Top tips for visiting Kerala, India

Kerala is filled with wildlife, natural beauty spots and incredible food and drink. Before you go, check out these top tips for visiting. 

By Saga team

Published 4 May 2024

India is a huge nation – the world’s seventh largest, in fact. So, planning a holiday here can be a little overwhelming. The state of Kerala has a reputation for its natural beauty and calm atmosphere, which makes it the perfect destination for travellers who’ve never been to exotic India before.

Kerala is a state that embodies the India of lush forests, slinking tigers, huge elephants, tropical heat and masala-doused seafood. Before you visit, take a look at these top tips...

There isn’t really a bad time to visit Kerala, but from October to March the weather is at its most pleasant, with temperatures averaging between 19 and 29 C. Be warned if you want to go in the summer – the southwest monsoon hits in June and July. That said, while we’re not particularly partial to rain in the UK, in Kerala it’s a season of great celebration, and one of the most interesting times to see this state. The forests, paddy fields and tea plantations are at their most vibrant this time of year, so the scenery is spectacular.

The south of India generally experiences only two seasons: the wet and the dry. Packing for a trip to Kerala means lots of light layers; breathable fabrics like linens and cottons are best. India is still relatively conservative, so light long trousers and skirts are a good option. Pair t-shirts and sleeveless shirts with long-sleeved cotton shirts, so you can dress up or down depending on the location. We’d also recommend bringing at least one pair of closed-toe shoes, and a pair of sandals.

Mosquito repellent, good sunglasses, a swimsuit, sun cream, a hat and hand sanitiser are all incredibly useful items to take with you on holiday to Kerala. Because of the tropical location, there can be mosquitoes, especially in the backwaters. Carrying hand sanitiser is a top tip if you’re out and want to use the bathroom, as sometimes there isn’t access to running water.

Vaccinations are usually required when travelling to India. Make an appointment with your doctor at least eight weeks before you travel to ensure you get the shots you need.

Once you arrive in Kerala, taking a houseboat down the backwaters is a must. Most of Kerala’s attractions are down to its landscape, so floating down its backwaters and seeing life play out on its banks is one of the best ways to experience Kerala and India as a whole.

Street food in Kerala is delicious, and often fresher than the food you’ll find in the restaurants. Fluffy malabar parotta flatbread, banana chips and fritters, mussels stir-fry – all are firm roadside favourites. Just avoid anything that uses water as an ingredient, like pani puri and fruit juices or drinks with ice in them. The same goes for salads and items washed in water that isn’t from a sealed bottle.

Bottled water is a must in India – ensure that the caps are sealed when you buy it. Tap water is the biggest culprit for digestive illnesses on holiday, so if you want to keep your system in top shape, be vigilant about your water (and ice) consumption.

Ayurveda is one of the oldest traditional forms of medicine in India. It comprises of treatments that are supposed to soothe both body and mind. The most popular of these is massage, and the Malayali (the people of Kerala) masseuses are famous around India for being the best. So much of Kerala is about embracing the experiential, and starting your trip by balancing your mind, body and spirit will equip you to open your heart to India while you’re there on holiday.

Time for an adventure in India? Our independent and escorted tours will introduce you to magical states like Kerala and beyond.

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