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Monday, April 11, 2016

Kerala Houseboats- Kumarakon and Alleppy-Houseboats everywhere!

Staying in a house boat is still a pending item for me. During last weekend's Kerala visit, we had close look at different types of house boats. While there was a strong temptation to rent one and spend a night, I resisted as April is not the best season and houseboat stay is best enjoyed with a larger family.

This post shares lots of pictures of houseboats and some relevant information I have gathered/observed that you can probably use if you are planning to book a house boat in Kerala.

Size and Type: Houseboats come in all size and types. Most have one or two bed rooms without any upper deck while premium ones like what is shown below can have 3 bed rooms and an upper deck, giving more space and better view.


A 2BHK House boat with upper deck

We took permission and went inside the above houseboat parked in Kumarakon, its cleaning was in progress

A new boat being readied

An old houseboat


In Alleppy, there are over 1000 house boats looking for customers.

We went inside one of them with permission
 
How much do houseboat stay costs? - They cost at par with a 5 star hotel. A one bed room house boat can cost about Rs 6000-7000 per might. Bigger (2BHK, 3BHK ones) and more luxurious ones can cost Rs 12000 to Rs 15000 a night. There are a few super jumbo house boats with 4 or 5 bedrooms, costing 20-30k. Food is included, transportation till starting point is not (usually)

Price depends on season, how luxurious the house boat is and any special request you may have.

Timings? Usually Check-in at 12 noon, check out at 9 AM next morning.

Should I rent a whole day?
That is what operators prefer and for a proper experience you should spend a night. But if you are strapped for cash or time, try negotiating a deal with operators in the evening time. Instead of going without business, they will be willing to either offer a discount for spot booking or agree for a shorter ride at reduced fee (like start at 4 PM, enjoy short cruise, sunset, dinner and be back by 10 PM for 25% of the normal fee, which gives you adequate experience of house boats if not full). 

What is the best season to enjoy Kerala houseboats?
Post monsoon-September to November will be best. December is when Kerala gets maximum international tourists and rates will be high. January/February should be just fine. March to May greanery will be minimum, temperature will be high, not the best time, but you might get good deals. June to September heavy rain will force you stay indoor all the time.

What all to check while booking houseboat?
  1. Age of the houseboat- few old ones may not give good experience
  2. Pictures of the houseboat- Ask operators to share pictures of the houseboat and ensure it seems satisfactory.
  3. Itinerary- Typical plan involves few hours ride to some scenic spot where boat will be parked overnight and back to starting point next morning. But other variations can be arranged on request- like start in Kumarakon end in Alleppy or vice-versa or going to some island where you can hop off for fishing or camping etc. Some prefer to stop at places that offer Ayurvedic massage etc.
  4. Facilities- AC is must if it is summer season, as Kerala is very hot. I am told they will turn on AC only during night, not during day time (Guests usually relax outside during day time enjoying the scene/ride. If you want AC all day, do inform and take confirmation to avoid arguments on the boat. Please inform about food preferences etc. Few offer WiFi, Television, Spa and other facilities.
We were told these house boats cost Rs 20-25 lakh onwards- depending on size, how luxurious it will be etc. In essence they cost as much as a regular apartment and are not cheap.

What location is better- Alleppy or Kumarakon?
I have not checked out Alleppy much, but it is believed to be more scenic. Most house boats are based here and is usually the preferred choice for many. Kumarakon has fewer houseboats.

How to Reach Houseboat starting point?
While Taxi is what most people end up renting, you can try other budget options- there are buses to Alleppy from Cochin International Airport. You can try a ferry ride from Cochin to Alleppy but it may take whole day. Alleppy boat house is within walking distance from town, so you can take a public transport to Alleppy and then either walk or take an Auto till boat club.  If starting point is Kumarakon you might be needing a taxi, as public transport option to this part seemed inadequate.

Meanwhile a company in Pondicherry has started operating house boats for Rs 20/25k (weekday/weekend) per night.

Where to book a houseboat?
It is as easy as booking any hotel room these days. But exercise caution like checking photos, reviews, confirming directly with operator etc, because this will be expensive spend and a one time experience and you don't want to get disappointed. Booking.com seem to have good listing of houseboats. Goibibo quotes inflated rates but gives some credit back later. You can try some of the operators directly. If you are not very particular about exact specifics and if you are fine with a small risk that everything might be sold out, you can simply drive down and try spot deal with the operator, which works fine most of the time as supply is more than demand during most of the year.
Hope you find these useful. Note that I have not personally tried house boat stay yet-This trip served as a good recce. Might do it later this year. Do share your experience/comments.

15 comments :

Indrani said...

Looks like must experience kind of stay.
The interiors seemed to be maintained well.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Yes... like that motor home :)

Interior varies from boat to boat.. what I showed was just a sample

ArchanaC Kapoor said...

Its so lovely... its a pity that in my hundreds of visit to God's own country I never got time to stay in a houseboat! :'(

Shrinidhi Hande said...

@Archana- Next time... Are there houseboats in US?

rupam sarma said...

Great, Thanks for the info.Beautiful pics.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

@Rupam- You are welcome. Do visit South India soon

Yogi Saraswat said...

Beautiful pictures are attracting me and saying - Kerala kab aaoge ! very informative post indeed.

R Niranjan Das said...

Helpful post, Shrinidhi. However, the place has become too crowded.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

yes Niranjan- we could see that- so many boats in the water and many more waiting for customers

@Yogi- Plan after September for best experience..

Ami said...


Have stayed on a houseboat in Alleypey and it sure is scenic. I have heard Kumarakom is a little more commercial. My fav part of a houseboat is witnessing the golden sunset over the lake. It is just amazing.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks Ami for sharing your experience. I found Allepy more crowded and commercial, but I could be wrong- shouldn't judge with just one visit.

Destination Infinity said...

In addition to house boats, one can also try staying in tree houses in Kerala. That's like 15K per night, though!

Destination Infinity

Shrinidhi Hande said...

@Rajesh- yes, but tree house can be enjoyed at several places

Prasad Np said...

very comprehensive information

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks Prasad