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$ 249914 days
All inclusive price

Best of South India Tour

It was a whiff that sailed a million dhows! The land of spices, South India has always attracted travellers and left them truly enchanted.

On this South India Tour, you will encounter temple rituals performed from the time of the Egyptian Pharaohs, see monuments built several 100 years before the Taj Mahal, eat tasty and healthy food on Banana leaves, safari into the jungles to spot Tigers and other mighty fauna and relax on some of the worlds most picturesque beaches. And of course, you will be staying in some of the finest hotels and resorts in the world, accompanied by an expert, local companion who will show you the land like only a local could!

This South India tour features an all inclusive price. Accomodation, all major meals, transport, entrance fees, tour manager included!

Travel Style: Experiential
Service Level: 5 Star Hotels, Private Transport, All meals
Trip Type: Small Group, 10 Travellers Max
Testimonials

The people who know best

Edward Carter

Our guide Seetharam was an absolute gem, making our South India tour truly unforgettable. The hotels were a blend of luxury and local charm, and the well-spaced itineraries allowed us to soak in the beauty of each place. Being local to the region, this company Indian Expeditions provided insights that enriched our experience unlike any other tour operator we had been with before. It was truly a great decision to go with a local travel company and not a big branded one that has offices in the UK and not where we visit!

Rating  ★★★★★

Edward Carter

Rose Anderson

Kudos to Chandan and the rest of the team in Indian Expeditions for making our South India tour so special! Chandans in-depth knowledge and storytelling added a layer of richness to each destination. The hotels were comfortable, and the itineraries were perfectly balanced. Highly recommended!

Rating  ★★★★★

Rose Anderson

Victoria Taylor

We usually travel with an Australian travel company, but choosing Indian Expeditions for our South India adventure was a game-changer! Their local expertise added depth to our experience that was unmatched by Intrepid. Chandan, our tour leader, was fantastic, and the hotels were not just places to stay but portals to the rich local culture.

Rating  ★★★★★

Victoria Taylor

Richard Oliver

We couldn’t have asked for a better South India tour! Chandan was not only knowledgeable but also personable, creating a warm and engaging atmosphere. The hotels were top-notch, and the itineraries were perfectly crafted.

Rating  ★★★★★

Richard Oliver

Michael Christopher

Highly recommend this South India tour! Seetharam’s passion for the region was infectious, and his storytelling made each stop fascinating. The hotels were a haven of comfort, and the itineraries were thoughtfully planned.

Rating  ★★★★★

Michael Christopher

Essential South India Tour

A relaxed and unhurried tour of South India with a perfect blend of history, contemporary, wildlife, mountains and beaches. This tour has it all!
Southern India Tours Chennai Central
Arrival Chennai International Airport

Chennai, formerly known as Madras, is a major travel hub in India. It was here that the British gained a firm footing in the 16th century

South Indian Tours Mahabalipuram Small Group Tours
Day 3 Mahabalipuram

Mahabalipuram was an ancient port, known to even the ancient Romans. It houses some of India’s most magnificent rock cut temples and art.

South India Tours Pondicherry Timeline
Day 4 Pondicherry

The French Riviera of the east, Pondicherry is simply fascinating with an old world French charm everywhere

Tours of South India Thanjavur Timeline
Day 5 & 6 Thanjavur

Idyllic rice plantations, tall coconut trees gently swaying in the breeze – and ancient temples everywhere!

Tours of South India Madurai Timeline
Day 7 Madurai

Madurai is one of the world’s oldest cities and is home to the magnificent Madurai Meekankshi Temple. 

Thekkady Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary tour
Day 8 Thekkady – Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary

Thekkady is where the Periyar Tiger Reserve is – one of India’s most important tiger and elephant reserves.

Tours of South India Munnar Timeline
Day 9 Munnar

On to the fabled tea estates of South India. You can go on a trek here if you want to!

Tours of South India Kumarakom Timeline
Day 10 and 11 Kumarakom & Alleppey

Explore the Vembanad lake and its canals on a houseboat and go birdwatching in one of India’s most important bird sanctuaries.

