Travel Basics


Get into Kerala

Kerala is the only state in India that have two Indian Electronic Tourist Visa ETV (formely known as Visa on Arrival) entry ports for tourists at Kochi & Thiruvananthapuram [3] . The two airports have special desks for ETV passengers which can provide support to nationalities of Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Brazil, Cambodia, Canada, Cayman Island,Chile, Cook Islands, Costa Rica, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, Fiji, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Kiribati, Laos, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Mexico, Micronesia, Montenegro, Montserrat, Myanmar, Nauru, New Zealand,Nicaragua, Niue Island, Norway, Oman, Palau, Palestine, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Republic of Macedonia, Russia, Saint Christopher and Nevis, Samoa, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Tonga, Tuvalu, UAE, Ukraine, USA, Vanuatu, Vatican City-Holy See, Vietnam [4]

For visa extensions FFRO (Foreigners Registration Regional Office) in Kochi, Trivandrum and Kozhikode as well as District Superintendent of Police are also empowered to do any changes related to visa area. Tourist Police stations do have help desks and support facilities for foreigners who want any visa change or visa extensions.

By plane
Cochin International Airport- Kerala’s largest airport

There are three airports in Kerala, with flights to domestic and international destinations: Kochi(Cochin), Kozhikode, and Thiruvananthapuram(Trivandrum). The airports have several carriers operating international flights around the world.

Thiruvananthapuram International Airport (IATA: TRV) Best connected to major cities in India and Abroad, Charter flights for tourism from London, New York and Moscow operate to Thiruvananthapuram.

Cochin International Airport[[5]] (IATA: COK) Europe and US bound passengers need to transit in the Middle East or Far East or Mumbai, though chartered flights are common during tourist season, mostly from Europe. There are regular Flights to most parts of India.

Kozhikode International Airport (IATA: CCJ) is a major airport in Malabar with international connections to most of the cities in the Middle East.

In addition Mangalore Airport (IATA: IXE) and Coimbatore Airport (IATA: CJB) in neighboring states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu respectively offers limited connectivity to Northern and Eastern districts of Kerala respectively.

There are 20 to 25 international carriers offering flights to Kerala. Apart from international carriers, Air India, Air India Express, Jet Airways and Indigo offers international connections from the 3 airports. Domestic destinations accessible by direct flights from these airports include Chennai, Bangalore, Mumbai, Agatti, Hyderabad, Mangalore, Pune, Goa and Delhi. There are daily, and some bi-daily flights, to most Indian cities from airports in Kochi and Trivandrum by all the Indian carriers. Kochi has Air-Cruise turnaround program with chartered services.

Shuttles operated by KSRTC are available from airport to its respective city core and nearby towns. Taxis are the most popular for Airport-City connection.
By train

Indian Railways [6] operates several trains to and from Kerala. More than 300 plus trains connect Kerala to all parts of India, including long-haul direct train services to cities like Delhi and Mumbai. Trivandrum Rajadhani, Ernakulam Durnoto, Kerala Express and Netravati Express are some of the most popular trains connect key cities across India.

Log on to the Indian Railways booking site [7] to book tickets online or you can walk up to any railway station to book tickets between any two destinations in India. Smart Phone/Tablets can view details via any apps [8]

Be aware that trains are the most popular method of transport and almost all trains in Kerala originate or terminate in Thiruvananthapuram or Kochi, and are usually heavily booked. Buy your tickets as early as possible. Another option is using Tatkal. You pay almost double, but have a chance of getting a seat. Tatkal is an emergency service, hence its booking is open just 24 hours before departure. Some travel agents have authorized booking quotas for certain trains.

Recently, the luxury tourist train The Golden Chariot has introduced a South Indian Rail Tour, which includes many parts of Kerala. This is a good option for those who want to visit the South Indian states on as tight schedule. The train starts from Bangalore and covers Chennai, Pondicherry, Trichy, Madurai, Trivandrum, Alapuzha, Kochi and back to Bangalore. The 7 night/8 day package tour, costs US$3,000-7,000 depending upon the class taken.
By bus

Inter-state private and government buses operates between neighboring states. Usually the journey is performed in the night so that you can escape the heat of the day. The most common inter-state bus is Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC-Karnataka) with daily bus from most of Major cities of Kerala to Bangalore, Mysore and Mangalore. Tamil Nadu State Bus like SETC also operates regularly from Kerala. Kerala’s State bus- KRSTC-Kerala do have regular Ordinary bus to most of nearby places in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. KRSTC-Kerala also operates a few Volvo AC bus to Bangalore and Coimbatore.

