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Beyond Venice: 8 must-see canal cities

Kerala Backwaters

Photo: natacha cornez/flickr

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Kerala Backwaters and Alappuzha

The Kerala Backwaters stretch for more than 900 miles through the coastal areas of their namesake in southwestern Indian state. Many locals use these waters for transport, but much of the boat traffic is tourist-related. There are several dozen natural rivers, a handful of lakes and a number of man-made canals that make up this watery transportation network. The lush tropical scenery and quaint vibe make Kerala a great place for a canal cruise, and the laid-back atmosphere is a welcome change for those who spend time in India's hectic cities. 

Some people rent a houseboat and spend days cruising the scenic backwaters. One of the best places to enjoy Kerala's canals is Alappuzha, a town about 50 miles from the capitol city of Kolchi (Cochin). Tourists can rent classic wooden houseboats, converted rice barges or something more rustic and cruise through both urban and rural landscapes during a day-long tour.