Alleppey backwaters kerala

How to explore Alleppey backwaters on a budget?

Hello all, this time I am gonna write about a beautiful place in Kerala, Alleppey backwaters. It is not about how to find out a houseboat and all, but it’s about how to explore Alleppey backwaters on a budget. I mean without literally spending any money.

Yeah, it is possible

Kerala, is the southernmost state of India, is my native too. Though Kerala is not completely backwaters (some people thinks that way), it is the backwaters of Alleppey ( locally known as Kuttanad) that pulls the majority of tourists to Kerala. Whoever visits this small state in India will definitely have backwaters in their itinerary. Everyone spends at least a day in the houseboats experiencing the beauty of this exclusive landscape.

To spend a day in these houseboats and explore Alleppey backwaters, you need to pay a lot of money. I feel it is an unnecessary luxury. I am not saying that you should not take these boats, it depends on your way of traveling.

During peak tourism season time, the daily rent for a houseboat will shoot up like anything. Also, the growing number of houseboats are contributing very severely to the pollution of the backwaters. This is a serious issue, the ecosystem is getting affected. We come for a day, enjoy and go back. We don’t think about these issues that often.

alleppey houseboats

Coming to the point, there is another way to experience the Alleppey backwaters on a budget. It is the local ferry services. Most places in this region are connected by these government operated boat services. The people here are highly dependent on them.

So why can’t you leave the luxury of houseboats and travel like the local people?

And what if saves you a lot of money, which you can again spend to travel more,

Moreover, you become more responsible and took a step forward to help reduce the pollution of these backwaters.

Good idea, right?

I started my journey Kochi. On a fine morning, me and one of my friend took the bus from Kochi to Alleppey.  The Alleppey boat jetty is not difficult to find, it is very near to the KSRTC bus station. Few boats were waiting at the dock.

Since we don’t have any specific route to pick, asked at the inquiry about the boats available. First, they showed the boats operated by the tourism department which will take you through the backwaters for a day and bring back. This is another alternative. But we wanted to travel like the people here. Found a boat which goes to a place called Kavalam. When the ticket collector told this is one of the longest routes, we were really happy.

kerala houseboats

At around 10.15 in the morning, our boat started and the beauty of the backwaters started to gradually unfold before us. I was traveling with the people who live here, on the narrow stripes of land fully surrounded by water. This is their only mode of transportation. The boat was not that crowded.

We bought the tickets, it was just 16 INR per person for a 3-hour trip. I looked at my friend, he was smiling at me. This is what I was saying in the beginning. The Alleppey backwaters are not at all expensive.

The boats moved slowly, first through the famous Punnamada, where the annual snake boat race happens every year. There were many big houseboats in the water. Our boat moved past them and entered the narrow canals. Those houseboats won’t go through these inner canals, they have a fixed allocated route, another advantage of taking the local boat service.

Our boat stopped at its regular stops. There were people waiting for the boats, once they see the boat, the wave their hands and then the boat stop for them.

This region, Kuttanad, as it is known in Malayalam, actually lies below the sea level. It is the lowest altitude region in India. The vast paddy fields of Kuttanad is actually 1-3 meters below sea level. The sea water is prevented from entering the paddy fields by building walls all across the land. It is small pieces of lands surrounded by water. This is how this whole region is built. It is a very interesting landscape.

The views from every side were so beautiful, vast acres of paddy fields, coconut trees lining the banks of the canal. Every house here has a small boat, tied up on the canal side. We can see floating medical shops, dispensaries, grocery shops and many more in the water.

Later we asked an attendant in the boat about any toddy shops nearby, he told to get down at the next stop. Toddy is a beverage produced from the coconut trees. There are many good toddy shops here, you get good traditional food also here.  After a couple of bottles of Toddy and some amazing food, we walked to the boat jetty, a boat was coming, waved our hands and immediately the boat turned to our side, picked us up and we are back to Alleppey. It was evening when we reached back Alleppey boathouse.

Alleppey backwaters

How to reach Alleppey boathouse

Reaching Alleppey is not a big deal. It is well connected through road and railways. The major city near to Alleppey is Kochi, from there you will get buses very frequently. It is just 90 minutes journey on the bus. If you didn’t get direct buses to Alleppey from Kochi, you can choose buses that go towards Trivandrum via Alleppey.

The best place to catch the bus is Vytilla hub bus station. The bus fare is very minimal compared to cab fare. Since this post is about exploring Alleppey backwaters on a budget, I would suggest you take the bus.

Alleppey has a railway station also. If you can a find a train, that will be also good.

The boathouse is very near to the KSRTC bus station is Alleppey. It is just a minute walk from there. Once you reach the bus station, you can see the canal and boats on its side. It is very easy to find the boathouse.