However Private bus players to operate more buses than Govt options. Most of them are well maintained. Kallada, Shama, KPN are the major bus players, though recently Raj National and few others have entered with Pan India operations. Kallada, KPN, Shama etc have regular buses to Bangalore, Chennai and many other places in Tamil Nadu as well as Karnataka on various times

It is recommended that you consider booking long distance bus tickets on “air conditioned Volvo buses??? operated by all operators as the quality of the other buses vary significantly.
By road

Kerala is well connected by National Highways and recently it was renumbered. Both numbers are used interchangeably:

NH 66 (Connecting Mumbai to Kanyakumari via Western coastal side of Goa, Karnataka and almost all coastal cities of Kerala like Kannur, Kozhikode, Kochi, Alapuzha, Kollam, Trivandrum etc) (Earlier known as NH 17)
NH 544 (Connecting Salem with Kochi via Coimbatore, Palakkad, Thrissur (Earlier known as NH 47)
NH 766 (Connecting Kozhikode to Mysore via Wayanad)(Earlier known as NH 212)
NH 85 (Connecting Kochi to Ramaeswaram via Munnar, Madurai)(Earlier known as NH 49)
NH 183 (Connecting Kollam to Dindigul in Tamil Nadu via Kottayam, Kanjirapally, Kumily and enters into Tamil Nadu at Kambam)(Earlier known as NH 220)
NH 744 (Connecting Kollam with Madurai via Punalur, Shenkottai, Tenkasi)(Earlier known as NH 208)
NH 966 (Connecting Palakkad with Kozhikode) (Earlier known as NH 213)

Most of the NH roads are two lane carriageways. Only NH 544 is currently 4 lane carriage with dedicated service roads. However its tolled highway. As vehicle density is very high in Kerala, accidents are common[9]. You must be extra cautious while driving here.
By ferry

Kochi is a major cruise port and currently the most busiest cruise port in India. The port has International Cruise Facilitation Center and almost all major cruises that have global voyages have Kochi as port of call. All Lakshadweep bound cruises originate in Kochi and make return trips. There are also occasional tourist oriented cruises from Mumbai and Goa to Kochi

Also private yachts and other sea going boats regularly call at Kochi Marina. A few cruises call at Trivandrum.
Get around

Kerala is quite well connected with all modes of transport. The flat southern side is better connected than mountainous north. One of unique feature of Kerala, is its continuous urban and semi-urban areas across both sides of any road or rail. As a result, you might not feel you exited from village/city into another, being continuous. This helps in getting transport to travel around easily.

Unique to Kerala’s geographic feature, most of the key cities lie almost linearly on North-South axis, which almost are connected by one key Trunk road (NH 66) and one key rail route. Due to this advantage, its pretty easy to reach any major city by catching intercity/inter-state buses plying on these trunk routes.
By train

Trains are good for long distance travel within the state. Most trains are long distance trains with stops at many of Kerala’s stations. Majority of trains enter into Kerala from Tamil Nadu on east side and Shornur being the major junction that divides rail line into Northern branch and Southern branch. Trains on Konkan route enters from Northern side of Kerala reach use Shornur to branch either eastward or southward. Trains on south route is one main line untill Ernakulam where it branches to Kottayam Line and Alleppey line and runs parallel to each other as Vembanadu Lake comes inbetween these places. Both the lines merges back at Kayamkulam and further proceed southward as one major line to Trivandrum and further southward to Kanya Kumari.

Short distance trains are mainly intercity passenger trains, connecting only major cities like Trivandrum, Kochi, Palakkad, Alapuzha, Kollam, Kottayam, Kozhikode, Kannur and Thrissur. The main Intercity trains are:

Trivandrum-Mangalore Express which covers almost all major cities of Kerala on its west coast.
Trivandrum – Kozhikode Jana Shatabdi Express is a fast services connecting via Ernakulam, Kottayam, Kollam.
Trivandrum Guruvayur Intercity- very popular option for regular commuters working between cities.
Trivandrum-Shornur Venad Intercity Express.
Trivandrum-Palakkad Amrita Express.
Kannur-Ernakulam Intercity Express.

