The Real Marigold Hotel Tour

Special Offer :
Individual bookings : $109US per person
… and for a single request for 5 or more individual bookings we will give
an additional 3,5% discount = $105US per person

WARNING : This unique tour is often fully booked.
We strongly recommend that you book The Real Marigold Hotel Tour well ahead in order to be sure that you will have the inside story from the experts of South India by Car and Driver.

We  participated in the BBC TV series

The producers of The Real Marigold Hotel requested our assistance during the planning stage of what became a very successful BBC1 TV series first shown in 2017. The group of celebrities visited sites in and around Kochi, Kerala.

South India by Car and Driver advised them on places to visit and provided the cars and drivers during the filming for the celebrities and the film crews. Our guides actually attended some of the events and appeared in the show !

We have now created a one day tour covering the exciting things shown on BBC television which include the major sights of our city through the eyes of local people.

This special excursion is available  as a one day tour for those based in or around Kochi. Upon request, we can also include it in our more extended tour packages.

If you wish to follow in the footsteps of The Real Marigold Hotel celebrities, we are the best placed to take you and to explain the behind the scenes events of the filming of the series.

The BBC TV celebrities


Driving and guiding the BBC TV series celebrities


This is an experience rather than an ordinary tour. A South India by Car and Driver guide will take you safely through the bustle and cacophony of everyday life in Kochi just as we did for the group of celebrities in The Real Marigold Hotel series on the TV series.

You will see and do things in Kochi similar to those experienced by the celebrities : local life, major sights, animated streets, colourful markets, meeting families, cooking lesson, typical Kerala lunch, tuk tuk ride, the hotel used during the programme…. and more. This is incredible India and you will probably witness unplanned surprises, a wedding, a celebration, a procession,… who knows ?

You will be able to take in the atmosphere of Kochi and leave with wonderful memories of our amazing city. Do not forget your camera to capture this original way of visiting Kochi.


We will collect you at the location defined in your booking agreement (hotel, airport, train station, …) and return you there or to a different predefined place. Please indicate your requirements at the time of booking.


Dhobi khana

Dhobi Khana at Veli in Fort Kochi is where the Tamil-speaking Vannan community carry out laundry works using traditional methods.
This practice of the Vannan community has been traced back to the colonial period when they washed the army uniforms of the Portuguese or the Dutch. Families have cubicles each with a pool of water. Grey-haired men can be seen washing clothes in the cubicles using the traditional method of soaking the clothes in bleach and detergent water. Soaked clothes are washed by beating on a laundry stone. Starching the clothes is also done by dipping the clothes in starch obtained from boiled rice. Men and women do the ironing, some still using the traditional charcoal iron.

Tuk tuk ride

Known by some as a rickshaw, the tuk tuk is an exciting way to visit some of the smaller streets of Kochi and to ride like the richer locals through the colourful hustle and bustle.

Meet a local family for a cookery lesson

You will be welcomed by a local family into their home. Here you will have a cookery lesson on how to prepare delicious local food and participate in the preparation of lunch. You will then be invited to eat with the family.

Typical Kerala lunch

After the cookery lesson in the local family home you will have a typical Kerala lunch with its flavours as exciting as the local environment. The spicy dishes will be adapted to you palette.

Saint Francis Church

cochinKochi I Cochin I group of drivers

Originally built in 1503, Saint Francis Church is the oldest European church in India and has great historical significance as a mute witness to the European colonial struggle. The Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama died in Kochi in 1524 when he was on his third visit to India. His body was originally buried in this church, but after fourteen years his remains were removed to Lisbon by his only son. But the tombstone is still in the church.

Chinese fishing nets and fish market

fishing nets cochin car and driver rent kochi kerala india

The peaceful activities of the harbour include the Chinese fishing nets and the fish market. This world famous area has enchanted visitors for centuries. In this traditional method of fishing, nets are strung from huge curved bamboo and teak poles that are operated from the shore. Legend has it that they were introduced by the Chinese explorer Zheng He in the 14th century.

Streets and markets


You will pass through different parts of Kochi to see how we live and shop. There is a persistent old-world charm with a blend of Dutch, Portuguese and English style bungalows, quaint narrow streets and local markets.

Jewtown and its synagogue*

*Not available on Friday afternoons and Saturdays or on all Jewish holidays

Jewtown in Mattancherry is famous for the antique shops all along its sides.  The colonial buildings lining the street add to its old-world charm. Here you can breathe antiquity with curio and antique shops along the street capable of enchanting visitors with their variety and rarity.

The Paradesi Synagogue, in a corner of Jewtown, is more than a hundred years old and houses many rare antiques. The Jewish synagogue was built in 1568, almost 1500 years after the beginning of the Jewish connection with Kerala, on land given by the king of Cochin. It is the oldest in the Commonwealth. In 1662, it was destroyed by the Portuguese and then reconstructed, two years later, by the Dutch.

The Real Marigold Hotel : Le Colonial

You will see the hotel used for the BBC1 television series. The celebrities stayed in a boutique hotel in the centre of Kochi : Le Colonial.

Le Colonial dates back to 1506 and is one of India’s oldest colonial houses, possibly the oldest. For its first 150 years, it was home of the Portuguese Governor and it was one of the few houses not to be destroyed when the Dutch conquered Kochi. After that, it was the home of the Dutch governors for another century and a half before it was sold to the British in 1795. It ended up being owned by English tea trader J. Thomas. Nowadays its eight rooms are kitted out with private bathrooms, air-conditioning, four-poster beds and wifi.


WE ARE are a Government Approved Tours and Travel Company and a Government Approved Cruise Liner Transporter.
OUR EXCURSIONS are all-included no-hassle excursions with no add-ons and no unwanted commercial visits. Obviously you will support any personal expenses you might decide to incur.
WE WILL COLLECT YOU at the location defined in your booking agreement (hotel, airport, train station, …) and return you there or to a different predefined place.
OUR VEHICLES are recent, fully air conditioned, comfortable, safe, clean and perfectly serviced.
OUR SMALL GROUP POLICY enables you to enjoy a private tour in a convivial atmosphere, ideal for communicating with your guide and visiting the sites together.
OUR GUIDES are English Speaking Official Guides who will accompany you during the whole of the excursion, guide you round the sites, and explain local culture and history. They will be delighted to give you any additional information you might request (if you prefer another language, please consult us for a quote).
OUR DRIVERS are Government Registered Tourist Drivers who furthermore have signed our Drivers’ Charter.
OUR EMPLOYEES are professional, experienced and trustworthy local people who will look after you at all times.
WE CARE FOR YOU AS OUR GUEST to ensure you enjoy your excursion in comfort and security. We will take you only to safe areas and to places of proven quality.
CUSTOMER REVIEWS can be found on this website and on the links to TripAdvisor. We encourage you to add your own review after your tour to help other travellers choose us.
OUR REPUTATION depends on YOUR SATISFACTION and we are organised to achieve your satisfaction during your excursion.



You can choose from the following options :

Individual bookings : $109US per person
… and for a single request for 5 or more individual bookings we will give
an additional 3,5% discount = $105US per person

The price is all inclusive and includes
• Pick up and drop off at the predetermined place of your choice
• Fully air conditioned vehicle, recent and in excellent condition
• Escort by a friendly professional English speaking guide
• Cookery lesson and typical Kerala lunch in a local family home
• Entrance fees to the selected sites and camera fees where applicable
• A bottle of water per person in the vehicle


Please use the form below to book your trip with South India by Car and Driver.
We have a policy of replying within 48 hours.
Please indicate the tour you have selected and the points of pick up and drop off.

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