Essential travel tips

 Kerala is....
  • The southern most tip of India 
  • 5hours 30 minutes ahead of GMT
  • Language : Malayalam, English is widely spoken
  • Currency : Indian rupee
  • Climate : Tropical 
  • Summer (Feruary to May, 24-33 C)
  • Monsoon (June to Sep, 22-28 C)
  • Winter (October to Jan, 22-32 C)
Travelling from the airport
One gets multiple options to travel from the airports. The preferred mode is the pre-paid taxi, operated by the airport authorities (there are other operators as well, and they can be more expensive). I always prefer the volvo buses operated by the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC), becuase they are the most cost effective and convenient for me. When I pay almost 1000 Rs (USD 20), for my trip in a pre-paid air conditioned car to Kochi from the Nedumbassery airport, in a Volvo, airconditioned bus, I achieve the same in less than Rs.100 (USD 2). There are frequent bus services from the airport to the adjacent cities, which will help you to save some money, without cutting the comfort. 

 Kerala is not very cheap as it used to be a few years ago, because of it's prominence in the world tourist map, and at the same time, if you are careful, still it is possible to stretch the currency. The local currency is the Indian rupee which comes in 1,2,5,10,20,50,100,500,100 rupee denominations. 1 US dollar is approximately equal to anything between 45 - 52 Indian rupee, based on the market fluctuations. Most of the places debit/credit cards are accepted, and even in interior places ATMs and banks are available. What you spend depends on where you stay, how you get around, what you eat and what you buy. In the resorts, during the peak tourist season, it will be difficult to find a good, air conditioned room for less than Rs.1,500/day, and the same can be had at Rs.800-1000, if you are staying in a neighboring town, which is around 10-15 km away. A night in a simple lodge can be much lesser. A typical south Indian meal can be had for anything between Rs.50 to Rs.80 from an ordinary hotel, and at the same time meals at a five star hotel can cost around Rs.800 to 1000. 

Staying in one of the beach side enclaves such as Kovalam or Varkala, you should be able to manage quite comfortably on a budget of around Rs.1500-2000 per day, if you stay somewhere relatively basic. Usage of rented bicycle and public transport, instead of rented taxi can reduce expense considerably. For example, the air conditioned volvo buses plying between the Kochi airport to Fort Kochi will cost you only less than Rs.100, where as a rented taxi can cost you around Rs.900. That is a sure money saver. If you are willing to shell out around Rs.3000 - 4000/day, then you can expect to stay somewhere with more space and good sized sea facing balcony, eat well and get around by car. Any one spending Rs.5000-7000 per day, however can easily pamper themselves in a smart hotel with pool, indulge in tiger prawn suppers and have ayurveda massages every day. To spend much more than that, you must be staying in a five star hotel and renting taxis for the duration of your stay. 

Voltage is 220V/50 HZ AC. Most sockets are triple round pin, but accept european size double round pin plugs.

Entry requirements / Visa

Tourist visas are valid for six months from the date of issue and usually cost around USD 75. In many countries it is possible to pay a visa agency to process the visa on your behalf. This is worth considering if you are not able to get to your nearest Indian high commission, embassy or consulate yourself.

Internet cafes are available throughout the place. Hotels also provide reasonably  fast internet connections.

Beware of pointing your camera at anything that might be considered as strategic, including airports, anything related to military and even bridges, railway stations and main roads. Some people prefer not to be photographed , so it is advisable to ask for permission before photographing someone.

Using a mobile phone is the easiest and most convenient. Simcard can be obtained at the arrival lounge of the airports.

Mosquito menace 
Beware of the mosquitoes, especially while staying the coastal parts of Kerala. They appear by around 6 p.m, and by that time please ensure that the doors and windows of your room is closed. It is always better to arrange for a mosquito repellant. Most of the hotels provide it, and at the same time do not take it for granted. Please check for it's availability and usability while checking into the room, and if there is none, it is advisable to get one, else you will end up with sleepless nights. 

Drinking water - Insist on bottled water, which will cost you around Rs.15 / litre. If the stay is for a longer duration, go for a bigger bottle, which will be cheaper. 

Medicines - Have medicines for cold, fever and stomach disorders. These things in the backpack is advisable for any tourist, visiting any destination.

Beware of pick pockets - Especially if you are using public transport

Bargaining - Is common in most of the antique, handicrafts shops, lodges (low end), taxi fares, auto rikshaw charges, porter charges etc. In standard hotels, if your stay is for a longer duration, or if you are going in as a batch, or if it is off season, then there is room for negotiation. Even at the money change counters, there is room for exchange rate negotiation. House boat charges are definitely negotiable.

No smoking policy - Officially, smoking in public places is prohibited and is punishable according to the law.

Helmet - If you are riding a motor cycle, wearing a helmet is mandatory, according to the law.

Torch : always carry a torch. The ideal would be a an ordinary mobile phone with a torch. This is very important because, during the summer time, the state is under acute power shortage, resulting in frequent power cuts. During the power cut time, you need a torch even to open your room (to insert the key)

 Here is my nokis dual sim phone with torch. This is very inexpensive phone, and it is a true traveller's companion.

Kerala tourism's official site 

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