Kerala in January: weather and travel tips

written by
Olga Sitnitsa

updated 26.10.2023

In January, Kerala, the jewel of India's southwest coast, invites travellers to discover its enchanting face. Whether looking for a blissful holiday by the sea, adventure with wildlife, immersion in culture or rejuvenation through Ayurveda, the weather in Kerala in January promises you an extraordinary journey.

Is January a good time to visit Kerala?

January is the best time to explore the captivating beauty of Kerala. The weather in Kerala in January is surprisingly pleasant, providing a respite from the winter chill experienced in other countries.

Nature is in full bloom at this time, revealing the diverse delights of Kerala. From sun-drenched shores to misty hill stations, from tranquil rivers to bustling festivals, this Indian state reveals its wonders to the fullest. 

Whether you're looking for tranquillity on the seashore, wildlife encounters in national parks, cultural immersion in traditional festivals or rejuvenation from Ayurvedic treatments, Kerala in January promises an extraordinary journey.

Ready to explore India? Embark on your dream trip hassle-free with the help of our India travel experts.

Kerala backwaters houseboat, India © Shutterstock

Kerala backwaters houseboat, India

Air & sea temperatures in Kerala in January

The weather in Kerala in January is characterised by pleasant and relatively stable air and sea temperatures.

During the day, temperatures in Kerala usually range from 24 to 32°C (75 to 89°F). This temperature is comfortable and perfect for a break from colder regions during the winter months. Evenings can be a little cooler, so it's not unreasonable to bring outerwear.

As for sea temperatures, the Kerala coast is also quite pleasant in January, ranging from 27 to 30°C (81-86°F). The Arabian Sea remains relatively warm, making it suitable for swimming and water activities.

Ready to embark on an Indian adventure? Explore our India itineraries for a travel inspiration boost.

Can it rain in Kerala in January?

Kerala usually receives very little rainfall in January. This month falls during the dry season in Kerala, which lasts from December to February. Kerala is known for its monsoon season with heavy rainfall from June to September, but December, January and February are characterised by dry and pleasant weather.

Although occasional brief showers or drizzle can be experienced, significant rainfall is rare in January. The chances of rain affecting your travel plans to Kerala this month are minimal, making it a favourable time for those who prefer dry and comfortable weather conditions.

Not quite sure when you want to go? Read up on the best time to visit India.

tea-plantation-munnar-kerala-india-shutterstock_745140127

Tea plantation, Munnar, Kerala, India @ Shutterstock

What about the crowd & cost?

Kerala experiences a significant influx of tourists in January, resulting in large crowds and potentially higher accommodation and entertainment prices.

January is considered the peak tourist season in Kerala due to favourable weather conditions. Many tourists, both local and foreign, come to the state during this period to escape the winter cold in their home regions.

Popular tourist spots like the famous Kerala beaches, hill stations and river waters can be crowded. Attractions and popular attractions may have long queues or waiting times.

Due to the high demand for accommodation and activities, prices for hotels, resorts and excursions in January may be relatively higher than at other times of the year. It is advisable to book accommodation and activities well in advance to have a wider range of options and find better deals.

Set on taking a trip this winter? Read up on the best places to visit in January.

Meenmutty waterfall in the way to ponmudi Kerala © Shutterstock

Meenmutty waterfall in the way to ponmudi Kerala © Shutterstock

Unforgettable, fully customisable Kerala itineraries

Our tailor-made trip service allows you to fully enjoy the weather in Kerala in January without the planning or hassle. All of our planned itineraries are created by local India travel experts and can be tailored to meet your specific needs.

  • Kerala – God’s Own Country (11 days): The lush greenery of tea plantations, the colourful spice markets and plantations - this itinerary is nothing short of highlights. Take a houseboat trip on the Kerala backwaters before finishing your trip with some leisure beach days.
  • Magical Kerala (7 days): The intense greens of the Kerala backwaters, overhung by innumerable coconut palms, encapsulate tropical India like nowhere else. Enjoy a lazy cruise on a converted rice barge; visit fragrant spice plantations, explore Cochi and spot local wildlife.
  • Treasures of India - South and North (17 days): Travel to the lush tea plantations of Munnar and experience the tranquil backwaters of Kerala. Explore the palaces of Udaipur, the vibrant streets of Jaipur, and the wildlife of Ranthambore.

Or discover more India itineraries.

