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Travel Kerala Tips
Travel Kerala Tips is designed to give you some great inside knowledge about Kerala and advice to make things more enjoyable for your journey.
Obviously depending on budget, the amount of time you have to spend in Kerala and your own preferences you may prefer to ignore any of these Travel Kerala Tips, however they are good general guides which should appeal and be useful to most travellers of Kerala.
Tip 1 : Haggle / Barter everywhere (except for food, train and bus) ... its only for fun, but seriously - the locals can recognise visitors a mile off, and will hike up the price of anything (taxis, souvenirs - even accomodation is up for negotiation). An example for inspiration for you: We arrived on the last train to Allepey with all our bags in tow and still managed to negotiate a nice double from from 1600Rs down to 800Rs in a Tharavad just a little way out from the town. It is common practise for most Keraleans to barter for most items, so they wont be offended.
Tip 2 : If you want to see the Backwaters but dont fancy shelling out over 6000Rs on a houseboat, you can catch a local ferry from Allepey to Kollam which gives you a few pieceful hours to absorb the stunning scenery and only costs about 10RS per person! Also it is very cheap transport if you are travelling from Allepey towards kumily, as the bus from Kollam to Kumily is only a few hundred Rs.
Tip 3: Try the local produce. On your travels you will see many wild and wonderful looking fruits and spices. You should aim to try at least one of the following when you visit Kerala.
Red Banana, Green Banana (It is ripe when this colour), Coconut, Tamarind, Cardamom (and Cardamom Tea), Jambu Fruit (water apple), Guava, Water Melon, Papaya, Jack Fruit, Palmyra Fruit, Sapota
Tip 4: Tactically placed straight after Tip 3 is : Looking after your stomach health while in Kerala. If you have been brought up outside of India, it is more than likely that you will not have the same immunity to the bugs that the locals have, so while it is great to try the local stuff - make sure you have a good stock of anti constipationa and anti diarrhoea pills, and carry a clean bottle of water and some tissue with you at all times so you are prepared for any stomach upset.
Tip 5: If you are going to stay near Kovalam Beach - Avoid hotel Sea Face. Things may change, but I wouldnt risk it... We booked online to ensure we had a room - very expensive, took ages to get checked in as they lost our booking, it was an extortionate price, dirty had cockroaches in the roam and there was no hot water!! Customer service was absolutely appalling, the staff seemed very apathetic and inflexible and wouldnt even offer us a different room! We checked out the very next day and moved pretty much next door to hotel Moonlight which was about 10 times cheaper and a much more pleasant place.
Tip 6 : If you are going near the Chinese Fishing Nets in Fort Cochin - wear lots of Mosquito Repellent or get covered up, or else you will be eaten alive by mosquitoes. Especially during/after monsoon having good mosquito guard can be one of the most important Travel Kerala tips.
Tip 7: Take an umbrella... It might sound strange but an umbrella is useful in Kerala as the Sun can be so strong that you need a break from the beating heat, but in the afternoons the sky can open and pour over a foot of rain down on you.
Tip 8: Stock up on Books if you like to read, Kerala has very reasonably priced book shops. There is an absolute gem of a bookshop just opposite the house of Vasco Da Gama in Fort Cochin
Tip 9: Kumily and Periyar great actvities to do here are Elephant Riding (should be about 700Rs- and they let you feed the Elephants too!), and an explore round a Spice Garden is an amazing experience.
Tip 10: Transport - round the local area, auto rickshaws are the best way to go (remember to haggle). Booking trains can be a hassle, but as long as you book AC class your journey will be quite pleasant and good value for the amount of distance you can travel. Buses are the most bustling noisy, hot and cramped way to travel, and are only recommended if you are really up for a culture shock and experiencing the local way of life. Tour operators will compile wildly over priced tours in most resorts- you can probably barter at least 50% off their starting price.
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