Home to misty waterfalls, winding paths, and an unending expanse of tea plantations, Munnar in Kerala is one of the most popular places to visit in South India. Blessed with pristine valleys, endangered flora and fauna, calming lakes, and verdant forests, it may very well be one of the most beautiful places in India too.
Situated at an altitude of 1600 metres above the sea level, Munnar is a picturesque hill station and town in the Idukki district of Kerala. Accessed via an encircling road that passes through a myriad of scenic waterfalls, thriving vegetation, and mesmerising views of the Western Ghats, it is a sightseeing gem that once served as a summer resort for the British colonists.
Being the first stop on my Kerala trip in February last year, I spent two days exploring Munnar with my best friend. Meandering around acres of tea estates nestled between humongous mountains covered with low-lying clouds, I instantly comprehended Kerala’s much enthused title of God’s own country. So much so that I nearly teared up at the thought of leaving.
However, planning our trip to Munnar wasn’t equally wistful. There is a lot of information out there about what to do and see in Munnar, but barely anything that clarifies the mystery that Munnar’s layout is. I kid you not, I must have spent hours looking at the map of Munnar and reading Kerala guides after guides to just understand which area to stay in.
So, if you are planning to visit Munnar and are in the same boat as I once was, then worry not. In this guide, you will find all the essential topics ranging from the different areas to stay in Munnar, how to get there, best places to visit, which tea plantations to go to, where to eat and so on.
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Where exactly is Munnar in India?
Munnar is the tea capital of Kerala, the southernmost state in India. Renowned for its natural beauty and wealth of pictorial sights, Kerala is one of the most incredible destinations to visit in Asia. Bordering the Arabian Sea on the west; it is an Indian state that is admired globally for its humid tropical wet climate.
Munnar is located at the union of Muthirapuzha, Nallathanni and Kundala mountain streams in the South-Western Ghats of India. Its name fittingly translates to “three rivers” in Malayalam, the local language of Kerala. Sitting on the Kochi-Dhanushkodi National Highway (N.H. 49), Munnar is around 130 km from Kochi. Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu is also close at a distance of roughly 157 km.
Although Munnar is commonly referred to as a hill station and trains did go up to its town centre and beyond once, that is simply not possible anymore. There was a dreadful flooding in the area in 1924, which ended up destroying much of the railway and ropeway, connecting Munnar to other major Indian cities. You can find remains of the old railway tracks on the Kundala-Top Station route even today.
The longstanding railway station, however, now operates as the local office of Tata Tea. The old platform outside it has also been converted into a road. Yet, this doesn’t mean that Munnar isn’t easily reachable nowadays. Being one of the most sought-after hill stations in South India, Munnar is still well connected to nearby airports and stations via road.
How to best reach there?
Whether you are travelling from domestic Indian cities or visiting directly from international destinations, there are many ways to get to the town of Munnar. Here are the most common transport options to help you decide the best mode for you:
Since Munnar doesn’t have an airport of its own, the nearest one that you can fly into is in Kochi. Cochin International Airport is located about 125 km away from Munnar. It is well connected to most cities in India and around the world. From there, you can hire a private taxi to Munnar directly when you arrive or pre-book one and have it ready for you at arrivals. Check flights to Cochin International Airport here!
I flew into Kochi from Mumbai early in the morning and just booked the transfer to our hotel in Munnar at the airport itself. There is a booking counter right after baggage claim in the arrivals lounge and you can easily get fixed price transports from there (No, haggling wouldn’t make a difference). The entire process is really organised and hassle free as you get a booking slip upon payment and meet your driver outside.
CG’s tip: Just make sure to have the proper address of your accommodation with you and not of Munnar town simply. Munnar refers to both the town and its surrounding areas, so accommodations are sometimes further out or nearer to the centre. Depending on where yours is based, you might be asked to pay a little extra or less, so it is better to check beforehand.
Our accommodation was actually higher up from the general drop-off point, so our AC taxi with two large suitcases cost us INR 3350 for the drop-off. If you are travelling alone or are tight on budget, then you can even get a bus transfer. There are several bus companies running frequent buses between Cochin International Airport and Munnar. Though, none of them are direct as of yet. If you would prefer a direct bus, then you can head to the closeby Aluva bus stop (12 km away) and get a bus to Munnar from there.
