How much deposit do you require?
We ask for a non-refundable deposit of £250 please. The balance is due 8 weeks before travel.
What does an average flight cost?
Return flights from London can start from as little as £435, depending on the time of year. Look at www.skyscanner.net for the best prices from your nearest airport.
How do I get a visa for India?
Many nationalities are now eligible to apply for visa on arrival. This e-Tourist Visa (eTV) is available for holders of passport of some 44 countries, including the UK. It’s valid for 30 days and costs $60 (£39).
You have a window of 30 days in which to apply for your e visa (eTV). You can set your arrival date up to 30 days after you apply on line, but you must apply at least 4 days before you plan to travel.
E.G If you are arriving in India on 1 November, the very latest you should apply is 4 days before that date: 28th October, and the first time you can apply will be 30 days before that: 28th September.
These eTVs are for single entry only and you can apply for a maximum of two visits in any calendar year.
STAYING MORE THAN 30 DAYS?
If you plan more than this then you’ll have to apply for a visa from the appropriate agency. In many countries this is VSF Global www.vsfglobal.com . You will need to download a form and take or send it to the appropriate agency office in your country.
In the UK apply by post or in person to VSF Global (agency processing visas on behalf of the Indian High Commission). Download a form and pay on line at www.vfsglobal.co.uk/india/ .
It will take 3-5 working days for UK passport holders to get your visa if you apply in person; and 15 days, plus transit times, if you apply by post. In certain cases the processing time is much longer: e.g. for people of Pakistani origin, and for non-UK passport holders residing in the UK for less than two years. Please check the website.
VSF Global have 14 Centres in the UK including in London, Edinburgh, Birmingham, Belfast and Cardiff.
In the USA the please see: http://www.in.ckgs.us/
Otherwise, please contact the Indian Embassy in your country.
I’m not used to travelling alone. Will I be OK?
Yes – one of the benefits of our yoga holidays is meeting like-minded people. Many of our guests do travel alone. We will meet your flight at Trivandrum Airport (whatever time of day or night you arrive!) and bring you safely to Kailasam. Kerala people are very friendly – we’re sure you won’t feel lonely!
Do you have free wifi?
Yes – we have free WiFi for guests.
Will I be able to swim?
Yes – swimming is possible in the Arabian Sea, although there can be big waves and an undertow. The sea is excellent for paddling, jumping through the waves and body-boarding. With well-trained lifeguards to keep an eye on everyone’s safety, swimming is possible on most days.
You can rent beach chairs and umbrellas for a small amount daily. Nearby (5 minutes in a rickshaw – or 20 minutes walking) is a beach where the sea is usually calm.
If you prefer swimming pools, there are several open-air ones within walking distance – available for use for a small daily fee (about £3).
You provide breakfast – where will I eat my other meals?
Kovalam has a huge choice of very reasonably-priced places to eat – some overlooking the Arabian Sea, and some on the small alleyways behind the beach. All are an easy stroll from Kailasam. Food is freshly prepared and there’s an excellent choice of both Indian and Western cuisine – especially seafood. All restaurants serve vegetarian food and there are also several great vegetarian restaurants very near us including Suprabatham, Alan’s and The Lonely Planet.
Where can I change money?
The Indian Rupee is classed as a ‘closed currency’, so it is not generally possible to change money into Indian Rupees before you enter India. You can change cash (and traveller’s cheques) in Kovalam and will get a much better rate than at Trivandrum Airport. The nearest money changer is only 2 minutes’ walk from Kailasam. There are also ATMs (cash points) on the way to Kovalam Junction (2 minutes by rickshaw – or a short walk up a steep hill).
How much money will I need?
You may want to budget for eating out each evening and for a snack at lunch time. A light vegetarian meal with a fruit juice could be as little as £3 whilst a seafood meal with a couple of beers may cost £12. You might need around £200 for food for the holiday, plus money for shopping, and trips.
You will also need cash to pay for massages and treatments. If you have a full course of Ayurvedic treatments, you should budget about £190 (€270, $300, AUS400).
What will the weather be like?
The climate is tropical so maximum daytime temperature are around 32 – 33ºC with night times a little cooler. There is usually a pleasant cooling breeze from the sea. Most days are sunny during the time we run holidays but there can be rain at any time of year, especially in November and early December. However showers are usually in the evening or at night at this time of year, and the rain is never cold!
We provide umbrellas for guest use at Kailasam.
What sort of footwear will I need?
Flat shoes or sandals are essential as some of the paths are uneven. It’s customary to take your shoes off when you go into a building – houses, some shops, all temples, etc. So it’s easier if you have flip-flops (thongs) or slip-on sandals. They are very cheap in Kovalam if you forget them.
Is alcohol available?
Yes – in Kovalam, most of the beach-side restaurants sell beer, wine and some cocktails, and you can also get Indian-made spirits in some of them. Most of the restaurants are not licenced so be aware that your beer may be discreetly served in a mug rather than in a glass.
I’m vegetarian – will it be easy to find food there?
