Buses And Beyond: A Tourist's Guide To Getting Around Kerala By Road

Have you ever wanted to go on a road trip? I’m sure the thought of packing your bags, revving up your engine and hitting the road has crossed your mind many a time. In fact, it’s true. Road trips are not just super exciting but are also one of the best ways to explore the wonders of a destination.

India is a diverse country. Apart from a spectrum of landscapes such as mountains, rivers, beaches, forests, and plateaus, it has a variety of cultures and festivals that beg to be explored. Embarking on a road trip opens you up to a range of enriching experiences spanning the length and breadth of the country.

There are several breathtaking stretches in India that are ideal for a road trip. There are a number of transport options to choose from if you’re planning for one. You can set off on a journey on a bike or rely on the faithful buses that connect the far ends of the country together.

Travelling by road is definitely fun. But it also requires a lot of planning. Most often, when you’re looking forward to that holiday away from the busy city life for some peace and calm, you don’t want to get into the nitty-gritty of planning and worrying about the little details. If you don’t want to vex over planning and booking your holiday, then you can go for a packaged tour. A packaged tour has several advantages over a do-it-yourself tour. Let’s look at each one of them below:

Advantages of Packaged Tours over Self-Planned Trips

  • Saves Research Time – Travelling to a new destination requires quite a bit of planning and research. If you have to plan all the painstaking details of your trip, it may make you frustrated. Travel experts in a packaged tour are not only knowledgeable about the intricate details of a destination and can help you plan the perfect itinerary.
  • Hassle-free – When your trip is planned from point-to-point, it saves a lot of hassles for you. Everything from flights, hotels, and sightseeing are booked for you. In a packaged tour, travel experts plan every single aspect of a trip so that you can just relax
  • Better management – Imagine you’re on a holiday and you’re having to reschedule flights, and book hotels. It’ll be quite a taxing holiday. Packaged tours do away with all these requirements. If your flights are delayed or your hotel bookings cancelled, all you have to do is contact your travel agent or tour operator and they’ll take care of everything.
  • Better offers – Planning an independent trip can be a little heavy on your pocket as you’ll have to book everything yourself. Routing your trip through a travel agent can help you earn attractive discounts, offers, and seasonal deals.
  • Complete Guided Tour – Many a times, when you’re trying to plan a trip to a destination, you may miss out on several places as it’s difficult to include everything in the itinerary. Packaged tours can include all the major tourist spots in a destination so that you get the best value out of money.
  • Added Services – Another reason you should choose packaged tour is because you get the best services out of the deal. Imagine if you’re booking everything independently, you’ll not be able to book say a relaxing spa treatment or a candlelight dinner.
  • Safety – There are always some places which are unsafe in a destination. You may not be independently able to cover them. Packaged tours take into account the safe and risky zones and plan your itinerary accordingly so that you can have a safe holiday.

There are several modes of transport in India that you can choose from in case you’re planning for road travel. One of the most common options that travel agents and tour operators use are buses. Let’s look at how buses are an integral transport in India.


Buses – A great view of Kerala with loved ones

Buses are one of the most convenient modes of transport in India. They connect all the remote corners of the country and can travel to each and every inch. In some cases, these buses are the only form of access to remote mountainous or dense forest regions. They run on fast and frequent routes and mostly don’t need prior booking in advance. Not just that, they are also extremely affordable and hence used by all. Most importantly, the buses have regular stops for tea and refreshments.

Buses in India can be of several categories. The state-owned and private buses can be loosely classified into ordinary, semi-deluxe, deluxe, and super-deluxe, however, there are no fixed features that separate each of the classes. There are also several bus tour packages and tour bus services run by travel agents and tour operators. Ordinary buses are the hardy, tenacious and rattling vehicles that carry locals to and fro. The deluxe buses can be either a slightly upgraded version of the ordinary buses or fancy and luxurious Volvo buses. While you can’t pre-book the ordinary buses, the deluxe buses can be booked online or at the bus station one day prior to your travels.