The closest railway station to Munnar is in Aluva (110 km), which is slightly nearer compared to the centre of Kochi. Angamaly (Kalady) Railway Station is also at a similar distance. But if you are looking for better connectivity to other parts of India with frequent express trains, then Ernakulam might be the best option.
The Ernakulam Railway Station in Kochi is at a distance of 130 km from Munnar and has more daily trains arriving from faraway cities like Mumbai and Delhi. The Madurai Railway Station in Tamil Nadu is also around 135 km away, so you can check online and see which one might be a better choice for your departure city.
Irrespective of which railway station do you arrive at out of the mentioned above, there are onward buses and taxis available for Munnar from all. You can either walk to the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) bus stand near your station and take a local bus, or get a prepaid taxi from arrivals / book a taxi from Kochi to Munnar online.
Snuggled between splendid hills, Munnar is one of the most beautiful places to drive to. Regardless of how you choose to get there, chances are that you will be arriving into town by road. One of the popular ways to travel to Munnar is hiring a car to self-drive or booking a taxi. Since most places to see in Munnar are very spread out, I personally think having your own vehicle can be a bliss whilst there.
Munnar is also well connected to numerous state and national highways across India via public transport. You can book buses online via redBus or turn up at a stop and buy a ticket in person. However, the local, state run buses by KSRTC might be a better choice as they operate more frequently to mountainous areas where many public buses don’t often go. When taking a KSRTC bus from Kochi to Munnar, you can expect to pay somewhere around INR 130 per person.
CG’s tip: If arriving in a private vehicle, do not forget to make pit-stops on the way to enjoy the abundant viewpoints as you gain elevation and snap pictures by the oodles of waterfalls that will surprise you en route. If coming by bus, then get a window seat and purely admire the verdant visions from your ride!
Onward Transport from Munnar
When it’s nearly time to leave, you can simply arrange for the transport in Munnar itself. Our next stop on the Kerala trip was Kumarakom and we got a private taxi for INR 3300 in Munnar town the night before. There are various travel agents and ticketing shops around town from where you can book your preferred onward transfer.
Buses operate daily from / to Kumarakom, Alleppey, Kochi, Coimbatore, Madurai and more. You can browse bus routes on the KSRTC website here. Alternatively, you can book a taxi or hire a car to anywhere you would like to go.
What is the best time to visit Munnar?
Munnar is one of those destinations that can be enjoyed throughout the year due to its adequate climate. Whether you are looking to find some solace during the scorching Indian heat in summer, or are thinking of a mountainous getaway during the winter season in India; Munnar, being a hill station, is a treat anyhow.
Summer (March to May)
Summer starts arriving in Munnar from March and usually lasts till May. With temperatures ranging between 19-35 degrees Celsius, it is a great time to visit Munnar and enjoy the cool air amidst acres of tea plantations. Early morning and night time in Munnar are generally cool throughout the year, so you will still get a hill station feel even in summer.
Munnar is also known to have less humidity and rainfall during the summer months. Because of this, you might notice a surge of prices when travelling to Munnar during this time as many domestic tourists head there to escape the heat. From hiking in the Western Ghats to going camping and exploring waterfalls, there are a plethora of activities that you can take part in in summer.
This time of the year is also when many seasonal activities like paragliding, rock climbing, rappelling and other adventure sports are available. You can also go on a trek to Anamudi – the highest point in India (outside the Himalayan Mountain Ranges) at 2,695 metres above the ground.
Monsoon (June to September)
Monsoon season in Munnar comes with its own charm. The arrival of shimmering rain transforms the sprawling tea estates and lush forests of Munnar into an even more alluring, verdant and vibrant scene. Cloudy skies and heavy waterfalls further add to the overall atmosphere and make way for a pleasant time.
Munnar experiences heavy rainfall with an average of 533 mm rain during the months of June and July. If you are planning to visit Munnar during monsoon
s, then keep in mind that many touristic activities might not be available. The roads leading to Munnar and around it can also be slippery during this time, so I would advise to head there only during the day and not at night.
