry from Alleppey can be easy!
1. Arrive at the main Alleppey ferry station in town.
2. Head to the office of the station master to confirm the ferry schedule and location of pick-up.
There are a couple of different areas where a boat can dock, so just make sure that you are waiting at the right spot.
3. When your ferry arrives, get on the ferry!
4. Once you are on the ferry, the ticket conductor will come around and you will pay for your ticket.
5. Enjoy the boat ride on the Alleppey backwaters!!
Map of the best ferry routes around Alleppey
Take a look at the map of where the best ferries around Alleppey go for reference!
Here are the best ferry rides around Alleppey for travelers
1. Alleppey to Kottayam ferry
Cost: 18 rupees (25 cents)
It takes 2.5 to 3 hours to go from Alleppey to Kottayam by ferry.
Parts of the route will feel like you’re taking a boat ride through the more rural parts of the backwaters.
While you won’t be going down any smaller canals, you’re getting a little further out so you’ll be going through parts that have less boats on the water.
How to get back to Alleppey from Kottayam
There are 2 main ways you can get back to Alleppey once the ferry reaches the final ferry stop in Kottayam:
- Kottayam to Alleppey ferry
- Bus to Alleppey
Once you reach Kottayam, you can choose to take the ferry back, or you can also get back to Alleppey by bus.
Kottayam is around 50 km by road from Alleppey, and by bus it can take around 1.5 hours to get back to Alleppey.
The Kottayam bus station is located around a 15 minute walk from the ferry station. You’ll likely easily be able to find a rickshaw to take you there too.
Either way, you’ll likely have to wait a bit for the bus or ferry. So you can make your decision on whether you want to go back by ferry or bus once you arrive in Kottayam based on how you feel!
Going back to Alleppey by bus means you return to the chaos of India 😉 while going back by ferry means that you get a little more peace and tranquility!
Alleppey to Munnar via Kottayam
Another option that you have is to take the Kottayam ferry when you are ready to leave Alleppey for good.
You can head to Munnar in the hills to a region that’s known for tea plantations.
The fastest way to get from Alleppey to Munnar is by bus. But if you want to leave Alleppey Kerala-style (i.e. the backwaters!), you can get there by ferry and bus.
Once you reach the Kottayam ferry station, it’s a 10-15 minute walk or short rickshaw ride to the bus station. And from there, you’ll find buses from Kottayam to Munnar.
Alleppey to Thekkady via Kottayam
Thekkady is another place you can get to part way by ferry that is also inland and in the hills.
It’s known for the Periyar National Park and tiger reserve.
The main city here is Kumily, and this area is a place you go for wildlife, hills, and cooler weather. It’s also a good place to watch traditional Kerala cultural shows.
Similar to Munnar, the quickest way to get from Alleppey to Thekkady is by bus.
And once again, when you get to the Kottayam ferry station, you can head to the nearby bus station. You’ll find plenty of buses from Kottayam to Kumily.
2. Alleppey to Kuttanad ferry: “See Kuttanad ferry”
Cost: 15 – 40 rupees (25 – 60 cents)
This is also known as the See Kuttanad ferry.
This is another good introduction to the Kerala backwaters.
Compared to the ferry to Kottayam, the ferry to Kuttanad stays closer to the main part of Alleppey. (Have a look at the map above!)
This ferry takes you through some open water, past some paddy fields, and then some!
On this ferry, you can choose to sit on the upper deck or lower deck during your boat ride, and the cost is a little different between the two.
Cost of the See Kuttanad ferry:
- Lower deck: 15 rupees (25 cents)
- Upper deck: 40 rupees (60 cents)
How to get back to Alleppey from Kuttanad
There are 2 main ways you can get back to Alleppey once the ferry reaches the final ferry stop in Kuttanad:
- Kuttanad to Alleppey ferry
- Rickshaw to Alleppey
Once at the final ferry stop, there might be a break of about 30 minutes at Kuttanad before the same ferry heads back to Alleppey where you came from.
If you decide that you’d rather head straight back to Alleppey the quick way instead of taking the ferry, there are rickshaws nearby that you can take.
The end point of this ferry is no more than 15 km by road from Alleppey, so you stay relatively close which means the ride back is no more than 30 minutes.
The cost of the rickshaw from this Kuttanad ferry stop to Alleppey is around 250 rupees (US$4).
3. Alleppey to Kollam ferry
Cost: 400 rupees (US$6)
The Alleppey to Kollam tourist ferry is a public ferry that’s operated by the Kerala state government, but the price tag is not as cheap compared to a regular public ferry.
This boat ride is catered towards tourists. It’s an alternative to taking the bus or train when traveling south from Alleppey. It’s faster to take a train or bus, but this ferry is about the experience!
You can choose between the upper deck and lower deck on the Alleppey to Kollam ferry as well, but there is no price difference no matter where you sit during this boat ride.
