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Southern Spice

5.0
7 reviews
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The one that journeys through Keralan backwaters and beyond, discovering elephants, temples, and a different side of India

Duration
11 Days
Places
8 places

Visiting Chennai, Pondicherry, Kumbakonam, Madurai, Periyar, Kumarakom, Kerala Backwaters, Cochin

Is this trip for me?

Travel Style

In-Depth Explorer

Transport Style

Mini-Coach + Houseboat

Highlights

  • Sightseeing tour of Chennai with local guide
  • See Mahabalipuram Shore Temple + Krishna's Butterball
  • 'Eat my Cake' visit (coffee + cake included)
  • Only $200 deposit to book
  • Part pay financing available with UpLift
  • No change fees
  • No booking fees

What's included?

10 nights accommodation

9 nights in Hotel, 1 night in Special Stay - Houseboat

10-nights: Plush hotels with twin share rooms will see our tired selves well-rested. One special night will be spent adrift in the arms of a traditional Keralan houseboat, the quintessential South Indian experience.

16 Meals

10 Breakfast, 4 Lunch, 2 Dinner

Prepare your taste buds for a fireworks display of spices, fresh seafood, and tropical fruits, dished up in 15 included meals - 10 breakfasts, 3 lunches and 2 dinners - and an array of self made food discoveries. We’ll eat off palm leaves, lap up our curries with parotta bread, and sip coconuts moments after they’ve fallen off the tree.

Team

Expert Trip Manager and Local Guides

A highly trained Trip Manager who brings your adventure to life, along with Local Guides who make tourist traps a thing of the past. This is your team. Smart, friendly, fun, and integral to everything we do.

Transport

All transport included during the trip

Getting around Asia is half the fun, and all transport is included for the duration of your trip. Private, air conditioned mini coaches allow you soak up all that scenery in style, but it's our unique, local forms of transport that make the journey all part of the adventure.

Experiences

15 included, 4 optional that you can add

TOP EXPERIENCES ON THIS TRIP:

- See the incredible gold dome of Matrimandir at the experimental township of Auroville
- Admire the French inspired architecture and pastel coloured lanes of Pondicherry
- See artisans at work with a visit to a silk weaver's home and bronze casting school in Kumbakonam
- Be guided around a spice plantation in Kerala, one of the most prominent locations of the ancient spice trade
- Spend a night drifting down the backwaters admiring sloping palm trees and kingfishers whilst devouring spicy fish curry
- Walk around markets, book stores and galleries in India's famed art city of Cochin

*This experience is a Free Time Add-on and not included in trip costs
Take a sojourn to where the spices grow and the palm trees slope, under the beam of India’s southern sun. We’ll prance the streets of the delightfully French Pondicherry, and drift in a bamboo houseboat through the backwaters of Kerala. Temples, tea plantations and a tiger reserve – the phrase “Incredible India” must have been coined in the south. 

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Southern Spice

15 Inclusions

Experiences that are included with your trip

  • Sightseeing tour of Chennai with local guide
  • See Mahabalipuram Shore Temple + Krishna's Butterball
  • 'Eat my Cake' visit (coffee + cake included)
  • Visit Auroville township includes lunch at a Solar Kitchen
  • Visit Silk Weavers home and Bronze casting school
  • Visit Dharasuram Temple
  • Visit to Brihadeeswarah Temple
  • Sightseeing tour of Madurai with local guide
  • Rickshaw ride
  • Experience a night time procession at Meenakshi Temple
  • Visit a spice plantation with a local guide
  • Kalaripayattul Martial Arts performance
  • Wildlife boat Safari along the Periyar River
  • Visit to Connemara Tea factory and Plantation
  • Sightseeing tour of Cochin with local guide

4 Free Time Add-Ons

Optional experiences that you can choose from and pay for on your trip

  • Heritage Walking Tour 1550INR
  • Dress up in a Saree (ladies) or Dhotti (men) From 350 INR
  • Local family cooking demonstration and dinner 2155INR
  • Sunset Boat Cruise 850INR

Itinerary

Nights spent per location
1
1 night
Chennai
2
2 nights
Pondicherry
1
1 night
Kumbakonam
1
1 night
Madurai
1
1 night
Periyar
1
1 night
Kumarakom
1
1 night
Kerala Backwaters
2
2 nights
Cochin
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Itinerary

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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Are flights included in my trip?