Fort Kochi Best OF South India Tour Timeline
Day 12 & 13 Fort Kochi. D 14 Depart Cochin

Explore Kochi, an enchanting port city on the Malabar Coast and the site of the earliest  European settlement in India

Day 1 & 2
Day 3
Day 4
Day 5 & 6
Day 7
Day 8
Day 9
D 10 & 11
D 12 - 14

Essential South India Tour

This tour of South India takes you to the highlights of South India at a comfortable, unhurried pace. The tour immerses you into a region where ancient traditions and culture blend seamlessly with the present. The tour starts in Chennai, where the british built their first fort in India - which enabled them to conquer and rule India. You'll journey over the scenic East Coast Road and wind your way into the Tamil heartland, being amazed by ancient temples and monuments, witnessing ancient traditions that remain unchanged since the classical age. You'll put a Goddess to sleep in Madurai, and journey up the hills to the Periyar Tiger Reserve and hope to spot megafauna such as Tigers, leopards and elephants. You'll visit the fabled Tea estates of Munnar and wind you way down into the beaches and backwaters of Kerala. You'll experience Ayurveda - one of the world's oldest surviving holistic health treatments and get a detoxifying massage that many of our guests have reported to have made them feel rejuvenated from within for months afterwards. The tour ends in Kochi - where the europeans first came and set up shop in India.

This tour of Southern India is truly experiential and doesn't merely take you to sites - you will participate and be immersed in many, many true south Indian experiences. You will interact with locals, visit markets and so much more! The Southern India tour is an experiential holiday and aims to get you up close and personal with south India and her rich culture, traditions and landscape at an unhurried pace. We will not take you to see everything in each place, but to the highlights, so that you can really imbibe the flavour of South India, and yet have time to relax and unwind in the carefully chosen most luxurious and boutique hotels and resorts in India.

A highlight of the South India tour is the food you'll savour whilst on the adventure. South India is known for its healthy, fresh and very, very tasty food - from dosas, idles, madras mutton curry and biriyani to sea food right out of the sea. The hotels on tour have also been carefully chosen that serve authentic food of the region prepared by the top chefs in India, all the while having western options if you miss food from home!

SO MUCH INCLUDED in the price. Not only is this tour a true once in a lifetime experience, but it's also GREAT value for money!

What is included

  • Accomodation in carefully chosen and the best 5 star hotels and resorts in South India.
  • All major meals.
  • Modern, air-conditioned coaches throughout.
  • Services of an experienced and expert local Tour Manager throughout.
  • All entrance fees where applicable.
  • Ayurveda Massage
  • Pick up and drop from airport.
  • All taxes

What is not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Flight Tickets
  • Drinks
  • Snacks
  • Visas and any Visa related expenses
  • Pick up and drop if not on arrival or departure dates / city from where tour starts and ends
  • Camera fees where applicable.
  • Items personal in nature
  • Anything that is not explicitly mentioned in the what is included section.

South India Tour Detailed Itinerary

Arrive at any time. You’ll be picked up from the airport and dropped at your hotel.

Chennai, formerly known as Madras, is today the 4th largest city in India. It was here that the British, in the 16th century, gained a firm footing which enabled them to conquer and rule India and much of South East Asia. We will start tour of South India by visiting Fort St George – the first British fort in India. We will then explore at leisure the rest of Chennai, including the St Thomas Basilica, where St Thomas, the apostle is said to have been buried and the Egmore Museum which houses the finest collection of India artefacts from the 5th-15th century.

Mahabalipuram was an ancient port, known to even the ancient Romans. Today, it’s an UNESCO designated world heritage site, and houses some of South India’s greatest rock cut temples and reliefs. A visit to Mahabalipuram has been the highlight of many a traveller we have hosted, and they; historians, art lovers and the casual traveller included have described the day as one of their most enthralling visits ever, anywhere! Onwards to Pondicherry.

The French Rivera of east, Pondicherry is simply fascinating with an old world French charm everywhere. We spend the morning exploring the city and head to Kumbakonam.

Idyllic rice plantations, tall coconut trees gently swaying in the breeze – and ancient temples everywhere! The rice and ancient temple belt of the South, Kumbakonam and Thanjavur are home to some of India’s greatest and oldest temples with rituals that are in constant practice since the classical age, from 2500 BC! We will explore some of the regions most mighty ands striking temples and dwell into ancient Indian art and architecture.

