Photo of the boat from the outside, drifting along the Kerala back waters.

Renting an Alleppey Houseboat

One of the coolest things we’ve ever done is renting a houseboat in Alleppey and exploring Kerala’s backwaters. It’s been on my bucket list for the past decade and it was so incredible to be able to check it off! For centuries, backwaters in Alleppey have been used for transportation, fishing, and agriculture. In a way, I felt as if I had stepped back in time. Back before we paved paradise to put up a parking lot.…. Yes, that song was stuck in my head the entire time I was there. Kerala is called God’s own country. When you visit, you’ll immediately understand why. Staying on a houseboat in Alleppey allows you an immersive and luxurious experience off the beaten path. It’s a once in a lifetime experience.

Man fishing on keralas backwaters

Choose your Alleppey houseboat wisely

Trip advisor has a fair amount of negative reviews about the backwaters but if you dig a bit deeper you’ll find that all the negative reviews have nothing to do with the location and everything to do with the houseboats. Some people were disappointed with the operator service, the rooms or the general condition of the houseboats. Others were expecting a guided tour, with stops and subsequently became bored on the water.

Beautiful Houseboat docked on Keralas backwaters.

An Alleppey Houseboats is an accommodation, not a guided tour

Houseboats are simply an accommodation. Think of it of it as a tiny hotel on the water. It’s YOUR trip. You can dock the boat for 20 minutes and explore an area on foot – one of the staff members will even accompany you. Your toddler can pretend to drive the boat while you’re docked. Want the chef to cook you something special – ask for anything. Maybe you want to stop at the fish market that’s only accessible by boat and select the fresh catch lunch. We did all of those things. The only thing that’s not allowed? Shoes inside the house. They want you to enjoy your trip, but they also don’t want to disturb you in any way so all you have to is speak up.

Which houseboat company to choose

That said, it seems to make a huge difference by which boat operator you use. There is also a wide variety of boats available from budget tours with 100 other people, to private super luxury with 5-star treatment. Make sure you see photos of the one you are booking to ensure you will be comfortable. We went through Sree Tours and Travels and had a wonderful experience. Our boat was big, beautiful and all ours! Press play in the video below for the grand tour!

The Food aboard our Alleppey Houseboat.

Your houseboat stay includes a private chef! Coconuts were offered as soon as we boarded. The chef prepared about eight dishes (for each meal!) so we were able to sample a variety of local dishes, all were good. We also snacked on fried plantains and sliced pineapple.

 

Small family enjoying coconut water on board a houseboat in Kerala

Safety aboard Alleppey Houseboats

The entire bottom floor of the boat was glassed in … and air-conditioned. I had complete peace of mind with my two 1.5-year-olds running around.

Glassed in bottom level of houseboat in Kerala, India.

Do I need to worry about seasickness on an Alleppey Houseboat?

The ride is very smooth. You do not have to worry about sea sickness.

Alleppey Houseboat Rates

The Cost of renting a premium, private Alleppey houseboat varies from 15,000 – 41,000 rupees ($230-$610) per night. If you’re looking online that will seem like the only option. If you don’t want to stay overnight or are on a tight schedule you can call and book a daytime cruise as well – price will depend on length. You can also get more for your money by booking a fancier boat but say you will only use 1 or 2 bedrooms instead of all 3. There are more affordable options as well but you would need to lower your expectations. In India, you can easily budget in other areas, let this be a splurge and at least book a luxury boat for a day cruise.

1 of 3 bedrooms on board the houseboat in Kerala, India

Other ways to experience Kerala’s backwaters

Kerala’s backwaters are also home to several islands. Some of which have been developed into resorts. So if houseboats aren’t your thing, that’s another great option. This trip delivered in every way. If it’s not already on your bucket list, it’s time to add it!

If you are visiting India with a baby or a toddler, click here to read all my tips and tricks! Wondering what to wear in India? I’ve got a post about that too!

 

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