5 Best Houseboats on the Kerala Backwaters (for all budgets)

5 Best Houseboats on the Kerala Backwaters (for all budgets)
5 Best Houseboats on the Kerala Backwaters (for all budgets)
Tourist houseboat on Kerala backwaters. Photo credit: (Shutterstock)

5 Best Houseboats on the Kerala Backwaters (for all budgets)

Time has stood still on the serene backwaters of Kerala. The meandering canals and the silent water channels mark a course spanning 900 km across the length and breadth of Kerala. One of the best ways to experience the region is by staying in a houseboat (check out my post on cruising the backwaters of Kerala). There are loads of houseboats on the Kerala Backwaters to choose from but not all are made equal so it’s really important to carefully research which houseboat you will be going on to make sure you get the best experience on the backwaters – one of my highlights of all India!

The most popular place to board a houseboat on the Kerala Backwaters is Alleppey (Alappuzha) but there are also other places where you can board, like Kumarakom. When I first went on the Kerala backwaters in 2013 you had to go to Alleppey and haggle with the touts to get a houseboat and it was always a bit of a gamble whether you would get a decent boat at a decent rate.

Luckily now there are some houseboats that you can book in advance online on Booking.com so you can check out photos and reviews beforehand and you don’t have to haggle over price which makes it much easier and less stressful! 🙂 I’ve also put this post together with the best houseboats on the Kerala backwaters to make it even easier for you to pre-book your Kerala backwater houseboat experience before you even arrive in India so that your trip runs smoothly.

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5 Best Houseboats on the Kerala Backwaters (for all budgets) (1)
TOP: House boat in backwaters near palms with sunset sky. Photo credit:

Alleppey offers an excellent choice of houseboats overall. It’s an amazing town with beaches, temples, and wellness centres. Kumarakom, on the other hand, is perfect for those who’d like a glimpse of the mangrove forests, the paddy fields, and the coconut groves and it is also home to some incredible luxury resorts. The pricing of the houseboats will depend on factors such as the size of the boat, the facilities on offer, and the packages you choose. Most of the time, the meals will be a part of the 24-hour stay package, some of the best houseboats on the Kerala Backwaters also include a trip in a smaller boat or canoe which allows you to get down smaller canals and get closer to the local life, an expereince I really recommend.

Hiring a houseboat on the Kerala backwaters is often one of the most expensive things you can do in India – especially if you’re a backpacker but there are lots of different options so even backpackers don’t have to miss out on what is one of India’s most beautiful, peaceful and serene experiences. These houseboats start at about 2,000 INR per person per night but, as with anything, if you can afford to pay a little more it’s often worth it.

Not much beats cruising along in your own private houseboat on the Kerala backwaters. Some canals can get quite busy with houseboats in the peak season but the more expensive ones are also more likely to get away from the crowds. Also, its good to be aware that most boats only offer air-conditioning from 9 PM – 6 AM only and hot water hours may be limited too. Let us see the options for the best houseboats on the Kerala backwaters you can choose no matter what your budget.

Here are the best houseboats on the Kerala backwaters:

Harmony houseboats
Harmony houseboats

Backpacker: Harmony houseboats, Punnamada Road, Alleppey

Harmony houseboats are the best houseboats on the Kerala backwaters for budget travellers and backpackers looking out for a pocket-friendly option.  The houseboat is set about 2 km away from the beautiful Mullakkal Rajarajeswari Temple in Alleppey. The on-boat restaurant serves excellent Indian, American and Asian food. The rooms are well-kept and are better than those of most budget houseboats in the region. The staff are very friendly and will help you make the most of your time on the backwaters.  Click here to see more photos, read the reviews, check rates and book your stay! 


Symphony Cruise Houseboat
Symphony Cruise Houseboat

Budget: Symphony Cruise Houseboat, JCT Dockyard Punnamada, Alleppey

Symphony Cruise Houseboat is consistently ranked amongst the top houseboats on the Kerala backwaters for the superb service and experience they offer. It’s a great option to choose considering the spectacular views that the rooms offer. The houseboats are docked about 2.2 km away from the Nehru Trophy Boat Race and at a distance of about 6 km from the Alleppey Lighthouse. The houseboats have a restaurant that serves Indian cuisine so you can relish some exotic delicacies straight from the Kerala kitchens! The staff can also arrange fishing.  The rooms are air-conditioned and equipped with clean bathrooms. Another bonus is that there is free car parking provided. Click here to see more photos, read the reviews, check rates and book your stay! 


Friends Cruise
Friends Cruise, Alleppey

Midrange: Friends Cruise, Punnamada Road, Alleppey

Friends Cruise is another recommendation Kerala houseboat. All rooms on the boats are super clean with private bathrooms, fully air-conditioned and are complete with all modern amenities and lake-views.  The houseboat provides great all-inclusive packages to guests so all you need to do is book with them and relax on the deck taking in some of the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets you’d have ever seen! The Nehru Trophy Fishing Point is just 300 meters away from the houseboat docking site. The restaurant on-boat serves excellent Indian food and they even have some good vegan options too. Friends Cruise is definitely one of the best houseboats on the Kerala backwaters for families and groups who wish to experience the best of Kerala in a mid-priced package. Click here to see more photos, read the reviews, check rates and book your stay!


Kumarakom Heritage Houseboats
Kumarakom Heritage Houseboats

Heritage: Kumarakom Heritage Houseboats, Kumarakom

Without a doubt, amongst all houseboats on the Kerala backwaters, this one has a unique boutique charm. Docked close to the Kumarakom Boat Jetty and the Kumarakom bird sanctuary. The rooms have private bathrooms and are quite spacious (for a houseboat!). Walk through the corridors and you’ll experience that rustic heritage charm which is well reflected in the wooden decor and the furniture. The houseboats have an on-boat restaurant. The evening dinner by the waters is an experience to be cherished! You can get in touch with the staff if you wish to enjoy fishing or canoeing in the surrounding waters. Click here to see more photos, read the reviews, check rates and book your stay! 


Xandari Riverscapes
Xandari Riverscapes

Luxury: Xandari Riverscapes, Pallathuruthy Bridge, Alleppey

Xandari Riverscapes is actually a whole fleet of houseboats on the Kerala backwaters. You can expect the best in class luxury and the boats feature either one, two or three bedrooms which are all air-conditioned. These are the ones I went on with the Kerala Blog Express! The deck area is perfect to admire the ever-changing scenic views all around. You can also relax in the open living space or try your hand at cooking in the fully equipped kitchen. The boats are docked close to the Pallathuruthy Bridge. 

The staff will happily arrange a canoe ride on the backwaters to experience Kerala’s waters more intimately. The houseboats are also stocked up with amazing indoor games if a laid-back vacation on the water is all you want! Click here to see more photos, read the reviews, check rates and book your stay!

Have you been to on a houseboat in Kerala? Do you have any more tips?

Leave a comment below and your recommendations can help out other travellers 🙂


If you found my recommendations for the best houseboats on the Kerala backwaters (for all budgets) useful and want to book through my links I can earn a small commission which helps to keep this site going at no extra cost to you so thank you! 😊

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