Kerala is a tropical landscape of sweeping beaches, shimmering backwaters and silhouettes of Chinese fishing nets (Cheenavela). Stretching for 550km along the the Malabar coast, this state is home to a glut of vibrant festivals. Travel to Kerala for its palm-fringed shores, spice plantations and backwaters dotted with houseboats. There’s an assortment of places to visit and things to do on this coastal land for both tourists and backpackers. Start the day with a cinematic sunrise at the beaches of Alleppey, Kovalam and Varkala. Surf their topaz waters, and have steaming idlis for breakfast. To get a glimpse into Kerala’s heritage, take a walk through the forts of Anjengo in Varkala, Bekal in Kasaragod and the Koyikkal Palace in Thiruvananthapuram. If you are looking to escape the heat, head to the forested hills of Munnar, Wayanad, Thekkady and Vagamon. These hamlets are known over the world for their coffee, tea, spice and rubber plantations. Among the more active things to do in Kerala, a trek through the Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary, in search of the rare Nilgiri tahr, and one through the Periyar reserve for a herd of elephants, should definitely not be missed. Also, while you are here, make sure to catch a snake-boat race, a kathakali play or an extravagant temple festival, such as the Puram Festival in Thrissur.