Express trains are relatively faster, as they stop only at major stations and gets priority in event of crossing. Passenger trains stops at all stations in a route and can be held-up in event of an express train crossing, thus takes longer time. However latter is good option, if one needs to align at small village or town stations, not catered by express trains.

Railways have introduced MEMU services, between Kochi-Thrissur-Palakkad and Kochi-Kollam sector, similar to Mumbai’s Local trains, connecting all stations (small and big) on route, at increased speed.
By road

Roads remain the primary popular options. Almost each nook and corner of the state is well connected by road. The primary roads are NH 66, NH 544, NH 85, NH 183, NH 744, NH 766 and NH 966 which all National Highways. The NH 66 is one of most busiest as it connects almost all cities of Kerala on West coast, especially connecting three major metros- Kozhikode, Kochi and Trivandrum which runs on North-South Axis. The NH 544 which connects Kochi to Coimbatore and further to Chennai and Bangalore is equally a very busy commercial route that connects on East-West axis and primary gateway route to Kerala.

The primary State Highway is MC Road (Main Central Road), which covers on the most scenic places in south Kerala connecting between Angamally, the Northern suburb of Kochi with Trivandrum, covering the high-land areas of eastern areas. However NH 66 cut the time at least by 1 hour for a travel between Kochi and Trivandrum as it uses the flat terrain of Alleppey coast on west.

State Highways connect to almost all parts of Kerala and Kerala has the highest density of roads in the country, connecting literarily every single village or part of the state. Most of the roads including NH are however bi-lane, so even narrow roads due to huge settlement on both sides of road and higher population density. Only NH 544 is 4/6 lane highway with dual carriageway, while rest all are 2 laned roads.

Signages are common everywhere, written in both Malayalam and English and sometimes in Hindi also. Roadside boards notifying the place name and speed are are well indicated in most of the highways. National Highways are written as NH within a Yellow/Green shield with the number, while State Highways are written as SH within Yellow/White shields. Roads without any shield indicates Panchyat/Local Municipal roads.

Speed limits

For NH (Non Urban areas)- 65 Km/Hr – 90 Km/Hr, For SH(Non Urban areas) – 50 Km/Hr – 80 Km/Hr, For Urban areas – Maximum limit- 40 Km/Hr

Most of the roads have radars and on-street cameras to catch speeding vehicles and fines bills will be send to licensee’s registered address via post.

Unless you seek adventure, its not advisable to drive a car. Narrow roads with bustling traffic with little driving discipline makes self drive not safe, especially those accustomed to western kind of driving. Most of Kerala highways are two-lane with no medians. Though many are recently upgraded to better standards with proper signages and markings, its equally common to see roads without these. Street lighting in most of highways and roads are non-existent, which makes night drive dangerous for people not accustomed. Driving is on the left, and all foreign drivers need a valid International Driving Licence attested by any Road Transport Office (RTO). Most of the bridges and few roads carry toll charges collected at manned toll plazas or checkpoints. Almost all tolls are uniformly charged separately for one/two way; 2 wheelers- Rs 3/5, 4 wheelers- Rs 5/10 and bus/minivans – Rs 15/25. Almost all the toll pass is valid for unlimited travel for a period of 24 hours, though a few bridges allow one time validity.

Car rental is not so popular among foreign visitors, particularly among westerners. Many car rental companies refuse to provide self-drive cars to Westerners. Normally a bank guarantee letter or security cheque/traveller’s cheque to the value of the car or a passport are taken as security for renting the car.

However chauffeured car rentals are available for visitors for daily or weekly or even monthly basis. No security deposit is needed if the car is chauffeur-driven. There are multiple car rental companies as well as call taxi agencies, operating in most of the towns. Equally in major cities, drivers can rented on daily basis, if you have a car availed from friends. Most hotels with three stars or more provide private cars for their guests at rates slightly higher than elsewhere.

Its pretty easy to travel across Kerala in tourist taxis. India’s iconic HM Ambassador, is normally the popular tourist taxi. Though there is no formal color/livery for tourist taxis, Ambassador taxis are more popular in their white color, with black circles on both sides of front doors with signage of taxi written with it. Tata’s Indica and Toyota SUV models are now getting popular as tourist vehicles. There is no meter system for any taxis in Kerala, while a few cab companies offers cabs with GPS facility. Equally there is no Cab Top Sign in these vehicles (however, according to state law all vehicles which are available for hire should have yellow number plates).

