Take easy refuge in laid-back Kochi

The Life: Picture-postcard views and seafood to savour make Kochi in Kerala a relaxing place to visit.

KOCHI, INDIA – Feb 20: Chinese fishing net at Fort Kochi, Kerala during the sunset. ( Pawan Singh / The National )
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If you're heading on a business trip to Kochi in the Indian state of Kerala, you will be struck by its lush greenery as soon as you arrive.

During a daytime journey from the airport to your hotel, you will be treated to picture-postcard views of Kerala's backwaters, where fishermen ply their trade and wooden boats gently drift along the meandering waterways.

By comparison to India's bigger, more highly populated cities, such as Mumbai and New Delhi, there is a noticeable change in pace and Kochi is relatively laid-back.

Getting around: Downtown traffic can easily rival that found in any of the larger cities. Allow plenty of time to travel between meetings.

The layout: Kochi, a port city on the Arabian Sea, is divided into distinct areas. Ernakulum, the eastern part of the mainland, is probably the most convenient to be based. Fort Kochi, which is more picturesque and historic, is popular among tourists and can easily be reached by ferries from the mainland or by bridges.

Time out: A good option is to hop on a cruise from Marine Drive on the mainland, which will take you towards Fort Kochi and around the port area. This can be completed in just over an hour and will give you a chance to glimpse some of Kochi's older buildings and marvel at the large Chinese fishing nets, which look spectacular at sunset.

For those looking to impress non-local clients, take a tour of Kerala's backwaters on a houseboat from Kochi, which will take you through some of the small villages.

Eating out: Kerala is known for its seafood and Fort Cochin at the Casino Hotel is a popular option for business travellers looking to sample local food, with dishes including prawn mango curry and fish cooked with spices in a banana leaf.

How to get there: Emirates Airline, Etihad Airways, Air Arabia, Air India and Jet Airways all offer direct flights between the UAE and Kochi.