Though Kerala is a tourist-friendly state, famed for its hospitality, there are some customs and social etiquette which should be understood if you would like to be respectful and respected as a visitor.
Though Kerala is much safer than other parts of India, it doesn't mean that it is the world's safest place. Kerala has its share of criminals. Pick pockets are quite common in heavily crowded areas like buses, festival grounds and city shopping areas. Don't trust your hotel cleaning staff with your costly belongings. Also women are advised not to walk in revealing costumes. Nightlife is only available in major metro cities which too emerging. Take care not to roam in late quarters of night, especially alone.
While in trains or buses, do not interact with lone strangers, or at least not more than normal, and it's absolutely important not to eat or drink anything which they offer. However, interactions with families are considered to be safer.
Though Kerala does not have many touts or so-called Guides, a few people from outside state do encounter this problem at some tourist centres especially Hill stations like Munnar, etc. Do avoid them completely as many nowadays are small time thieves and crooks from other states who look for prey. Hence avoid them completely and say a firm NO.
Nudity in any form is frowned upon for both genders and the rule applies more especially to women. It's okay for men to be bare-chested in public, though it's not appreciated much except at the beach or rural areas. In beaches or rivers, women can wear swim-suits or covering towels around the body, but bikinis are a no-no. Though there is no gender segregation in beaches, rivers ghats or swimming pools, gender segregation is maintained in temple ponds and certain public ghats.
Though Kerala ranks highest in alcohol consumption, consuming alcohol in public is frowned upon. Even wine or beer consumption is also considered as liquor in Kerala, which too is frowned upon in public. However, privately it can be consumed. Women consuming alcohol is socially frowned upon, hence women entering into bars, etc., results in too much glaring. However, the recently opened public pubs / lounges and posh bars in premium hotels are a natural choice for women to consume liquor openly. But this choice is limited to Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram.
Use bottled water, as tap water is not so safe even though it's purified, and stay in decent hotels even if you have to shell out some extra money. However recently homestays have been safe.
There is no limit to the amount of foreign currency that visitors can bring.
Banks are open for transaction from 10:00 - 15:30 hrs on weekdays and from 10:00 - 12:00 hrs on Saturdays.
Main hotels, restaurants and shopping centres honour major credit cards.
(Hours fast (+), slow (-) on IST)
USA: -10.30, Germany: - 4.30, Canada: - 10.30, France: - 4.30, Australia: + 4.30, Spain: - 4.30, UAE: - 1.30, UK: - 5:30.
Best time to Visit
High season: September-May
Monsoon Rejuvenation programmes: June-August
Cotton outfits; hats, sunglasses, sunscreen lotion etc.
Heavy penalties including imprisonment for possession of narcotic drugs.
Go only to those Ayurveda centres that are classified/approved by the Department of Tourism.
All standard restaurants offer a variety of cuisines including Continental, Chinese, Indian and typical Kerala fare.
Tap water is purified and quite safe to drink. It is not advisable to drink water from slow moving streams, lakes or dams. Bottled water is also available.
Police control room: 100
Fire station: 101
Ambulance: 102, 108
While traveling on Highways (Highway Alert Number): 9846 100 100
While traveling in Trains (Railway Alert Number): 9846 200 100
Some temples do not permit entry to non-Hindus. Strict dress codes are followed in most of the temples. Footwear is banned inside the temple premises.
Nudity is not allowed in any Kerala beach.
Smoking is banned in public places.
Footwear in Houses
Visitors to most Kerala houses leave their footwear outside before entering the house.
Demonstrativeness in Public
Behaviour, demonstrating affection in public like hugging or kissing is not an accepted practice in Kerala.
To visit a wildlife sanctuary, prior permission has to be taken from the authority concerned of the sanctuary.