Visit the Backwaters, India
A large part of Kerala’s considerable charm lies in the Backwaters, a network of canals that lead off Lake Vembanad.
Whether you spend time in one of the palm-shaded hotels or drift along in a rice boat, it is difficult not to be captivated by the local way of life. Seeing children travelling to school in a narrow canoe, local ladies washing the pots at the side of the canal and fishermen netting their daily meal in the shallows, you realise how integral this network is to the life of the region.
Villages, temples and churches are built along the banks and the area is also a haven for wildlife with wading birds, kingfishers and fish eagles.
These traditional wooden craft, originally used to transport rice along Kerala’s lush green backwaters, have found a new lease of life quietly exploring timeless scenes of palms and paddies, temples and villages. Boats have either one or two fan-cooled bedrooms with attached shower rooms. The sides are open allowing the breeze to flow freely. Your private crew steer the boat, cook lavish local meals and keep you in tea and cold drinks.
As you drift along the backwaters, you can see the local villagers fishing and washing clothes in the canals, as small boys swim alongside the boats shouting ‘Hello’ and ‘Which country?’. Birdlife is plentiful: stork and egret are often spotted. Even a day on a rice boat is a unique and unforgettable experience, but staying overnight, on a boat gives the chance to experience dusk and dawn on the still, reflective waters.
Suggested itineraries featuring the Backwaters
Our itineraries will give you suggestions for what is possible when you travel in the Backwaters, and they showcase routes we know work particularly well. Treat them as inspiration, because your trip will be created uniquely by one of our specialists.
Map of the Backwaters
Places & hotels on the map
Places near the Backwaters
- Mararikulam 8 miles away
- Cochin 31 miles away
- Kerala 40 miles away
- Kothamangalam 43 miles away
- Thekkady & Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary 59 miles away
- Munnar 62 miles away
- Kovalam 88 miles away
- Palakkad 89 miles away
- Madurai 123 miles away
- Ooty 133 miles away
- Waynad 150 miles away
- Tellicherry 166 miles away
- Chettinad 169 miles away
- Nagarhole National Park 176 miles away
- Trichy 183 miles away
- Mysore 195 miles away
- Coorg 206 miles away
- Neeleshwar 208 miles away
- Tanjore 209 miles away
- Bangalore 254 miles away
- Belur & Halebid 257 miles away
- Tranquebar 260 miles away
- Pondicherry 290 miles away
Photos of the Backwaters
Our expert guides to exploring the Backwaters
Written by our specialists from their own experiences of visiting the Backwaters, these guides will help you make the most of your time there. We share both our practical recommendations and the best ways to appreciate the Backwaters at its best.
Kerala’s slow pace of life is a gentle introduction to India, with tranquil backwaters, manicured tea plantations and fishing villages to explore. India specialist Tara lends her advice for how to make the most of your time there.
The concept of the homestay was first developed in Kerala and the naturally friendly Keralites continue to welcome visitors to their homes. Our specialists have visited many homestays and can suggest the best places to stay.
Accommodation choices for the Backwaters
We’ve selected a range of accommodation options for when you visit the Backwaters. Our choices usually come recommended for their character, facilities and service or location. Our specialists always aim to suggest properties that match your preferences.
Thoughtfully laid out on the shores of Vembanad Lake, the Kumarakom Lake Resort is a relaxing retreat set amidst landscaped gardens and canals, which meander around the traditionally-styled cottages.
Exploring the backwaters of Kerala by houseboat is a wonderful and unique experience, allowing you to observe the area’s fascinating culture and rich wildlife as you glide peacefully along the water. Each vessel is comfortable and well-equipped for a short stay.
Located on the eastern shore of Lake Vembanad, Coconut Lagoon offers all the comforts and facilities you would expect from a good resort.
A stay here is a wonderful opportunity to meet with an interesting family and learn something of the way of life in the backwaters.
When you land on this island, punted across the water in a long canoe, you will feel as if you are in the middle of nowhere.