Kerala and the Southern Highlights
3 5 6

Kerala and the Southern Highlights

review score 6 reviews read here

Contrasting vastly from the north, southern India is an intensely tropical and wonderfully laid back region to explore. The emerald jewel in India’s crown, Kerala boasts a rich heritage and mystical backwaters, flanked by rice paddies and coconut groves, and plied by rustic kettuvallam.

tour duration 17 Days from
tour price 2,590pp
tour type Group Tour

Places Visited

UK - Chennai (3N) - Bangalore (1N) - Hassan (1N) - Mysore (1N) - Coonoor (2N) - Munnar (2N) - Periyar (2N) - Kerala Houseboat (1N) - Kochi (2N) - UK

Tour Highlights

Explore the colonial buildings of Chennai
Visit Shravanabelahola, one of India’s most revered Jain pilgrimage sites
Cool off in the Western Ghats at Coonoor Hill Station
Take a ride on the Ooty Toy Train
Discover South India’s extensive wildlife at the Periyar Wildlife Reserve
Take a cruise on the Kerala Backwaters on your private houseboat

Days 1-2 Fly to Chennai
Fly overnight to Chennai.
Days 1-2 Fly to Chennai
Day 3 Discover Chennai
Enjoy a city tour of Chennai starting with a visit to Marina Beach, which is the second longest beach in the world. We also visit Fort St. George, St. Mary's Church and the Shiva Kapaleeswarar Temple, which is dedicated to Lord Shiva.
Day 3 Discover Chennai
Day 4 Mahabalipuram
Journey to Kanchipuram for sightseeing at the many temples and a visit to the Shreenivas Silk House. You'll then continue to Mahabalipuram to see the stunning 7th Century rock carvings and Shore Temple before you return to Chennai.
Day 4 Mahabalipuram
Day 5 Train to Bangalore
Travel by Shatabdi express to the Garden City of Bangalore and visit the Bull Temple, Tipu Sultans Palace and Vidhana Soudha Legislative Building.
Day 5 Train to Bangalore
Day 6 Travel to Hassan
Travel to Hassan and visit Shravanabelagola, which is one of the most revered Jain pilgrimage sites in India and home to the world's tallest free-standing statue. You'll also visit the 12th Century temples of Belur and Halebid, a part of Karnatakas rich cultural heritage.
Day 6 Travel to Hassan
Day 7 Mysore
Continue to Mysore via Srirangapatna Fort. Visit the Maharajas Palace and drive up to Chamundi Hill to see the 12th Century Sri Chamundeshwari Temple. Later visit the Nandi Bull statue. That night you will see a traditional cooking demonstration, hosted by a local family.
Day 7 Mysore
Day 8 Coonoor Hill Station
We head to the hills and enjoy a scenic drive to the beautiful hill station of Coonoor. Enjoy a walk around this quaint town in the evening.
Day 8 Coonoor Hill Station
Day 9 Ooty Narrow Gauge Railway
Take the narrow gauge toy train to Ooty, also known as the Queen of the Blue Mountain. Upon arrival you'll visit the Botanical Gardens and walk to a small village, to gain an insight into the lives of the local people. see the amazing view over Ooty and the surrounding mountains before returning to Coonoor.
Day 9 Ooty Narrow Gauge Railway
Day 10 Munnar
We continue our descent from the highlands with a full day of driving through the spectacular Western Ghats to Munnar.
Day 10 Munnar
Day 11 Munnar
Travel to Mattupetty Dam this morning and stroll along the scenic lakeside at an easy pace. Continue on to Eravikulam National Park to explore the local wildlife. Later in the afternoon visit a tea plantation and the Tata Tea Museum
Day 11 Munnar
Day 12 Tea Plantation & Periyar
Travel to Thekkady today which is renowned for its spice shops and located next to Periyar Wildlife Reserve. In the afternoon visit a local spice plantation and a local market.
Day 12 Tea Plantation & Periyar
Day 13 Periyar Wildlife Reserve
Walk through the reserve in search of wildlife: elephants, wild dog, barking deer, mouse deer and the elusive Bengal Tiger. Visit a local spice village and market. Enjoy a traditional martial arts Kalaripayattu show in the evening.
Day 13 Periyar Wildlife Reserve
Day 14 Kerala Backwater Cruise
Leave Thekkady and drive to Pallathururuthy. Board your houseboat (kettuvallam) and cruise through the Kerala Backwaters. Dine on your houseboat this evening.
Day 14 Kerala Backwater Cruise
Day 15 Kumarakom
Disembark from your cruise boat at Pallathuruthy and drive to Kochi. En route, stop at a localmarket and a coir factory. Later visit Kumbalangi, a village which highlights the lifestyle of the local fisher-folk.
Day 15 Kumarakom
Day 16 Kochi
Sightseeing today includes a visit to St. Francis Church, Santa Cruz Basilica, Fort Kochi and the Jewish Synagogue. We also see the cantilevered Chinese fishing nets and stroll through the nearby markets. This evening, watch a traditional Kathakali dance performance.
Day 16 Kochi
Day 17 Fly Kochi to UK
Transfer to Kochi airport and fly to the UK, arriving home later the same or following day.
Day 17 Fly Kochi to UK

