India

If you think of India, you think of a land of beauty, mystery and allure. Its incredible history has left many exquisite monuments, temples and palaces.  

The Golden Triangle, comprising of Delhi, Agra and Jaipur, is the area most visited by tourists. But that is only one face of India. There are also the energetically modern cities of Mumbai (Bombay) and Calcutta while the holy city of Varanasi and the spell-binding temples of Tamil Nadu offer a peaceful and spiritual experience.

For many, India is synonymous with Delhi, the Taj Mahal and the Ganges. But the country holds many fascinations for tourists. For those looking for a tropical break there are the palm-fringed beaches of Goa and Kerala. For solitude and natural beauty, the National Parks offer travellers countless charms. Magnificent animals roam freely; the Indian elephant, great Rhino and the rare and majestic Bengal tiger are just a few.

To the north the uplands of the Himalayas, the roof of the world, offer their own natural attractions with the contrasting lush greenness and snowy mountain peaks offering spectacular scenery.  

One if India’s greatest draws is the juxtaposition of old and new. In the cities you can see centuries of history coinciding harmoniously with modern living. It is a country that is endlessly fascinating.

The currency used in India is the Indian Rupee. It is impossible to get it outside the country (you are also not allowed to take it out of the country) but all major currencies can be exchanged at banks and authorised Bureaux de Change. It is illegal to exchange money through the black market and you are advised to refuse notes that are torn as no one will accept them apart from the National Bank.

Traveller’s cheques and the major credit cards are widely accepted especially in tourist areas, however ATMs are not generally available.

 

 

Delhi

Introduction

If you are a first time visitor to Delhi you may feel rather overwhelmed. The overcrowding, pollution, noise and contrasts between absolute poverty and wealth can be challenging for even the most hardened traveller.

But if you can see past that you will be rewarded with historical, cultural, artistic and culinary delights wherever you turn.

For many, Delhi is just the starting point for visiting Agra and the Taj Mahal. But it has a lot to offer – architecture, museums, bazaars and shops. The restaurants are impressive and provide everything from the traditional curry to Mediterranean, Italian, Japanese and Thai dishes.
 
Delhi is really two cities – Old Delhi and New Delhi. The former is a mesh of narrow, crowded streets and colourful bazaars where as New Delhi abounds with tree-lined avenues and spacious parks.  

Unless you are used to stifling heat, summer in Delhi is best avoided. From mid April, the temperature rises relentlessly. For much of May, June and July the temperature remains at around 45°C before the monsoon brings some relief. So for many the best time to visit is November to March.

See & Do

Delhi is full of incredible sights. It can be overwhelming just to be out and about in the city. Its vibrancy, colour and crowds can be off putting, but it is well worth it for the many sights there are to see in the city.

Below are just a few of the highlights waiting to be discovered:

  • Lal Qila (Red Fort)
  • Jama Masjid (India’s largest Mosque)
  • Qutb Minar
  • Rashtrapati Bhavan & Rajpath
  • National Museum
  • Chandni Chowk (area of bazaars in Old Delhi)
  • Humayun’s Tomb
  • Baha’i Temple (Lotus Temple)
  • Crafts Museum
  • Purana Qila (fortress)
  • National Gallery of Modern Art
  • Akshardham Temple
  • Tughluqabad
  • Gandhi National Museum
  • Gurdwara Bangla Sahib
  • Indira Gandhi Memorial Museum
  • Janta Mantar
  • Lakshmi Narayan Temple
  • Lodi Garden
  • National Zoological Gardens
  • Nehru Memorial Museum & Planetarium
  • Tibet House

Shopping

You will be able to find just about anything while shopping in Delhi – gemstones, carpets, antiques, handicrafts, jewellery, fabrics, spices, clothing etc.

If you’re feeling intrepid and are ready to haggle, head for the boisterous chowks and alleyways of Old Delhi. The Old City’s most famous shopping street is Chandni Chowk full of colourful bazaars where you can buy practically anything. There are numerous markets such as the Spice Market in Khari Baoli, Sunder Nagar Market (Monday to Saturday on the Mathura Road) which specialises in antiques and jewellery, and the most prestigious market, Khan Market (just south of India Gate).

