Kerala with a Twist

Step off the tourist trail and immerse yourself in rural scenery and authentic local lifestyles on our Kerala With A Twist itinerary, which also includes visits to an elephant sanctuary and caves with Neolithic carvings.

At a glance

  • Travel through the lesser-visited regions of Kerala
  • Experience warm Keralan hospitality in rural homestays
  • Keep your eyes peeled for wild elephants in Wayanad
  • Learn how to prepare authentic Keralan cuisine
  • Watch the Malabar backwaters drift by from aboard a private houseboat
  • Relax on the peaceful palm-fringed beaches of northern Kerala
Price & Hotels

Cochin - 2 nights

Cochin (also called Kochi) is an intriguing fusion of cultures. Dutch, Portuguese and British Raj colonists all left their mark on the city’s architecture, in the form of ancient mosques, European churches, and a 400-year-old synagogue... and the harbour's famous giant fishing nets were introduced by Chinese explorers in the 14th century! Well-known for its spice production, Cochin is also a centre for Keralan arts, and an excellent place to catch a traditional performance.

Day 1 - Arrive Cochin, sunset lake cruise

On arrival in Cochin, you'll be met by a Selective Asia representative, who will accompany you to your hotel.

Welcome to Selective Asia! This level of personal service (such as private transfers, private tours etc) is what you can expect throughout your trip. A few services (eg boat cruises) will be shared, but we'll always make sure you're aware of these.

Having checked into your hotel, you'll be at leisure until late afternoon, when you'll accompany your guide to Cochin harbour for a sunset boat cruise across Vembanad Lake, passing small islets and various seafaring vessels. As the sun sets, head to the harbour mouth and the Arabian Sea for beautiful views back over the harbour front, with its huge historic fishing nets in silhouette against the orange sky.

Day 2 - Cycle around backwaters, Fort Kochi walking tour


You'll be driven to the coast for this morning's cycling tour of the local backwaters, admiring the beautiful countryside and witnessing the daily lives of those who live here. You'll cycle through small fishing villages and past palm-lined beaches dotted with traditional boats, and see a number of coir producers who create rope and mats from the readily available coconut fibre. Meet some villagers at a riverside community before being driven back to your hotel.

There will be time to freshen up before heading out with your local guide to explore Cochin on foot and by tuk-tuk. Stops will be made to admire the Chinese Fishing Nets, the Dutch Palace, synagogue and St Francis Church, with a suitably timed break for lunch at a local art cafe, for a glimpse of Cochin's contemporary creative side.

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Palakkad - 2 nights

The timeless region of Palakkad is well-known for its 250-year-old fort and pristine rural landscape, which is where you'll be staying in the ancestral home of the Kandath family. The property has been in the family for generations, and offers an intimate, authentic taste of Keralan family life.

Day 3 - Drive to Palakkad


Head inland towards the Western Ghat mountains and the region of Palakkad. Expect a friendly welcome at your homestay, where the rest of your day will be at leisure.

Day 4 - At leisure to explore the village & countryside


Your stay at Kandath Tharavad will be all about understanding life in this sleepy corner of Kerala. Today you can wander into the village for morning tea at the chai stall, try your hand at toddy tapping (collecting sweet sap for palm wine), cycle along countryside roads, or simply enjoy the serenity of your surroundings.

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Wayanad - 2 nights

Wayanad’s tranquil landscape of coffee and cardamom plantations, rolling rice paddies and forested mountains is considered to be the most picturesque in Kerala. It’s also an excellent place to spot wild elephants, particularly in Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary, which is also home to langur, chital deer, gaur (Indian bison) and a variety of reptile species. You'll visit on a jeep safari, and explore massive caves containing neolithic carvings.

Day 5 - Drive to Wayanad


After a leisurely breakfast, you'll be driven to Wayanad, in the far north of Kerala. Once you've checked in, you'll have time at leisure to relax and soak up the scenic views.

Day 6 - Wildlife sanctuary jeep safari, neolithic caves


Rise early for your shared jeep safari into Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary, spotting for wildlife as the park's inhabitants noisily greet the new day. You'll be back in time for breakfast, followed by a visit to the massive Edakkal Caves, where you can see intricate Neolithic imagery carved into the cave walls, and hear a few cave legends told by your expert local guide.

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Tellicherry - 2 nights

Tellicherry, near the Malabar Coast, is renowned for its black pepper; during the British rule of India, it became a major pepper, cardamom and coffee export hub. You'll be staying at Ayesha Manzil, a home-from-home where your hosts, husband and wife Moosa and Faiza, take pride in showing guests a slice of Keralan life.