Having said that, most accommodations in Munnar are typically cheaper during monsoon (due to off-season). You can even book a room overlooking the lush hills and enjoy the view with a hot cup of chai when the rain pours. The town in general is quieter too, so it can be a more relaxing time to visit. However, with rain comes leeches, so be careful when going into grassy areas during monsoon. There could also be road blockages and landslides in monsoon, so I would personally avoid visiting then.
CG’s tip: Trekking and hiking might not be possible to do in Munnar during monsoon as the surface becomes slippery. Though, it might still be a good idea to carry footwear that you would not mind getting dirty along with some warm clothing and an umbrella or raincoat.
Winter (October to February)
Winter is the best time to visit a hill station like Munnar. With crisp afternoons, icy dawns, and pleasant dusks, it is easy to understand why most tourists head to Munnar between October and February. The average temperature in Munnar during this time is around 10 degrees Celsius. But since it is situated on high terrains and is surrounded by vast empty lands, the air tends to feel colder than that.
I visited Munnar in the beginning of February and loved the climate. The afternoons were hot enough to wander around in a t-shirt, but a jacket was still needed during auto-rickshaw rides and at night time. From hiking, trekking and mountain climbing, to gazing at waterfalls and walking amidst tea plantations, there were plenty of activities to engage in. Just remember that it is the busiest tourist season in Kerala, so you should expect to see large crowds!
From the month of November to January, Munnar sometimes experiences occasional snowfall and cold waves with recorded temperature dipping down below 0 degrees Celsius. If you are planning to visit during the blooming of Neelakurinji flowers, then September to October might be a better choice. But if weather is the deciding factor, then I personally found February to have been perfect.
CG’s tip: When packing warm clothes for the trip, make sure to bring layers with you. Since the temperature increases in the day and then drops again at night, it would be comfortable to have easily changeable options with you.
How many days are enough?
In order to see the best of Munnar, I would recommend visiting there for three full days. I was there for a short trip so could only stay for two days and thus, ended up missing a few things that I would have liked to explore and do.
Most places to see in Munnar are spread out from each other and divided into routes according to their location. You will most likely have to dedicate a day to each route in order to see the touristic spots in that area. Since I was there for only two days, I could only do two routes.
We were able to see quite a few places, but I have to admit that I felt a little rushed on the first day. Since we made our way from Kochi airport on the same day, we could not begin the tour early in the morning and hence had limited time. Even though the driving distance between Kochi and Munnar isn’t that much, the duration often takes longer due to the windy, singular road.
However, if you are short on time, then it is possible to do a private day trip to Munnar from Kochi. You’ll usually begin your journey at sunrise and be back in Kochi for dinner!
Where to stay in Munnar?
This is one question that I struggled with the most when planning my trip to Kerala. Since Munnar refers to both the town and its general surrounding area, many nice hotels and resorts there are actually located far off the centre. Having not been there before, I personally found it difficult to gauge how far away would it be okay to stay in terms of food, transport, touristic sites and so on.
I had always dreamt of staying at a beautiful accommodation with panoramic views of the plantations and the greenery that Munnar is known for. However, resorts like that can be scattered anywhere up to 20-25 kilometres of radius from the centre. So, if you do not have your own vehicle with you, it can become costlier to get around and to access the restaurants in the town centre for dinner.
So how do you choose where to stay? Well, know that Munnar is divided into three broad areas that each have something different to offer. Depending on what your preference, budget and purpose of the trip is, you can see which one suits your needs best and stay there.
Old Munnar is a small settlement that is not too far from Munnar Town. It is a decent area with many budget accommodations and some nice viewpoints close by. If you are arriving to Munnar in a bus from Kochi, then Old Munnar is where the buses would usually stop first. Being in close proximity with a bus stop, Old Munnar is a convenient area to get to and from.
I visited Old Munnar to see some photo points and spice gardens around there, and the neighbourhood looked acceptable. I wouldn’t go as far as saying that this is the best area to stay in Munnar. But if you are after economical properties that are away from the town centre noise and traffic, then Old Munnar is a decent choice. Especially since it is still close enough to easily get there if needed.
From the research that I have done, Grand Plaza and Greenview Holiday Inn look like the best options in Old Munnar. Greenview Holiday Inn is located right on the Main Street connecting Munnar to Kochi, while Grand Plaza has some rooms with beautiful views going for it. Other properties like Deshadan Mountain Resort and Fragrant Nature Munnar are a tad further away, but come with beautiful tea estate views and luxury that is otherwise rare in the hills. The Abad Copper Castle Resort is also nearby and has great balcony views.