But if you’re not feeling quite so brave and would rather stick to fixed price shopping, then Connaught Place and the State Government handicrafts emporiums on Baba Kharak Singh Marg are for you. Other options are the Hauz Khas Village (South Delhi) with its range of furniture, art shops and boutiques selling designer clothes in both Indian and Western styles. Or the Santushti Shopping Complex and modern shopping mall of Ansal Plaza which is awash with designer names.

Food & Drink

Many of the best restaurants were traditionally found in the 5 star international hotels. This is still true to a certain extent but there are many more excellent restaurants springing up offering delicious food at a fraction of the price.

You will find everything from traditional curries to international dishes plus a large number of vegetarian dishes. Alcohol is widely available at most places and prices vary considerably. Indian wine does exist but it can’t really compete with the well known international labels. Indian beer, on the other hand, is particular good especially Kingfisher.

Here is just a selection of some of the best restaurants in Delhi:

  • Masala Art, Taj Palace Hotel
  • Sakura, Metropolitan Hotel
  • La Piazza, Hyatt Regency Hotel
  • Karim’s, Jama Masjid
  • Saravana Bhavan, Janpath
  • Kwality, Connaught Place
  • All American Diner, Lodi Road
  • Baci
  • Banana Leaf, Central Delhi
  • Diamond Restaurant, Main Bazaar, Pahargani
  • Ego Thai
  • Gulati
  • Malhotra, Main Bazaar, Pahargani
  • Metropolis Bar & Restaurant, Main Bazaar, Pahargani
  • Swagath

Entertainment

Although the bar scene in Delhi has grown in recent years it still can’t compete with Mumbai as India’s nightlife hot spot. Most bars and clubs are in the 5 star hotels and Connaught Place. Prices vary considerably so the fancier the venue, the more expensive it will be.

To get an idea of what is happening, you can find listing guides in the Hindustan Times, The Times of India, First City and Delhi Dairy. Listed below are a few bar venues that also have live music you may want to look out for:

  • Maurya Sheraton
  • Rick’s (Taj Mahal Hotel)
  • Q’BA (Connaught Place)
  • DV8 (Connaught Place)
  • Shalom Med Lounge Bar
  • Kylin
  • Hookah Bar & Lounge

Most of the clubs and discos are in hotels. Many of them operate a couples only policy and dress code. Places tend to come and go quite quickly so to find the best places during your stay you should refer to the listings in First City.

Many events also happen during the year in Delhi. Below are just a few that may coincide with your trip:

  • January – Lohri, Republic Day, Martyr’s Day
  • February/March – Holi, Garden Tourism Festival
  • April – Baisakhi
  • July – Mango Festival
  • August – Janamashtami, Independence Day
  • October – Dusshera, Navtati
  • October/November – Diwali, Qutb Festival

Excursions

We have already seen that there is a wealth of things to see and do in Delhi. But if you want to take the opportunity to see what else this stunning county can offer, here are a few suggested excursions you can make (your hotel should be able to provide you with details of local tour operators and possible excursions):

  • Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary and Lake
  • The ruins of Suraj Kund
  • Agra & the Taj Mahal
  • Jaipur
  • Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary
  • Mathura
  • Sohna Hills
  • Dum Duma Lake
  • Neemrana

Health & Safety

There are a number of health risks including malaria and dengue fever and you should seek medical advice at least three weeks before travelling. Medical provision in Delhi is adequate but limited in rural areas therefore you should ensure you have comprehensive medical cover in place before travelling.

Only drink bottled water and avoid ice (unless it is made from bottled water). Meat and fish should be cooked thoroughly as it can often cause food poisoning. Also avoid salads and unpeeled fruit.

Due to its crowded nature, crime against tourists in Delhi can be quite common. You should always protect your valuables, especially in crowded areas and especially your passport. Also, never accept food from strangers as it may be drugged.

 

Goa

Introduction

Situated on India's west coast in a region known as Konkan, is Goa. It is the smallest state in India and probably one of the most tourist friendly. Lapped by the enticing waters of the Arabian Sea its state capital, Panaji (Panjim) is a fantastic place to explore with a feel as much Mediterranean as Asian - a legacy of its Portuguese history.