International flights to/from the destination your trip starts and ends in are not included in the cost of the trip, and must be purchased separately. You can book these independently if you want to shop around for the best quote, or through your travel agent.

Any flights you take during your Contiki are included in the cost of your trip. On certain Asian trips we use planes to get you from A to B as quickly as possible, and all of this is included.

What documents do I need to travel?

Depending on your nationality, you may require visas to enter certain countries on your trip. In Asia, some visas – but not all – can be purchased at the border with US$ or local currency. You are fully responsible for obtaining all necessary visas that are required prior to the departure of your trip. Contiki is not legally permitted to knowingly allow anybody who does not have a valid visa to join a trip. Visa & other entry & exit conditions (such as currency, arrival/departure taxes, customs & quarantine regulations) do change regularly.
Your passport must have at least six months’ validity remaining when you arrive. Local immigration authorities may deny entry & deport people who do not meet this requirement, even if they intend on staying only for a short period. Important to consider:
1. Visas can take up to six weeks & a fee is normally charged.
2. Failure to obtain all necessary visas could cause you to
miss part of your trip & will result in you incurring considerable expense & inconvenience.
3. It is better to apply for all visas through your travel agent before you leave home. Be aware that some visas can be purchased & arranged on arrival.
4. It is very important that the entry & exit dates are correct on the visa. Your travel agent will contact Contiki for full details. In these cases passport photos and US$ will be required and your Trip Manager will explain the process.

What are the luggage restrictions?

On our Asia trips, you can bring one bag or suitcase of 73cm x 50cm x 25cm (29” x 20” x 10”), with a max weight of 20kg (44lbs) – 15kg in India – plus one piece of hand luggage suitable as a carry-on for flights.

What do the Contiki team do?

People are at the heart of everything we do, and our team is what makes our trips the best. Our worldwide On-Road Team, locally based staff & network of Local Guides are all extensively trained & widely travelled, & are the best in the business. But we know it’s not just about training, it’s about passion & our team have it in their blood. 
Your Trip Manager is like your walking, talking guidebook – just for you. They plan your itinerary every day, organise your food and accomodation and book your Free Time Add ons, and because they know everything about where you’re going, you will too. Local Guides provide specialist knowledge when you need it and will always help you avoid the tourist traps.

What's not included that I should budget for?

There are loads of great things to spend your money on while you’re in Asia – from a trip to an offshore island, to a special dinner or an outfit that you just can’t resist... So how much money should you bring?

Remember your trip already includes plenty of things such as breakfast every day, many meals, lots of sightseeing, guided tours & activities & much more


Before you travel, it’s a good idea to read up on and get an idea of the Free Time Add-Ons you think you’ll want to do on trip, as these will form part of your overall budget. We’d advise doing some research on your chosen destinations beforehand, looking at things like:
 
- Cost of a local lunch
 
- Cost of a local dinner
 
- Cost of a local taxi
 
- Cost of entry to a sightseeing spot
 
Remember, there’s a big budgetary difference between a country like Japan & a country like Thailand, so do your research.

Will I be able to access WiFi on my trip?

Contiki Asia is mostly hotel accommodation with great amenities like WiFi. We have also included accommodation that reflects Asian culture, too. Like a family-run Guest house in the Mekong, a traditional junk boat in Halong Bay & an authentic local guesthouse in Laos. At these Special Stays, take the time for a digital detox and soak in all of that natural beauty.

What are Contiki’s sustainability credentials?

We believe that travelling sustainably and consciously, matters. Contiki Cares is our commitment to protecting the communities we visit, the wildlife we interact with, and the planet we all share. Our founding partner, the TreadRight Foundation was established 10 years ago as a not-for-profit organisation focused on promoting sustainable tourism within The Travel Corporation’s family of brands. From the Dhonk centre in India to the COPE visitor centre in Laos, our projects in Asia are all about giving something back. Find out more at https://www.contiki.com/uk/en/about/contiki-cares.

How do I pay for my Free Time Add Ons?

Free Time Add Ons in Asia are paid for in cash with local currency and USD only. Payments with other currencies (eg. AUD) or credit card cannot be accepted.

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