If you’re travelling on a gap year or simply backpacking on a budget in Kochi (Cochin) then here are our top five things to do on a small budget:
1. Chinese finishing nets and beach walk
Located just a minutes walk from the town square, the Chinese fishing nets are an iconic image of this region. In operation from early morning (around 6.30am) they are best seen around sunset when they make for a spectacular photo opportunity silhouetted against the yellow sky.
The nets can be viewed form the small beach peninsula or by walking down between the stall on the Marina walk. For the early risers, consider wandering down to the beach at sunrise and watching locals jogging, doing yoga and Thai chi, while fisherman hand cast their nets.
The Marina beach walk, taking in the Wilmington boiler engines, beach, Chinese fishing nets and market stalls can be completed in 30-40mins.
2. Kati Rolls at Dal Roti
Whilst Kati Rolls are a North Indian cuisine, the Dal Roti restaurant has become a local legend. A 15min walk from the fishing nets and town square, this simple and friendly family restaurant won’t disappoint.
Chicken, prawn, veg and paneer rolls start from Rs.150 for a single and Rs.260 for a double – great for those on a budget and delicious!
3. Jewish Synagogue and Dutch (Mattancherry) Palace in Jew Town
Located in Jew Town, a 5min tuk tuk ride from the Marina walk, the Dutch Palace, Jewish Synagogue and surrounding streets offer a great insight into the regions history.
The Dutch Palace (built by the Portuguese) and refurbished by the Dutch colonialists is a humble looking building from the outside – but on the inside features a stunning selection of original murals and artefacts from regions history and royal family and can be seen in about 40mins.
The Jewish Synagogue, the oldest in the British Commonwealth, provides an interesting insight into the regions diverse past and for many may be the first time they’ve visited a Jewish place of worship. Adorned with imported tiles and chandeliers – the Synagogue can be seen in as little as 10mins.
Entrance to the Synagogue is free and to the Dutch Palace it is Rs.5. No photography is allowed inside the Synagogue or Dutch Palace.
4. St Francis (Vasco da Gama) Church
The original burial site of Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama who died on 24 December 1524 of Malaria shortly after arriving in Kochi. His burial is marked by a tombstone in the church although his body was exhumed in 1539 by his son and returned to Lisbon, Portugal where it now rests at Jeronimos Monastery, Lisbon, Portugal.
Entrance is free and photography is allowed throughout. The church is located just a short 5min walk from Chinese fishing nets.
5. Walk around the town square
The town square filled with spectacular trees is flanked by the beach (with Chinese fishing nets) and a number of historical colonial buildings which are now a mix of hotels, restaurants and private residences.
The streets around the town square offer a mix of shopping, from cheap market stalls selling everything from carving to fresh fish, to more upmarket shops selling textiles and pottery. Generally prices are 10-20% more expensive than in towns in the north but they are not unreasonable, especially if you’re looking for last minute buys.