Goa was a Portuguese colony until 1961 which explains its contrasting atmosphere to the rest of India. Its history has left it with a distinctly laid-back feel making it a highly attractive holiday destination for those who just want to chill out and escape the hurly-burly of everyday life.

It was discovered by travellers in the late 60’s. It was seen as somewhere away from the mainstream and its relaxed way of life meant holidays were purely for hanging out, smoking pot and dancing on the beach until sunrise. Today, although still attracting hippies and backpackers, Goa is popular with the package tourism industry and attracts young families.

Arambol beach (in the far north) is probably the most ‘hippiest’ attracting many back-packers whereas the resort villages of Calangute (the largest and most popular), Bagg and Candolim cater more for the package tourist. To the south of the capital Panaji (Panjim) is Colva, the most developed area in the south with many luxury resorts. Further south still is Palolem, a beautiful fishing village.

It provides countless accommodation options – from beach huts to exclusive resorts. English is widely spoke and with the golden sandy beaches, beautiful scenery, rich culture and welcoming people it is not surprising that approximately 1.3 million tourists visit Goa annually. 

See & Do

Goa is a beach lover’s paradise. With over 65 miles of coastline, beach activities dominate. However, having said that there is a number of sights to see further inland. Listed below are just a few of the activities that await you.

  • Explore the capital Panaji (Panjim)
  • Margao (second town)
  • Dr. Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary
  • Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Bondla Forest Sanctuary
  • Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Dudhsagar Waterfall
  • 4-wheel jungle excursion
  • Elephant safari
  • Goa carnival (February/March)
  • Anjuna Flea Market
  • Old Goa
  • Se Cathedral
  • Convent & Churches of St Francis of Assisi
  • Basilica of Bom Jesus
  • Church of St. Cajetan
  • Ruins of the Church of St. Augustine
  • Dolphin rides
  • Fishing
  • Diving
  • River cruising
  • Water skiing
  • Jet skiing
  • Parasailing
  • Surfing
  • Windsurfing
  • Snorkelling
  • Swimming
  • Go-karting
  • Blue Whale Water Park (Bardez)

Shopping

You won’t find the glitz and glamour of shopping malls and international designers on Goa. But what you will find are lively, colourful and buzzing markets. Flea markets are by far the most popular shopping experience in Goa. Your hotel will be able to tell you when they are on.
Shopping

The Anjuna Flea Market is on every Wednesday and sells everything from jewellery, leather goods, clothing, sunglasses, bags and crafts to sarongs. Just one word of warning, say no to the professional ear cleaners!

More of a local’s market is the Ingo’s & Mackies Flea Market which is held every Saturday night. This is a much more vibrant affair with love music and food. Again you can pick up practically anything here.

In Mapusa there is a Friday spice market where you can also pick up local wines (especially port wine in pouches), cashews and clothing. In all the major tourist areas there are also plenty of stalls and beach hawkers selling a range of souvenirs.

Just remember – haggle, haggle, haggle.

Food & Drink

Goa has an excellent reputation for seafood plus mouth-watering curries blending Goan, Indian and Portuguese influences. In the main tourist areas you will also find outlets selling Chinese noodles and pizza.

Establishments range from street stalls and beach bars to top class restaurants. Many people enjoy eating under the stars at one of the many beach bars. However there are some evenings when you’ll prefer to eat in the comfort and warmth of a restaurant. Listed below are just a few names to look out for:

  • Britto’s, Bagg
  • St Anthony’s Bar & Restaurant, Bagg
  • Souza Lobo, Calangute
  • Tito’s, Calangute
  • Infantaria Pastelaria, Calangute
  • Fisherman’s Cove, Candolim
  • Flambe, Candolim
  • Stone House, Candolim

Entertainment

Most of Goa’s nightlife radiates around its beaches. After dark the shacks and eateries come to life. The top beaches to head for are:

  • Candolim
  • Baga
  • Armbol
  • Calangnte
  • Mandrem
  • Vagator
  • Anjuna
  • Miramar
  • Majorda
  • Bogmalo

Having said that, there are several permanent venues for discos and night clubs such as:

  • The Alcove, Vagator beach
  • Temptations, Vagator beach
  • Tito’s, Baga
  • Ziggy’s, Colva Beach
  • Johnny Cools, Colva Beach
  • Men Mar, Vasco Road
  • Lido’s, Dona Paula Beach

If you are looking for something a bit different, Goa is also the place to go for casinos. One point to note is that although shorts and sandals are the main wear in the day time, you’ll need to dress up if you want to have a flutter.

