Munnar is a small town in the Western Ghats of Kerala, India, and encompasses a large area of countryside covered in tea plantations and misty forests. What I loved about Munnar was it’s easy pace and beautiful scenery. We could take things slow, do things on our own terms, and be surrounded by unique and inspiring landscapes. Munnar is the perfect counter to time spent in the big Indian cities. It is an escape from the craziness, and the perfect Indian retreat.
If you missed my last post from Munnar full of lots of pictures and descriptions, don’t forget to check it out. This time I’m giving you a compact Munnar guide so you have a go-to resource with all the tips you’ll need to have a great experience like I did!
Where to Stay
The Royal Mist, run by Anil and Jeeva was the perfect retreat. Their little guest house is charming and comfortable, and the covered patio is the perfect place to relax and hang out or to sit and listen to the rain. Anil leads great walks around the area and Jeeva makes delicious meals. Her breakfasts were especially tasty.
We enjoyed having breakfast on the patio and catching up on some Indian news over our morning tea. We even got a bit of American news when Barack and Michelle Obama came to visit.
The rooms were tidy with sunny views of the garden. The bathrooms were western and clean. But most of all, we just loved feeling comfortable. It was a place we could truly relax. Anil and Jeeva make everything so easy, which is such a welcome surprise when traveling in India! Do yourself a favor and reserve your room at the Royal Mist now!
Current rates at Royal Mist start at Rs. 3300 in the off-season and include breakfast and some snacks.
If you follow my Munnar guide and book a room at Royal Mist, then just ask Anil or Jeeva to arrange for a driver on the days you want to go exploring. Their drivers are vetted and they have very high standards so you won’t be scammed, uncomfortable, or in danger. It was the first time we saw functional seatbelts in a car in India, and the driver was the safest and most respectful driver we encountered. This is so valuable and hard to find on your own!
If you aren’t staying at Royal Mist, you’ll still need to find yourself a driver. Ask your host to help you find a reputable one. I wouldn’t bother with public transit in Munnar, unless you’re just taking an auto rickshaw somewhere nearby.
Things to See and Do
Top station Drive
Make a day of it. Leave early and try to get to Top Station lookout before the mist comes in. On the way back, stop for photos at tea fields and visit Mattupetty Dam. This route has lots of photo ops, so just pull over when you see something.
Aranya Naturals – Srishti Welfare Centre
Nullatanni Estate Road, Munnar
This NGO center for handmade textiles and eco-crafts employs special needs adults and helps them earn a living in a safe environment. You can visit the factory and watch how their products are made, and of course you’ll want to visit the shop next door where you can buy their hand-dyed silk scarves and stationery made from elephant poop!
Tata Tea Museum
Adults – Rs.75, Kids – Rs.35, Cameras – Rs.20, Closed Mondays
The tea museum is small and simple, but makes a nice stop on your way back into Munnar town. You can see how the tea is processed and watch a funny propaganda film about TATA, the conglomerate that owns many of the tea fields and factories.
Eravikulam National Park
Foreign – Rs.370, Indian – Rs.90, Children – Rs.65
Closed February – March for Nilgiri Tahr calving
Eravikulam National Park is a short drive from Munnar and home of the largest surviving population of Nilgiri tahr. It’s also home to sweeping views and lots of walking trails to take in the flora and fauna. Go early or late to have the best chance of viewing the Nilgiri tahr.
Walking and Hiking around Munnar
Your hiking and walking options in Munnar are aplenty, ranging from sunset strolls through tea fields to strenuous day hikes through the forests and fields. Your best bet is to ask your host to help you find a guide and a route. This is another reason to stay at Royal Mist. They had lots of great suggestions for nearby hikes.
Should You Go?
Yes! Munnar is a breath of fresh air, and I mean that both literally and figuratively. It is full of rolling green hills of tea, spotted with patches of forest. The air smells perpetually of eucalyptus and rain, carried by the mist that blankets the hills. Bright yellow auto rickshaws putter up and down the winding roads and cows graze lazily on the hillsides. The people are warm and friendly, and take things slow.
I recommend spending at least three nights here and two full days. Don’t be tempted to sacrifice this remote, picturesque countryside village just to squeeze in one more must-see Indian city. Munnar is a retreat that shouldn’t be missed. It was biggest and best surprise from our Indian adventures.
Have you been to Munnar or Kerala? What would you add to this Munnar guide?