Tripadvisors’ annual Travelers’ Choice awards for 2020, has placed Kochi (or Cochin) in Kerala as number one among ‘Trending Destinations’. As the awards are based on last year’s ratings, the trend may now drop off sharply, given India’s Covid-19 situation but once it’s all over (fingers crossed), we have to agree that Kochi is a great place for ‘sunset strolls, sampling fresh fish from seaside vendors and boat rides through the islands‘. Although the airport is called Kochi, you actually fly into Ernakulam – a sprawling, densely populated maritime city (looking a bit Dubai these days, but still the hub of South India’s spice and coir industries). Kochi is one of the city’s off islands: served by ferry boats and loved for its blend of Malabar spices, rakish colonial buildings (the Dutch, the British and the Portuguese all made their mark here), ‘heritage’ hotels, white churches, an early synagogue and emblematic Chinese fishing nets. 
It’s a bit of a tourist trap to be honest (the once authentic spice market is now a street of hard-sell gift shops) but it is the principal gateway to Kerala’s magnificent backwaters. Top tip, use the state-run ferries; avoid the tourist boats. See our Kerala stories in the World/India edit

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