After spending more than two months in this incredible country, today I am suggesting some incredible places for you to visit in South India!
Goa is known worldwide for the hippie spirit. Goa and its perfect beaches are the first Indian tourist destination for those wishing to get few sunny, lazy days. Whether you prefer reading a book on the beach or dancing till dawn, everyone will find what they are looking for in Goa!
Personally, my favourite place was Palolem in the south of the Goa region, it is very quiet and authentic. I would also suggest that you avoid Calangute beach, which I found to be dirty and touristy.
Part of the UNESCO World Heritage list, Hampi is an unmissable place to visit in South India! At Hampi you will see the remains of the ancient capital of the last Hindu kingdom. The site lies between steep hills, jungle and rivers (where there are crocodiles incidentally..)
The site is quiet large, but locals will offer to get you around to see the most distant remains for a small fee.
Allow you at least 2 days to see the whole place. You can get there with buses from Goa, Bangalore and Mumbai. It is also possible to sleep on the site.
Here is a photograph of a Shadhu I took on the site of Hampi during my trip.
Bordering the Arabian Sea, Mumbai (or Bombay) is the economic capital of India and the sixth largest city in the world. For me it showed the paradox of Indian society, on one side you have the rich and powerful economic elite, on the other one, Dharavi, one of the largest slums in the world. If you want to get an idea of modern India I really advise you to spend a few days in this unique metropolis.
Located in the state of Kerala, Alleppey is one of the starting points to explore the surrounding backwaters. This network of rivers extends over 1500km and really looks like the “Jungle Book”! A great thing to do there is to spend a night on a Houseboat! As I often advise, don’t book anything in advance, book directly on site. There are many local tourist agencies that offer affordable rates.
Kochi (or Cochin) was made famous because of the huge Chinese fishing nets that are used here, these nets are only used here and in China. The most interesting part of the city is “Fort Kochi” which is filled with old buildings from the colonial era.
A tip for photo enthusiasts, the sunset over the sea with nets in the foreground is worth it!
Two days will be enough to see the whole city.
If you have more time to spend in South India, I also recommend you visit Pondicherry and Madurai, but sadly they were not on my road.
Tips to discover South India :
- Best time to visit: the best time to discover South India is from December to March.
- How long should you visit? Minimum 3 weeks will be needed to get a first glimpse of southern India
- Flying to South India: Rates for Paris or London to Mumbai returns start at 350/400 euros.
- Currency: The Indian Rupee: 1 euro = 75 Indian rupees
How to get around? To travel around India I recommend the train, beyond being a great experience, rates are unbeatable and vary depending the category you choose. To book your tickets online, Cleartrip is the only platform for people without Indian credit card. The second way to travel around India is the bus. The network is well developed in India (the roads are less developed so be careful, especially in sleeper buses). On my trip I used Redbus to book my tickets. For short trips, you will always find a taxi or a rickshaw; always remember to haggle!
How to withdraw money? there are ATMs everywhere in India, especially in tourist areas. There is no point to withdraw too much money at once, to give you an example I never get more than 50 euros (3500, 4000 rupees) and this was sufficient for several days travelling.