There are two type of taxi services, regular and call taxis.

Regular taxis are normally available at designated taxi stands located at places such as railway stations, the airport, boat jetties, major bus stations and in front of important hotels.

There is no need to negotiate prices, as most of them follow fixed rates. Regular taxis have tariff cards displayed on the dashboard. Call taxis have charges fixed by their respective companies (although they are normally uniform). Its more common to see such cabs mainly in cities. The standard tariffs are Rs 100 for first 5 km, and Rs 11 per km thereafter. Add 10% for a cab with A/C, and 25% at night. If taxis are operated for inter-city drop-off/pick-up etc, two way charges (both up & down) are needed to pay, irrespective whether its used or not.

Radio taxis are getting popular in major cities and several popular brands like Taxio, Fast Cabs, CelCabs, Bcabs etc operates. Most of them are GPS enabled and many are monitored through control facilities.

Kerala Government has introduced She-Taxis (Lady taxis) in major cities like Kochi, Trivandrum, Kozhikode and aims to cover entire Kerala by mid of 2015. The service being first of its kind from Government side in India, its quite a comfortable option for Lady travellers and families. SheTaxis are GPS enabled modern fleet of vehicles that is constantly monitored from the control facility. This option is no available for single men. In other cities, lady taxis run by lady coop societies like Kudumbashree are also getting popular though many are not GPS enabled.

In Hilly areas, a 6 seater SUV known as Trunk or Mahindra Jeep models are more common as taxis. The hilly terrains demands 4 wheel vehicles as taxis. Normal taxis from other parts to operate to such areas, though in some difficult areas, a change of vehicle might require. One can find such trunk stands near the main junction of small towns in the region. Better to check with locals. Generally the rates for Trunk Cabs are normally higher than regular taxis. Its better to negotiate with the driver first.

Many cab companies offer full or half day services. Typical rates are Rs 1,100/1,500 for standard/AC cabs for a full day and Rs 500/750 for a half day. Evening rates with a hike of 25% is applicable after 8 PM and its common to pay driver an additional amount for overnight stay during the trip known as bata.

There is no Share-Taxi system as such in Kerala, even though car-pooling among employees of same company or locality are getting popular. However its not uncommon to see taxi operators operating on shared basis if the original hirer gives consent for so. Please be aware, such sharing of taxi is Illegal as per the law and if caught, the driver, owner and all the passengers in the taxi at time of arrest, will be punished by fines. However often it gets over-looked as the passengers can claim each other as friends.
Motorbikes & Cycles

Some people point out that the best way to experience Kerala is on a motorbike. Riding a motorbike and travelling across state you get the closer look and feel of God’s own country with all the smells and sounds added. There are Companies which organize packaged tours or tailor made tours for Enthusiastic bikers and adventurous travellers for a safer motorbike experience of India with regular promotions mostly through online forums and facebook.

Purchase of Bikes among tourists are not popular, unless one plans to have an extended stay. There are several Motorcycle clubs and rental agencies that provide motobikes on rent even on monthly basis. Such agencies can be found in tourist areas like Kovalam, Varkala, Fort Kochi, Cherai, Alleppey, Kozhikode etc. A check with local District Tourist Office (DTPC) or local travel agencies/travel desks etc can help to identify the local agencies.

Off-recently Bicycle rentals are gaining much popular in the state. Cycle Safari tours in many cities are increasing to help tourists to get first hand experience. There are cycle clubs as well as cycle stands in many key cities like Kochi, Trivandrum etc. For local city explorations, Cycles are indeed a very good choice, though its tough to use it heavy traffic congested roads of the state.
By hitch hiking

Unlike other states, Hitchhiking is not a very popular option in Kerala, especially for foreign tourists. Most of the vehicles donot stop when travellers hitchhike. By large, the local culture donot have high opinion for hitch-hiking and consider it as a rude. Since Kerala donot have any deserted long highway, being a continuous stretch of urban areas on sides of any highway, its perfectly possible to get any form of public transport or services like Auto-rickshaws etc.