Munnar Town is the commercial centre of the area. If you are looking to stay somewhere with easy access to restaurants, accommodations, ATMs and other tourism related services, then this is the best option for you. Though, it may not be the most postcard worthy choice.
With many hotel buildings and shops nearby, the view in Munnar Town is merely ordinary. I stayed at a walking distance from the main market there and felt like I missed on the proper hill station experience that one would go to a place like Munnar for. Most places to sightsee in Munnar are also not actually in the centre, so it certainly lacks when it comes to scenery.
However, with an array of eateries present in almost every nook, I admit that it was convenient to grab a quick albeit delicious bite at any given time and just go for an escapade. Containing the town’s main taxi stand near the market, Munnar town also ended up being a convenient base to hire auto rickshaws or private cabs for day tours in and around Munnar.
You can check out my hotel in Munnar Town here. We just went there to sleep, so I cannot say much about the service. But, it was easy on the pocket. If you are looking for something more decent, then the nearby Tea County looks great.
Out of Town Munnar
If commercialised areas aren’t your thing and you would rather enjoy the idyllic views that Munnar is mainly famous for, then staying a little out of town might be the best choice for you. With numerous guesthouses, hotels, resorts and treehouses (!!) spread around a 20-30 minute drive from Munnar, there is a wide list of options to choose from for every budget when staying out of town.
Depending on what you choose (eg: a guesthouse by the tea plantations), there may be less restaurants situated close to your accommodation. But since most places like that have an on-site restaurant, you can always double check before making a booking or request for arrangements in advance. Nearly all out of town properties also have a concierge service and can make transportation
s and day-tour s bookings for you.
CG’s tip: If you are taking a bus to get to Munnar, then make sure to check which bus stop is closest to it. A lot of the properties are in or near Munnar Bypass, so buses usually stop there first before heading to the town.
One of the best out of town properties is the luxurious Kaivalyam Wellness Retreat. It is situated midst a beautiful spice plantation and has free shuttle bus services to the main town. The Elixir Hills Suites Resort and Spa and Blanket Hotel Spa also look equally stunning. If you like waterfalls, then you can even get a room with a view of a mesmerising waterfall at Blanket Hotel Spa. Last but not the least, The Panoramic Getaway also is a great choice.
How to get around Munnar?
Since most places to see in Munnar are far (like covering national parks and forest reserves far!) from the centre, you cannot simply walk to a landmark and explore independently. If you have your own vehicle with you, then yes, you can drive in any direction you like. But for most travellers, you will either need to use a public bus, hire an auto-rickshaw (tuk-tuk) or a private taxi.
CG’s tip: If you want to drive your own vehicle or take a bus, then remember to write down the timings, directions and other necessary information for the way back. Since some spots are situated even higher up than Munnar town, cellular network doesn’t really work there so you might not have any connectivity from time-to-time.
Public buses run all the way to Top Station and are easy to find from the town centre. However, due to the winding nature of the road taking you there and the distance involved, these buses can take longer than anticipated.
I wanted to have more freedom in regards to being able to stop wherever I liked, so I didn’t personally try this option.
Auto Rickshaw or Taxi Tour
Because there are so many wonderful spots and directions to go explore when in Munnar, getting around in a privately hired vehicle may be your best bet. Depending on your budget, you can book a taxi or auto rickshaw for a day tour and have the drivers take you around your chosen spots and back.
Since most touristic sights around Munnar fall on a certain route, you will find taxi and auto rickshaw drivers offering customised tours for various different ones. These drivers almost always carry a route card / brochure with pictures of the most famous spots with them, so you can have a look at the options and go with the one that interests you best.
Depending on how further you opt to go and the duration of your chosen tour, a price will then be quoted to you. Auto-rickshaw tours are typically around INR 700-1000 per day and the taxi charges are nearly double that. The asking price can be at least twice these figures (especially if you are not from around there) so don’t forget to haggle beforehand.