  • Casino Goa, on board a luxury ship (no children allowed)
  • Chances (Hotel Cidade de Goa in Panaji)
  • Las Vegas (south Goa, Candolim beach)

Excursions

We have already seen there is a vast amount to see and do in Goa. Depending on where you stay, these can provide you with a number of excursions. Your hotel will also be able to provide you with details of local companies that provide excursions such as staying on a Houseboat cruising up the Mandovi River, visiting Delhi, Agra and the Taj Mahal.

 

Health & Safety

There are a number of health risks including malaria and dengue fever and you should seek medical advice at least three weeks before travelling. Always ensure you have comprehensive medical cover in place before travelling.

Only drink bottled water and avoid ice (unless it is made from bottled water). Meat and fish should be cooked thoroughly as it can often cause food poisoning. Also avoid salads and unpeeled fruit.

Goa is relatively crime free but you should always take care of your valuables especially when on the beach. Just be aware that there are tough laws on drugs despite Goa’s laid-back reputation. 

 

 

 

Kerala

Introduction

The stunning Indian state of Kerala is a narrow strip of land that stretches between the Arabian Sea and the Western Ghat mountains. Stretching for almost 600km (373 miles) Kerala boasts a picture-perfect coastline that is adorned by numerous stunning beaches. It is neighboured by the states of Karnataka in the northwest and Tamil Nadu in the southeast. Its capital, the coastal town of Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum), is at the very south of the state. Strongly influenced by the Raj, this city is an amazing place to explore.

Often likened to Goa, Kerala is characterised by its sun-drenched beaches. It has developed a reputation as one of the easiest places in India for foreign travellers to visit mainly due to its beautiful beaches, historic colonial towns, lush forests, tranquil hills and of course, because English is widely spoken.

As well as its undoubted natural beauty, Kerala also offers its visitors a heady mix of historic cities, ancient monuments, wildlife parks, vibrant communities and a wealth of history.

The state oozes a laid back charm which has ensured its popularity with backpackers but it is also attracting a new generation of package tourists. Its fine climate, gorgeous coastline and the sheer number and variety of inland tours and excursions make it a very attractive destination.

Unlike other parts of India, Kerala doesn’t offer much in the way of monumental sights. Mind you, it more than makes up for this with its natural beauty. The countryside undulates westward from the mountains producing rich green valleys. Rivers flow towards the sea creating features like the Athirampally Falls.

Kerala is a haven for tourists who want to relax, unwind and lose themselves in the stunning natural environment that surrounds them.

 

See & Do

The main attraction to this area of India is its beaches. With everything from unspoiled secluded bays to bigger resorts with plenty of facilities (popular with families), there is sure to be something in Kerala to suit every traveller.

Near the capital of Thiruvananthapuram is one of the most popular beaches, Kovalam Beach. Other popular beaches are:

  • Varkala (famous for the Sree Janardhana Swamy Temple)
  • Thanagasseri Beach
  • Cheria Beach
  • Tanur Beach
  • Padinharekara Beach
  • Beypore Beach
  • Kappad Beach

Needless to say, with all that sun and sand around beach activities are also popular and widely available – especially in the larger resort areas. If you are feeling energetic you can indulge in jet skiing, parasailing, swimming, diving, snorkelling, windsurfing and water skiing.

