So there might be 2 main reasons you’ll be passing through Kollam when you’re backpacking Kerala:
- You’re taking the Kollam ferry to get part way from Alleppey to Varkala
- You’re going for a Munroe Island backwaters homestay
And then, with your next destination from Kollam being Varkala, how to get there?!
Kollam to Varkala train?
If you’re arriving to Kollam by ferry from Alleppey, the Kollam train station is about a 20-30 minute walk from the ferry station.
You’ll also likely find rickshaw drivers at the ferry station to take you to the train station for a 5 minute drive.
In many ways, taking a train from Kollam to Varkala can seem easier since there are a good number of train timings on this route.
If you don’t mind general class and the possibility of a crowded train, you can just show up to the Kollam train station, and then buy a ticket for the next train to Varkala.
The train ride will likely be around 30 minutes, so even if you end up on a crowded general class train, you won’t have to be miserable for too long! 😉
Munroe Island to Varkala train?
I think the easiest way to leave Munroe Island is by train.
There is one direct train that will take you to Varkala, and that will take about an hour.
But it’s kind of an early morning train, and if you don’t feel inclined to wake up early, you can opt for a bus from Kollam too, although it will take longer.
Since Munroe Island is located in a more remote area, there aren’t as many buses passing through.
There aren’t direct buses that will go from Munroe Island to Varkala.
Instead, you’ll have to first get from Munroe Island to Kollam, and then onwards from Kollam.
There are limited bus timings from Munroe Island to Kollam, and that will take a little over an hour. Ask the place you’re staying in Munroe Island for the most accurate bus timings.
You may be able to catch a 15-minute train ride from Munroe Island to Kollam too, although there’s always the possibility of a train delay. See the train timings.
You can also reach Kollam by rickshaw.
So, if you are trying to get from Munroe Island to Varkala, it could be worth sacrificing your sleep a bit to catch that morning train out of convenience!
Kollam to Varkala by bus
Now, let’s say you’ve decided to take the bus to Varkala!
This is how I went!
Kollam ferry station to Kollam bus station
I was on the Alleppey to Kollam ferry, and opted for the bus to get to Varkala the rest of the way.
The bus station is located right across the street from the ferry station.
So it’ll take less than a minute to walk from the ferry station to the bus station.
The ferry will get to Kollam at around 6pm.
Kollam bus station master office
Once you get to the bus station, head to the “station master” office.
Here, you can ask about how to get to Varkala.
I was told to take a bus to Kallambalam, and then from there to take another bus to Varkala.
So that’s what I did.
First bus towards Varkala!
So I waited about 15-20 minutes for the bus to arrive.
The bus probably won’t have an English sign on it, so you’ll need to ask around about getting on the right bus.
This first bus ride was a little less than an hour.
Walk across the street for the next bus to Varkala
Once I got off the bus, I was told to cross the street to catch the bus to Varkala.
At the bus stand in Kallambalam, it was around a 15 minute wait before a bus to Varkala arrived.
This bus ride was around 30 minutes.
Arrive in Varkala!
Well, if you took the ferry from Alleppey, you’ll arrive to Varkala when it’s dark, but this is what you can look forward to the next day. 😉
What are the Kollam to Varkala bus timings?
If you aren’t arriving to Kollam by ferry and you have more flexibility in the time you leave Kollam, it may be possible to find a direct bus to Varkala.
According to the aanavandi website, there are a few bus timings from Kollam to Varkala.
These timings are meant to give you a general idea on what to expect though, and not meant as an absolute.
So what you can take away from this is that with a little bit of planning, you probably will be able to find a direct bus.
It’s best to confirm bus timings with the place you’re staying in Kollam, as they will likely be able to tell you accurate bus timings.
You can also ask about bus timings at the bus station.
In general, even if there aren’t any direct buses for you to take immediately, there will likely be enough buses going in the direction of Varkala for you to find a way to get there without waiting too long at the bus station.
HAPPY KOLLAM TO VARKALA BUS RIDE!
More bus travel in Kerala
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!