When it comes to getting around in Cochin, the first thing you need to know is that the names Cochin and Ernakulam are used interchangeably. Nearly all long haul buses and trains use the name Ernakulam.
Cochin town planning, especially road planning has not caught up with the pace of urban growth. The result is a congested city centre and traffic chaos. Things get much better once you leave the city centre.
You will find them almost everywhere. No need to pre-book. Make sure to confirm the price before you start the journey.
Pre-book services are available at major Railway Stations (Junction & South), Vyttila mobility hub etc.
Auto Rickshaws are cheaper than taxis and suitable for short rides within the city. It may appear to you like they are always in a hurry, twisting and turning through the traffic.
Auto taxis are a new type of vehicle. They are a hybrid between a car and an auto. If we say they are four wheeled auto rickshaws, it is not far off from the truth. The good news is that they charge only Auto Rickshaw rates. They travel longer distances than the three wheeler. The downside is that they are a bit noisy.
There are several hire car companies in Cochin. A few have offices in the airport. You have the choice of renting a car with or without a driver. Nearly all of them are local brands and not the international ones.
Taxis are available for hire at taxi ranks located outside railway stations and other major locations. Always confirm the fare before you get in the car.
Pre-book services are the best for several reasons.
- their pricing is fair
- can be tracked, so are safer
- drivers are checked for criminal background
Your resort of hotel can arrange a taxi for you. It is better to know their rates first because it can be more expensive than you booking a cab yourself.
You will not pass through Cochin without seeing red buses. These are private bus services doing intra city services.
Bus fares are cheap, and have frequent stops. So they are convenient for getting around in Cochin. At times they get crowded. Beware of pickpockets in crowded buses. You are better off hiring an Autorikshaw than hopping on a very crowded bus.
KSRTC, the state transport authority, runs different types of bus services. Their local service called Thiru-Kochi has buses in blue-white. KSRTC uses different colours to differentiate various types of services such as express, superfast and ordinary.
Where do I take a bus from? You can get a bus from a bus stop or a bus station. Generally, buses have destinations written in English on their front and back.
For city travel, you will be taking buses from bus stops. Make sure you are in the right bus stop. If you are in doubt, ask any local: can I get a bus to ----from this bus stop?
Cochin has not developed a city loop service. There are two major Railway stations and several suburban stations within city bounds.
Ernakulam South is the major station in town. That is where to take most inter-state and long distance trains.
Second in importance is the Town station. This is the station to take a train to Kottyam or the northern suburbs. It is also called North Station.
Aluva is a busy suburban station where many trains stop. Local trains stop at stations such as Angamaly, Aroor, Aluva, Edappally and Thrippunithura.
Cochin has an active ferry network. There are several islands within city bounds. They are connected to the mainland by regular ferries.
Ferries are inexpensive and efficient. You will get the backwater feel of the city as well. By using ferries alone, you can get to many tourist attractions including Fort Kochi.
Motor bikes and bicycles
Hiring a bicycle of motor bike is a good choice to explore places such as Fort Kochi, where you will encounter relaxed traffic. You can hire a bike at places such as Fort Kochi.
There are tour operators who provide bicycle tour. These tours are good fun although the rates are not similar to hiring a bicycle yourself.