Munnar for Backpackers: Hike, Dive, Camp, & Explore!

Known for its verdant tea plantations, pristine valley views, national park & lake, and daylong getaways, Munnar is a Keralan hill station that delights you with the perfect weather throughout the year. Misty meadows reign its landscape, while the dotted mud-and-wood houses give you a glimpse into local lifestyle & culture. In the scattered region of Munnar, you'll also find many short and long hiking trails that filter out the crowd and land you in blissful spots like streams, natural pools, and waterfalls. Other activities to look forward to are camping, stargazing over bonfires on a clear day, and visiting the national park, tea estates, and viewpoints.

Munnar view

Things to do in Munnar

Hike up the Anamudi Peak

One of the highest peaks of Southern India, Anamudi peak is known for hiking, birdwatching, and vibrant sunsets. The shape of the mountain resembles the head of an elephant, and the name is derived from the same. Trekking on this peak is an exclusive affair, and those who wish to trek should take permission from the Eravikulam National Park authorities.

Drive to the Pothamedu View Point

Located at a distance of just 5 km from Munnar town, this viewpoint is nestled amidst verdant meadows and tea plantations. It is frequented for panoramic views of Munnar, dotted with tiny brown and white houses amidst a velvety blanket of bright green. Pothamedu is a small hill that backpackers can hike as well.

Trek to Top Station

42 km from Zostel Munnar
Situated on the border between two states, Top Station is a peak that offers lovely views of both the western ghats of Kerala and the hills of Theni district, Tamil Nadu. You can catch a glimpse of cottony clouds floating right beside you at top station early in the morning. It is close to the Kurunji blooms.

Marvel at Kurunjimala, the purple flower sanctuary

50 km from Munnar
A place admired by thousands, the Kurunjimala blooms are as rare as they are beautiful. A 32-hectare core habitat of the endangered Kurunjimala plants welcomes you into the premise, where peace reigns and once every twelve years or so, an ocean of Kurunjimala flowers blooms and colours the fields purple. The flowers have bloomed both in 2020 and 2021, which is rare and surprising.

Visit the serene lakes

With vast dams come soothing lakes. This is the case in Munnar for sure, where two prominent lakes dot the otherwise hilly landscape. The Kundala Dam and lake is about a 50 min ride from Munnar main town and is known for those picturesque shikara rides synonymous with serenity and romance. Then there is Mattupetty Lake, which is 9 km (20-min) from the town. Enveloped by rolling hills all around, this cobalt-blue lake makes for a stunning spot to spend your afternoon.

munnar lake

Dreaming of Munnar already? Check out our social and lively backpacker hostel in Munnar, Zostel Munnar.

Take a day trip to Vattavada

Dotted with colourful houses, vegetable fields, gushing streams, and hidden waterfalls, Vattavada is a hot tourist destination for a day trip from Munnar. On the way, you can explore Mattupetty lake, top station and Kurunjimala. Once here, make your way to the Vattavada waterfall, Pazhathottam viewpoint, and nearby tea estates. For hikers, the trekking routes to Vattavada are connected to many other popular spots. Over a weekend, you can trek to Kodaikanal, Top Station, Mattupetty, Kanthaloor, and Meesapulimala.

Off-road to Meesapulimala

40 km from Zostel Munnar
Meesapuli is loved for its abundance of wildlife and flora alike. It is a peak laced with rhododendron flowers during spring. Adventurers can explore the peak either through a trek organised by the Kerala Forest Development Corporation of Munnar or by a thrill-stirring offroading adventure in a 4x4. The chances are that you’ll spot Nilgiri tahr, sambar deer, wild gaur, and even a sloth bear!

Visit the Punarjani Village

9 km, 17 min from Munnar
Kerala, like most other Indian states, is rich in its own cultures, traditions, and religious offerings. At the Punarjani Village, close to Munnar, you can be a part of traditional Keralan art forms such as Kathakali and Kalaripayattu. Alongside these heritage shows, you can also opt for short and long-term training programs in the ancient techniques of Ayurveda.

