Flying into Kochi on your first trip to India is a great idea, as this will very likely be the best first impression of the country you could get. The area's inhabitants are notoriously friendly and the lush, green landscape already greets travelers at the palm-fringed airport. Kochi itself is quite large; vast parts of it are a bit grubby, but there also is that very pretty old town with its ancient colonial buildings and huge old trees lining the streets. Another plus of the area -- it is real quiet (for Indian standards). Within the old town, you will also find most of the sights -- plenty of specific buildings, an old cemetery, and of course the Chinese fishing nets. Also all of the tours to the backwaters will be able to pick people up here. The area is well adapted to traveler needs with internet cafes, travel agents, souvenir shopping, Ayurveda treatments, and restaurants with English menus, but in a way that doesn't spoil the town's charm.
This old town is also where pretty much all the Kochi hostels are found. There is quite a wide range of Kochi hostels from which to choose. Some are really nice in restored villas or with an alternative charm to them, but some are just the money-making type. The popular ones fill up quickly in season, so booking way in advance (at least several weeks!) is an absolute must. In many cases, it is also advisable to arrange a pickup, as some Kochi hostels are tucked away behind back alleys of back alleys that they are almost impossible to find. Prices for hostels in Kochi are quite high -- in less touristy parts of India, you could probably get a decent hotel room for the price of a Kochi dorm bed.
Getting around in Kochi is best done by motor-rickshaw, unless you want to travel across the bay from the main area of Kochi to the old town. It's a very long way around so taking the ferry makes sense. Sadly, the schedule is not all too frequent (once an hour at best), so planning ahead makes sense.
Hi, I'm gagalichen,
the Hostelz.com local expert for Kochi hostels. Welcome.