However, hitch-hiking is possible in hilly terrains and plantation areas where farm vehicles or bikes do stop and help travellers on road.
By bus

Bus transport is most popular transport to travel within Kerala and ideal for budget conscious travellers. Kerala has an excellent public bus system operated by both government-owned Kerala State Road Transport Corp (KSRTC-Kerala) and various private operators. All fares are determined by Transport Department and uniform across the state in accordance to nature of buses. Typically, there are 6 class of buses

Ordinary (ORD), which is a basic, no-frills services with covering short and medium distance areas with stoppages at all legal stops in its authorised route. The minimum fare is Rs 6 with 58 paise for every km

Fast Passenger (FP), is better service covering large distances with limited stops, only at main villages or towns. Also known as Limited Stop Bus with initials LS/FP marked in red or white within a circle in its route board. The minimum fare is Rs 8 with 62 paise for every km.

Super Fast (SF), also known as Express Services, connects only major towns and district headquarters. The minimum fare is same as of FP, however it costs 65 paise for every km.

Deluxe Express (LF), also known as Super Express in some places, is a strictly point-to-point services, connecting major cities with technical stops only in major cities. This services uses larger air-suspension bus with comfortable cushion seats. The minimum fare is Rs 25 with 70 paise for every km

AC Lowfloor Buses, operated by wholly owned subsidiary called as KURTC, this is a semi Urban-Highway connect service connecting small towns in a region to major cities. The buses are normally Volvo Low floor buses air-conditioned. The minimum fare is Rs 40 with 1.10 Rs per Km.

SilverJet Fast, is a new pan Kerala service connecting Trivandrum in South to Kasargod in North as well as few major cities in central region to both the ends of the state. The air-bus are non air-conditioned, but offers push back fully reclinable seats, wifi facility, video screens and live monitoring. The buses has only very limited stops, limiting to one per district.

In addition, KSRTC operates air-conditioned premium buses known either as Hitech or Garuda services, in a limited manner between major cities, as part of inter-state services. The fares of inter-city of such services are Rs 35 as minimum fare with Rs 1 to Rs 1.2 for every Km depending upon type of bus.

KSRTC brands all SF/FP operating in northern districts as Malabar and Venad for all South Kerala districts. Note for the initials, to differentiate whether its FP or SF. Though KSRTC services are not known for its comfort, its one of the most reliable services in the country, with punctuality at its top order. Whereas private bus services are not keen in punctuality, but keen in maintaining the bus and its comfort level. In some places, there exists unhealthy competition among private operators, in regard to the speed and time taken to cover the scheduled distance, making the services erratic.

While KSRTC has different liveries for each of class of service (red for Ordinary, green for FP, blue-white for SF), private operators has no uniform liveries and paint according to their choice. Most of the private bus services are known popularly among locals in the name of the bus company like Angel, Rajesh, Kallara etc. The name are normally written in super-size on top of the windscreen, mostly in English.

All KSRTC buses have its own bus depots or stations in major towns and villages and stops only at those stops that displays its logo. Whereas private buses do stop at any convenient part of towns and villages, though in few cities it has its own private bus stands and stations. Check with locals, to know where each class of bus operates. There is no route numbering for buses in Kerala. Destination will be written in bold on Windscreen as well as side of the buses in Malayalam and English (not in all cases), along with on-route places written below to it, mostly in Malayalam. Most of the ticket-conductors can help with basic simple English.

While KSRTC mostly issues e-ticket slips, private buses normally go for traditional paper slips with destination hand-written or color coded. Retain the ticket till end of the journey, as often ticket-inspectors may board in-between for surprise checks and in event of loss of ticket, you are liable for fine for a travel rate from place where the bus originated.

Most of the buses are crowded and travelers would do well to beware of pickpockets.

By convention, ladies and children occupy the front side of buses and single males towards back.
By autorickshaw

Also called autos, these three wheelers are a convenient mode of transport for very short distance travel. By law the auto driver has to start a meter for every journey. However at times this law tends to be overlooked. It is wise to ask the driver, politely, to ensure he starts the meter at the start of your journey or negotiate and fix the price of the trip before boarding, to avoid unnecessary arguments at the end of the trip. The general behavior of drivers varies places to places. While places like Kozhikode, Malappuram, Kottayam etc have some of the best friendly drivers who go beyond to help passengers, drivers in major cities like Kochi, Trivandrum etc are often reported to be errant. Must apply lots of common senses, especially when dealing with drivers in touristy places like Alleppey, Munnar, Fort Kochi, Wayanad etc, where they trend to appear helpful and drive the passengers to the places where they get hefty commissions or rewards.

Generally the fares of autos are higher than government fixed rates, citing unrealistic govt decisions and frequent rise in petrol/diesel prices. In most of places, an ad-hoc arrangement of rates fixed among auto-drivers are common.

