One of the hottest tourist destinations in the country, a holiday in Kerala mostly means big bucks. However, budget travellers can still make it if you are prepared to make a few sacrifices. Book a train, park yourself at a homestay and embrace trekking. If you are ready to live with these choices, then, Kerala has plenty on offer. With INR 5,000 or less, you can explore tourist destinations as well as untouched holiday spots. Beachside retreats, hill stations, and wildlife outings are all part of the mix, take a look.

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Cochin

Cochin

Photo: Dileepp89

Photo: Dileepp89

While you can easily score air tickets for around INR 1,000, the most budget-friendly way to get to Cochin would be by train. Once there, get yourself a room in a cosy homestay in the city’s Fort Kochi area, that’s the heritage quarters. This will cost you around INR 1,500 – INR 2,000 per day. For sightseeing, you can easily walk around and explore the sights. The museums, churches, spice market, Jew town and the Chinese Fishing Nets are within walking distance of each other. However, if you insist on a vehicle, autos tend to charge around INR 300 to take you around. Food, though, remains on the expensive side and will probably be your biggest splurge.

Wayanad

for budget road trip try wayanad

Photo: Nitin Pai

Since this is one of the closest Kerala destinations, it may be wise to fuel up your car for this one. In the absence of your own transport, buses work best. Wayanad is a homestay paradise so you’ll find plenty for your meagre budget here. But do ensure you book in advance since places tend to fill up fast. Also, look for places that offer home-cooked meals, while you will shell out extra for food, it will still save you plenty. To save more on driving around, pick your favourite activity and plonk yourself at a homestay close by to the destination. For example, if you are here for trekking then stay near Chembra Peak. If wildlife interests you, then, a homestay near the National Park will work best.

Kumily

Photo:  Navaneeth Krishnan S

Photo: Navaneeth Krishnan S

Planning to explore Thekkady and the Periyar Tiger Reserve, this weekend? Then, skip staying at this tourist hotspot and find a place in the surrounding Kumily {Thekkady is one small part of this area} instead. While visitors tend to focus on Thekkady on their trip, you can take in the endless cardamom plantations and many verdant sights of Kumily. Budget hotels and homestays are the norm here. You may, however, spend most of your budget on getting around {if you don’t have your own vehicle} and for food.

Gavi

Photo:  Kerala Tourism

Photo: Kerala Tourism

If you want to skip Thekkady completely for another wildlife paradise that’s less taxing on your pocket, then, Gavi is the answer. Your best bet is to drive down here and check into the well-priced accommodation provided by Kerala’s Tourism Department. The accommodation comes with a restaurant where you can fill up your tummy without splurging. Gavi is being developed an ecotourism spot so while there are jeep safaris and coracle rides, you can also sign up for treks and bird watching.

Kovalam

kovalam for windsurfing and sailing

Photo: Mehul Antani

Unending flocks of tourists have ensured that Kovalam remains a bit out of the reach of the budget traveller. However, it’s not impossible to enjoy a pocket-friendly holiday here. For starters, you may want to drop by during the off period {during the monsoon} where the influx of visitors is lesser. There are a few homestays and budget hotels here {like Aparna Guest House} where you’ll have to shell out a little over INR 2,000 for a night. To ensure maximum savings, spend your day sunning on the beaches while taking in a quick meal at the beachside shacks.

Vagamon

Photo:  Jan J George

Photo: Jan J George

If Munnar is too costly an option, then, don’t worry there’s always Vagamon. A scenic hill station that lives in the shadow of its very popular neighbour, Munnar, Vagamon is unspoilt and budget friendly. There are a handful of home stays you can choose from. You can spend your holiday here trekking through the place and taking in the many sights. And let’s face it, that doesn’t cost much. However, if you have a few bucks to spare, do sign up for activities like paragliding and rock climbing.  

Nelliyampathy

Photo:  Kjrajesh

Photo: Kjrajesh

Surrounded by tea and coffee plantations, Nelliyampathy is best reached by car. There’s also the option of taking a bus to nearby Palakkad and then hiring a taxi from there {this may take longer though}. Once there, you can drive around taking in the views. There’s Pothundy Dam, breathtaking valley views from Seetharkundu, and treks to nearby Mampara. You can stay at budget resorts or hotels here. However, there aren’t plenty of options so make sure you book in advance.

Kollam

Photo:  Surajram Kumaravel

Photo: Surajram Kumaravel

An ancient city that stands on the Ashtamudi Lake, Kollam has plenty to offer you. While a stay by the Lake, which is one of the most visited backwaters in Kerala, might cost you plenty, your best option is to choose from hotels in the main city area itself. From here, you can explore landmarks like the Clock Tower, Portuguese Cemetery, Kollam Beach, and Thangassery Lighthouse. If you want to explore the backwaters but don’t have enough cash for a houseboat, then, just hop onto to one of the boats that ferry locals between Kollam and Alappuzha.

Featured Photo: Samson Joseph