Munnar, India

Is Munnar worth visiting during a tour of India?

April 3, 2018 

Munnar is a hill station on the Western Ghats in Kerala in South India. It’s popular for its cooler climate that provides some relief from the tropical heat of Kerala, and for its picturesque green tea plantations. We recently revisited Munnar during a one week tour of Kerala to provide an up-to-date view and feedback to our travellers on whether to visit Munnar and what is there to see and do in Munnar. Our jury is still out as to whether it’s worthy of inclusion in a private tour of Kerala.  Here are some of our observations about Munnar:

 

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* The drive can be long and windy. We drove from a town about two hours from Cochin – so the drive to Munnar took us about three hours from our starting point. However it was slow going as the roads wind and climb the hills and you can’t travel fast. We all felt a bit car sick at one stage or another. Given it’s popularity with local tourists, there can also be a bit of traffic.

* Munnar is a destination popular with Indian domestic tourists so you will see many locals stopping to take photos in the tea plantations and in the town itself. It does add to the busy atmosphere in the town. It’s by far more popular with local tourists than international visitors.

* During this private tour of Kerala (a private tour is one where you have your own itinerary, private vehicle and driver and all private arrangements and sightseeing) we stayed outside of Munnar, on a property set within a tea plantation. The property was modern, though it was trying to achieve an atmosphere of `the history of tea’. (Truthfully we’ve had better colonial tea estate experiences in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka has some of the finest luxury tea plantation experiences in the world.) Our room in Munnar had a lovely wide balcony though with pleasant views. There are hotel options within Munnar town itself and many outside of town with views over the hills and plantations. We did visit one lovely homestay option outside of Munnar which may suit some travellers.

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* We head into Munnar proper for a look around in the late evening. The temperature is quite a bit cooler than where we’ve come from lower down in Kerala and jumpers and long pants were required. This cooler weather is one of the reasons people like to visit Munnar. We strolled through the local market – stopping to buy a few trinkets and some more coffee. (We have a travel plunger that we carry with us on our travel in India as some of us can’t give up our 2 extra strong `proper’ coffees each day. Good coffee such as plunger coffee or espresso isn’t available at every hotel or city during a tour of India.) It’s hard to say Munnar is a pretty town. There’s certainly no footpath to speak of so our meander through the town was mostly on the roads avoiding traffic.

* There aren’t any major sights or drawcards in the Munnar either. The local tourists are eagerly buying up the handmade chocolates being sold at every other shop. Spices, tea and local chips are also the thing to buy in Munnar it seems. The town itself isn’t large and after an hour or so we head back to our hotel.

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* Places to eat in Munnar are limited. There are some basic local restaurants or other hotels in which you can eat. We ate at our hotel during our visit to Munnar.

* In terms of including Munnar in an itinerary for family travel in Kerala, it may not suit families, as there were not many activities that are suitable for families with children of different ages, compared to say Periyar where there are more options.

Including Munnar in an itinerary for a tour of Kerala will depend on individual travellers. If you wish to include Munnar in your private tour of India, speak to us about our thoughts on this destination in Kerala.

This India travel blog was written in April 2018 during a one month tour in India with a focus on travelling in India with children and planning new itineraries for luxury travel in India.

Read our other tips on travelling in India and Sri Lanka with children.