Of course there are many other attractions in the area other than the beaches. Here is a list of just some of the sights Kerala has to offer:

  • Jungle treks
  • Elephant safaris
  • Padmanabhapuram Palace
  • Thiruvananthapuram
  • Shri Padmanabhaswamy Temple
  • Puttan Malika Palace
  • Cochin
  • Ponmudi Hill Station
  • Western Ghats mountains
  • Anaimudi (Southern India’s highest peak at 2652m)
  • Periyar Wildlife Reserve
  • Wayanad
  • Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary
  • Thattekkad Bird Sanctuary
  • Boat tours
  • Athirampally Falls
  • Backwaters of Kerala
  • Kannur
  • Munnar
     

Shopping

Kerala is a wonderful place to pick up traditional crafts and souvenirs. Popular items include leather goods, carvings, ethnic clothing, silk, saris, woven fabric, carpets, jewellery, handicrafts, tea, coffee and spices.

The markets in the towns and cities are a must. Haggling is the order of the day so ensure you bargain hard.

The larger cities such as Cochin (Kochin) and Thiruvananthapuram have many flea markets but they also have numerous boutiques, stores and shopping malls,

Food & Drink

Due to its coastal location, it is no surprise to hear that Kerala offers plenty of seafood specialities. Curries often feature coconut and coconut milk creating an Asian and European influence.

You should also look out for ‘thali’ which is a set meal offered at a fixed price which includes rice, curry, bread and yoghurt or sauces.

Due to its popularity as a tourist destination you will also find other world cuisines available on restaurant menus. Many of the restaurants are found in hotels however in the larger cities, such as Cochi, Calicut, Thiruvananthapuram, or the tourist area of Kovalam, independent restaurants can be found. Here are just a few names to look out for:

  • Paragon, Calicut
  • Coachman’s Inn, Kannur
  • The Fort House, Cochi
  • The History, Cochi
  • Malabar Junction, Cochi
  • Rice Boat, Cochi
  • The Springs, Cochi
  • Hotel Rockholm Restaurant, Kovalam
  • Azad, Thiruvananthapuram
  • Orion, Thiruvananthapuram
  • Swiss Bake House,

 Thiruvananthapuram


Entertainment

Evening entertainment in Kerala is relatively low key. Normally it involves dining out in open-air restaurants. However there are bars and nightclubs offering entertainment that ranges from traditional Indian music and dance to Blues Bands and DJs.

Some of the best venues to see some traditional Indian dancing are in Cochi, such as the Cochin Cultural Centre, Kerala Kalamandalam and the Kerala Kathakali Centre.

Many of the large hotels and resorts have their own in house bars and nightclubs. In the beach resort of Kovalam you will find many bars and restaurants open until late into the night full of tourists and locals partying the night away.

 

Excursions

We have already seen that within the state of Kerala there is an abundance of things to see and do. You may also want to explore other towns and cities close to your resort such as:

  • Alleppey
  • Calicut
  • Kumarakom
  • Lakshadweep
  • Quilon
  • Thekkady

If time permits, another option is to take an internal flight and explore the cities of Bangalore and Chennai (Madras). Your hotel should also be able to advise you of other excursions run by local tour operators.

 

Health & Safety

There are a number of health risks when travelling to India so you should seek medical advice at least three weeks before travelling. Always ensure you have comprehensive medical cover in place before travelling.

Only drink bottled water and avoid ice (unless it is made from bottled water). Meat and fish should be cooked thoroughly as it can often cause food poisoning. Also avoid salads and unpeeled fruit.

Kerala is relatively crime free but you should always take care of your valuables especially when on the beach or in tourist areas.

 

 

Mumbai

Introduction

Mumbai (formerly known as Bombay) has had a diverse and chaotic past. It is hard to believe that at one point this bustling cosmopolitan city was once a cluster of seven fishing villages that were spread along a string of islands on the western coast of the Indian subcontinent.

This area initially belonged to the Portuguese until 1661 when it was passed to Britain as part of the marriage settlement between Charles II and Catherine of Braganza. It was governed by the East India Company until the suppression of the Indian Mutiny in 1858 when control of British India passed from the East India Company to the Crown (where it remained until independence in August 1947).

It was during this period when the islands were merged by land reclamation to form a peninsula, jutting into the ocean, and with the passage of time, the city grew to become a vital seaport, and the gateway to the entire sub-continent.  

Today Mumbai is the financial centre of India, home to the country's largest stock exchange and the heart of its banking industry. It is an important centre of the gem trade and its film industry (Bollywood) is a national institution.