Also Available

Private Departures for this tour

If the dates we have available for this tour don't suit your needs, or you are not sure travelling as part of a group is for you, maybe a Private Departure would be more ideal. Based on exactly the same itinerary as the group tour, our Private Departures give you the freedom to choose your own departure date and simply enjoy your holiday with your family, your partner, or your friends. On Private Departures your tour will be led by an English speaking local guides in each destination

Tailor Your Tour

If you like most of the itinerary which we have suggested but you'd like to change the route and the accommodation, speak to our specialist Tailormade team, who can build your perfect itinerary based around where you would like to go, what you would like to see and how much you'd like to spend. Just call us on 0800 9884 888 and we'll help plan your dream holiday.

01-Feb > 17-Feb - £2,690 BOOK NOW
15-Feb > 03-Mar - £2,690 BOOK NOW
01-Mar > 17-Mar - £2,590 BOOK NOW
04-Oct > 20-Oct - £2,590 BOOK NOW
01-Nov > 17-Nov - £2,690 BOOK NOW

Additional Price Information:

Based on London Heathrow departures
Flight upgrades available on request
Land only from £2090 (Chennai - Kochi)
Single room from £690
Tipping paid locally US$90

31-Jan > 16-Feb - £2,890 BOOK NOW
14-Feb > 02-Mar - £2,890 BOOK NOW
28-Feb > 16-Mar - £2,790 BOOK NOW
03-Oct > 19-Oct - £2,790 BOOK NOW
31-Oct > 16-Nov - £2,890 BOOK NOW

Additional Price Information:

Based on London Heathrow departures
Flight upgrades available on request
Land only from £2090 (Chennai - Kochi)
Single room from £690
Tipping paid locally US$90

Wendy Wu Tours, inspect all of our hotels to ensure they meet the high levels of service which we require for our guests. If the hotels details below for your tour are not available, hotels of a similar standard will be used.

Residency Hotel
Residency Hotel - Chennai, India (3 Nights)
hotel star rating

The Residency Hotel is a short distance to the city’s corporate and shopping areas. The en-suite rooms feature modern amenities including, TV and and tea/coffee facilities. A breakfast buffet is served daily in the Spice Bar, which also offers lunch and dinner, with guests also having the option to order a la carte from the Chin Chin restaurant.



Adarsh Hamilton Hotel
Adarsh Hamilton Hotel - Bangalore, India (1 Nights)
hotel star rating

Situated in a quiet neighbourhood off Richmond Circle in the heart of Bangalore's Central Business District, Adarsh Hamilton Hotel offers luxurious en-suite rooms featuring modern amenities including, TV, tea/coffee facilities and a safety deposit box. Superb facilities include a restaurant, free Wi-Fi and fitness centre.



Hoysala Village Resort
Hoysala Village Resort - Hassan, India (1 Nights)
hotel star rating

Situated in Hassan, Hoysala Village Resort is within 10 km of Maharaja Park, Hassan District Stadium, and Sri Soumyakeshave Swamy Temple. All 49 en-suite rooms offer balconies, room service, and LCD TVs. Guests will also find coffee makers, ceiling fans, and showers. The hotel features a restaurant, an outdoor pool, and a bar/lounge. Additionally, Free WiFi and a dry cleaning service is available onsite.