The four most common routes are towards the Mattupetti, Marayoor (or Coimbatore), Cochin, and Thekkady directions. We decided to take the Top Station / Mattupetti tour on Day 1 from the town centre and it cost us INR 900 for an auto-rickshaw option. For Day 2, we chose the Cochin direction tour (with the same driver) which cost us INR 1000 with a hotel pick-up and drop off.
The best thing about our tour was that the driver was very accommodating and didn’t mind stopping at random stops for pictures. He was also very knowledgeable about the places we visited, so it was like getting a tour guide and a driver for the price of one. But, keep in mind that none of these tours cover entrance fees for any attractions.
Renting a Motorbike
This used to be a very popular means of getting in and around Munnar up to a few years back. With an encircling road situated right in the lap of nature, adventure loving travellers often enjoyed touring around in pocket friendly motorbikes to explore Munnar on their own. However, due to reasons unclear, this is no longer possible.
Though based upon my chat with my auto-rickshaw driver and other locals, it did look like there are actually multiple causes behind it. There seemed to have been some accidents involving the rental motorbikes in the past (which for a hill station like Munnar sounds likely) and seemingly fatalities too.
However, I was also told that since other tour operators and locals weren’t benefitting with tourists hiring their own vehicle for cheap, the government had to intervene and prohibit motorbike rentals.
Places to see and things to do in Munnar
Where do I even begin with this one? For a town oozing with touristic sights and hidden gems, saying that there is plenty to see in Munnar would be an understatement. From seeing elephants in their natural habitat to visiting the most elevated tea plantation in the world, here are some places that you can explore on your next trip to Munnar:
Mattupetty Dam is a concrete storage gravity dam that is used to generate hydroelectricity in the area. It was constructed in the Idukki district in the late 1940s and is said to be the first of its kind in the entire state of Kerala.
Surrounded by lush forests and verdant tea plantations that reflect beautifully on the water in the lake, it is also a much renowned picnic spot in Munnar. There are several stalls offering local delicacies like roasted corn and coconut water around. You can also bring your own food there and enjoy it by the lakeshore.
Mattupetty Dam is also known for spotting Asiatic Elephants. Due to the water availability in the lake, many such wild animals and birds can be occasionally seen from there. And if you like adventures, then there is also a beautiful trekking path leading to nearby forests. Water activities like speed and motor boating in the dam are available too.
Distance: 13 km away from Munnar
Route: Munnar to Top Station / Mattupetti Direction route
Opening hours: 09:30 am – 05:00 pm
Echo Point is a beautiful spot located at an altitude of 600 feet on the banks of a glistening lake. With panoramic views of three mountain ranges and evergreen forests, it is one of those places that is destined to leave you spellbound.
Echo Point is also famous for its natural phenomenon of echoing. So, when visiting, make sure to shout something by the shore of the lake and hear your voice reverberate back to you in sometime. I will admit that I didn’t really expect much from it at first, but the moment you first hear your own echo, it truly is enthralling.
You can also walk around the gentle slopes, trek, or go on a boating expedition while there. I, for one, even loved sitting and gazing at the incredible landscape in front. Echo Point is also home to misty low-lying clouds and some very tall trees.
CG’s tip: Echo Point is a beautiful spot to take Instagram photos in Munnar. So don’t forget to carry your camera with you and take some pictures to remember this natural paradise by.
Distance: 15 km away from Munnar
Route: Munnar to Top Station / Mattupetti Direction route
Opening hours: 06:00 am – 07:30 pm
Snuggled between green valleys, Kundala Lake is one of the most beautiful places to see in Munnar. Located at a height of 1700 metres above sea level, it is a tranquil spot situated on the way to Top Station. One of the well-known attractions to see when visiting Kundala Lake is the artificial Kundala dam. Also known as Sethuparvathipuram dam, it is said to be Asia’s first ever arch dam.
The lake is also a popular spot for boat rides such as the traditional Kashmiri Shikara boat. Other types of boating like row boating, paddle boating or speed boating are also available for hire. With the sun reflecting on the clear water and making it gleam in every direction possible, Kundala Lake is indeed a must visit sight for nature lovers.
This area is also a significant place to see cherry blossoms. Blooming only twice a year, the cherry gardens surrounding Kundala Lake turn the entire lake into a more magical location. Being a paradise full of beautiful flowers, Kundala Lake is also home to the famous Neelakurinji flowers that bloom once every twelve years. The next sighting of the Neelakurinji flowers is supposed to be in 2030!
