Planning a solo trip to Mumbai? Here’s everything you need to know for your visit:
- The capital city of the Maharashtra state, Mumbai is home to 20.9 million.
- The most populous city in India is also the fourth most populous city in the world, formerly known as Bombay.
- The wealthiest city in India, ranked 6th in the top 10 global cities by billionaire count.
- Mumbai is India’s cosmopolitan capital and the home of Bollywood. It is the commercial hub of the country.
- Nicknames: City of Seven Islands, City of Dreams, Bollywood City.
- Currency: Indian Rupee (INR).
- Spoken languages: Marathi, Hindi and English.
- Best time to visit: October to March are the most pleasant months of the year, with temperatures varying within 30°C (86°F).
- Arriving via airport: Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (BOM) is served by public bus routes to Vile Parle East or Andheri East railway stations whereas taxis and auto-rickshaws can be hired for Rs450-600. Go for pre-paid taxis (avoid metered taxis, as they will try to overcharge you).
WHERE TO STAY
- Best Mumbai hostel for solo travelers: Nap Manor (close to airport, safe location, clean facilities, and a great place to make new friends).
- South Mumbai is the epicenter of all touristic activity thanks to its access to the city’s landmarks and its upscale accommodation, restaurants, luxury retail and entertainment particularly in the areas of Colaba, Fort and Nariman Point.
- BEST supplies the bus and tram services in the city that operate from 5.00-00.00. Tickets are purchased aboard through a uniformed conductor.
- Tourist tickets can be purchased for unlimited travel between the Central and Western railway stations. 1st class tickets cost Rs170 for 1-day, Rs330 for 3-days and Rs390 for 5-days.
- The train system is by far the most popular mode of public transport in Mumbai. It operates on three lines, and runs from 4 AM until 1 AM. A tourist pass costs 160 INR and allows unlimited travel in first class for the entire day.
- Auto–rickshaws are three-wheeled scooters that operate like taxis. They are not allowed in Old Mumbai.
- Buses connecting the city and suburbs run daily from 5 AM until Midnight. A day pass costs 40 INR (not valid for use on express and A/C buses).
- The black and yellow cabs are a cheap and easy way to move around Mumbai. Hail a cab straight off the street and agree on a price before you leave. Most places of interest in the Colaba district should not cost more than 200 INR. Taxis work by the meter charge Rs27 for flag-fall and Rs20 for each succeeding kilometre. Call 4422 4422 or 2682 1999 to book.
- Drinking age is 21, and last call is 1:30 AM.
- Colaba is renowned for its exclusive nightclubs and all-night parties.
- Bandra is a popular destination for its trendy DJ bars and extensive drinks lists. This area is known for containing many “resto-bars” (an Indian term for a restaurant that doubles as a place to drink and dance in the evenings).
- Juhu is where the dress code is smart and the drinks hard to pronounce.
- Looking for great food and drinks in one spot? Check out Busago, Hoppipola ($$$ – Gastropub), Social ($$$), The Tasting Room ($$$), Hard Rock Cafe ($$$).
- Clubbing with a young crowd? Tryst is your place.
- Cocktails with a view from the roof? Head to AER (Four Seasons) or Asilo (Palladium). Warning: expensive!
UNIQUE LANDMARKS TO VISIT
- Gateway of India is a monumental arch located at the water’s edge in Mumbai Harbour overlooking the Arabian Sea.
- Elephanta Caves are a network of sculpted Hindu and Buddhist caves located on Elephanta Island, also called Gharapuri.
- ISKON Temple is one of India’s most important and sacred temples dedicated to Lord Krishna, a spiritual oasis located in Juhu.
- Mani Bhavan Gandhi Museum is a library and research centre documenting Gandhi’s life and his accomplishments in the fight for Indian freedom.
- Dhobi Ghat: a human powered laundry of mass proportions. Watch the washerman (dhobi) as they wash clothing in traditional wash basins and hang them out to dry.
- Film City Studios: experience Bollywood first hand in Goregaon.
- Check out the local beaches: Girgaon Chowpatty beach in South Mumbai, Juhu beach in the western suburbs and Aska beach are some of the busier beaches. Swimming is not recommended due to pollution, although they are a great spot for people watching. Women should not walk around in bathing costumes, especially in a two-piece.
- Marine Drive is a beachside promenade bordering the Arabian Sea that is popular for its sunsets and evening lights.
- Shivaji Park is the locals’ favorite public park and the site of many political and social gatherings.
- Hanging Gardens on Malabar Hill are famous for the numerous hedges carved into the shape of animals that make up the grounds’ main presence. The peaceful park provides excellent views of the sunset and is popular among families and couples.
- There are dozens of iconic bazaars with their own character and history. Among them, Crawford Market, Chor Bazaar, Mirchi Galli and Mangaldas Cloth Market are worth a visit.
- Take a walking tour through Dharavi, India’s largest slum (home for over a million people). You can brave it alone, or go on a tour (many guides use their profits to give back to the slum).
- Take a stroll through Mumbai’s many bazaars and food stalls. Beware of the men selling giant balloons!
- Walk along the “Queen’s Necklace” (Marine Drive) at sunset and enjoy the sweeping ocean views and gentle sea breeze.
- The Taj Mahal Palace is Mumbai’s first harbour landmark, a legendary hotel that has hosted Maharajas and leaders from all over the world.
- Some places have more than one name (and many are named after Nehru or Shivaji). Make sure you know the exact details to make sure you end up in the right spot!
- Ganesh Chathurti is a 10-day Hindu festival celebrated yearly between August and September by millions of people who take to the streets.
- Great restaurants in Mumbai (that locals love): Swati Snacks (Tardeo Rd.), Seefah (Bandra West), Subko Specialty Coffee (delicious snacks), Ram Ashraya (vegetarian), Soam ($$ – vegetarian), Arabian Darbar ($$).
- Where to find good cheap eats: everywhere! Mumbai’s street food is delicious and cheap. To avoid travel sickness, choose a vendor with the longest line and one that looks clean. Tip: If street food is not for you, choose Indian restaurants over restaurants offering western food, especially in tourist areas such as Colaba and the Fort.
- Dangerous areas: as in any overcrowded city, it is advised to exercise caution and never trust strangers. Female travelers are warned that India is the fourth most dangerous country in the world for women after Afghanistan, Congo and Pakistan.
Recommended trip duration: 3-4 days