Day 7 - Drive to Tellicherry homestay


Head coastwards to Ayesha Manzil, where you'll be warmly welcomed. The rest of your day will be at leisure, so you can relax and settle in.

Day 8 - Cooking class with renowned Keralan chef


Your hostess, Faiza, is a renowned Keralan chef, and today you will join with other guests to learn a few of her culinary secrets. Start by visiting the local market to purchase ingredients, and learn the spice combinations that define authentic Keralan cuisine. Head home to rustle up several dishes with Faiza on hand, before enjoying the fruits of your labour for lunch. A post-lunch doze may be in order - poolside is an ideal spot! Alternatively, your hosts will happily make suggestions for local exploration this afternoon.

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Malabar Backwaters - 2 nights

Malabar's Tejaswini River region is famous for its scenic waterscapes, and the best way to explore them is by boat. You’ll spend the next couple of days aboard 'The Lotus' - a traditional Keralan rice barge which has been tastefully converted into a private houseboat - exploring the backwaters and witnessing local life.

Day 9 - Drive to the Malabar coast & begin a private houseboat cruise


After breakfast, you'll be driven along the coast to a jetty on the Tejaswini River, where you'll be welcomed aboard your private houseboat. As you set off at a leisurely pace along the palm-edged lakes and narrow canals, you'll pass by lush little islands, small villages and painted temples. Disembark to explore, and see the fishing and coir production techniques that provide the main source of income in these parts. Weigh anchor in the middle of the river for the night, enjoying sunset drinks before dinner is served under the stars.

Day 10 - Continue houseboat cruise


Enjoy a leisurely day on your houseboat, cruising through the tranquil backwaters. You'll have the chance to disembark for a glimpse into local life; the rest of the time, simply relax and soak up the scenery from your private deck, perhaps tucking into seafood thali and homemade cakes which will be served on board.

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Neeleshwar Beach - 2 nights

The palm-fringed shores of Malabar, in northern Kerala, are more secluded and less developed than the coastline to the south of the state. Neeleshwar, with its stunning beach stretching for mile upon soft warm golden mile, is one of our favourites. Your stay here will be entirely at leisure to enjoy the beach and your hotel’s facilities.

Day 11 - Drive to Neeleshwar beach


After a goodbye breakfast on your houseboat, meet your driver for the journey to Neeleshwar, where you’ll check into your hotel and kick off your shoes for some serious R&R.

Day 12 - At leisure in Neeleshwar


Your day will be at leisure - it’s time to make the most of the beach and your hotel!

Day 13 - Depart from Mangalore


Transfer to the airport for your onward flight.

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We only provide privately guided holidays - meaning that you will not be expected to share guides or transport for the duration of your visit. You can also start on any day you choose.

Please click on the hotel category buttons below to view hotel details. These are recommended properties only - we have many alternative options for you to choose from if you would prefer. You can mix hotel categories throughout your holiday.

Hotel class Price per person (based on total # travelling)
2 persons 3 - 4 persons
First Class £2,775US$3,616 £2,259US$2,943 £0US$0

Eighth Bastion

Reflecting Fort Kochi’s history in the Indian spice trade, the Eighth Bastion combines high quality service and classic style... See more

Kandath Tharavad

Surrounded by rice paddies and North Kerala’s rural beauty, Kandath Tharavad is an ancestral family home where guests are welcomed with traditional hospitality... See more

Pepper Trail

Tucked away amid spice plantations in the Wayanad hills, the Pepper Trail’s boutique tree houses and bungalows give you space to switch off... See more

Ayisha Manzil

This lovely rural mansion near the Malabar shoreline was built in the 1800s by an English cinnamon trader, and the countryside around it... See more

The Lotus Houseboat

Cruising Kerala’s maze of waterways in this bright, converted rice barge is an ideal way to see these legendary backwaters... See more

Neeleshwar Hermitage

A handful of cottages situated in 12 acres of landscaped gardens by a long sandy beach, the Neeleshwar Hermitage prides itself on attentive hospitality and... See more
Superior £3,667US$4,778 £3,099US$4,038 £0US$0

CGH Earth Brunton Boatyard

A beautifully converted shipyard on the seafront in Cochin, this stately hotel offers graceful, comfortable accommodation within easy reach of this historic town’s key sights... See more

Kandath Tharavad

Surrounded by rice paddies and North Kerala’s rural beauty, Kandath Tharavad is an ancestral family home where guests are welcomed with traditional hospitality... See more

Tranquil Resort

Set in its own 400 acres of spectacular rural landscape, the family-run Tranquil Resort has every right to its name, and offers the perfect retreat... See more

Ayisha Manzil

This lovely rural mansion near the Malabar shoreline was built in the 1800s by an English cinnamon trader, and the countryside around it... See more

The Lotus Houseboat

Cruising Kerala’s maze of waterways in this bright, converted rice barge is an ideal way to see these legendary backwaters... See more

Neeleshwar Hermitage

A handful of cottages situated in 12 acres of landscaped gardens by a long sandy beach, the Neeleshwar Hermitage prides itself on attentive hospitality and... See more

Solo travellers are always welcome - please contact us for a tailored quote.

