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Cruising on a houseboat around the backwaters of Alleppey is a quintessential Kerala experience and one we looked forward to from the moment we booked our trip. We spent a lot of time choosing a houseboat in Alleppey and it didn’t disappoint. The trip went down as one of the highlights of our time in India. We had already spent some time in the backwater villages at Greenpalms Homestay so our focus on the cruise was pure relaxation, watching the world go by from the comfort of our boat. It was a good time to use the word bliss.
Here are some photos from our trip as well as some details about how to find and choose a houseboat in Alleppey.
How to book a houseboat in Alleppey
Trying to choose a houseboat in Kerala can be tricky, but these tips will help you to find what you’re looking for. For us, it took a bit of effort, but we ended up finding what we think is the best houseboat in Alleppey! This is how we did it. On our first day in Alleppey we got in tuk-tuk and asked the driver to take us to the houseboat dock. We ended up at a tiny little clearing with about ten houseboats, far from the hundreds we had expected. We knew something wasn’t quite right and suspected rightly that the driver had simply taken us to his friend’s boat, rather than the main dock. We instead changed tactic and went to a hostel where we’d heard that the owner had one of the few remaining paddle-propelled boats in the area. This appealed to us as we were conscious of the environmental impact the boats have on the local villages. Unfortunately that boat was already booked but the owner called a friend who he said would be happy to help us. That man turned out to be Kabeer, the driver I wrote about in my Kerala itinerary post. Kabeer was a godsend. He listened to what we were looking for and patiently took us on a tour of around ten different houseboats, not once being pushy. He didn’t appear to be affiliated with any of the boats but instead asked around and slowly honed in on our perfect boat. We only had to pay him for the drive, but I believe (and hope) he received a commission from the boat owner.
Note that you can also get a houseboat in Kollam, which is a quieter alternative but we decided to go to Alleppey as we knew ther would be more choice. This post by Globetrotter Girls helped us to make that decision.
Tips for how to choose a houseboat in Kerala
Houseboat trips in Kerala aren’t cheap. You can save money by getting a bigger boat and sharing with other people, but we wanted the full romantic experience of travelling just the two of us. Two-person boats start at around 6500 IDR per night and go up to about 20,000 IDR and even more in the high season. We looked at a range of boats and all were unique. It’s definitely worth looking around. You might decide you definitely want an upper tier, a particularly comfy chair or a huge window in the bedroom. By browsing, you can zero in on your perfect boat. Bear in mind that some of the super fancy houseboats that come with jacuzzis and 24-hour air-con are also the worst for the environment.
The best houseboat in Alleppey
When we finally found our houseboat we were smitten and think it might just be the best houseboat in Kerala! It was more expensive than some of the others we had seen and it didn’t have an upper tier, but in every other respect it was perfect. We are suckers for good design and our houseboat had been lovingly crafted with attention to the smallest details. Hashim, the owner, is clearly proud of his boat and with good reason too. It was beautiful and in perfect condition. All the houseboats are manned by a driver and a chef, and we hit the jackpot with ours who were both very friendly and easy to be around. We also ate some of the best food we had in Kerala while on that boat. My mouth is watering at the memory.
Life on the houseboat in Alleppey
We spent most of our time on the houseboat in a routine of waking, breakfast, reading, lunch, reading, dinner, playing cards and sleeping. We also stopped a few times to see the rice paddies, buy souvenirs at a craft market and visit a local church. We were less interested in exploring the villages as we had already done so during our stay at Green Palms. Instead we mostly relaxed and the conditions couldn’t have been better. The boat gets tied up for the night once the sun goes down. Our only disappointment was that on the second night, we could see a busy road in the distance. It seems most houseboats stop there as it’s close to the drop-off point for the next morning but we preferred our first night which was more secluded. That said, if you looked the other way, you could pretend it wasn’t there.
How to rent our houseboat in Kerala
Our houseboat cost 10,000 INR per night and our cruise was for two days starting and finishing in the morning. You can book through the Ayana’s Houseboats website or Holiday Lettings website. or contact the owner, Hashim directly at email@example.com or on (+91) 98460 75 978
If you’re looking for someone to help you find a houseboat in Alleppey, we wholeheartedly recommend seeking out tuk-tuk driver Kabeer who can be reached on 9895860674 or firstname.lastname@example.org