Mumbai City Guide
Mumbai city is the financial and commercial capital of India and a teeming metropolis; home to nearly 19 million people. This exciting and vivacious city is often used as a gateway to other destinations in India.
Mumbai (or Bombay as it continues to be called) was recently immortalized forever in the 2009 multiple award winning movie, ‘Slumdog Millionaire’. This pulsating city is often described as a ‘cacophony of sights and sounds’. However despite what people may say about it, the city has much to offer for all kinds of visitors.
It is no wonder then that this premier Indian city which is renowned throughout the world as the home of ‘Bollywood’(the Indian film industry) is a favored vacation and business travel destination.
Where to stay in Mumbai
Around the airports
Mumbai is served by its two main airports, namely the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Maharaj Airport which welcomes nearly all the international carriers to Mumbai and the Santacruz Domestic Airport which handles all the regular and low cost carriers that operate within India. These two airports are located within close proximity of each other in the North Mumbai suburbs of Sahar and Santacruz respectively.
Both the Mumbai airports are surrounded by several hotels that range from super luxury hotel properties to discount hotels and budget accommodation options. These hotels are generally favored by business travelers on a visit to Mumbai as they afford easy access to the city’s newest business district, the Bandra-Kurla Complex.
At the Beaches
Mumbai is a coastal city located on the west coast of India. Mumbai borders the Arabian Sea and is equipped with a string of of luxury resort hotels, which line its many beaches like Juhu, Madh and Marve.
The Queen’s Necklace Hotels
Mumbai’s famed tree lined promenade, the Marine Drive is also known as the Queen’s Necklace for when it is illuminated by street lights at night, it has the appearance of a string of diamonds when viewed from an elevated point.
Marine Drive hosts several residential Art-Deco apartment buildings along with upscale hotels; popular with both business and leisure travelers on a visit to Mumbai. Moreover the hotels located here afford easy accessibility to the erstwhile business districts of Mumbai like Nariman Point, Fort and Flora Fountain.
Hotels located in Colaba, South Mumbai
Colaba Causeway is a prominent shopping locale in Mumbai, which offers numerous stores and upscale boutiques that are extremely popular with both tourists and locals alike. As a result Colaba, hosts a wide range of hotels that cater to all travel budgets and accommodate jet setting as well as backpacking tourists on a visit to Mumbai.
Upper Worli Hotels Mumbai
Upper Worli is another new business and commercial area of Mumbai, which is now a popular location choice for various companies, shopping malls, retail outlets and restaurants. The neighborhood has undergone rapid gentrification in recent times and hosts some of Mumbai’s newest luxury hotels, which are favored by many visitors on a trip to the city.
Places to see in Mumbai
The Haji Ali Mosque
The Haji Ali Mosque is one of Mumbai’s most prominent and well known attractions. This mosque was built by a wealthy Muslim merchant in 1431 at a distance of five hundred meters from the coast in the midst of the Arabian Sea. The merchant named the mosque, Haji Ali after a Muslim saint called Haji Ali who renounced his worldly goods before he took the pilgrimage to Mecca. This holy shrine contains the tomb of Haji Ali and can only be accessed by walking on the narrow walkway that leads to the mosque. This walkway is accessible only at the time of low tide. This walkway strangely connects the mosque to a Hindu temple called Mahalaxmi located close by. The whitewashed mosque which is a fine exponent of Islamic architecture is open to people of all faiths and welcomes nearly 40,000 worshipers every week.
Mumbai has some magnificent Victorian buildings, which date back to the time when India was a part of the British Empire. Many of these buildings such as the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, The J.J. School of Art, The Bombay University Campus, The Gateway of India, and The Prince of Wales Museum are all located South Mumbai. You should take a guided walking tour through these heritage buildings to discover the secrets of old Mumbai. Many tour operators in Mumbai offer such sight-seeing tours.
Mumbai is a coastal city bordered by the Arabian Sea but Mumbai’s many beaches like Juhu and Chowpatty do not feature shimmering sands or azure waters. Instead they are busy recreational hubs of activity, which are populated by vendors of food, toys, pony and Ferris wheel rides. These beaches are also popular with morning walkers and avid exercisers though not too many swimmers, as the waters of the Arabian Sea have strong currents which are not really conducive to swimming.
Mumbai is littered with Hindu temples and shrines. The area of Walkeshwar, which is located within the South Mumbai area of Malabar Hill is home to several ancient Hindu temples as well as the historic Banganga water tank, which dates back to the 9th Century and is today a preserved historic landmark.
The Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation hosts a wonderful music festival on the banks of the tank every year in January. This festival usually features the leading lights of the Indian Classical Music scene. If you happen to be on a visit to Mumbai during this time you must make it a point to visit this festival, which is held in such historic and gorgeous surroundings.
A significant proportion of Mumbai’s population is housed in shantytowns and slum dwellings. The city has several slums but perhaps it's most well known slum is ‘Dharavi which is considered to be the largest slum in Asia. The slum is home to approximately a million people who live in small hutments and homes. However, it is not all filth and squalor in Dharavi ,as the slum is also home to nearly 10,000 small businesses like potteries, garment factories, tanneries and recycling companies whose goods are exported all over the world. Mumbai’s slums have featured prominently in bestsellers like Shantaram and movies like Slumdog Millionaire. Various tour companies now offer sight-seeing tours of Dharavi.