The state government public buses are generally unreliable as they break down quite a lot leaving you stranded in the middle of the road. In case of a breakdown of luxury tourist buses in packaged tours, you can rest assured knowing that another one will be sent to you.

When it comes to luggage, tourist buses have the option to store them in a compartment below the bus while others tie it to the roof. If your bags are on the roof, then make sure that they are fastened properly since they may fall off on uneven and bumpy rides. For smaller hand luggage, there are sometimes compartments inside the bus above the seats too. It’s also important to keep an eye on your luggage, especially at tea and toilet stops. Try not leaving your hand luggage unattended in the bus while you take a break. Packaged tours always have luxury and tourists buses to help you travel around. In this case, you’re bound to have a seat reserved for you. Travelling alone may leave you vulnerable to the vagaries of public transport or erratic private transport.

Best Backwater Destinations in Kerala

When it comes to road trips, Kerala is one of the best places to explore. The sheer variety of sights, activities, and experiences make it an ideal destination to place in your bucket list. In fact, Kerala is one of the most accessible destinations via road since it has an amazing network of both intercity and interstate roads. The National Highways 17, 47, and 49 connect Kerala to the neighbouring states as well as the rest of the states in the country. The Kerala State Transport Corporation does a good job of making the remote parts of Kerala accessible for tourism. Efficient taxi and auto services complement the Kerala bus service.

The capital city of Kerala, Thiruvananthapuram, is connected to some major tourist hotspots such as Alleppey, Kottayam, and Thrissur. Again, Kottayam connects the forests and hill stations of Thekkady and Munnar respectively. Thrissur again has good connectivity with Kozhikode and Wayanad. There are other entry points to Kerala from the states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu as well. Major bus routes from Mangalore, Mysore, and Bengaluru in Karnataka and from Coimbatore, Chennai, and Madurai in Tamil Nadu connect with Kerala.

Now let’s take a look at the transport options you have if you’re planning to explore Kerala by road.

Hire a Driver in Kerala – Travel By Your Own Rules

If you want to drive your way through the beautiful state of Kerala, then there are several options you can choose from. You can choose any of the licensed car rental agencies in Kerala. There are plenty of car rental agencies in Kerala, however, only a few of them are licensed and authorised.

Kerala sees a major influx of domestic and foreign tourists every year. Most of them rely on taxi and cab services to travel across various areas in the state. Sometimes, the cab service comes as part of the tour package or the services offered by the hotel or travel agencies. This can be an extremely convenient option for many tourists.

If you’re planning to book a car rental in Kerala with a driver, you can check with your travel agents or hotels to provide you with a list of rental car agencies. Make sure whenever you’re going for a rental agency, check that they have the following:

  • The company should have a minimum fleet of 50 cars
  • Half of them should be air-conditioned
  • Branch offices should have a locker, workshop, reception, toilet, and garage
  • The cars should have special registration plates

We at Kerala Tour Packages provide car rental services as part of our tour packages.

Living it Large – Book a Luxury Tourist Bus in Kerala

There are several transport options to choose from for going around Kerala. Buses can be one of the most convenient options to travel around the state. You can book a Kerala tourist bus service which comes as part of the packaged tour in case you’re booking one.

Kerala tourist buses are one of the ideal options for convenient travel since you can get air conditioning, sleeper facilities, and comfortable seats. You can easily get a small tourist bus for rent to accommodate your friends and family as there are several service providers in Kerala.

If you’re planning to book a tourist bus in Kerala, then you can check out the following options by Kerala Tour Packages:

