If you’re planning to explore Kochi by yourself, you need to come up with a plan and mode of transportation matching your budget. But first, you learn how to tramp around on foot when sidewalks are virtually non-existent. The thing you have to realize is that traffic rules don’t really apply on the crowded streets where pedestrians, street vendors, two-wheelers, auto rickshaws, cars and buses are all jostling for space. You’re free to cross or hop across a road anywhere you want, and vehicles will slow down for you. If you’re blocking them while walking forward and someone honks behind you, just move a little more left and let them pass.
Speaking of left, you drive on the left side of the road in India. You will also need an international driver’s license verified by the RTO (traffic office). But don’t expect to get car rentals as easily as you do elsewhere. In fact, a big part of the private and personal transport system is what is known as ‘call taxis.’ These are actually companies operating vans - they have easy-to-remember telephone numbers, which you just call and they send a van or car over to pick you up.
You can also get bicycles on rent per hour, although bicycling and two-wheeler motorbikes aren’t for the faint of heart in Kochi. To make it easy, just walk around and hail the standard taxis and autos going by if you can’t walk any more. You won’t be seeing too many meters, though. The taxis have printed tariff cards, and you need expert haggling skills to take an auto without being ripped off. Another thing you can do is take the ferries that operate between all the popular islands. You can easily take a cheap ferry ride from Ernakulam or Fort Kochi to Vypeen, Mattancherry or Willingdon.
Kochi doesn’t have a metro rail transit system as yet, so trains are off the table. You can try to understand the bus routes and types of buses (private and KSRTC). The fares are dirt cheap - Rs. 7 minimum and 60-70 paise per km for city and ordinary services on the ubiquitous green KSRTC buses. You’re likely to be confused about where the bus stop is for taking a bus to a specific destination. Just ask anyone where the nearest bus stop is for where you want to go. Once inside the bus, don’t worry about how you’ll know when to get off. When you buy the ticket, tell the conductor to let you know, and he’ll shout out the destination when the bus gets there.
Have an authentic meal at a local families home. Experience the real food of Kochi, India.
Enjoy a trip through the eyes of a local. Get the ultimate tour in Kochi, India.
Everybody's good at something! Learn from Kochi, India locals and their cultures.
The prepaid taxi cooperative at the airport also provides full-day booking. They will also offer a limo service if you need to move around the city in style. Most hotels and resorts in the city will likewise arrange for private chauffeured vehicles for the day for their guests, as long as you pay for it. You can, of course, book local guides who will take you around the city in their own vehicle. Another thing you can do is take luxury backwaters cruises on boathouses. Oh, and Kochi being a port city means that you have cruise ships and boats anchored offshore that can take you out to sea and back on a luxury cruise.