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Kerala holidays promise long, languid days spent on golden sandy beaches, seafood served fresh from the ocean, and traditional houseboat cruises along serene backwaters. It’s India at its most laidback and relaxing.
Kerala’s coastline stretches for 600km (372 miles) along India’s western coast, almost reaching the country’s most southern tip. No surprise, then, that Kerala is a sunseeker’s paradise – suitably reflected in the untouched, palm-lined beaches that fringe this coastal region.
Elsewhere, Kerala is equally lush. Whether you head inland to the Western Ghats, which are cloaked with vast swathes of green forest and tea plantations, or to big cities such as Trivandrum and Alleppey to get a taste of the country’s infamous crowded chaos, holidays to Kerala are as rich in natural beauty as they are culture.
While not as wild as Goa, great nightlife can be found in backpacker hubs such as Kovalam and Kochi, and the region is dotted with excellent spas for those morning-after headaches. Ayurveda, an ancient alternative medicine, is practised widely here and treatments range from aromatherapy massages to full-blown detox programs.
Wildlife enthusiasts will love Kerala’s national parks and sanctuaries. Countless colourful bird species flit about the forest canopies while elephants, tigers and even leopards roam the region’s dense forests. At Periyar National Park, fewer than 40 Bengal tigers live in the 925-square-kilometre (357-square-mile) reserve. Seek them out on a trekking trip through the Keralan hinterland.
Whether you’re looking for days by the beach, culture, nature or a little of everything, a holiday in Kerala won’t disappoint.
Generally, Kerala is a very safe destination for travellers, with only petty crime, such as pick-pocketing, likely to impact on your trip. Take sensible precautions with your valuables, and don’t travel with large sums of money. For up-to-date travel advice for India, check the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office.
You need a visa to visit Kerala. Tourists from the UK can obtain a 30-day, one year or five-year visa online before travelling to Kerala in India.
Some vaccines, such as Hepatitis A, Diphtheria, Tetanus or Typhoid, are recommended for travel to Kerala. Consult with your doctor before travelling and check the NHS advice.
Kerala is a vast state, so you’ll never really be able to see it all. A good two-week holiday should give you an excellent overview of the landscapes and culture here, though.
Kerala, and India as a whole, is a deeply religious state and so respectful dress is required, especially in temples or mosques (you may be asked to remove your shoes before entry).
Public transport networks by bus or rail are extensive, but hiring a driver and guide is the best way to get around Kerala. Hiring your own vehicle is not recommended, as Kerala’s roads are busy and often difficult for foreign drivers.
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