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12-Day Highlights of South India Tour

Tour route: India : Chennai - Mahabalipuram - Pondicherry - Thanjavur - Trichy - Madurai - Periyar - Alleppey - Cochin

Highlights South India Tour Map
  • Tour code: INOT-IN-005
  • Price inclusions: All transportation mentioned in itinerary (flight, train, ship, private car, etc.); private guides & drivers, hotels, meals (based on your meal plan), and all service charges & taxes.
  • Travel date: private tour with flexible travel date
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Day 1: Chennai Arrival, Chennai - Mamallapuram (By Car, 1.5 Hrs)

Welcome to India! Upon your arrival at Chennai in Tamilnadu, you will be greeted by our representative and transferred directly to Mamallapuram which is located on the coast on the Bay of Bengal. After our representative help you check in and brief you about the following tours, have some free time on your own.

Note: Driving time in the program is approximate, subject to the traffic, weather and road conditions.

Overnight: Mamallapuram

Day 2: Mamallapuram sightseeing

After breakfast start your day at Mamallapuram with a visit to the 7th-century Shore Temple which is surrounded by lush gardens, followed by an exploration of the celebrated bas-relief at Arjuna’s Penance and the Five Rathas. The afternoon is at leisure on the beach.

Overnight: Mamallapuram
Meals: Breakfast

Day 3: Mamallapuram - Pondicherry (By Car, Approx. 2 Hrs, 90 Km)

Continue your journey down the coast to the former French colony of Pondicherry. In the afternoon take a walk through the French Quarter of Pondicherry to soak up the French flavors and feel the city’s leisurely approach to life when strolling past charming colonial architecture & street side cafes, you may also take a bicycle if you prefer. Later visit the Aurobindo Ashram that promotes the ideas to bring about a synthesis of yoga and modern science.

Overnight: Pondicherry
Meals: Breakfast

Day 4: Pondicherry - Thanjavur (By Car, Approx. 4 Hrs, 176 Km)

Travel further through the fertile region known as the 'rice bowl' of Tamil Nadu to Thanjavur. On guided afternoon tour you will discover the monumental granite Temple of Brihadeeshwara (Bull Temple) which is capped by a monolithic cupola and a symbol of power and might of the Cholas who ruled between 9th and 13th centuries. Enjoy a wonderful collection of royal remnants of early 19th century at nearby Thanjavur Palace. Observe and learn about how the exquisite bronzes and handicrafts are produced by the hands of local craftsmen.

Overnight: Thanjavur
Meals: Breakfast

Day 5: Thanjavur - Madurai (By Car, Approx. 4 Hrs, 213 Km)

Today you continue to Trichy, the old citadel of the Chola Dynasty in the medieval period, where you visit the Rock Fort. A climb of 434 steps leads to the ancient temple of Ganapati on top and a further climb to a Shiva temple. Afterwards you continue your journey to Madurai, South India’s greatest temple town and significant pilgrim site.

Overnight: Madurai
Meals: Breakfast

Day 6: Madurai sightseeing
Madurai is the oldest city in Tamil Nadu. Today you will visit the thousand-year-old Meenakshi Temple,one of India’s largest pilgrim sites with 12 towering gopurams; it’s going to be unforgettable to observe the rituals and celebration during the evening puja ceremony inside the Meenakshi Temple.

Later, visit the Tirumala Nayak Palace-a gracious building revealing the power and wealth of the Nayakas who made Madurai their capital in the 16th and 17th centuries. Continue to the Alagar Hills and Tirupara Kundran Rock temple.

Overnight: Madurai
Meals: Breakfast

Day 7: Madurai - Periyar (By Car, Approx. 4 Hrs, 200 Km)
After breakfast drive through the Western Ghats to Periyar Tiger Reserve, India’s earliest sanctuary and one of the best places to see the Asian Elephant. After checking into your hotel, you have time to stroll through one of the spice plantations this area famous for and learn about the many different uses of spices, both in medicine and food.

Afternoon at leisure.

Overnight: Periyar
Meals: Breakfast

Day 8: Periyar sightseeing

In the early morning (around 7 am), you'll enjoy a forest trek inside the National Park which takes 1-3 hours regarding to your interest. After the trekking. Take a late morning cruise on the picturesque Periyar Lake at the heart of the Periyar Tiger Reserve, as the coolness comes in the evening many wildlife drink at the water edge. This night you can choose to take an optional martial art performance, the ancient Kalaripayattu that is said to be 3000 years old. 

Afternoon free at leisure.

Overnight: Periyar
Meals: Breakfast

Day 9: Periyar - Alleppey ( By Car, Approx. 4.5 Hrs , 160 Km)

After the breakfast, drive to Alleppey, embark on your houseboat and start an enchanting cruise along the reputed backwater of Kerala; just relax and lay back while you navigate slowly through the tranquil waterways. It is a wonderful opportunity to discover Kerala’s rural lifestyle. You’ll see that Kerala is known for its cashew nuts, coir trade, rice, pepper crops & coconuts. 

Your chef on houseboat will prepare delicious Kerala specialties on board.