Madurai is one of the worlds oldest cities and is home to the magnificent Madurai Meenakshi Temple. After visiting the temple, we will stroll through Madurai’s ancient and bustling bazaars –an experience you will never forget!

Thekkady is where the Periyar Tiger Reserve is, one of India’s most important Tiger and elephant reserves. We will embark on a boat safari on the stunning Periyar Lake, and hope to spot Deers, Elephants, Leopards and Tigers. Afterward, we visit the home of a local family for a cooking demonstration and a delicious, spice-filled lunch. Relax in the afternoon, or opt to take a nature walk before heading to a local theatre for a performance of a kalaripayattu, an ancient Kerala martial art.

Up to the fabled tea estates of South India today! A drive through the mountains will have us in Munnar, an area known for it’s misty mountains, fabulous tea and trekking trails. Those of you are adventurous can head out on a trek that fits you best – easy to hard! Munnar is also an important birding area in South India. We will visit tea factories and spice gardens.

Kumarakom is where the Vebanad lake – one of India’s largest fresh water lake is. Explore the Vembanad lake and its canals on a houseboat and go birdwatching in one of India’s most important bird sanctuaries. Two days of leisurely exploration among a rural, palm lined backwaters.

Explore Kochi, an enchanting port city on the Malabar Coast and the site of the earliest  European settlement in India. Visit Mattancherry Palace—built in the mid-16th century by Portuguese colonists and expanded later on by the Dutch—and venture to the colourful streets of the Jewish Quarter, where antique shops and cafés abound. Visit some of India’s oldest churches.

Depart Cochin International Airport

HOTELS - ESSENTIAL SOUTH INDIA TOUR

At Indian Expeditions, we understand the importance of good hotels throughout a touring holiday. All the hotels on our tours of South India have been personally selected by our directors to ensure they meet the highest standards. We have personally stayed in the hotels and experienced first hand how their services are. We have also hosted many groups of travellers in them.  Furthermore, we have paid special attention in making sure the hotels we stay in suit the western traveller. Each hotel on our South Indian Tours has its own unique style and character, but all share the same high and excellent standard.

Though our tours are advertised as tours with 5 star hotels, some boutique hotels may not have a star rating, but have the same level of service and comfort as a 5 star.

Due to the growth in tourism in India, it may not always be possible to stay at our listed accommodation and an alternative of equal standards will be found.

Taj Club House Chennai

Set in the heart of Chennai, The Taj Club House is a strikingly contemporary 5 star hotel with elegant and extremely comfortable rooms. Perfect to recharge after a long haul flights and to get ready for the tours.  Rooms are well-appointed with luxury, contemporary comforts and furnished with local artefacts, and the large picture windows ensure that natural light floods in.

Ideal Beach Resort, Mahabalipuram

Set along the Bay of Bengal, sprawled across 12 acres of luscious greeneries, Ideal Beach Resort offers a perfect beach holiday experience. The resort has a private beach, furnished with huts and hammocks surrounded by swaying coconut trees. Ideal beach is renowned for its food, and serves some really, really tasty dishes.

Maison Perumal, Pondicherry

Maison Perumal is a 130 year old family mansion dating back to French colonial times in Pondicherry. It was built by a member of one of the prosperous Tamil communities settled around the temple area in those days and expresses an architectural character that integrates the vernacular with the colonial in a novel and striking manner. It is now one of the finest and most luxurious boutique hotels in South India.

Mantra Koodam, Kumbakonam 

Mantra Koodam is designed like an ‘agraharam’ – the characteristically Brahmin (priests in India) street lined with ‘illams’ (homes). It’s a tribute to the region’s heritage and its historic stature as a seat of power in South India. The cottages are designed like traditional Tamil homes – with large verandahs,  hand made tiles on the floor, ornate Burmese teak doors and open-to-air bathrooms.