Tips for travelling to Kerala in January

While going on a trip, one must consider the weather in Kerala in January and the nuances that this month brings.

What to wear in Kerala in January?

Your choice of clothing should suit the warm and pleasant weather in Kerala in January. Since the state enjoys a pleasant climate at this time, it is best to choose lightweight and breathable fabrics such as cotton and linen.

Also, opt for loose-fitting items that not only provide comfort but also better air circulation. It should also be taken into account that evenings can sometimes be cool and, especially if you plan to visit hill stations, it is advisable to carry some outerwear.

Given the abundance of sunlight, sun protection is crucial. Don't forget to bring sunscreen, sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat to protect yourself from the sun's rays.

Also, if your itinerary includes visits to temples or religious sites, it is advisable to dress modestly, covering your shoulders and knees, which can easily be done with a shawl or shawl.

Among other things, complete your wardrobe with comfortable shoes and a swimming costume for a beach holiday. All this ensures that you are well prepared for an enjoyable and culturally respectful holiday in the beautiful state of Kerala in January.

Is AC necessary in Kerala in January?

January in Kerala is generally a comfortable and pleasant month in terms of weather. It is usually not excessively hot during the day, and the need for air conditioning depends on your personal preferences and where you stay.

Many hotels, resorts and inns in Kerala are air-conditioned and often have them in the rooms. If you prefer a cooler indoor atmosphere, you can certainly use air conditioning for your comfort, especially during the warmer hours of the day.

However, some travellers find that natural ventilation, ceiling fans or open windows are enough to maintain a comfortable temperature in January. Also, in hill stations like Munnar, where temperatures can be cooler, air conditioning may not be needed at all.

Varkala South Cliff beach © Shutterstock

Varkala South Cliff Beach © Shutterstock

What to do in Kerala in January

In January, the state of Kerala invites travellers to immerse themselves in the enchanting atmosphere. The state's diverse landscapes, cultural richness and pleasant climate make it an ideal destination for an unforgettable holiday.

Explore Kerala backwaters

Kerala's backwaters are a must-visit destination, and the weather in Kerala in January offers ideal conditions to explore them. Cruise the serene waterways in a traditional houseboat, observing the picturesque scenery, lush greenery and local life. Alleppey and Kumarakom are popular starting points for cruises.

Visit Munnar's Tea Gardens

Explore the misty hills of Munnar, a famous hill station. January offers clear skies for hiking and admiring the vast tea plantations. Visit tea factories to learn about tea processing methods and enjoy panoramic views.

Munnar landscape in Kerala, India © Shutterstock

Munnar landscape in Kerala, India © Shutterstock

Go on a wildlife safari

Visit Kerala's wildlife sanctuaries like Periyar Tiger Reserve and Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary. The cooler weather is most conducive to wildlife spotting. Go on a guided safari to see elephants, tigers and many species of birds.

Enjoy your beach holiday

Kerala boasts of gorgeous beaches and January is perfect for enjoying the sun and sea. Kovalam, Varkala and Marari are some of the best beach destinations in India. Relax on the golden sands, swim in the Arabian Sea or indulge in water sports.

Main beach in Kovalam, Kerala, India © Shutterstock

The main beach in Kovalam, Kerala, India © Shutterstock

Embrace local traditions during Makaravilakku Festival

The festival of Makaravilakku, also known as Makara Sankranthi, is a significant religious and cultural event celebrated in the Indian state of Kerala, particularly at the Sabarimala temple. This annual festival is usually held on 14 January every year.

The festival culminates with the ceremonial lighting of the Makaravilakku lamp at the Sabarimala temple. This ritual is believed to symbolise the divine presence of Lord Ayyappa. Thousands of pilgrims gather at the temple complex to witness this momentous occasion.

Apart from religious ceremonies, the festival includes cultural programmes, traditional music and dance performances. It is a time when Kerala's rich cultural heritage is showcased and various arts and traditions are displayed.

Planning your January trip to Kerala

For more inspiration, discover some of the best things to do in India, and start planning your trip with The Rough Guide to India

Daunted by the prospect of planning? No problem! Browse our customisable India itineraries, and talk to our local India travel experts.

Olga Sitnitsa

written by
Olga Sitnitsa

updated 26.10.2023

Online editor at Rough Guides, specialising in travel content. Passionate about creating compelling stories and inspiring others to explore the world.

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