Overnight: Houseboat
Meals: Full board

Day 10: Alleppey - Cochin (By Car, Approx. 1 Hr , 56 Km)

After a breakfast on the houseboat, disembark and say goodbye to the backwaters and head for Cochin, Kerala’s most cosmopolitan city and an important trading center for spices. The afternoon is yours.

In the evening you can choose to enjoy Kerala’s signature performance of Kathakali, a classical form of dance, drama and music that is more than 400 years old.

Overnight: Cochin
Meals: Breakfast

Day 11: Cochin sightseeing

After breakfast you start your exploration of Fort Cochin. Follow the footprint left centuries ago by Dutch, Portuguese, British, Arab and Chinese and soak up the cultural atmosphere as you stroll along the quaint narrow lanes of Fort Cochin to visit the Dutch Palace, St Francis Church and India’s oldest Jewish Synagogue in Jew Town.

Later head to the harbor where local fishermen use the old Chinese fishing nets, introduced and erected centuries ago.

Overnight: Cochin
Meals: Breakfast
Day 12: Cochin/International Departure flight

Bid farewell, our representative will escort you to airport for your return flight.

No hotel in Cochin.
Meals: Breakfast

Recommended Accommodation for Your Journey

Good accommodation choice will in no doubt enhance your tour experience. Our well-established partnership network with key hotel chains in India, Nepal, Bhutan and Sri-Lanka will bring you the benefits of competitive hotel rate and guaranteed room availability.

We pick hotels for you based on:

Location: geographically convenience values for your precious holiday time. So properties we use are either in downtown area close to main city attractions and amenities, or convenient for sightseeing or transportation.
Facility & Service Quality: all hotels are inspected strictly and regularly, must be with great performance on accommodating English speaking customers, and excellent feedbacks from our pervious clients as well.
Diversity for Choice: many styles and grades of hotels are available for different budgets, tastes and culture backgrounds.

Hotel Criteria for Each Tour Class

Note: Bhutan is less developed with fewer hotels criteria for choice, and most of the hotels there aren't as high standard as those in Western society.

Hotel Arrangement for Standard Tour Class

Usually conveniently located and meet the basic requirements of a comfortable stay: decorative lobbies and nice guest rooms with AC, TV, hot water, shower and private bathrooms. On-site restaurants may be average in size but offer breakfast, lunch and dinner. In most cases, staffs have basic command of English. Usually 3 star hotels are adopted.

Hotel Arrangement for Comfortable Tour Class

Normally you'll stay at formal and large hotels conveniently located with shopping, dining and entertainment facilities nearby. Quality service, fully furnished rooms, restaurants, room service, fitness center and swimming pool (in some cases there is no pool) all together offer an above-average accommodation experience.
Usually good 4-star hotels are adopted or boutique hotels at request. Hotels best available will be arranged if no qualified choice, e.g. in remote area.

Hotel Arrangement for Superior Tour Class

Usually properties are conveniently located with shopping, dining and entertainment facilities nearby and offer a better service and hotel facility than that in hotels of Comfortable Tour Class. Usually 4-4.5 star hotels or boutique hotels are adopted.

Hotel Arrangement for First Tour Class

Deluxe hotels with high-end service and an extensive range of facilities for an excellent accommodation experience. Multiple restaurants on site with extensive menus for choice, room service available 24/7, fitness center and concierge service round out the experience. Usually 5 star hotels are adopted.

Hotel Arrangement for Deluxe Tour Class

The most luxury hotels are used and only available in some particular cities. These properties have top-notch service and unique location, such as a lake or a historic site, and usually incorporate some of the country’s most exquisite architecture traditions. Usually top 5 star or the best available hotels are adopted.

5-Day Tropical Goa Extension

If the backwaters of Kerala is not enough for you, Goa could be a great make up. We arrange ample free time on Goa beach paradise and you won’t miss Goa city highlights as well. This extension is perfectly connected by air transport, frequent flights are available for a bunch of southern cities as well as  Northern Part of India, such as Delhi and Udaipur. 

Day 1: Arrival, Goa at leisure

Upon arrival at Goa airport you will be met & transferred to hotel where our representative helps you check in and briefs you about the following tours. Have some free time on your own.

Overnight: Goa
Meals: Breakfast

Day 2: Goa sightseeing

After breakfast head to Old Goa, discover historical Portuguese influences on Goa’s religion and architecture by visiting the Basilica of Bom Jesus, the most famous of all churches in Goa that holds the remains of St. Francis Xavier. Continue to visit St Cathedral, the biggest in Goa, Church of St Francis of Assisi, St Cajetan Church built in the style of St Peter's Basilica in Rome, Church of Lady of Rosary and Nunnery of St. Monica. Rest of the day is at leisure. 

Overnight: Goa
Meals: Breakfast

Day 3: Free Day in Goa

Day at leisure to relax on the palm fringed beach of Goa

Overnight: Goa
Meals: Breakfast

Day 4: Free Day in Goa

Day at leisure to relax on the beach

Overnight: Goa
Meals: Breakfast

Day 5: Departure Flight

After breakfast and check out, transfer to the airport for your onward flight.