The Heritage, Madurai

Steeped in the history of the 2,500-year-old city of Madurai, Heritage Madurai exudes an old world charm that resonates throughout its architecture and interiors. Beautifully designed accommodation with modern amenities and facilities are accompanied by the hotel’s Olympic-sized pool and stunning setting, offering blissful relaxation. How many places can you dine beneath a 200-year-old banyan tree accompanied by the delightful melodies of chirping birds? The Banyan restaurant offers just that, along with a variety of traditional and western buffet-style meals.

Spice Village, Thekkady 

The resort was conceived as a village and built the way you would a village – with local materials, native artisans, mountain spirit and traditional wisdom in its creation. Though traditional in its conception, this is a ‘village’ that offers you all the comforts of a luxury boutique hotel. The accommodation at the Spice Village Periyar hotel takes the form of beautiful cottages, which again display a close connection to nature.

Elephant Passage, Munnar

Elephant Passage is a mountain resort far apart from the rest in its class due to it’s magnificent location. This location gives it the quintessence of Munnar, embellished with thick woods and foggy rejuvenating ambience. The Name “Elephant Passage” is the English version of their location ANACHAL: Aana-Elephant, Chal-Passage or Road.

Coconut Lagoon, Kumarakom

Coconut Lagoon is located in a sheltered and enchanting cove in Kumarakom, this resort reflects the diversity and magnificence of Vemband Lake. An experience that respects the rich but delicate ecosphere and the vibrant culture of Kuttanad region. Where old agrarian homes are reconstituted to offer you an entry into a charming world following the gentle pulse of the backwaters.

Eighth Bastion, Kochi

Legend has it that there were seven bastions in Fort Kochi, built by the Portuguese and strengthened by the Dutch. Adding on to this 500-year-old legacy of defending oncoming conquests is the Eighth Bastion. Built by blending contemporary and colonial styles each room has a distinct appeal. The echoes from the past come alive here while the air carries an unmistakable spicy-sweet scent.

Trip Information

CLIMATE

Sun-kissed – in a word! Glorious sunny days with bright blue skies is the norm. The climate of South India is tropical. Summer temperatures on the plains are very hot, but cooled by the South-West Monsoon, which lasts from June- September. During these months it can be very wet and therefore very humid. At hill stations, temperatures can become quite cool at night even in the summer and may drop below 15 C between December and February so warm clothing is necessary. The rest of south India remains warm and sunny during the winter months. Summer starts from April, with May – mid July being the hottest, where it can reach temperatures of over 40 C during the day. From August, it starts cooling down, with it being the coolest between December to end of February. The west coast (Kerala, Goa, parts of Karnataka) experiences rain between June and September, and in the east coast – Tamil Nadu, it rains mostly in November up to mid December.  During the first 3 weeks of November, sporadic rainfall occurs, sometimes heavy for brief periods. The hurricane or cyclone season starts end of November and ends by around the 20th of December. One can expect intense spells of heavy rain and wind during this period, especially during the first 2 weeks of December.

Time difference to GMT

+5.5 hours

Plugs

3 Pin Round

Religion

Hindu, Islam, Catholicism, Protestant, Buddhism.

Language

English is spoken widely. Other major languages are Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada and Telugu. Our tours are conducted in English.

FOOD AND DRINK

The costs for meals may vary depending upon location, type of restaurant and number of courses eaten and so the prices given are an average guide. Local restaurants located off the beaten track may be less expensive, whereas an upmarket restaurant located in the centre of a major city may charge more. The water quality is poor and therefore it is recommended to avoid drinking tap water during your trip.

Lunch price
£8 / $ 10

Dinner price
£8 / $ 10

Beer price
£3 / $4

Water bottle price
£0.5 / $ .05

 

Foreign Exchange

LOCAL CURRENCY
Indian Rupee (INR)

RECOMMENDED CURRENCY FOR EXCHANGE
GBP/US$ are the best currency to change into local currency.

WHERE TO EXCHANGE
The Indian rupee is a restricted currency and it is best not to obtain in the UK as rates are very poor. We strongly advise you not to exchange you at airports on arrival as they give very poor rates. Your Tour Leader will advise you on the best places in each town. Both GBP and USD cash are easy to exchange. It’s not possible to change money using a credit or debit card.

