We had the trip of a lifetime recently in India. In all honesty, India was never on my radar for places to visit on my bucket list. When the opportunity came to go out there and tour with The Travel Planners I said yes, not knowing what to expect I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into. The Travel Planners sent over the itinerary to visit all over Kerala India and it looked like a busy, but chill trip, we started to get very excited. Here is a link to some of the packages they offer tourists www.keralatourpackages.com
** I have added a bullet pointed list at the end of this guide for those of you who prefer to read less**
So we trekked halfway across the world to India, it took a little over 30 hours from doorstep to doorstep, which seems long but we took a break in Boston to explore and if you have a long layover somewhere I highly recommend you do the same to break up the travel a bit.
Having Attractive Destinations & The Travel Planers plan the whole trip was the best way to explore this side of the world. They made the entire trip seamless and accommodating, it took a huge stress off of us. We didn’t have to plan transportation or look to Yelp for hotel reviews to find the right spots. They had everything covered down to the food. We landed and were greeted by Mr. Nandhu, our driver for the week. English is the second language in India, so we felt very secure being able to speak to most of the natives there. There were several experiences that made this trip incredible but one of the main things that stuck out the most, the kindness from the people. They were so friendly and always smiling.
Day 1: We started our trip in Thiruvananthapuram, which is close to the ocean on the South West side of India. We stayed the Ayur Villa, which was close to the airport and very relaxing. It is a quaint and feels like being welcomed into someones home with only a few rooms. A lot of people who intend to stay awhile in Kerala like to retreat here. The Villa is centered around health & wellness. They do all traditional Ayurvedic cooking in a small kitchen. The food is made in small batchs and homemade, which was a theme remained throughout the trip. They offer a very traditional Ayurveda massage, which happens to the roof of the villa. It is very exhilarating to be half naked on an open-air roof; there is complete privacy so you don’t need to worry about being seen. The massage is a bit different from your traditional massages its more spiritual and slow. It is hard to explain but I highly recommend you try it. We also did Yoga on the rooftop with the yoga master and it was truly an experience to be able to do this.
Day 2: After our relaxing and rejuvenating stay at Ayur Villa we traveled a few hours by car up to Kollam beach and stayed at the 5 star resort, The Raviz Resort. The drive was a great way to get a glimpse of India. We traveled several times by car and saw so many different cities, churches and markets. We were very entertained just looking out the window and watching. We pulled up to the beautiful Raviz Resort and immediately knew we would be having a luxurious stay. It’s a very large hotel right on the water with amazing views. It’s bright and airy in the hotel and you just know you will be well taken care of when you walk in. The views are all over the resort from the restaurant, the pool and even the rooms have balconies that are private with gorgeous views at sunset. They have a local celebrity chef who runs the restaurant named Mr. Suresh Kumar.
Day 3: We traveled to Alleppey to get onto a river cruise with Spice Routes Cruises. They call this area the “Venice of the East” and we immediately found out why once we got out into the river. We were excited seeing all the cute boat names, but blown away when we toured our personal boat for the next 24 hours. It was so luxurious and we had our own chef and captain on the boat with us. We started off with some traditional banana leaf meals that are a local favorite all over Kerala. The food cooked by the chef was amazing the whole time. We cruised along the river and saw so much culture along the way. We watched the women cleaning their laundry in the waters, the fisherman catching their meals and other boats full of families celebrating and dancing. It was a beautiful, serene way to see the backwaters of Kerala India. I recommend this to a family or group of friends wanting to do something a little different than the normal resorts.
Day 4: We took a 4-hour drive to Thekkady to stay at Spice Village Resort. This resort was right in the city but on acres of forest, it felt like we were in the middle of the forest. The vibe almost felt like a “glamping” experience (camping in a glamorous way!) It was cooler temps in this area so there was no A.C needed in our hut. The people here were so kind; they accepted us with open arms and treated us like family. They had a live tribal cooking demonstration with one of the 3 tribes native to Kerala and this was such a great experience. They used plant elements as cooking utensils and continued to cook in the pouring rain for us. We then enjoyed the food they prepared and it was unlike any food I have ever had.
Day 5: We had a 4-hour car ride through the mountains to head to the beautiful, and my personal favorite area, Munnar. We were gasping, stopping for photos along the way as the tea gardens were vastly visible along the drive and nothing describes them, a must see in person. You will see lots of cows and goat along the way living their best life. Each and everyone made me smile; they eat grass along the road while the cars whiz by quickly honking and dodging one another. We pulled up to the Spice Tree Resort, which is known for their 4 handed spa treatments and scenic views. It was breathtaking even with the fog rolling in from the mountain; the property is beautifully done with the landscaping. You could here the church music all the way up to the resort, which was quite the experience; it is so hard to explain. This resort has some very different food compared to the others, it was absolutely delicious and they cater to any and all dietary needs or desires. You order the food ahead of time and then 45 minutes later you head to the unique restaurant with floor to ceiling windows, take a seat and are fed moments later. Once we fueled up, we sampled teas in their tearoom and snacked on deep fried bananas. We then went on a nice hike through the forest to see the Dolmens. Dolmens are spooky but also incredibly cool to see in person. They are said to be tombs or possibly living quarters for monks thousands of years ago. The resort only has 14 rooms on 3 acres and I highly recommend this spot, we didn’t want to leave.
Day 6: We stayed in Munnar but headed to the opposite mountain to the Sugati Retreat. This resort was build for the nature lover; it had breathtaking views along the way. They built the rooms to really show off the deep forest while you are staying in them. The bathrooms have such a nice forest vibe down to the river rock floor in the shower. It’s open and airy and surround by jungle. This resort is very secluded; you can hear everything in Mother Nature. There are only 6 rooms on the 14-acre property and they grow all of their own vegetables for their small batch meals. We ate some beet soup and masala, you can immediately tell it’s fresh from the garden on the property. The staff was very excited to have us and had excellent service the moment we pulled up. We relaxed a lot in our room and poolside. This would make a great couples getaway as long as you are wanted to completely shut off from technology and enjoy each others company. It would also make a great space for a yoga or meditation retreat. The Resort also has a spa on sight and offers morning yoga and they really focus on wellness & Ayurvedic practices.
Day 7: We left the mountains and headed for Cochin, a 5-hour drive to our final destination at The Villa Romantica before flying out early the next morning. Our driver made the drive go by quickly, he took us to a few interesting spots. One of those spots was to see hand woven silt and material being made, worth seeing if you haven’t ever witnessed it before.
To sun things up if you are thinking about visiting Kerala here are my highlights
The views and scenery are beautiful and unlike anything I have seen before
They take holistic health very seriously and there is a plethora of herbs to learn about in India
A great way to learn and grasp Ayurvedic medicine, massages, food, and more
The people are very kind, generous and accommodating
English is well spoken so travels can easily get around and communicate with several
The food is very different, fresh ingredients and interesting, a must try!
The resorts are incredibly beautiful and reasonably priced - I highly recommend the places we visited
Kerala is a perfect designation if you are planning a romantic getaway or a very rejuvenating wellness or yoga retreat
Go to Munnar if you would like to experience cooler temps, views and peacefulness
Go to Thekkady, Kollam, Cochin or Thiruvananthapuram if you would like to experience a little more city vibe
There is so much to see from district to district I recommend using The Travel Planners to drive you around and show you all the hidden gems in this part of India so you don’t miss anything