No trip to Kerala is complete without visiting the Backwaters, the jewel in Kerala’s crown. Made up of a vast labyrinth of palm fringed rivers, lakes, canals and lagoons, the shimmering Backwaters stretch 75km from Kollam in the south to Cochin in the north. Often enjoyed overnight on board a traditionally crafted rice barge (otherwise known as a houseboat) or in one of the area’s tranquil homestays, the Backwaters provide a wonderful insight into a completely unhurried way of life. Expect to see local villagers laundering clothes on the banks of the water, children casually walking to school in their crisp white uniforms, fishermen meandering up and down the narrow waterways, and a plethora of birds waiting for their next catch. The Backwaters bucolic setting is unfortunately not completely untouched; it’s world famous after all. We therefore highly recommend staying in one of the peaceful homestays or boutique hotels that usually sit within the dense greenery and coconut groves that surround the water. These areas are generally very quiet and very idyllic.