ATM AVAILABILITY
ATMs are available widely. You must inform your bank that you are travelling to India and ask them to enable your cards to have withdrawal / transactions enabled for India.

CREDIT CARD ACCEPTANCE
In most establishments that are medium to large.

TRAVELLERS CHEQUES
Opportunities to exchange are limited.

 

CLOTHING

South India is a tropical region with high humidity. Lightweights are needed all year round with some warmer clothes for the cooler winter evenings (November to February) in hill stations such as Munnar, Thekkady and Chikmagalur. Casual clothes are the most practical: tight fitting garments, brief shorts and skirts should be avoided, since they attract unwelcome attention. Swim wear can be worn in very few beaches but in all resorts and hotels if you are using the pool. Bring a light and easy to carry water p

 

FOOTWEAR

Walking shoes or trainers and sandals are recommended. Note that temples do not allow footwear to be worn inside, and footwear must be left at the entrance of temples. You can wear socks inside.

 

LUGGAGE

While our maximum cap on luggage per person is 50 KG – two main pieces of luggage and day sac, we highly recommend that you do not overload yourself. One main piece of baggage and a day sac per person are recommended. Note that domestic airlines in India usually allow 15 KGS of checked in baggage and 7 kgs of cabin baggage per person.  Most hotels where we stay at offer express laundry services for about USD 1 – USD 2 per piece.

 

EQUIPMENT

Binoculars, torch, sun screen, insect repellent.

 

TIPPING

Although entirely voluntary, tipping is a recognized part of life in this region of the world. Some local staff (like in hotels, or drivers) will look to members of the group for personal recognition of particular services provided. In order to make things easier for you, your leader may organise a group’s tips kitty for included activities and meals and if this is the case, they will account for it throughout the tour.
Accordingly, you should allow GBP35 / $ 40 approx. 3’000 Indian Rupees for group tipping.
For all non-included services and meals on your trip please tip independently at your discretion.

Transport Information

Sedans, such as the Toyota Etios. SUVS such as the Toyota Innova / Volkswagen Taigun. Minibuses such as the Force Tempo or Force Urbania. All vehicles used will be in excellent condition, fitted with individual bucket seats and with air conditioning. The type of vehicle used will be at our discretion, though if you have any preference do send us an email and we will try to accommodate your request.

Accommodation notes

Accommodation in South India is as varied as the region itself and standards might not always meet those back home. We have chosen the best of the best resorts and hotels for your adventure.

All rooms are twin-share and they have their own bathroom attached.All towels and bedding are provided.

Government Travel Safety Advice

We strongly recommend that you check your government’s travel advisory for up-to-date information and advice about your destination: safety and security, entry requirements, health, local laws and customs. For UK citizens, check the latest Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office advice.

Price Guarantee

Once your booking has been confirmed we guarantee the price will not increase, whatever the circumstances. However, please note that if you voluntarily make any changes to your booking including changing your trip or departure date, any additional costs or charges incurred will not be covered. Before booking please ensure you have read our important tour pricing information.

Visa and Passport Information

India: Holders of passports endorsed British citizen, as well as Australian, New Zealand and US passport holders may be eligible for the e-Tourist Visa to enter India.

The visa can be applied for through the official Indian government visa website only – https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/evisa/tvoa.html . Please check all eligibility criteria that can be found on the website but important points are listed below –

You must be arriving into one of 29 selected entry points which can be found via the official Indian Government website link above. However, you can exit from any of the authorised immigration check posts in India.

Passports must have at least 6 months validity from the date of arrival in India and at least two blank pages for stamping. Visa applications will take approximately 4 days to process.

Those applying for a 30 day electronic visa can only apply within 30 days of arrival for your visa to be valid. Furthermore double entry is permitted and you can only obtain two 30-day visas in a calendar year.

Please note these costs are subject to frequent change so you should check on the official Indian government visa website mentioned above. Biometric data will be collected on arrival in India.

If you are not eligible for the e-Tourist Visa, please refer to VFS Global to apply for your Indian visa – https://www.vfsglobal.com/india/uk/how_to_apply.html

Whilst the online form offers a relatively quick way to apply for a visa, some applicants have reported difficulty in completing the form.  If you would like to use a visa service to process your visa on your behalf, we recommend CIBT Visas. They have expert knowledge in visa requirements, and are dedicated to ensuring that obtaining your visas is as efficient and hassle-free as possible.

