FORT COCHIN (KOCHI)
Fort Cochin really took me by surprise with it’s beautiful Portuguese style architecture and beautiful trees hanging over the city. Located on the Arabian Sea, this is such a cute small town with a strong sense of community that you will feel the second you arrive. I absolutely loved it here. It is a great place to walk around, check out the cathedrals, Chinese fishing nets, and many cemeteries.
LANGUAGE: Malayalam, English
CURRENCY: Indian Rupees
CLIMATE: Tropical savanna (warm to hot all year); Rainy season: May – Oct
DRESS CODE: Modest, Women should cover shoulders and wear pants below the knee
GETTING AROUND: Uber, Ola, Local taxis, Rickshaws
COST OF VISITING: $ – Hostels start at $4 per night and street food is a little as $1 to $2 (USD) per meal
TIPPING: Tipping 7-10% is appreciated for amounts 300-1000 rupees; 5-7% for more than 1000 rupees
SAFETY: Generally safe even at night; Beware of pickpockets
COCHIN INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT (COK)
Cochin International Airport is located about 35km from Cochin city center. You can take a train or a bus but will have to take a taxi to the stations as they are 12km and 5km away respectively.
Taxi is the best option as you will need to take one anyways to reach a train or bus station. There is a prepaid taxi stand inside of the arrivals hall where you can pay for a taxi at a fixed rate. There are several options including a taxi with or without aircon, and multiple vehicle types depending on the number of people and how much luggage you have with you. The cost varies but it should be equivalent to around $12 to $17 USD.
Depending on where you are coming from in India, taking a bus may be a good option for you. Many of the overnight sleeper buses are actually pretty comfortable, like a hostel on wheels. Taking them in India is the first time I have ever slept well while moving. You can check the redBus website to see if the city you will be traveling from has a bus directly to Cochin (and you can book online as well). There are multiple drop off points. It is best to see what is available and then see which is closest to your accommodation.
There are multiple train stations in Cochin and stops will depend on where you are coming from and which line you take. If you are going to Fort Kochi (which I suggest), the closest stations are the Ernakulam Town (North) and Ernakulam Junction (South) Railway Stations. From either, you can take a rickshaw to your accommodation which will take around 15 minutes. Railway tickets can be purchased by creating a profile on the IRCTC website. You will need an Indian number or you can trying using 0123456789. I had issues creating an account so bought mine from one of the tour/ticket brokers you will usually see around any town you are in around India. If you will be traveling by train, check out this blog to understand their different fare classes.
WHERE TO STAY
If you are traveling to Cochin, I highly recommend staying in the Fort Cochin area, which is right next to the water. This is such a cute area and most locals recommended I stay here as well. I am happy that I did!
I loved staying at Peace and Love Hostel. The rooms were basic but there was a bathroom inside. The staff is super helpful and helped me book a 4:00am rickshaw on New Year’s Day to the airport with a sound system and a cool ass dude as a driver. There is a lounge area upstairs and they have a small restaurant downstairs with really great food. And even better, rooms start at only $4 per night.
Super cute hostel that is chill and clean. Super helpful staff and excellent location.
Cozy backpacker hostel nestled between Portuguese houses in Fort Kochi. Walking distance to all the local attractions.
1154 A, Rids Dale Branch Road (Kit Kat Road), Njaliparambu Junction, 682001 Cochin, India (Map)
Guesthouse with double rooms starting under $10 USD. Staff is extremely welcoming and helpful. Great location.
Slightly pricer than the kind of options I normally list, but they have almost 600 reviews on Booking.com and are highly rated. They have a beautiful courtyard and breakfast is included in the price. A great option if you have a little more to spend and want to feel at home.
Lovely homestay on a quiet street with over 400 reviews and an excellent rating. Super sweet staff and excellent location. A standard twin room starts under $12 USD per night. Breakfast can be added to your stay for around $2 per day.
This homestay offers double rooms starting under $10 USD per night. They offer an amazing breakfast for only $1.40 per day if you are interested in trying some local cooking. Excellent location as well.
Very kind couple who offer excellent hospitality. Double rooms start around $10 USD per night and breakfast can be added for only $1.40 per day.
WHAT TO EAT
WHERE TO EAT
An extremely cute cafe with an excellent breakfast. The seating is indoor/outdoor style and the restaurant is filled with art. There is usually a short wait here but the staff is good at getting you in quickly.
A popular spot among both locals and tourists. Usually crowded no matter what time of day you go but worth the wait. They are known for their Kati Rolls (indian bread made into a wrap and filled with various vegetarian or non-vegetarian options) but all of their food looks amazing.
Oceanos offers fantastic seafood, local Kerala dishes, and also a few Western options. Can also get pretty crowded at times, but was told by locals that it is worth the wait.
A cute cafe with teapots lining the walls. Offers a good selection of teas, as well as cake and a small selection of breakfast/lunch menu items.
A small restaurant with delicious food at a decent price. Known for its seafood but offers a variety of options.
WHAT TO DO
GO TO THE BEACH
A super chill beach that is a 15-20 minute ride from Fort Kochi city center. While riding here, you get a great feel of the community as you pass through local neighborhoods. This beach was nearly empty except a few local families and a group of local men playing poker. A great place to come and relax and get away from the tourists for a minute.
Although not the cleanest, this beach is a great place to come and see the famous Chinese fishing nets up close. There is a beachfront walkway where you will see locals and tourists alike, vendors selling merchandise, and food stalls cooking and serving up fresh seafood.
A beach that is not yet on the tourist map which makes it a perfect place to come and catch the sunset. Here you will also find a lighthouse, golden sand, and a relaxing atmosphere.
Come here and watch local fisherman do their thang. While you are relaxing, you can take in the view of paddy fields and pine trees that surround this beautiful beach.
This beach is located on the northern end of Vypin Island and can be accessed by a boat from the city. Here you will also find Chinese fishing nets, fresh seafood, and a carnival-like atmosphere.
Fort Cochin has extremely beautiful architecture. Fort Cochin was previously ruled by the Portuguese, then the Dutch, and then the British. Most buildings were build with Portuguese or Dutch influence and you can tell by the style. You almost forget you are in India. I love architecture and absolutely loved walking around this town. There are also many parks, cemeteries, and cathedrals. If you are a photographer, make sure to bring your camera while you take a stroll around the city.
THE KERALA BACKWATERS
The Kerala Backwaters are a palm lined network of lakes, lagoons, rivers, and canals that run in off the coast of Kerala starting in Cochin. The closest entry point to Cochin is in Alleppey. If you have time, I highly recommend spending a day or two on one of the houseboats that will take you down the river.
NYE SANTA BURNING
If you happen to be in Fort Cochin over New Year’s Eve, you are in for a treat. Every year, they construct an extremely giant “Santa Claus” to burn at midnight. Thousands of people (really the entire city) come to watch it burn. Each household also makes their own version of Santa which they place in front of their house on the street and also set fire to at midnight. It was definitely an interesting way to bring in the new year.