Kochi Travel Guide
In a nutshell
Kochi was once spice trade hub on the Silk Road, but today it serves up a feast for the senses and the soul. Where else can you find the character of an Old World European colony, relics left from Chinese and Arabian traders, and the crumbling remnants of the British Raj?
Why go to Kochi
They can all be found in friendly Kochi, nestled on the tropical Malabar coast. Walk in the footsteps of the Rajs and Ranis at their historical palaces. Bollywood can eat its heart! Kathakali, classical Indian dancing, originated in Kochi and you can still catch these colourful song and dance numbers. Make all your friends jealous with your photo op at the beach. Float on your own private Kettuvallam (houseboat) and watch the world go by. See how locals live on the Kochi Backwaters. Chow down on the delicious smorgasbord of cuisines that make up Kochi’s vibrant food scene. Travel back in time to colonial English times and wave your pinky in the air during high tea at a cricket match. History buffs will nerd out at the museums and classic landmarks galore. Go on a shopping spree. Live your best life while getting a seaside massage and falling asleep to the sounds of tropical bird calls.
When to go to Kochi
It’s best to go during the dry season from August through April. Monsoons sweep through from June to December.
Join in the merrymaking during the festivals of Onam, Holi, and Diwali. Locals wait all year for the revelry at Cochin Carnival, which takes place during the last week of December.
Where to stay in Kochi
There are plenty of choices for accommodations to match any price point. This is especially true around the historical Fort Kochi area, which is the best place to stay because it’s the heart of the city.
An increasing number of classic buildings have been lovingly restored and transformed into boutique hotels with prices that present great values. Whether you are on a romantic rendezvous, backpacking on a budget, globetrotting with kiddos, or making the most of your lottery jackpot, you can find charming, comfortable lodging that’s bursting with character and hospitality.
Homestays are the Indian version of the Bed & Breakfast. On steroids. In an Indian homestay, you can have airport transportation, wifi, air conditioning, connected bathrooms, cable TV, free local phone calls, and more. Breakfast is a given, but some homestays will even throw in all meals and snacks.
Where to eat in Kochi
Food is a big part of the adventure wherever you travel and Kochi has options for every budget. The diversity of cultures in this city has heavily influenced the flavour of the food scene here. Eating at Kochi’s restaurants is like having a party in your mouth and inviting every type of cuisine. There are Keralan, Chinese, Indian, European, American styles, and more throughout the city.
Since Kochi is a coastal community, fresh seafood is readily available. You can even buy fish right on the beach and have it cooked up in nearby food stalls.
Dishes cantered around rice and curry are the order of the day. Locals love their spicy food. Coconuts are plentiful so most local dishes are loaded with it. Mustard seeds, onions, curry leaves, and sliced fried chilies also abound. Don’t miss the sadya, a Keralan lunch and dinner dish served on a banana leaf. LuLu Mall carries a number of American fast food chains that your wallet will love.
How to get around Kochi
Ferries are the fastest and most fun way to get around Kochi. Fare ranges from INR4-6.
There isn’t regular bus service from Fort Cochin to Mattancherry Palace or vice versa, but the approximately 30-minute walk (or bike ride) through the bustling warehouse section along Bazaar Road is pleasant.
Autorickshaws average around INR80, but you can haggle. Taxis and rickshaws are the only options to travel to Fort Kochin when ferries and buses quit for the evening.
Ernakulam Town train station to Fort Cochin runs about INR400. Expect to pay about INR250 for autorickshaws during the day.
Uber is becoming a popular alternative to taxis in Kochi. Scooters cost roughly INR300 per day. Motorcycles are INR400-600 per day.
How to get to and from Kochi
Cochin International Airport is a major gateway to India. Air India Express, India’s budget airline, is based in Kochi and has regular flights to almost all Middle Eastern cities and some Southeast Asian ones.
Kochi is well linked to most other Indian cities by domestic carriers. During tourist season, travelers from Europe and the USA can use regular direct chartered services.
To get to or from the airport, hop on a state-run bus operated by the Kerala Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC). These buses connect Kochi to the rest of Kerala and all of the southern parts of India. Fast passenger and super fast express buses run every 10-20 minutes to most nearby towns. Both services are no-frills and can be found at the bus point near the Central Block of the Airport. Air-conditioned buses run every 30-40 minutes to Kochi City and terminate at Fort Kochi. The trip lasts about 1 hour and 40 minutes and will cost from INR70 or lower. Check out the Free Cochin Bus Finder app by downloading it from Google Play to find details about KSRTC, Private bus times, and routes.
Many car rental companies operate in the arrivals areas of the Airport and many lodgings offer free shuttles. The Airport railway station is under construction. The closest railway stations to the airport currently are Aluva and Angamally.
All taxis leaving the Airport are pre-paid and run by the Cochin Airport Taxi Society (CATS). CATS and other companies can bring passengers to the airport, but only CATS can take passengers away from the airport. CATS’s rates are government-controlled. Get a receipt from the CATS counter in arrival hall, then get picked up at the prepaid taxi stand. For airport/city trips, non air-conditioned cabs cost about INR684 and A/C ones are approximately INR828. Standard rate is INR19 per Km for Non /AC vehicles and INR23 for A/C ones. Minimum rate is INR400 for at least 22 Kms. If you are ready to haggle, you can easily catch an auto off of airport premises for less. Unless it’s early morning or late at night, when it’s hard. From the Airport to the nearest railway stations, you’ll pay from INR50 or lower. If going to the airport, the autos can take you as far as Cargo Terminal Area only.
Is Kochi a safe place to visit?
Kochi has great medical care and is one of India’s safest cities, but use common sense.
Ensure your room has repellents or at least a net to ward off mosquitoes.
Life is rough on pedestrians, so use caution and wait for relative lulls in traffic.
Smoking bans are strictly enforced.
Prostitution is illegal. So is adultery and police regularly raid cheap hotels to catch prostitutes and their clients.