Mentioned in Greek literature from the first century, Kollam or Quilon has been a thriving trading port for centuries. The surrounding region produces pepper (after which the city is named), cashews, coir and other agricultural products. Local communities include Christians, Muslims and Hindus. A historical Chinese population is known to exist, and the town's market is still named after them. Fishing occurs right along the coast as in other parts of Kerala. West and slightly north of the town some 5 kilometres lies a beach, on the north end of which are various European colonial-era relics, including the ruins of a fort and a few churches. There are also some old colonial buildings scattered about the town proper.
The city is well connected by road. National Highways 47 and 208 pass through it. A number of long distance buses and inter state buses ply through the city. You have buses from Cochin, Alappuzha, Trivandrum, Bangalore, etc. The city is also well connecedt by railways. The railway code is QLN. You can get trains to Delhi, Mumbai, Calcutta, Chennai, Bangalore, etc. The nearest airport is the Trivandrum International Airport and it is 70 kilometers away from the city.
- Alumkadavu (26 km from Kollam). Scenic place, with blue green stretches back water, coconut palms, back water cruise, house boats, Ayurvedic treatment centers.
- Amritapuri Asramam. A Hindu pilgrim center for worshipers of Mata Amritanandamayi Devi.
- Aryankavu (73 km east of Kollam). Pilgrim center, old trade route for merchants from either sides of western Ghats, famous for shrine of Lord Sastha, fine sculptures and mural paintings.
- Chavara (14 km north of Kollam on NH47). Famous for the mineral sand and place of Catholic saint Sister Alphonsa.
- Kalayapuram (34 km from Kollam, on the way to Kottayam from Kottarakara). It is believed that old Kalayan royal family were ruled from this place, hence the name Kalayapuram.
- Karunagappally (27 km north of Kollam in NH47). Famous mosque and dome of martyrs, a unique pilgrimage center. Old military station of Kayamkulam Rajas.
- Kottarakkara (27 km northeast of Kollam). Erstwhile capital of Elayadathu Swarupam, a ruling family. Famous for Kath Kali (a dance drama).
- Kundara (13 km east of Kollam, on the way to Kottarakkara). A prominent place in the area famous for industries.
- Mannadi (24 km east of Kollam). Famous as the place where Veluthampi Dalawa laid down his life.
- Mayyanad (10 km south of Kollam). Famous for its shrines and temples.
- Neendakara (Long Shore) (8 km north of Kollam). Famous for its fisheries industries.
- Oachira (32 km north of Kollam in NH47), ☎ . Famous temple & mosque, a unique pilgrim center and handicraft center. Oachira padanilam was the battle field of Kayamkulam Rajas.
- Paravur (13 km south of Kollam). Famous for coir production center and fishing. Beautiful tourist destination, eye-catching because estuaries, backwaters and beaches.
- Sasthamcotta (19 km from Kollam). Biggest freshwater lake in Kerala.
- Thangassery (5 km away from Kollam). Place of historical importance, with old 18th century churches, light house and remnants of Portuguese and Dutch forts.
- Thangassery Church Ruins (200m north of the Thangassery Fort intersection, on the right-hand side of the road, behind a house). The ruins of a church belltower and some adjacent graves and headstones are still standing here behind some local houses. You can probably spot them from the road if you're careful, but ask around and you will likely be shown inside. The locals are Christians and speak English.
- Thangassery Fort (North end of the harbour). Some limited standing ruins of an old colonial fort. You can see two different sides of the building, the first from the harbour side (where it is visible at some distance), and the second from the opposite side. The site is slightly overgrown so beware of snakes if you venture close. An auto-rickshaw from the Main Road bus stop cost ₹50. Free.
- 1 Thangassery Lighthouse. 3-5PM. A modern lighthouse in a historic Christian quarter of town that is possible to climb in the afternoons. Best to combine with the Thangassery Fort, as the two sites are in easy and shaded walking distance. Small fee.
- Thenmala, 66 km east of Kollam (on the way to Shencottah, it is also reachable from Trivandrum). Dam site with dense forest is famous for eco tourism.