CIBT provide various levels of visa service, including detailed information about which visas and documentation you and your party require, clear and user-friendly application forms, and a full concierge service to manage your application from start to finish. There is a team of experts on hand to offer advice, and liaise with embassies on your behalf.

It is your responsibility to ensure that you are in possession of a full passport, with the correct validity for your chosen destination.

Booking conditions

Before booking your Indian Expeditions trip, please ensure that you read both our Essential Information and Booking Conditions.

Your safety and enjoyment on tour

We want everyone to have a safe and enjoyable holiday, so we ask you to confirm when booking this trip that you are fit and able to fully participate in all elements of the itinerary. If you have any concerns about your fitness or ability to complete any of the activities, please get in touch with our Customer Relations team at [email protected] as soon as possible.

Our tour leaders are trained and experienced in managing differing abilities within a group, but if they have concerns about a group member’s ability to safely participate in any element of the itinerary or believe someone’s presence could affect the safety or enjoyment of the holiday for others, in accordance with our Booking Conditions our tour leaders have the authority to ask an individual to miss an activity or activities. This decision would never be taken lightly, but on the rare occasions our tour leaders ask someone to sit out part of the tour, refunds will not be offered and individuals may be liable for additional costs incurred.

Your Tour Leader

We believe that our Tour Leaders are the key to the success of our tours; they are local experts who are bursting with first-hand knowledge which they love to share, and their unique insights will bring the destination to life. Your Tour Leader will be on hand throughout your tour to make sure arrangements run smoothly, to organise all the local logistics and to keep you safe. Your Tour Leader should be your first point of contact if you encounter any difficulties or disappointments on trip – please raise any concerns, however small, with your Tour Leader as they are best placed to assist you.

Insurance

It is a condition of booking with Indian Expeditions that you have adequate valid travel insurance. It is your responsibility to arrange appropriate travel insurance and ensure you have read and understood the full terms and conditions of your travel insurance policy to ensure that you are covered for all activities you intend to undertake whilst on the tour, including all optional activities. Your Insurance Policy must fully cover you for medical expenses and emergency repatriation to your home country. Please ensure your policy includes medical emergency evacuation in the event of illness or injury and covers the entire duration of your holiday. Please ensure that you are covered for the full duration of your holiday, as insufficient cover could invalidate a claim under the policy.

Vaccinations

Nothing compulsory, but we recommend protection against Tetanus, Infectious Hepatitis, Typhoid and Polio. Please consult your travel clinic for the latest advice on Malaria, Dengue and Zika Virus. Please check the latest requirements with your travel clinic or doctor prior to departure. The above is not an exhaustive list.  Visa and vaccination requirements are subject to change and should be confirmed by you before travelling.

Dates

Dates Availability Status
Jan 14 - Jan 27, 2024 04 spots available CONTACT US
Feb 04 - Feb 17, 2024 04 spots available CONTACT US
Feb 18 - Mar 02, 2024 Available CONTACT US
Mar 03 - Mar 16, 2024 Available CONTACT US
Aug 25 - Sep 07, 2024 Available CONTACT US
Sep 15 - Sep 28, 2024 Available CONTACT US
Oct 13 - Sep 26, 2024 Available CONTACT US
Nov 03 - Nov 16, 2024 Available CONTACT US
Nov 17 - Nov 30, 2024 Available CONTACT US
Dates Availability Status
Jan 12 - Jan 25, 2025 Available CONTACT US
Feb 02 - Feb 15, 2025 Available CONTACT US
Feb 16 - Mar 01, 2025 Available CONTACT US
Mar 02 - Mar 15, 2025 Available CONTACT US
Mar 16 - Mar 29, 2025 Available CONTACT US
Oct 05 - Oct 18, 2025 Available CONTACT US
Oct 19 - Nov 01, 2025 Available CONTACT US
Nov 02 - Nov 15, 2025 Available CONTACT US
Nov 16 - Nov 29, 2025 Available CONTACT US

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