Most of adhoc arrangement rates are Rs 20 as flagdown rate for first 2kms and Rs 12 per km and Rs 15 per km as evening/night rates (Govt fixed rates are much lower with Rs 10 as flagdown rate and Rs 7 per km). A check with locals will help to know the such rates, as the rates may go higher if they find the person who doesn’t know the rates or foreigners.

Most of the larger railway stations and all the airports as well as in key junctions of tourist places, have pre-paid auto-rickshaw and/or taxi stands. Just tell them where you want to go and you will get a slip of paper with the destination and amount written on it. Pay only that amount of money and nothing more. You can seek assistance of Tourist Police, deployed in touristy places.
By auto-taxi

Off-recently a hybrid form of vehicles known as Auto-Taxis are launched in the state. They are indeed 4 wheeler Tata Iris vehicles, akin to Tata Nano. It do have a D+1+3 configuration typical to standard taxis. But do charge normal city autorickshaws rates, not the taxi rates. Being recent, the govt hasn’t made any standard livery for them. They are mostly available on call, if one knows the number of driver or can be hired from road or from Auto-Taxi stand mostly near crowded places like Railway stations or Markets/Malls etc. Though the Auto-Taxis are not metered, they operate only Km-Charge, normally Rs 15 per Km (without any Up/Down charging, unlike taxis).

As they have Pan-Kerala Taxi permit, one can travel medium haul distance like a trip to nearby city or town or village using Auto-Taxi. Most of the drivers are trained and are reported friendly as well as able to speak English & Hindi. Some of the taxis do have GPS enabled screens with Google Map support.

The Govt as part of Employment Generation programs, do support women drivers to purchase and operate Lady Auto-taxis in major cities like Kochi, Trivandrum, Kozhikode etc. These taxis are driven by ladies and priority will be for single women travellers and family, though others are welcome.
By ferry

Kerala has an extensive series of water bodies with rivers, backwaters and lagoons making travel by ferry an effective service. In some places, ferries are more popular and easier than road transport. Most of the places in Alapuzha-Kuttanad area is interconnected with regular ferry services.

The main waterways route, served by Kerala Water Transport Department boats are as follows

(1) Ashtamudy lake – 200 sq kms, connecting various points in Kollam district.
(2) Vembanattu lake – 52 sq kms, connecting between districts of Alapuzha and Kottayam and numerous of canals in Kuttanad
(3) Ernakulam – Vypeen – Fort Cochin ferry (Cochin port & Harbour)
(4) Muhamma – Kumarakom, connecting islands within Kottayam district
(5) Vaikom – Thavanakkadavu , connecting Kottayam with Ernakulam districts.
(6) Payyannur – Parassinikkadavu, connecting various parts of Kannur district.

SWTD charges tickets between places, which is pre-determined. Most of the tickets costs between Rs 3 to RS 11. Certain services, especially those operate between Alleppey-Kollam are Double Decker in nature, which has no-frills ordinary class at lower deck and premium class, mostly intended for tourists, in upper deck. Premium class costs inbetween Rs 200 to Rs 500 per trip.

The frequency of ferries varies from station to station. The average waiting time is 10 Mins. Services commences from 5:00 AM to 8:00 PM daily, though in some places in Alleppey, Kottayam and Kollam districts, services are extended upto 10:00 PM, due to demand. Some ferries requires minimum number of passengers to operate.

In some places, RO-RO ferries operates known as Junkars that help ferrying vehicles. Rates for vehicles for RO-RO services vary for Rs 50 to 120 per vehicle, depending upon size of vehicle.

Most of the ferries vary from traditional wooden boats to modern fiber-glass built ones and considered safe in general. Expect heavily crowded during peak hours of morning and evening.
By air

Helicopter and Air-taxi services are available from Kochi and Trivandrum which can be used to connect between these two major metros with District Headquarters, though its expensive. Heli-taxis and heli-tours have recently commenced from Kozhikode and Malappuram etc which need to pre-book.

Scheduled air connections operated by leading domestic brands like Indigo, Spicejet, Air India Express and Jet Airways connect between Kozhikode, Kochi and Trivandrum airports.

As you are all set for the trip or planning for the vacaton in Kerala. The below link will provide you the information required for an effective planning of the trip.

Everything about travel in Kerala by WikiTravel