These prices are shown in GBPUSD.
Selective Asia is a UK-registered company, but our client-base spans the globe, so we bank in both GBP and USD and can therefore provide a fixed price in either currency.
We also have payment facilities in Canada, New Zealand, Australia and the EU, and can typically offer better-than-bank exchange rates on the date of payment in these currencies (against a booking priced in GBP).

Itinerary additions

At Selective Asia we specialise in creating unique, tailor-made experiences. The holiday itineraries provided on this website are intended to help you visualise what is achievable in your destinations of choice, over a given period of time and at an intended budget.
Whilst many clients are happy with one of our recommended itineraries in the current form (and at the price quoted), there are those that wish to personalise their holiday in some way, whether it be a change of hotel, an additional destination or even start from scratch. This is when our tailor-made specialists come into their own; with many years of experience both living and working in the region they are ideally equipped to advise on alternatives and to facilitate any necessary changes.

The important stuff

Please note: During high season periods (such as Christmas and New Year) hotels often levy a surcharge and these are not included in the above prices. Your consultant will be happy to advise you of these.


  • English speaking, local guide
  • All accommodation listed
  • Land transportation by private air-conditioned vehicles
  • Any domestic flights listed (unless marked otherwise)
  • Any train journey listed (unless marked otherwise)
  • All admission fees at attractions, temples and activities as mentioned in the itinerary
  • All meals listed
  • International flight reconfirmation.


  • Flights to/from Asia. We are an ATOL bonded operator and can arrange flights for all our clients, regardless of whether you are departing from the UK or from almost any other worldwide destination.
  • Entry visas
  • International airport departure taxes
  • Any meals not listed in the itinerary
  • Drinks, other than water on activity days
  • Personal expenses (laundry, telephone, drinks, tip...)
  • Travel insurance
  • All other services not listed in 'inclusive'

Please note

All prices are correct at the time of publishing. They are liable to change and can only be confirmed upon submitting an enquiry.




We will arrange all internal flights used within our holiday itineraries. We can also arrange discounted flights from all UK airports to Asia and we are a fully bonded ATOL operator. If you would like a quote for your international flights then please complete the required section on the enquiry form.


You will require a visa to enter India. Your consultant will be happy to advise you on visa requirements.


Please ensure that you have a valid passport with at least 6 months validity remaining after your return date. You will also need at least one blank page for each of the countries you are visiting.


You will require a comprehensive travel insurance that covers you for medical costs associated with hospitalisation, emergency travel and repatriation back to your home country. We offer our customers a specially discounted insurance policy, ideally suited to the needs that a trip such as this creates. Tick the insurance box in the enquiry form and we will send you a quote to suit your needs.

Vaccinations and Malaria Prevention

You will undoubtedly require vaccinations for your visit to Asia. Please consult your doctor or a vaccination clinic for the most up-to-date advice. They will also be able to advise you of the most suitable anti-malarial medication if required. It is important that you do this well in advance of your departure date.

Booking Procedure

Only once you are completely happy with any holiday itinerary we create for you will we ask for a payment. In order that we can secure availability for your booking we would typically require a deposit of 20%.

Travelling Responsibly

We care about the places and the communities that you will travel through. It is important to us that we travel as responsibly as possible throughout Asia and that we are giving something back to the regions and the people that make these journeys so special. Full details on our approach to responsible travel can be found on a dedicated section of this website.

Make it yours!

Call us on 01273 670 001

Get in touch

Make it yours!

Call us on 01273 670 001

Get in touch

Our tailor-made service costs you no extra

This itinerary is designed to work straight off the peg, but we'll happily tailor it until it's a perfect fit for you, to ensure we’re making the absolute best of your time and funds. All you need to do is ask...

Your own private guides & drivers

You'll typically have your own private guides & drivers throughout your trip. When you will be sharing a service (eg a boat cruise) with others, we'll always let you know.

Book With Confidence

For peace of mind when booking your future holiday to Asia, we have introduced flexible booking conditions & full financial clarity.