So if you are taking a bus, especially the Kerala State transport (KSRTC) bus, then things are pretty easy.

allappey boat service

Alleppey backwaters, starting the journey

Once you reach the boathouse, there will be boats waiting on the side of the canal. There are two types of boats actually, one the transport boat ( which I was talking about) and the other is especially for tourists. These tourist boats are not like houseboats, it will take you through the backwaters for a day, shows the major attractions, stops at a couple of places for food and refreshments. And finally drop you back at the same place in the evening. It is also a good way to explore the backwaters.

But what is the big thing traveling with tourists if you have the opportunity to travel like the local people here?

So there will be boats, very easy to find since people inside won’t have sunglasses and camera with them. Before getting into a boat, ask someone about the route and how much time it takes to reach the destination. There is nothing much to worry about the sights on the way, it will be beautiful everywhere you go.

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Few things to know

The facilities in the boat will be basic. The longest journeys will take hours to reach the destination. You need to carry food and water.

There will be toilet facility available in the boat.

Don’t expect the comfort that you see in those houseboats.

Nowadays, there are road connectivity is better here, so if you don’t want to return back in the boat. Just ask the conductor to drop you at the place where you can catch the bus back to your place.

If you find a cool place on the way and wish to spend some time there, ask the conductor about the availability and timing of the return boat. If it suits your plan, then just get down without any second thoughts.

The people here are very friendly, just ask them if you need any help.

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Most of us like to travel, but the main reason why we are not doing this often can be our financial constraints. Every day our email inboxes and social media pages are bombarded with messages from travel companies and tour operators, quoting the expense of our dream trip at a price much higher than we expect even after their usual discounts. After seeing this, we immediately fall desperate and make a decision that we will definitely go on that trip, but not now, maybe after the yearly appraisal or job change. Most of the cases, even after a year, we get busy with some other things and nothing is going to change. So I would say, don’t wait for the perfect time, you want to do something? Then do it as soon as possible.

Just find out how to do it without draining your pockets, that’s all. With proper research, you will definitely find out a way.

Hope you liked the post about traveling through Alleppey backwaters on a budget.

Please let me know about it.

Give your suggestions and feedback on the comment box below.

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Kerala backwaters budget



  1. Yeah pretty interesting article . Loved the style

    1. Thanks Anonymous…!!!!

  2. That’s such a great way to travel…and for just 16rs makes it all the more amazing. Love the way you travel…Few more pics would have made reading this post more interactive

    1. Thanks Mohit, There are ways we can explore the Alleppey backwaters on a really cheap budget. The local boat service is one such way and it is very cheap. Am glad that you liked the post. Will definitely add more pictures.

  3. Glad to read your post. I have been to Alleppy twice and have observed the local ferry system from afar. Always thought of taking a ride in it but could not. After reading your post, I think I will definitely try it if I go to Alleppy again.

    1. Sharing this on my Facebook page for my readers.

      1. Thanks

    2. Thanks,
      Next time, don’t miss the ferry ride. It will be a great experience.

  4. Good one.. any gender bias for toddy shops??

    1. Hi Reshma,
      No gender bias…good to go…

  5. Truly, there’s always a great way to explore one place without spending a lot of money. I truly salute your effort of getting to know the local’s way of travelling around the Alleppey backwaters, which has a ferry boat that will still let you experience the stunning beauty of Alleppey backwaters. The houseboats is something I should consider If travel with a groud friends. Thank you so much for sharing this, I can’t wait to visit Kerala soon.

    1. Thanks,
      You should definitely visit Kerala, especially the backwaters of Alleppey.

  6. That’s such an interesting way to see the scenery nearby! 16 INR per person is indeed very affordable! It is great to know that you don’t have to travel back the same way.

    1. Thanks Cat, glad that you liked the post.

  7. Great post! There is always a way to travel on a budget. Its just whether you want to do the research and forego a little bit of comfort. I do like the idea that by taking these boats I’d also be saving some pollution. Any bit to reduce our carbon footprint whilst we travel is great.

    1. Thanks Amy

  8. Beautiful photos 🙂
    Thanks for sharing 🙂

    1. Thanks Sachin

  9. Wow! This is such a great way to explore the backwaters of Allepy. I mean 16 Rs for ride, where one would have spent thousands for a luxury houseboat, is definitely a deal to crack. I would love to try Toddy as well. I’ve heard a lot about the drink. Kerala is on my bucket list and I’m already planning to explore the backwaters like a local when I’ll visit the place. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thanks Shaily, glad that you liked the post. Visit Alleppey during your visit to India. Hope you have a great time here.

  10. Looks like a really cool place. I haven’t heard of it and it definitely looks different than any other destination I’ve been to!

    1. Eli, Alleppey backwaters is a very different landscape. This region lies below sea level. The life here is very much dependent on water. The ferry service available is the best way to explore these backwaters on a budget.

  11. this looks cool way to explore alleppey..Would love to explore it in local way

    1. Hi Mayuri,
      Glad that you liked the post. In my opinion this is the best way to explore this amazing landscape.

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