However it is also a city of extreme contrasts – where there is great prosperity there is also abject poverty. These extremes can be difficult for many travellers. The sheer contrast between the wealth of some residents compared with the squalor that many others live in is shocking especially when you consider that approximately 55% of the population of Mumbai live in its slums.

Mumbai is also congested with people, its streets are clogged with traffic, its air is polluted and many of its buildings are slowly crumbling. But it is still a city with much to offer – colourful, vibrant, energetic and friendly.  

For many Mumbai is merely their point of arrival, the gateway to the rest of India. But if you can, it is well worth stopping a short while in the city.

 

See & Do

Mumbai is a city of contrasts. The centre of the old Imperial Bombay is known as the ‘Fort’ with its intriguing display of Victorian and Gothic architectural designs. In the north, Mumbai is a network of narrow, twisting streets, raucous bazaars and the squalor of the shanty towns. Superimposed on both these areas is modern Mumbai – Marine Drive, Cumbala Hill and Back Bay.

As a city, Mumbai has numerous sights and attractions to enthral any traveller. Below are listed just some of the possibilities:

  • Colaba
  • The Gateway to India
  • Hotel Taj Mahal
  • Elephanta Caves
  • Chhatrapati Shivarji Hamaraj Vastu Sangrahalaya (formerly The Prince of Wales Museum)
  • Jehangir Art Gallery
  • British Bombay – Fort and Horniman Circle
  • Marine Drive
  • Chowpatty Beach
  • Taraporowala Aquarium
  • Malabar Hill & The Hanging Gardens
  • Parsi Towers of Silence
  • Crawford Market
  • Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus
  • St Thomas’s Cathedral
  • Town Hall
  • Jehangir Art Gallery
  • Shrine of Haji Ali
  • Balbulnath Temple
  • Dr Bhau Daji Lad Museum (formerly the Victoria & Albert Museum)
  • Hornima Circle Gardens
  • Fort Area
  • Film City
  • Mahalaxmi Racecourse
  • Juhu Beach
  • Madu Island Beach
  • Versova Beach
  • Kamala Nehru Park
  • Sanjay Gandhi National Park
  • Victoria Gardens & Mumbai Zoo
  • Nehru Planetarium
  • National Gallery of Modern Art
  • Mani Bhavan
  • Powai Lake
  • Tulsi Lake
  • Vihar Lake
  • Essel World Amusement Park
  • Fantasy Land
  • Nishiland Water Park
  • Shangrila Water Park
  • Suraj Water Park
  • Water Kingdom

 

Shopping

Considering the contrasts between modern Mumbai and the older areas of the city, the shopping experience in the city is equally diverse.

In the modern city, in Central and Nariman Point areas are the modern western style malls. The biggest in India, ‘Crossroads’ is in mid-town and sells the most expensive international and Indian brands. It is crammed with well known designer names. Also in area are the glitzy air-conditioned malls of the Oberoi and Taj Hotels.

If your budget can’t quote stretch to the modern shopping areas, there are plenty of vibrant markets to charm you. Haggling is very much the name of the game here if you are going to get a bargain.

Chor Bazaar (Mutton Street) is crammed with specialist shops selling antiques and curios. You can literally pick up anything from old ship parts, grandfather clocks, gramophones, crystal chandeliers, brassware, wooden carvings and statues to jewellery.

Crawford Market (South Mumbai) is famous for its architecture which is a blend of Norman and Flemish styles. Its main feature is its clock tower and is a haven for fresh fruit and vegetables, cheese, chocolate, meat and poultry.

Also in South Mumbai is Fashion Street. This is a market that is literally flooded with surplus clothing (some slight seconds). With more than 100 shops, you can go mad buying chic clothing (shoes and costume jewellery) at very cheap prices.

Not to be missed is Zaveri Market (South Mumbai) which is a muddle of narrow lanes dotted with 100’s of jewellery shops.

 

Food & Drink

Being a cosmopolitan city, Mumbai’s eateries range from American Burger bars, Italian Pizzerias to authentic India cuisine. However curry is the dominant feature on many menus with a number of restaurants offering a curry buffet.

