As the state capital, Trivandrum has plenty of outlets for tourist information, most of which (if not more) can be accessed on the state's comprehensive website, www.keralatourism.org. There are two tourist information counters at the airport; one caters to international arrivals (tel. 0471/250-2298) and the other to domestic flights (tel. 0471/250-1085; daily 10am-5pm, closed a flexible hour for lunch). There are also information counters at the Central Bus Station in Thampanoor (tel. 0471/232-7224) and at the Railway Station (tel. 0471/233-4470), both of which are open daily from 8am to 8pm. Kerala's Department of Tourism operates a 24-hour toll-free information line (tel. 1600/425-4747). Also providing tourist information is the Department of Tourism's Tourist Facilitation Centre (Park View, Museum Rd., opposite the museum complex; tel. 0471/232-1132; daily 10am-5pm). For local tour information and bookings, go to the Kerala Tourism Development Corporation or KTDC, either at Hotel Chaithram, adjacent to Central Bus Station in Thampanoor (tel. 0471/233-0031; daily 6:30am-9:30pm), or at Hotel Mascot (tel. 0471/231-6736).
Getting There & Away
By Road -- Kerala is ideal for exploration with a hired car and driver; roads are relatively good, the countryside is spectacular, and Trivandrum is connected by principal roads and highways with all parts of the country. Super Deluxe bus services are operated by the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation; long-distance buses operate from the Central Bus Station in Thampanoor (tel. 0471/232-3886), while shorter journeys start and finish at the City Bus Stand in East Fort (tel. 0471/246-3029). Private operators run so-called deluxe coaches to more distant towns and cities in South India, usually overnight, but remember that most night buses make regular pit stops, making sleep impossible. If you're budgeting your time and money, however, by all means go by bus -- just make sure you've booked a nonstop (Volvo) bus. Though the journey is long, it's relatively comfortable and cheap (an overnight bus from Bangalore to Kochi for instance, takes 10 to 11 hours and costs less than Rs 1,000; buses are air-conditioned, have reclining seats, usually provide blankets, and stop only two or three times for toilet/food breaks. Before setting off, try to determine precisely where you need to get off; these buses usually stop at several points in the destination city, with the conductor screaming wildly in a language you don't understand -- try to make sure he lets you know specifically when it's time for you to get off.
By Air -- Trivandrum is connected by air to Delhi, Mumbai, Kochi, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, and Tiruchirapali. Trivandrum International Airport (tel. 0471/250-1424 for international flight information; www.trivandrumairport.com) is served by all the Indian airlines including Kingfisher, Jet Airways, Paramount, and Spice Jet (airlines rated the most reliable, with the best service standards). There are also international flights from various Asian cities, Middle Eastern hubs (including Dubai and Abu Dhabi, both convenient for connections from Europe), and nearby Malé in the Maldives. The airport is 6km (3 3/4 miles) from the city center, and you can pick up a set-fee prepaid taxi for the journey into town inside the terminal.
By Train -- There are regular trains between Trivandrum and other important destinations in Kerala, including Kochi (under 4 hr.), Alleppey (3 1/2 hr.), Kollam (1 1/2 hr.), and Varkala (1 hr.). If you're coming from Chennai in Tamil Nadu, the overnight Trivandrum Mail is convenient. Trains also reach India's southernmost point, Kanyakumari; the journey takes around 2 1/2 hours.
Thiruvananthapuram Central Railway Station is just east of M.G. Road, on Station Road; for general railway inquiries, call tel. 131. For reservations, call tel. 132 or 0471/232-3066, or you can access the Interactive Voice Response service by calling tel. 1361.
By Taxi & Auto-Rickshaw -- In this region you will probably need a taxi from the airport (or your hired car and driver if you've been traveling around the state) to take you to your Kovalam resort; after this you're unlikely to need transport, with the exception of a possible brief foray to a nearby market. For this you're best off using a rickshaw; these officially charge Rs 10 for the first 1 1/2km, plus around Rs 5 per additional kilometer, although you might want to settle on a fair price before setting off.
Guided Tours & Travel Agents
To make the most of your time, we strongly recommend hiring a private car and driver, and set off on a personalized trip from Trivandrum. You could also get a quote from Sita World Travel (tel. 0471/247-0921 or 0471/246-0173; firstname.lastname@example.org) or try Tourindia (tel. 0471/232-8070 or 0471/233-1507), which has been involved in several innovative alternative tourism projects in Kerala. KTDC (Hotel Chaithram, adjacent Central Bus Station, Thampanoor; tel. 0471/233-0031; Mon-Sat 6:30am-9:30pm) runs conducted sightseeing tours in and around the city. Aimed primarily at domestic tourists, they are not recommended, but are a cheap way of taking in as many of the sights as possible.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.