Explore the sanctuaries and national parks

The Idukki district, which houses Munnar, hosts multiple national parks and forests. The Eravikulam National Park is one of them, with its 101 species of butterflies and predator animals such as the golden jackal, leopard, and tiger. 40 km away is the Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary, where you can spot greyish giant squirrels, deer, leopards, and elephants. It is located in Marayoor, the village of sandalwood forests.

Dive in the waterfalls of Munnar

The hill stations of Kerala never fall short of waterfalls to explore. So, you can expect some raw aquatic adventures in Munnar as well. The Cheeyappara and Valara waterfalls are at a distance of 45 km from Munnar. While the Cheeyappara Waterfalls are a sight to behold due to their seven tier cascade, Valara Waterfalls mesmerise you with the greenery all around. Attukal Waterfalls, on the other hand, are much closer to Munnar and much loved by the crowd that is drawn to Munnar every other day. Still, these falls are a must-visit when in Munnar.

munnar waterfall

Trek to Kulukkumalai for sunset

35 km, 1.5 hrs from Munnar
Kolukkumalai is a hamlet in Tamil Nadu, very close to Munnar. This tiny village is highly relevant in this region since it houses the world’s highest tea plantations. The tea grown and processed here is believed to be more flavourful due to the high altitude. So, travellers often visit this peak for a walk through the tea estates and shop for some premium tea. As a backpacker, you can also drive down and then trek to the peak to watch a golden sunset before you head back down.

We now have a new hostel in town! Check out our super lively backpacker hostel made of digital nomads and travellers.

Activities of Munnar

  • Mountain biking, offroading, quad biking, and ATV rides
    Rappelling, rock climbing 
    Trekking in the highly dense forests of Munnar 
    Water sports at Mattupetty dam 
    Elephant safari at national parks 
    Archery and paintball at adventure parks 
    Night trekking and camping near Anamudi peak
munnar tea estate

Munnar for bikers

Munnar offers a perfect playground for bikers with exciting hairpin bends, brilliant valley views, and verdant tea estates at every other stretch. While the town sprawls with places to explore, even on a bike, Vandanmedu, Anamudi Shola, Marayoor, and Kundala are some of the most loved areas among the bikers of Kerala.

The Food of Munnar

The cuisine of Kerala goes beyond the usual curries we’ve all heard and drooled over. So on your next visit to the tropical state with soothing hill stations, try some of these dishes.

  • Kokum infused Kerala-style fish or spicy chicken fry at Guru’s Restaurant
    Ari pathri (rice flour pancakes) with chicken curry at Rochas Restaurant
    Buff fry + Malabar parotta & Puttu + Kadala curry at Rapsy Restaurant
    Idiyappam and egg curry at street shacks 
    Appam with stew at Saravana Bhavan, among their other dishes 

    Some other restaurants to try in Munnar include Mayabazar, Mezbaan hotel and Bamboo hut.

Zostel Munnar

We now have a new hostel in Kerala! Located in the serene outskirts of the bustling Munnar town, Zostel Munnar offers a brilliant view of the lush green meadows and tea estates that proffer Munnar its beauty. The hostel provides a fun and happening vibe to solo and group travellers, with colourful common areas to hang out, right from the rooftop to the balconies and indoor game rooms.

zostel munnar, a backpacking hostel in munnar

Digital nomads can easily set base at this hostel, thanks to the dedicated workstations enabled by WiFi and a brilliant view to take away your boredom. To call this hostel your second home for a long workation, we have you covered with both spacious dorms and peace-inducing private rooms. And with lots to do in and around the hostel itself, we are sure you’ll end up having a memorable time playing games, enjoying bonfires, going on hikes, and chilling at the hostel.

zostel munnar, a backpacking hostel in munnar

All pictures in this blog are by Ankit Gupta.

Writer, Pranavi Chhikniwala.