The Windflower Hotel
The Windflower Hotel - Mysore, India (1 Nights)
hotel star rating

Just a 2-minute drive to the Mysore Zoo and iconic Race Course and Golf Club, Windflower Resort & Spa features an outdoor swimming pool and an open-air restaurant serving a variety of tasty local dishes. Modern amenities found in the en-suite rooms include; an electric kettle with tea-making facilities, a safe and Iraya toiletries. Guests can also enjoy up to 25 different kinds of massage therapies and treatments at Windflower's spa.



The Gateway Hotel
The Gateway Hotel - Conoor, India (2 Nights)
hotel star rating

The Gateway Hotel Conoor is a 5-minute walk from the City Centre. Elegant en-suite rooms at Gateway Conoor come with modern interiors and amenities including a TV and personal safe. This 4-star property features a restaurant, ayurvedic massage centre and air-conditioned rooms with views of the garden. The hotel also boasts a superb restaurant serving delicious international cuisines.



The Silvertips
The Silvertips - Munnar, India (1 Nights)
hotel star rating

With its convenient location, The Silvertips hotel offers easy access to Munnar’s must-see destinations. The hotel features 60 beautifully appointed en-suite rooms, many of which include a balcony/terrace, complimentary bottled water, TV and a coffee/tea maker. The hotel also offers access to a vast array of services, including free Wi-Fi, a fitness centre and spa.



Cardamom County
Cardamom County - Thekkady, India (2 Nights)
hotel star rating

4* Cardamom County resort is conveniently perched on the gradient of a gently sloping hill facing the Periyar Tiger Reserve. Accommodation includes spacious en-suite rooms featuring modern amenities including a minibar, TV and fitted work desk. The hotel’s onsite restaurant is set by the open pool side, serving superb Indian, Continental and Chinese flavours.



AC Houseboat
AC Houseboat - Kerala, India (1 Nights)
hotel star rating



Abad Atrium
Abad Atrium - Kochi, India (4 Nights)
hotel star rating



Abad Whispering Palm
Abad Whispering Palm - Kumarakom, India (1 Nights)
hotel star rating

Located in Kumarakom, Abad Whispering Palms lake resort is the most exotic resort in Kerala, situated on the banks of Vebanadu Lake. The hotel has spacious en-suites all featuring modern amenities, including TV and a kettle. Leisure facilities include a massage parlour, garden, outdoor pool and currency exchange.



Ranthambore Extension - 4D/3N

Ranthambore Extension - 4D/3N

tour duration 4 Days from tour price 390pp
Varanasi Extension - 4D/3N

Varanasi Extension - 4D/3N

tour duration 4 Days from tour price 440pp
Goa Extension

Goa Extension

tour duration 5 Days from tour price 340pp

A visa is required by all nationalities. A single entry visa should be arranged in advance of travel.
Unlike many other tour operators, we include your entry visas in the price of our tour. We handle the entire visa process – all you need to do is fill out the form and send your passport to us. We are always on hand to help you with any questions or queries you might have when completing the form. 

Phone Calls
International and domestic calls can be made from your hotel room. To call the UK the international access code is 00, followed by the country code 44, then the local area code (omitting the first 0), then the number. To call Wendy Wu Tours it is 00 44 207 403 7860. Emergency 24 hour telephone (out of office hours) is 00 44 7984 041 625.
 
Mobile Phones
Mobile phones are growing in popularity and you will find high quality coverage. There are active roaming agreements with all phone carriers; however SMS and call rates can be expensive. We recommend that you contact your mobile supplier if you intend to use international roaming during your holiday and ensure you investigate all associated costs before you leave the UK.
 
Internet & Email
Internet cafes can be found in all major cities and even in some small towns. This is often the easiest and cheapest way to stay in touch. Most hotels have a business centre with internet access, but at a slightly higher rate. Some hotels may have Wi-Fi which usually comes at an additional cost and may only be available in hotel lobbies. 

Tipping is an expected element in the tourism industry today and India is no exception. Many passengers are often uncertain of how much to tip so we have established a tipping system whereby every passenger gives a set amount to the National Escort who will distribute the amount appropriately. On multi-country tips, this amount will be paid in stages on arrival in each country. If there is no National Escort, you will need to give your money to your Local Guides and tipping amounts for each city will be shown in your final itinerary. The amount for the kitty is calculated for each tour depending on the length, group size, and services used during the trip.
 