Yes – one of the joys of southern India, is that vegetarian food is widely available and very good quality. Traditional Indian restaurants are divided into Veg and Non-veg, but in Kovalam vegetarian options are available in all restaurants. There are three or four excellent vegetarian restaurants near to Kailasam including Suprabatham, Alan’s and The Lonely Planet.
Do you allow smoking?
Kailasam House and Gardens are strictly non-smoking, but you can smoke on the path outside the entrance gate.
I’ve not been to India before – I’m worried about noise, dirt and people begging.
India is definitely a bit of a ‘love it or hate it’, place! No doubt you will come across all these things but for most of us, the positives outweigh the negatives one hundred fold.
Kerala has one of the highest standards of living in India. There is a good educational system, excellent literacy and India’s lowest infant mortality and highest life expectancy rates. English is widely spoken so it is a very good place for first-time visitors to India.
It is true that India is generally noisier than western countries – it’s all part of the rich and varied culture. If you are sensitive to noise we advise you bring ear plugs to help you get a good night’s sleep.
There is no road at Kailasam, so no traffic noise. At night we can hear the waves and the chirring of crickets, but you may notice dogs barking or tropical birds in the early morning, and occasionally we do have music from temples or other celebrations.
I see there are two free days in the middle of my holiday. Will I be able to stay at Kailasam during these days?
Yes – and we provide breakfast as normal on these days for any guests who are staying. It’s a good opportunity to fit in an extra massage or treatment, or just to have a lie-in.
I’m not used to bargaining – will there be fixed prices?
Supermarkets and big stores have fixed prices – most will be marked with a ‘maximum retail price’. But you may need to bargain in the Kovalam gift shops – or at least ask for their best price. If it’s an expensive item such as jewellery, a good guide is to think what the item would cost you at home and what it is worth to you – and stick to your price.
Can I stay on at Kailasam after my yoga holiday?
Except at Christmas/New Year, our holidays run back-to-back so it is not usually possible to stay before or after your holiday. However there is plenty of accommodation available in Kovalam itself.
Where else is there to visit if I stay in Kerala after my yoga holiday?
If you have a week or more to spare you could take a boat on the Kerala Backwaters from Alleppey, visit the Periyar Wildlife and Tiger Sanctuary and see the tea plantations at Munnar in the mountains, as well as spending time in the old colonial city of Fort Cochin and visiting the modern port at Ernakulam, Kochi. All of this is possible by public transport, but the quicker and more pleasant way is to hire a car and a driver, which you can do when you get here.
If you like the beach and the sea you may decide just to chill out in Kovalam, or visit Kerala’s other well-know seaside resort, Varkala.
Does it matter if I haven’t done any yoga before?
No – although it’s probably wise to have tried some yoga classes, just to make sure you enjoy it. Yoga is non-competitive, and it’s more important to work with concentration and awareness than to force yourself into advanced postures for lengthy periods.
I’m not sure about doing yoga twice a day – is it compulsory?
No – this is your holiday, so you can do as much – or as little – as you want.
I’m a yoga teacher and am thinking about bringing my students to India. Would Kailasam be a suitable venue?
Yes – we do take private bookings – mainly outside our main season. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively you might like to teach on one of our holidays for a fixed fee per student.
Can I drink the water?
We advise you to drink only bottled water (available everywhere) and to avoid ice or drinks which may have been diluted – unless you know they have used bottled water.
Will I get ill?
We sincerely hope not! If you drink bottled water and eat freshly cooked food you should be fine. Kerala seems to be much safer than North India for stomach upsets – and because you will be staying in one place, rather than exhausting yourself with lengthy travels, you are also more likely to stay well. Some guests like to take pro-biotics before they travel and during their holiday.
If you are unlucky enough to get sick, or have diarrhoea, it’s important to avoid dehydration, by taking re-hydration salts (available in chemist shops before you leave home, and in Kerala). Coconut water is also a good preventative for dehydration, and there are several simple but effective local remedies, which we can provide.
But please don’t worry – most people feel better as they relax in the sunshine of Kovalam than they do at home.
What if I needed an emergency doctor or dentist?
There are allopathic doctors and a small cottage hospital in Kovalam, excellent dentists and first class hospitals in Trivandrum
Do you have proper toilets?
Yes – we have western-style toilets in all the bathrooms at Kailasam. Almost all of the Kovalam restaurants also have sit-down toilets.
Are mosquitoes a problem?
We do of course get mosquitoes, but they should not be a problem unless you sit outside at Kailasam after dusk, without using mosquito repellent. The beach restaurants are free from mosquitoes at night
It’s a good idea to bring long trousers and long-sleeved blouses/shirts, and light-coloured clothing if you are prone to being bitten.
We have mosquito nets on the windows at Kailasam, and over the beds – to help you get a good night’s sleep.
Some people recommend taking a course of Vitamin B1 before and during their holiday – it seems to work for some people. Those who react strongly to bites might like to consider taking a daily antihistamine such as Piriton (also available in Kerala) – it doesn’t stop the bites but your body reacts less.
Is there malaria?
We advise you to check with your doctor before travelling, but in all the time we have been running holidays at Kailasam, malaria prophylactics have never been necessary.
If you have any other questions, please email us