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A large part of Kerala’s considerable charm lies in the Backwaters, a network of canals that lead off Lake Vembanad.

Local life

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.

Rice Boats

Houseboat, KeralaThese 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.

Speak to someone
who's been there
Audley Travel specialist Nick

Start planning your tailor-made trip to the Backwaters by calling one of our India specialists on 01993 838 355

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

    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.

    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.