  • Bharat Benz Bus 26 Seater – One of the most popular tourist buses in Kerala, this air-conditioned luxury bus has comfortable interiors and broad seats that ensure passengers a comfortable experience, whatever the length of the journey. The vehicle comes with parabolic suspension which helps ease out the road undulations and absorbs shock to give you a comfortable experience. With a 2×1 layout, there is scope for broader seats that offer even more comfort and space for travellers. Another plus point is the square-shaped 4D34i 4-cylinder, BS3, turbo-charged, inter-cooled, 125kW (170HP) CRS (Common Rail System) engine and air-conditioned interior which helps in reducing any noise or vibration. The engine mounted AC compressor drastically reduces the vibrations of the engine and also eliminates the need for an additional slave engine. The M036S6 6-speed transmission with overdrive gear for lower engine RPM at highway cruising results in lower noise levels and the cable shift removes the vibration of the gear shift lever. There are several entertainment options inside such as television, refrigerator, pantry, and oven
  • 17-Seater Luxury Tempo Traveller – Also known as the Force Traveller, this light commercial vehicle (LCV) made and distributed by Force Motors and is based on the popular Mercedes-Benz T1 range. There are different configurations for different uses (commercial minibus, school bus, ambulance, Quick Response Vehicle, etc.). Some other options include high roof / low roof versions, the short chassis / long chassis versions and the Excel series of commercial transport vehicles.

Must-Visit Places in Kerala by Road

Now that you’ve finalised the transport for your Kerala road trip, it’s time to finalise the best destinations to cover by road. Before choosing the destinations, it’s important to figure out how many days you want to spend in Kerala and fix an itinerary from beforehand.

Below are the following destinations that you should not miss and should definitely include in your Kerala itinerary:

  • Cochin – This is one of the most popular destinations in Kerala and mostly the place where you’ll land. Cochin is also a good base for moving onto the other destinations in Kerala. For example, Munnar is a 4-5 hours drive from Cochin, Thekkady is a 5 hrs drive, and Alleppey is 2 hrs drive. You also need to be aware of the timings to ensure that you have a seamless holiday. For example, if you’re travelling to Alleppey from Cochin, then you have to make sure that you reach Cochin by 9 am so that you can check into the Alleppey houseboat by 12 pm. If you reach Cochin by afternoon, then it’s best to keep the day free for rest. There are several sightseeing options in Cochin such as Marine Drive, Chinese Fishing Nets, Fort Cochin, Dutch Palace and Jewish Synagogue.
  • Munnar – This hill station is one of the most well-known and visited places in Kerala. It’s a great place to experience the tea plantations and lush green hills. There are plenty of sightseeing options too on the journey between Cochin and Munnar with waterfalls, forests, and hills along the way. You can even spend time in shopping as well as visit Eravikulam National Park.
  • Thekkady – Thekkady is home to the famous Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary. If you’re interested in adventure and eco-tourism activities, then you’d love Thekkady. You can take a ride along the Periyar River and watch the wildlife from a close range. The boating experience can be unique because it’s only from the boat that you can see the Mullaipperiyar dam, the sanctuary area and wild animals. You can also indulge in several cultural activities such as watching Kalarippayattu, Kathakali, Ayurveda massage, and spice plantation tour. From Thekkady, you can easily travel Alleppey, Munnar, and Cochin.
  • Alleppey – Alleppey is the hub of the Kerala backwaters and the amazing Kerala houseboats. Alleppey is also known for its beaches. You can stay overnight in any of the wandering houseboats on the backwaters. The houseboats are fully furnished with dining halls, kitchens, bedrooms, and toilets. You can do either a morning cruise of 5-6 hours or an overnight cruise of 21 hrs. The boats will cruise through canals, waterways, and lakes.

Some of the other must-see destinations in Kerala are:

  • Kumarakom – Also known for its fantastic backwaters
  • Varkala – Famous for its beautiful beaches
  • Trivandrum – The capital city is known for its varied sightseeing options
  • Kovalam – Known for its famous beaches and is quite near to Trivandrum

Highly Rated Tour Operator in TripAdvisor
Recommended Ayurveda Resort in Kerala
Romantic Boutique Resort at Cochin


TC 79/47, New Gardens, Sangamam Nagar
Vallakadavu p.o., Trivandrum – 695008
Kerala, INDIA
Mob: +91 999 580 9006, 8111 864 888


Phone: 416-524-7661

Kariyad, Mecadu p.o.
Nedumbassery, Cochin
Mob: +91 72930 79008


Nicholas Building
River Front, Enfield EN1 3FG
Tel: +44 20 3322 4388

Play Video