- Jatayu Earth Center, Chadayamangalam (38 km). This rock-theme nature park has the world’s largest bird sculpture (200 feet (61 m) long, 150 feet (46 m) broad, 70 feet (21 m) in height and having 15,000 square feet (1,400 m2) of floor area) of the great mythical bird Jatayu. Cable Car trips, Helicopter rides, Rs.600.
It's basically eating/shopping/sightseeing. Don't swim in the water as there's a large amount of unprocessed sewerage that goes in to it from locals who crap on the beach.
- Munroe Island Canoe Tours, Chittumala Rd (Northeast of Kollum), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Vijeesh runs canoe tours which are an excellent way to explore Munroe Island. You get to go places that the house boats can't and will literally be going through the village and get to see life there. He has great English and an excellent personality. Also runs a home stay on the island. Rickshaw ~₹400 from Kollam or local train, contact him via email/phone for train details. ₹300 pp.
- Joy Allukas. 10:30 AM to 7:30 PM. For clothes, gold, footwear etc.
- Kairali Handicraft (Residency road, near Hotel Shah International). 10 AM to 5 PM. Handicraft from Kerala.
- RP Mall (K Mall). 10 AM to 11 PM. Carnival multiplex, Devi and Jajji's beauty salon, Reliance footprint & Trends for clothes, Fab India, Blackberry, Food Court, Game Zone
- Hotel Bright, Kottiyam, Kollam.. Famous for their mutton chops.
- Hotel Sea Palace (Beach road). 10 PM to 11 PM. It has a bar.
- Hotel Sudarshan (Opposite Joy Allukas). 10 AM to 11 PM. It has a bar.
- Government Guesthouse (Next to Chinnakada circle), ☎ . It is noisy as the guest house is situated on the national highway in the centre of the city.
- Hotel Prashanti (Beach Road), ☎ . It has a vegetarian restaurant. It's a walkable distance to the beach. It has both air conditioned and non air conditioned rooms. Starts from 1700.
- Munroe Island Backwaters Homestay, Chittumala Rd, Munroe Island (Northeast of Kollum), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Vijeesh and his family have a very quiet homestay. You eat with the family(pay what you think the meal is worth) and they are very friendly. The guest house is very modern and very clean. It was built in 2011 so is very new. Visjeesh will also take you on canoe tours of the backwaters which last the afternoon. Best way is to contact him via email or phone and he replys very fast. Rickshore is about ₹400 from Kollum bus station. Vijeesh can also arrange a driver for you if he knows what time you pull in. ~₹1000.
- Nani Hotel (Next to Main Road bus stop, east of the market area). Excellent location. For slightly more money than the government-run Tamarind Hotel (miles from anywhere, and nothing special) this place gets you a much nicer environ and location. Reception staff speak excellent English, others apparently cannot. At check-in I was told that no fan rooms were available, and was forced to pay for AC. However, upon complaining about the tax it was quickly considered included in the room rate instead of added on as usual: worth trying. Wifi is available but is charged at ₹50/hr, or ₹300/24hr: you wonder why the bothered installing it! ~₹1200-1600 (maybe+tax) for fan/AC rooms.
- The Quilon Beach Hotel (Beach Orchid) (Next to Quilon Beach.), ☎ . It is a 5 star rated hotel. There is a pool facing the beach that looks quite nice. The beach has a children's park in it. During some days there are also cultural events conducted on an open air stage on the beach. Low season from 3100+tax.
- Railway Retirement Room (inside the railway station). ₹165.
- Tamarind Hotel (Near the Government Guesthouse). An inconvenient location and poor value for the price make this a terrible selection, save for the view out over the water. The rooms are spacious, just about three times what you'd expect them to cost. A classic study in a government-run business... all the makings of success, but none of the right decisions, and an evidently rapidly progressing trend toward total apathy. ~1200 incl. tax for an AC room (No fan rooms available).
You could leave for Alleppy, Cochin or Trivandrum.
Buses and trains head in all directions.