CG’s tip: Kundala Lake looks even more mesmerising under the first rays of sun. Make sure to arrive here early in the morning to see it in all its glory.
Distance: 20 km from Munnar
Route: Munnar to Top Station / Mattupetti Direction route
Opening hours: 09:00 am – 05:00 pm (Boating closes at 04:30 pm)
Top Station is the last stop on the Mattupetti direction route. If you are looking to enjoy panoramic views of the Western Ghats and the Theni district valley, then driving to the Top Station should definitely be on your Munnar list. It might not technically be a ‘top station’ anymore due to the destruction of the railway tracks there, but it is certainly still the ‘top’ of Munnar. On a clear day, you can even see Tamil Nadu from there!
Like most touristic sights in the Kanan Devan hills, Top Station is also best enjoyed early in the morning. Because it is located 1880 metres above sea level, it can get surrounded by clouds more easily. Once the clouds come in, it becomes harder to see the incomparable views that the location is famous for. Top Station is also popular to spot the rare Neelakurinji flowers. There are a few tea farms nearby too. If you like chai, then you can even grab a cuppa and some snacks at the Top Station and enjoy the misty view in front.
However, do keep in mind that it can get really crowded there. When I visited around sunset time in February 2020, tourists in Munnar were very limited due to the coronavirus. I was told by my auto-rickshaw driver that sometimes it can even take an entire day to get there and back due to the traffic in peak season.
Distance: 40 km from Munnar
Route: Munnar to Top Station / Mattupetti Direction route
Opening hours: 06:00 am to 06:00 pm
There are many spice gardens in and around Munnar. Although a tad touristy, doing a tour of spice plantations is interesting if you want to see how the indigenous spices (like turmeric, ashwangandha, pepper, etc.) of the region grow. Typically, you will start by buying your tickets from the counter and have a guide take you around. You can try the species you like, learn about them, take some photographs and then exit through the gift shop.
The one that I visited was part of the auto-rickshaw tour in Cochin direction. It is called Spice County and the tickets cost INR 100 per person. We were taken to the starting point of the plantation in a rather adventurous jeep drive. Our tour lady was nice and wasn’t giving any unnecessary information to try to sell the products from the gift shop. However, others could insist on purchasing something.
The Cinnamon Gardens Spice Plantation is another popular one to visit in Munnar.
Distance: 6 km from Munnar
Route: Munnar to Cochin direction
Opening hours: 08:00 am to 06:00 pm
Tea Plantations and Museum
You cannot go to Munnar and not visit a tea plantation or factory! With more than 1500 acres of land covered with tea, it is truthfully present in every corner there. You can drive past them and stop on the highway to take photos from the various viewpoints that you will come across. Or, go on a tour, learn how it is cultivated, engage in tea tasting and bring some back home.
But if you are looking to get those Instagram perfect pictures of yourself strolling around in tea fields, then know that most aren’t open to the public. The Tata Group actually owns the majority of them, so you will need a special permit to enter as they are usually surrounded by pointed wires. Nonetheless, there are hiking and jeep tours in Munnar that go through the tea fields, so you can do one at sunrise and get some beautiful photos.
Some plantations like Chinnakanal Tea Fields, Kolukkumalai Tea Estate and Lockhart Tea Estate also allow visitors to explore the tea fields with a purchase of a ticket. The Kolukkumalai Tea Estate is the highest organic tea factory in the world. A jeep tour of it was recommended to me by many locals and tourists. This walking tour takes you amidst tea plantations and involves tea leaf picking and tea tasting as well!
CG’s tip: I was only in Munnar for a short while so I didn’t get the chance to do a tour. But, the auto-rickshaw driver we went with knew some tea plantations that were open to enter (I double-checked with the staff there too) and on the way. If you can, I would recommend doing a tour though as I do feel that I missed out on it.
Nestled amidst tea and coffee plantations, the Pothamedu Viewpoint offers panoramas of the nearby valley, is a good place for photographs, and is said to be beautiful at sunset time.
We visited around noon on Day 2 and I personally felt that it wasn’t worth going out of our way to reach there. It might have been because I went to more scenic places the day before or the weather condition, but it didn’t wow me like the other places did.