Meals: Breakfast

*Besides, Mumbai Extension is also a popular extension choice for this tour. Contact us for details.


Normally, India Odyssey Tours put breakfast in your itinerary except for in Bhutan (all meals included). Lunch won’t be included for the sake of tour convenience, while dinner is also excluded as some travelers might want a little culinary adventure themselves. But surely your tour guide/driver is always glad to offer their advice.


It is normally served at the hotel where you stay. Depending on the hotel, the breakfast would be in western style, local style, or a combination.


Usually lunch won’t be included considering the fact that sometimes travelers may want to stay somewhere longer/shorter or need other minor changes during daily sightseeing, and it’s better to decide the lunch site then rather than pre-arranging it. For sure our tour guides/drivers will be happy to advice good places to you, and we strongly suggest qualified local restaurant or hotels around the scenic spots for the sake of your health.


Dinners will not be included in your meal plan unless you have that requirement. Enjoying the local food could be one of your best experiences in the incredible India & South Asia. This is why we offer you this flexibility of food choice, and you can always get advice from your tour guides/drivers.

If you have certain food allergies or special requirements such as vegetarian food, let us know. We will do our best to accommodate your needs.

Private Guide & Transfer

You will have a private tour guide, private driver, and an air-conditioned vehicle escorting you at every destination you travel across South Asia. This will provide you with maximized personal care, security, and flexibility.

All tour guides of India Odyssey Tours are qualified professionals and registered English Speaking Tourist Guides who are reassessed annually. All of our tour vehicles are clean and in excellent condition, manned with licensed & experienced drivers.

Private Tour Guide

You will always be greeted punctually on arrival at each destination airport. At every departure, you’ll be escorted & assisted until you have checked in and passed through the security checkpoint.

All of our tour guides in every destination are locals. Knowing the area well, they are good at guiding you around and telling background stories of the tour sites, as well as showing you the secret spots for best photos.

If any change of itinerary is needed for unexpected reasons, your private tour guides will be more than accommodating in suggesting alternatives to ensure that you always have a wonderful experience.

Private Vehicle & Licensed Driver

With our comfortable and safe private transportation, your tour will be more relaxing and less tiresome, keeping you in the best spirits to make the most out of your journey across South Asia.

Your vehicle in each destination is air conditioned, insured, clean, and regularly maintained. Your private driver is licensed and always put your safety first.

Reviews on: Highlights of South India Tour

Customer Rating
  • Excellent424
  • Very good14
  • Average1
  • Poor0
  • Terrible0
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439 reviews sorted by date

Clients: Antonella Martoglio

From: Italy

Travel Consultant:
Mavis Jiang
We have just booked our holiday in India with Mavis. She was very responsive and her help in arranging our tailor-made tour was great! Surely it will be an amazing experience! �
Rating: May 27th, 2017

Clients: Maureen Muldaur

Travel Consultant:
Eric Kong
We haven't taken our trip yet, but the service we've received from Eric Kong has been superb. He put together an India itinerary that is fabulous and has been such an excellent communicator, helping us all the way along. Eric, you're the best!
Rating: May 19th, 2017

Clients: David Walker

Travel Consultant:
Don Li
Summary:We had a great time and we would take another tour with Odyssey Tours. I definitely would (and have) recommended this company to my friends and family.Before the tour:The planning process could not be easier. We initially were interested in a Delhi, Agra, Jaipur tour. Later, we decided to add Ranthambore, and there were absolutely no issues. Don prepared us well for the trip, making sure we had all of the necessary documents and with advice for what we would need once we were there.The tour itself:The tour itself exceeded all expectations. We had a great driver who picked me up from the airport at the beginning of the tour and dropped us off at the airport at the end. Part of the experience of going to India is the food, and it didn't disappoint. The tour guides and our driver were excellent resources to suggest restaurants and, having a driver, it was very easy to get around. The tour guides were extremely knowledgeable and the tours of the sights were extremely interesting. Because it was a private tour, we could really make the most of our limited time there because the guides always knew where to go (we didn't have to figure it out) and we weren't waiting for a bunch of other people.
Rating: May 16th, 2017

Clients: Susan Larsen

Travel Consultant:
Owen Zhou
Many thanks to Owen for organising our tour of northern India. I would definitely recommend him and Odyssey tours. We were looked after every step of the way with a local guide meeting us at each hotel and helping us check in. On top of that we received a call from head office every 3 days to check everything was OK.
Rating: May 9th, 2017

Clients: Mark Tafel

Travel Consultant:
Owen Zhou
Owen was our rep for planning an 8 day Golden Triangle tour of India. The planning process was swift and efficient. He consistently responded by email within 24 hours, and everything was arranged really clearly. The trip went off without a hitch. In each city, the staff met us immediately upon arrival and everyone was courteous and hospitable. The main office checked in with us from Delhi several times, so we always knew that our satisfaction was really important to them.I would definitely recommend working with Owen to arrange a tour.
Rating: May 7th, 2017
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