Southern India itinerary with kids
After overloading on northern temples and Indian culture it’s time to head south in search of the beautiful southern Indian beaches. Pictures of palm trees lining long sandy beaches are calling out to us. And we’re all in need of a little R&R.
After a few days in Mumbai we are heading down to Goa and Kerala for the festive season. We are in fact having a little holiday as the boys Grandma (Keith’s mum) is joining us for Christmas. We are beyond excited!!! And as such we are downing our budget tools and going with the flow.
After this it’s back to the budget as we move down to Kerala for the New Year and onto Allepey to visit Kerala’s backwaters.
First stop was Mumbai. We flew (yes actually flew) from Udaipur as none of the trains we needed were available. It’s certainly coming into peak season. I was quite excited about flying as a different form of transport but in all honesty it was a ball-ache!
The journey to the airport 2 hour pre check-in process, waiting around, boarding, flight time and then transfer to the city centre. It would have been slightly longer, but easier to get a train which arrives in the city centre! Flying sometimes isn’t better.
Either way, we had left our bookings a little late and as such couldn’t find any accommodation in the recommended areas of Bandra or Juhu. These were out of our price range. So instead we opted for the not so pretty Colaba area. It actually wasn’t as bad as I expected – busy, but then we are in a city!
From Colaba we had easy access to the Gate of India, the Sunday park to watch the hundreds of local cricket matches, walking distance to Marine drive and close to the train station for access to the Dhobi Ghat and dabba whallas (otherwise known as tiffin wallahs). I will write a separate post on best places to eat in Colaba and things to do in Mumbai with Kids as we had a busy few days!
As the boys Grandma was arriving from the UK for the festive season we decided to stop in Goa’s busier northern beaches so that we had plenty of choice. Plus we knew the areas around Baga, Calangute and Candolim are very touristy so wouldn’t so much of a culture shock for her!
We found a place new Calangute, which was fine and had a nice apartment with pool area. However, I think Candolim would have a bit less hectic. Either way we spent most of our days either on the beach or by the pool. We actually didn’t venture too far, but did plenty of walking and visited both the Saturday night and Wednesday Anjuna Markets.
As with most tourist places it was busy, but the festive season added a little more to the normal craziness. The boys were oblivious to it and enjoyed the beaches – even though they both got stung by jellyfish! Doh!
It was a good couple of weeks for all of us, and even though it did feel like the Benidorm of India it was just what we needed. And Grandma had a great time too! I’ll write a separate blog post on eating out in Calangute with kids.
The only problem was getting repacked again and re-adjusting to budget travel… ooh it was hard! But it was time to move on.
We decided to stay at Kovalam Beach (otherwise known as Lighthouse beach). Again, due to it being peak season we weren’t able to book the relevant trains and so again we flew (this time through Bangalore) though to Thrivandrum. It was a long day and we were all really tired by the time we reached Kerala.
After booking into the hotel (with a pool – but rooms with only a fan!) we headed out to explore the area. We were about a 5 minute walk from the beach and fell in love immediately. It had a much more relaxed feel with a coved beach and a large red and white lighthouse towering over it. Very nice!
There was a lovely promenade area with lots of restaurants and shops – but it didn’t seem pushy, not like in Goa! We spent 5 relaxing days in Kovalam exploring the back alleyways and nearby beaches. The boys and Keith also joined in for a surf lesson. A great few days. We enjoyed the New Years Eve celebrations with a pizza and a few beers at a seaside restaurant before wandering on the beach waiting for the fireworks. It wasn’t anything spectacular but at least we managed to stay up until midnight!!
After Kovalam we headed up to Allepey to visit the Backwaters for a few days. In all honesty we booked too many days (3 in total), but we are quite glad we did as there was a statewide strike and none of the boat journeys were operational. Therefore, we could book on our final day instead – phew!
The backwaters were very beautiful and calming but we decided against the houseboat tour based on the reviews and glad we did. We ended up booking with Oscar cruises and had a full day with breakfast and lunch and a 3 hour canoe cruise down the smaller and quieter backwaters.
Southern India review
Overall Southern India is less about the forts and cities and more about the villages and beaches. It felt like it had a slower pace in the south (except Goa!) and also friendlier.
We would’ve loved to have visited the temples around Hampi and Mysore but unfortunately due to the season and the lateness of our bookings, we weren’t able to schedule it in! We also would have preferred the smaller and less developed beaches in southern goa. But none of this detracted from a fabulous time in the region and a memorable festive season!