Street food is also popular but be careful – you should be safe with a chickpea or lentil dall, but eat the meat and fish at your own risk.

The authorities in Mumbai are more relaxed about alcohol than in other areas of India so beer is available in most of the upscale restaurants. Imported wine is very expensive whereas Indian wine is improving and more sensibly priced.

Below is a list of just a sample of some of the best restaurants in Mumbai that you might like to try during your stay:

  • Masala Kraft, Hotel Taj Mahal
  • Chetana, Rampart Row
  • Goa Portuguesa, Mahim
  • The Khyber, Mahatma Ghandi Road
  • Mahesh Lunch Home, Fort
  • Jewel of India, Worli
  • Leopold Café, Colaba Causeway
  • Café Indigo, Mandalik Road
  • Great Wall, Leela Kempinski Hotel
  • China Garden, Kemp’s Corner
  • Little Italy, Juhu
  • Peshawari, ITC Maratha Hotel
  • Wasabi, Taj Hotel
  • Gaylord, Fort
  • Seijo & The Soul Dish, Bandra

Entertainment

To keep up with what’s happening where, Time Out is published fortnightly and provides details of what’s on in the way of nightlife.

The main area for clubs and bars in the city is Colaba where you can find venues such as:

  • Henry Tham’s
  • Zenzi
  • Leopold’s
  • Café Mondegar
  • Gables
  • Indigo

Many of the hotels also have bars such as Oberio’s Bay View, the Fariyas’ The Tavern and the Taj Mahal Hotel’s Harbour Bay.

If you want to see some traditional Indian music and dancing the best venues are the Jehangir Art Gallery and Tejpal Hall. There are also some wonderful theatrical productions held at the National Centre of Performing Arts (NCPA) and the Prithvi Theatre as well as numerous cinemas offering the true Bollywood experience.

As for clubs and discos, many are found in the exclusive Bandra and Juhu areas as well as in Colaba and the Chowpatty Beach area. Here are a few names you might want to look out for:

  • Copa Cobana, Chowpatty Beach
  • Geoffrey’s, Marine Drive
  • Not Just Jazz by the Bay
  • Toto’s Garage, Bandra
  • HQ, Colaba
  • Fire & Ice, Lower Parel
  • Suzie Wong, Chowpatty Beach
  • Insomnia, Taj Mahal Hotel
  • Three Flights Up, Colaba
  • Red Light, MG Road
  • Voodoo Pub, Arthur Bunder Road
  • Athena Champagne & Cigar Lounge, Colaba
  • Razzberry Rhinoceros, Juhu Hotel
  • Cyclone, the Leela

There are also several events that take place throughout the year including Banganga Festival (January), Elephanta Festival (February), Ganseh Chaturthi (August/September), Kala Ghoda Festival (November to February) and Diwali (November).

Excursions

Once you have exhausted everything Mumbai has to offer, or you just want to get away from the bustle for a while, there are a number of excursions you can take. Below is just a sample of what is on offer. Your hotel will be able to provide you with a list of possible excursions run by local tour operators.

  • Sanjay Ghandi National Park – Lion safari & Kanheri Caves
  • Vasai (Bassein) Fort
  • Elephanta Caves
  • Marve & Manori Beaches
  • Ajanta Ellora Caves
  • Aurangabad Caves
  • Alibag (Coastal town)
  • Khandara Hill Station
  • Lonavala Hill Station
  • Matheran Hill Station
  • Mahabaleshwar Hill Station
  • Pune Hill Station
  • Panchgani Hill Station
  • Shirdi (religious town)

Health & Safety

Always check on current vaccination recommendations before travelling. The standard of healthcare in India varies greatly, however provision in Mumbai is excellent. It also tends to be expensive therefore you should ensure you have medical insurance in place before travelling.

Don’t drink tap water, only bottled. You should also use bottled water for cleaning your teeth and making ice.

Pickpockets are prevalent in Mumbai so you should ensure your possessions are kept secure at all times. Women should dress conservatively to avoid unwanted attention.

One other word of warning is the traffic. The roads are very dangerous and don’t expect drivers to observe pedestrian crossings, speed limits or traffic lights.

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