Best time to visit Mumbai
Mumbai being a coastal tropical city has sultry weather all year round which is characterized by relatively high levels of humidity. Day time temperatures hover around 85° F (29°C) almost all year round. The months of April to June are generally the hottest months in Mumbai when temperatures routinely touch 90s° F (30s°C). Some relief is provided by the South West monsoon, which generally arrives towards the end of June and is responsible for squally and rainy weather up until October.
Temperatures ease off slightly during the months of December to February and this period is generally thought to be the best time to book a vacation to Mumbai. However both flight and hotel rates during this peak tourist season in Mumbai are generally very high as this period coincides with the wedding season in Mumbai. If you are making your travel bookings through Fare Buzz, you have no cause for worry as Fare Buzz can always secure the best flight and hotel deals for your visit to this vivacious city, no matter when you decide to make your trip to Mumbai.
Getting around in Mumbai
Mumbai is easily accessed via its busy Chatrapatti Shivaji Maharaj International airport, which hosts a wide range of international carriers from all over the globe. This airport is one of the busiest airports in South Asia and it offers numerous international connections which make getting to Mumbai quite easy from anywhere in the world. Fare Buzz routinely offers attractive flight deals for Mumbai and if you are in the market for cheap air tickets to Mumbai then it makes sense to explore the many cheap air flights for Mumbai that Fare Buzz has on offer.
Mumbai is equipped with an overcrowded and stretched public transport system, which consists of public buses, metered taxis and local trains. However, most visitors to the city tend to eschew using public transport in Mumbai and opt to rent a car in Mumbai so as to effectively navigate the city’s maddening traffic. Car rentals in Mumbai are offered by various providers and like in other cities in India, these car rentals are supplied with chauffeurs. If you need to rent a car in Mumbai, then Fare Buzz can be of assistance as it offers a wide array of car rentals for Mumbai.
Where to shop in Mumbai
The shopping landscape in Mumbai has evolved and developed greatly over the past few years. This teeming metropolis offers diverse shopping locales like vibrant local markets, malls and department stores. Some of Mumbai’s best known markets include Chor Bazaar (the ‘thieves market’), the largest flea market in Mumbai which offers a gargantuan assortment of antiques, knick-knacks and even ‘stolen goods’ at its various kiosks and stalls, Fashion Street, a market that hosts many vendors of export surplus and export- reject apparel and the Linking Road market which is populated by vendors of mainly locally produced trendy garments, footwear, accessories and lifestyle products.
Mall shopping has also caught on in Mumbai in recent years and the city now is home to bustling, large-sized malls like the High Street Phoenix, Palladium, the Oberoi Mall, the Atria Mall, and the Infiniti Mall. These various Mumbai malls host an assortment of local and international fashion and lifestyle brands like Furla, DKNY, Zara, Anita Dongre, Kenneth Cole, Lacoste, Kiehl’s, Chemistry, Amber and Shirrin, Marks and Spencer’s along with eateries and entertainment venues.
Aside from these local markets and malls, Mumbai also hosts various specialized stores that offer carefully curated collections of products sourced from various parts of India. These Mumbai stores like the Bombay Store, Bungalow 8, Le Mill, Ensemble, Attic and Bliss are definitely worth a visit on any trip to Mumbai.
Where to eat in Mumbai
Like many other Asian cities, Mumbai also hosts a vibrant street-food culture. However, most visitors to city are advised to shun the city’s street side eats in order to avoid an attack of the deadly ‘Mumbai Belly’. If however, you are still curious and keen to try these street foods you can always sample them at reputed Mumbai restaurants like Swati Snacks, the Kamat Restaurant, Sri Krishna, Sardar’s Pav Bhaji, Madras Café and Elco Pani Puri center.
However, the dining scene in India’s commercial and financial capital is not just limited to street-eats and casual dining, as the city also offers diverse upmarket dining options at restaurants like The Table (New American), Café Zoe (Mediterranean), Wasabi by Morimoto (Japanese), Indigo (fusion Asian), China House (Chinese), Koh (Thai), Miro (Spanish), Celini (Italian), and the Golden Dragon (Chinese) amongst others.
Recently many well-known global brands have also made a foray onto Mumbai’s dining landscape and today, the city hosts outposts of various well-known international brands like Serafina (from New York), Le Pain Quotidien(Belgium), Hakkasan and Yautcha (both from London).
Additionally, the city offers a plethora of fast food options at both international and home-grown outlets like Pizza Express, Hard Rock Café, Starbucks, Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, Pizza Hut, Indigo Deli, Pali Village, the Pantry, Kala Ghoda Café, Smokehouse Deli and Moshes.
Nightlife in Mumbai
Mumbai is considered to be one of the ‘safest’ cities in India and it is no wonder then that this teeming megalopolis offers a vibrant nightlife scene which features various raucous bars, clubs and live-music venues. Some popular nightlife haunts in Mumbai include joints like Blue Frog (a live-music venue), the Barking Deer (a craft brewpub) Olive Bar and Kitchen (a Lounge bar) Shiro and Aurus (both night clubs).