Our Backwaters Houseboat Experience


If you ever find yourself in Kerala, one of the best ways to experience the Backwaters is by getting on the famous Backwaters Houseboats. Our chance came when we were in Alappuzha…pronounced  as ‘A-la-pu-ra’… one of the best places to catch a houseboat.

As we arrived at the jetty, there were hundreds of houseboats lining up by the riverbanks.  These houseboats or known as Kettuvallams are huge. There about 70 – 100 feet long and 15 – 20 feet wide. There were so many beautiful houseboats to choose from and negotiating with these houseboats operators can be quite a challenge.

Naturally, our first challenge was to get the best package. Usually, they provide overnight trips but as we were in a hurry, we settled for a minimum of 3 hours ride. The houseboats come in many designs and sizes depending on the number of guests on board. From a 1-bedroom to a 4-bedroom houseboat, each boat comes with a kitchen, a living/dining area and an upper deck rest area.

When we finally board our chosen boat, our first thought was how are we going to leave the jetty.  All the boats are practically triple parked, in fact there are 3 other houseboats docked behind ours.


Watching the crew maneuver the houseboat away from the jetty was pretty exciting. We have 2 other houseboats on both sides of our boat with a distance of hardly a meter apart and the other 3 houseboats behind us slowly make way for us to pass.

It took us 20 minutes to leave the jetty and guess what… the 20 minutes is included in our 3-hour package.

The view of the backwaters is amazing.  Imagine having a breathtaking landscape view for your backyard.  We were completely mesmerized with the simple village life.

The speed of the houseboat was relatively slow.  The ride takes us between the canals of the backwaters, passing by villagers’ home and backyards. Some was doing their laundry, others taking a dip. It was truly something we don’t see everyday.


Along the cruise, our ‘captain’ asked if we would like to stop by their village market to check out their fresh catch of the day… obviously we said yes. The market was actually a fisherman house where they sell their daily catch on their front porch. It must be a norm for these fishermen to have a huge houseboat parked in front of their small cottage on a daily basis.

Before long, our lunch was served and the Indians really know how to cook.  Oh yes.. we bought huge tiger prawns at the market and it was delicious!

Our 3-hour package ends in a blink of an eye and next time… we are definitely getting the overnight trip.

Kerala Tourism 1

Picture courtesy of Kerala Tourism

Kerala Tourism 2

Picture courtesy of Kerala Tourism

Kerala Tourism 3

Picture courtesy of Kerala Tourism

For more information, visit www.keralatourism.org, www.greatbackwaters.com

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