Having said that, I did enjoy walking around the Pothamedu viewpoint and found a tea plantation that was open to visit. The area is also known to be a good hiking and trekking spot. But if you are visiting with young kids, then be careful as the drop on the other side is really high and there is barely any safety.
Distance: 5 km from Munnar
Route: Munnar to Cochin direction
Opening hours: 09:00 am to 07:30 pm
Eravikulam National Park
The Eravikulam National Park is one of the many wildlife parks near Munnar. Home to the endangered Nilgiri Tahr mountain ungulates, the highest peak of Anamudi, and the famous Neelakurinji flowers; it is a much-loved tourist destination in Kerala.
Unlike other national parks around the world, the Eravikulam National Park actually gives visitors the rare freedom to walk around instead of doing a traditional (jeep) safari. There is a designated area where you can stay as long as you wish to and try to spot a Nilgiri Tahr. If interested, you can also book a private hiking tour with the park in advance and go on a 2-3 hour guided expedition. The Eravikulam National Park requires everyone to buy a permit to enter.
In their attempt to do right by the Nilgiri Tahrs, the Kerala government ensures that they remain undisturbed during the calving season. So keep in mind that each year the park remains closed sometime from January for three months straight. Since I visited Munnar in February last year, I could not go to Eravikulam National Park because of this reason.
CG’s tip: The park might be closed during monsoon too, so if you are heading to Munnar to view it, then don’t forget to check in advance.
Distance: 15 km from Munnar
Route: Munnar to Marayoor / Coimbatore direction
Opening hours: 07:30 am to 04:00 pm
Lakkam Waterfalls is a beautiful stream close to the Eravikulam National Park. It is one of the most serene places to see in Munnar and is also known as Lakkom waterfalls. You can visit here to simply admire the waterfalls amidst rich flora or go swimming in the crystal-clear plunge pool that forms at the bottom of the lake. The water is usually icy cold, which can be both a blessing or suffering depending on the season you are visiting in.
Lakkam Waterfalls is also known as a great trekking spot in the area, so you can also book a tour for the same if you like. Just remember to not hike there during the monsoon season as the rocks can be slippery. The waterfall is also surrounded by beautiful Vaga trees that make the area even more appealing.
Distance: 25 km from Munnar
Route: Munnar to Marayoor / Coimbatore direction
Opening hours: 08:00 am to 05:00 pm
Some other noteworthy waterfalls to visit in Munnar are Attukal (aka Attukad) waterfalls, Cheeyapara Waterfalls, Chinnakanal Waterfalls and Kuthumkal Waterfalls. But since cascades are in abundance there, you will probably come across many more during your time in Munnar.
Where to eat in Munnar?
South Indian food is one of my all-time favourites so I was really excited to eat my weight in the local delicacies of Munnar. Here are some places that I would recommend for good vegetarian food in Munnar:
Saravana Bhavan: Saravana Bhavan is a well-known, vegetarian South Indian chain around the world. You can expect to find good quality and hygienic local specialities like dosas, idlis, appams, thalis and more here. It is situated in Munnar market and is easy on the pocket too. I had a Rava Masala Dosa along with some idlis and found everything really tasty. I also loved that the food was served on an authentic banana leaf. Unfortunately, we only went here on our last night; otherwise we could have gone back for seconds!
Tea Tales Café: Tea Tales Café is a newly opened eatery by an adventure company in Munnar. It is situated on a higher floor on a busy street in Munnar Town, making it less noisy if you sit inside (outdoor seating is available too). If you need a break from the local food, you can find good vegetarian and vegan options like sandwiches, pastas, smoothies, etc. there. They also have a huge spread of coffees and local teas.
Hotel Gurubhavan: Hotel Gurubhavan was located a mere 5-minute walk from our hotel, so we decided to visit it for dinner one night. We arrived earlier than the standard Indian dinner time, but the place was packed with local tourists within minutes. The price was very reasonable and the food was decent too (we ordered a dosa and some Indian curry with naan). However, they did make another family sit on our table and have us share it with them without even asking which was a little weird.