We will indicate the tipping amounts in your final documents for guidance.

Shopping can be fun and entertaining, especially in local markets all over India where souvenirs can be purchased for next to nothing. However all passengers must realise that the authenticity and value of goods is always questionable.
If the price seems too good to be true, then it probably is! Some shopping is made up of copied brand items and reproduced antiques.
 
In keeping with most people’s interest whilst on holiday, your tour will include a reasonable number of opportunities in local shops and government factories. This may vary depending on local conditions, and should never interfere with your itinerary’s included sightseeing.
 
Each region has its own specialty; a traditional handicraft perfected by the locals over centuries, a climate that encourages rich spices to grow, or a type of wood, stone or precious jewel in abundance nearby. Textiles are a popular souvenir, including silk brocades from Varanasi in the north or Kanchipuram in the south, tie-dyed cottons from all over Rajasthan, saris, hand woven Tibetan carpets from Darjeeling or Dharamshala, or the woollen shawls pashminas of Kashmir and Ladakh.
 
There is also the heavy and elaborate silverwork of Rajasthan, “spring picked” tea from the hill stations, and the spices, wooden carvings or facemasks of Kerala.
 
If you prefer set prices, head to the government-run shops, usually called “cottage industries” or “emporium” which sells quality but reasonably priced goods. The more up market tourist shops will also have fixed prices. Markets, street stalls, and local shops can be noisy, crowded, and confronting, but this remains one of the most rewarding experiences of travelling in India. If your itinerary includes some free time and you would like to go shopping, ask either your National Escort/Guide or the hotel staff for advice on how to best get there. They should be able to tell you if you need a taxi or a rickshaw, how much you should pay for the journey and provide you verbal or written directions to give to the driver. Remember to take a hotel business card with you to find your way back!

The cost of all meals is included in your group tour cost. Breakfast is served in the hotel and includes a combination of western and local dishes. As traditional in this region, lunch and dinner are served in a banquet style, so you can try the variety of specialty dishes. The amount of food served is more than ample for the whole group.
 
We aim to cater to the tastes of the majority of people so dishes are not too spicy or unusual in their taste. One of the great myths about India is that the food is of poor quality and always hot and spicy. This is definitely not the case! In fact, North Indian dishes whilst often very rich and indeed spicy don’t contain as much chilli as South Indian dishes. Indian cuisine is predominately vegetarian; however more meat (chicken and lamb) dishes are available in the North. On our group tours, we use a variety of local and hotel restaurants, which provide variety in both the dishes and methods of cooking. If you like Indian food from home, you will have no problems with the real Indian food as it is similar, only more flavoursome. You’ll love it; though don’t expect to lose weight on your holiday, Indians love to eat and eat big. In tourist centres, some restaurants and hotels may also serve western dishes to provide variety. You may also prefer to bring comforts like cereal, biscuits, muesli bars and tea/coffee from home.
 
Drinks will be at each tour member’s own expense. Beer is widely available and cheap. Wine lovers should remember that western style wine is very expensive to import into India, so is not stocked except by upmarket restaurants. Bottled drinking water, soft drinks, and fruit juices are also widely available – remember that you should only have ice, fruit juices, or lassies (yoghurt based sweet or salty drinks) from a trusted restaurant; where they will use boiled or bottled water to prepare ice and drinks.
 
Tea is very popular and Indians simply love visiting the many street stalls which brew chai (also known as masala), a sweet, spiced tea brewed with boiling milk. Hotels will usually serve tea and instant coffee at breakfast or other meals – you can usually request the chai or masala style tea as well.
Packed meals: On some days, your National Escort/Guide may arrange for a simple, packed meal for your group. It may be a matter of schedule (on long driving days), hygiene (on train journeys), or your location (in remote areas) and we ask you to bear this in mind. Although this is not a full meal, most of our passengers seem to enjoy this change from the large portions and more elaborate banquets enjoyed most days.

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What's Included

All meals
International flights and current taxes
Domestic transportation
Accommodation
Touring with guides and entrance fees
Visa fees for UK & EU passport holders

Why Book This Tour?

This tour is suitable for those with a reasonable amount of time and who are interested in travelling to the main sights of southern India. This tour includes travel on train, by road and a night on a houseboat, all of which will give a different perspective on the beautiful and exotic landscape of southern India.

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