10 Travel Tips for Cochin, India

10 Tips

1. “Queen of the Arabian Sea”city

Situated in the southwest part of the state of Kerala, Cochin (or Kochi) has been a spice trading market since the preIslamic area.

Later occupied by the Portuguese, Dutch and British, the port of Cochin was transformed and mixed up by all this foreign influence.

Start your journey in Cochin by learning something about its history.

Best place to do that: Fort Kochi – the port area where you can still admire old European style buildings, like the Dutch Palace, the little house where Vasco da Gama lived or St Francis Church (where Vasco Da Gama was initially buried).

If you go early morning you can enjoy the view of the port in the sunrise with all the ferries coming back to life and the image of the Chinese fishing nets being thrown in the ocean (that you see on most of the postcards made in Cochin).


2. The concept of time in India

Let me put it this way, if you ask your Indian friend to come and pick you up by 5, then you should start getting ready by 6, because by 7 he will be there for sure!

This applies to almost every scenario, if the taxi driver tells you it’s going to be a 2 hours drive approx. to reach your destination, I would say you are up for a 3-4 hours drive (tip: take extra time into consideration if you have a meeting or urgent matter).

3. Washing the elephants

This has been by far my favourite activity in Cochin. If you love elephants (who doesn’t, right ?) Kodanad Elephant Training Center is the best place to interact with this beautiful creatures.You can participate in the elephants feeding, bathing in the river or riding.

Remember, the elephant is considered a sacred animal in India so one should show great respect around it (in Hinduism, wisdom is represented by the deity Ganesh, which is a god with the head of an elephant).


4. Veg or non-veg

This is actually funny because you’ll be hearing it a lot in India. Since you board the plane to reach your destination, from the hotel or the restaurant you choose to dine in, this is the question that will pop up. Are you a vegetarian or a non-vegetarian ?

Shortly said, veg or non-veg? It’s an entire culture build around this concept to the extreme that passing by you can notice how the name of the small hotels include the “veg/non-veg”abbreviation, like for example “non-veg breakfast and bed hotel”☺.

5. Stay healthy

I know this comes up all the time: don’t drink tap water, don’t eat raw vegetables or meat, avoid street food. But this time I would even go further and say, try to eat in the popular places, avoid by all means cheap restaurants. You can easily get food poisoning as your stomach it’s not used to digest certain things.

A trick is to have some probiotics and vitamins before and during your trip just to boost the immune system. Also, try to have only cooked meals while you are in India (I got food poisoning from eating a salad).

6. Be prepared for noise, traffic and limited personal space

Cochin is a place full of colour, noise and movement. Traffic has increased in the last couple of years from what the locals are saying, but comparing to Delhi, Kolkata or Mumbai it felt a little bit less to me.

Still, the cars will keep the minimum space possible between them, giving you that nausea feeling that you might hit one at any moment.

To cross the street you must be confident, once you started, DO NOT hesitate as this will only confuse the drivers (raise up a hand before you proceed and trust your instinct).

7. Shopping – bargaining

There is a great place for shopping in Cochin and that is called, the Jew Street. Here you’ll find shops that are selling antique items, wood carvings, paintings, fabrics, you name it. Down the road you’ll even find an old synagogue (named Paradesi) opened for sightseeing.

Bargaining is a commun practice so be prepared and loaded with patience in order to get the “real” price of the goods that you are interested in.


8. Waterfalls

There are many natural places with waterfalls around the city of Cochin, but the ones I would recommend are Athirappilly Falls (the largest in Kerala) and Vazhachal Falls (5 km away from the first one). Both of them are located at about 2 hours drive from Cochin, in the middle of beautiful wildness.

Athirappilly is also named “The Niagara of India” and it’s simply breathtaking.

My tip for this trip is to bring comfortable/ hiking shoes and to get ready for physical exercise as there are many stairs to climb.

9. Food/drinks

Best thing to eat in Cochin is fish/seafood.

Best drink I had: coffee.

Even if India is famous for the tea culture, in Cochin you should definitely try the exotic fine tasting coffee.

Fruits: mango, pineapple, jackfruit, papaya.

10. Dress decent

You should dress decent in India for at least 2 reasons:

  1. you don’t want to draw (unwanted) attention towards you
  2. you’ll not be allowed to enter any temple otherwise

Don’t forget to try/purchase a sari (traditional female garment) before you leave, they are truly exquisite.

20 Comment

  1. Jen Morrow says: Reply

    Ah, the concept of Indian time is also what we consider “island time”. Great tips to know what to expect in Cochin and India overall.

    1. Thank you Jen

  2. I have never been to India and these tips are super helpful! I will be saving this for when I go. Loved learning about the elephant washing – so unique!

    1. Thank you so much Meghan, really don’t miss out the washing of elephants it’s amazing

  3. I haven’t been to India yet but this info are so interesting. I’ll surely buy sari great for photo session while wandering around. Indian time haha im used to that i got Indian friends.

    1. Hahaha me too i had a lovely Indian roommate for 2 years

  4. Jenni says: Reply

    your photos are great. I like the one of the little girl she looks so happy and the elephant bathing is so cute.

    1. Thank you so much Jenni

  5. Ariane says: Reply

    This post really helps getting ready for India! I really loved the concept of time, it reminded me of Agentina, they are also always 1-2 hours late !

    1. Hahaha good to know that thanks

  6. Tom says: Reply

    The “stay healthy” part would be the one I would have trouble with. I like to eat at the smaller, less-popular places, so if I go perhaps I need to budget some time to be sick.

    1. Lol I’m the same Tom haha

  7. The most exciting thing from this list for me is the elephant bathing! I have never seen an elephant from up close! I think that if I will do it someday, I will be amazed by the size of this animal! Overall, it is a good list for someone who plans to visit the place!

    1. Elephants are huge and peaceful creatures I really love them !!!

  8. George says: Reply

    Wow it must have been cool to be so close to an elephant. Your tips are great, thank you for sharing!

  9. gokulr27 says: Reply

    I have stayed here for sometime.. Is a very vibrant city.

  10. Thanks for sharing these very interesting facts of India. But the time-issue truly raised my brows, coz that’s too much.


  11. And keep an insect repellant with you as being a tropical place, there are mosquitoes all around. Useful tips indeed! Glad you penned those down.

    1. Thank you 🙂

  12. Rhiannon says: Reply

    Some great tips here! The first time I visited Athirapilly was during the dry season and it was merely a trickle of water! My Keralan friends had made such a big deal about it beforehand that I was expecting this bit spectacular waterfall, and it was quite funny in reality! They took me again a few months later though and yep, I definitely see how it got its nickname.

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