County Cuisine: Tea County is a hotel operated by the Kerala Government and its multi-cuisine restaurant on site is called County Cuisine. I personally didn’t get to visit it, but from the recommendations I got and the reviews online, it looks like a nice place to get some Indian and Asian food. The restaurant is vegetarian friendly and offers some nice views.
Rochas Restaurant: Rochas restaurant was another eatery in Munnar that was near our hotel. We had jeera aloo and paneer butter masala with some garlic naans and everything was nice. I personally wanted to eat idlis, but for some reason a lot of the South Indian food was available only for breakfast. Not something that I was expecting in Kerala, but it was a touristy place so maybe that’s why.
Other than this, we just had our meals in decent looking places close to where we were. Since Munnar is a hill station, you might not find a huge number of modern restaurants around. Our hotel didn’t have a restaurant on site, but if yours does, then you can always eat there.
What to buy in Munnar?
Munnar is known for many things so if you like souvenir shopping or bringing a loved one a little something, then don’t forget to check out the local markets in the town. Since Munnar is also referred to as the tea capital of Kerala, some tea is always nice to remember it by. I also brought some coffee home for my family and they seemed to really enjoy it.
There are also many shops in Munnar town selling homemade chocolates. You can get flavours like fruit and nuts, chilli chocolates, white/dark, etc. The spice plantation I visited also had a chocolate shop near it, so it might be better to buy from them directly instead of a convenience store in the town.
Last but not the least, since Kerala is known for its Ayurveda practices, you can also buy essential oils, handmade soaps, incense sticks and other natural care products.
What to pack for Munnar?
- It is really common for showers to appear from nowhere due to the high altitude of Munnar, so make sure to bring an umbrella or waterproof clothing.
- If you plan to take an auto-rickshaw tour, then it might be better to pack something to cover your face or eyes. There is a lot of dust when it’s windy, so we were thankful to have face masks and some eye gear.
- A jacket! Even if you are coming in the summer, places like Munnar do get cold at night, so it is useful to have a light layer in case you need it.
- Getting some light cotton clothes is also a good idea. The temperatures seem to fluctuate a lot so it can get really hot and humid during the day. I was there in February and was only comfortable in sleeveless maxi dresses or t-shirts during the day.
- Mosquitos are quite common in Munnar, especially near water bodies. Make sure to take some mosquito repellent with you.
- And of course, a camera! There are going to be countless photo opportunities for you in Munnar, so don’t forget to pack it. This is the one that I’m currently using.
- Munnar and especially Eravikulam National Park is great for wildlife photographers. So, if you have one, then bringing a zoom lens is also recommended.
Some things to know before visiting Munnar
- Even though there are ATMs in and around Munnar, I would recommend to always have some cash on you. The network in Munnar isn’t all that reliable and the auto-rickshaw and roadside vendors only take cash.
- If you are arriving into Munnar on the same day as taking a tour then I would recommend leaving the Top Station one for your second day instead. Since we could only start ours around mid-day, I felt a little rushed towards the end as it started getting dark before we could cover some spots.
- Even though there are a lot of hiking and trekking spots in Munnar, most are only accessible with a guide. If you rather go independently, then research in advance to double check if you are even allowed to access your preferred location.
- If you want to trek to the Anamudi Peak inside the Eravikulam National Park then you can get permission from the Forest and Wildlife authorities at Eravikulam.
- Last but not the least, please do not support elephant villages and other places that use animals as an attraction. Munnar is a place where you can watch them in their natural habitat drinking water by the lake, so there really is no good reason to contribute to animal cruelty.
Munnar is a truly incredible destination and it boosts so many interesting lakes, waterfalls, national parks and tea estates that you will never experience a dearth of options when visiting there. It may look like a small town at first, but the surrounding areas are so vast that there will always be new places to stumble upon. Aptly known as ‘Kashmir of the South’, Munnar truly is one of the best places I have visited in India so far!
I hope this detailed guide about Munnar helped you get a good hold of Kerala’s tea capital and inspired you to discover more of South India. If have any questions or would like to add anything, then please do not hesitate to leave a comment below. I love hearing from you! For additional information, you can also find highlights from Kerala trip on my Instagram account.
Want to keep reading? You may like “Staying at Kumarakom Lake Resort in Kerala” and “50+ Best Kerala Quotes That Make The Perfect Instagram Caption” too.
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