This ferry doesn’t really make stops for locals, but it does make a couple of stops for food, as it is about an 8 hour ride.
There’s a lunch break and there’s also a snack break.
The food does cost extra. It’s around 100 – 150 rupees (US$2-3) depending on whether or not you get fish.
This is a traditional Kerala meal, and unless you bring along your own food, it’s really your only chance to eat real food during the full day journey.
You can keep requesting more food at no extra cost as long as they haven’t run out.
You take this ferry when you want to leave Alleppey for good.
Taking this ferry will take you south towards Munroe Island, Varkala, Kovalam, and the Trivandrum airport.
You can go in the opposite direction as well, from Kollam to Alleppey.
There is NO Alleppey to Kollam ferry during parts of the off-season.
I believe it doesn’t run in May, June, and July. But confirm this with the guesthouse you are staying at in Alleppey. They should be able to tell you for sure!
Have a look at the worst things about the Alleppey to Kollam ferry to decide if it’s worth it for you to do this backwaters activity.
Alleppey to Amma’s Ashram ferry
The other stop that the Alleppey to Kollam ferry can make is at Amma’s ashram in Amritapuri.
This is an internationally known ashram with a sprawling complex. Amma is the spiritual leader of this ashram, and she is known as the “hugging mother.”
She has followers all around the world who come and visit this ashram. There are also many people who live here long term.
The cost of Amma’s ashram was 250 rupees (US$4) a night, with 3 meals included.
Alleppey to Varkala via Kollam
Varkala is a beach town in Kerala that’s famous for cliff-side restaurants and guesthouses.
If you’re looking to get to Varkala from Alleppey, you can go by bus or train… or part way by ferry!
The ferry is the longer way to get to Varkala, but you can leave Alleppey in true Kerala-style. 😉
You’ll take the ferry to Kollam. Then once you get to the Kollam ferry station, you can choose to go by bus or train from Kollam to Varkala.
Once again, the Kollam bus station is right across the street from the ferry station.
There may not be a direct bus at a convenient time to take you from Kollam to Varkala. In this case, you may need to take 2 buses to get to Varkala.
Another option: Take a ferry from the Alleppey ferry station to anywhere!
If you’re feeling up for an adventure, you can head to the Alleppey ferry station in town, and get on the first ferry that comes your way.
Then, as you’re on the ferry, you can have a look around to see what ferry stop looks promising to explore by walking! And then get off the ferry at a random stop!
If you decide to explore the Alleppey backwaters this way, there are 2 main ways you can get back:
- Take the ferry back to Alleppey
- Catch a bus back to Alleppey
To take the ferry back, once you get off at the ferry station, ask around to find out the timings of the ferry back to Alleppey. Then go off and explore the backwaters by walking around by foot, and be back in time for the ferry!
To take a bus back, look at Google maps or ask around about where a main road is located. You may choose to explore the backwaters by foot based on the direction of the main road.
What about a ferry from Alleppey to Kumarakom?
Kumarakom is another destination known for the backwaters, and it’s also known for the Kumarakom bird sanctuary. (I think Alleppey is a better destination than Kumarakom for backpackers though. Basically because with Alleppey you get both the backwaters and the beach. Do these Alleppey backwaters activities, and stay at this guesthouse near Alleppey Beach!)
It’s also possible to get to Kumarakom in part by ferry.
This isn’t a ferry trip you’d take to see the backwaters, as the ferry ride to Kumarakom is really simply a ride across a lake.
It’s more of another means of transportation to get to your destination!
If you’re looking to get to Kumarakom from Alleppey by public transportation, you can go by bus and ferry:
- Take a bus from Alleppey to Muhamma
- Walk to the Muhamma ferry station from the bus station, about a 5-10 minute walk. (You can get a rickshaw too.)
- Take the ferry to Kumarakom!
Is there a ferry from Cochin to Alleppey?!
Cochin is the main “big city” near Alleppey. If you’re backpacking in Kerala, there’s a good chance you will be thinking about adding Fort Cochin to your itinerary.
And if you look at a map (see above!) it looks like there’s a massive waterway between Cochin and Alleppey.
Unfortunately, there is currently NO public ferry to get from Cochin to Alleppey.
Your main options are bus and train.
The bus timings from Cochin to Alleppey are very frequent, so the bus may be the more convenient option compared to the train.
More of the best Kerala backwaters activities
If you’re willing to spend a little more money to experience the backwaters that Kerala is known for, have a look at these Alleppey backwaters activities too!
With these tours, you’ll have the chance to see a little more of the backwaters village life!
Be sure to take a look at the rest of the Best of Alleppey Travel Guide so you can plan the PERFECT trip to Alleppey!
HAPPY ALLEPPEY FERRY PLANNING!
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!