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Mumbai Travel Guide
Get Your Bearings in MumbaiWhere to Stay
Some of India's most luxurious hotels are found in Mumbai. Many posh spots occupy prime real estate along Marine Drive and further south in Nariman Point, the central business district area. The main traveler's center of Colaba is within walking distance from here, and it is here that you will find the Taj Palace, worth stopping in for a drink and to admire the architecture, even if you don't stay here. There are also some top hotels out in Juhu Beach, but staying here is only recommended for proximity to the airport.
Caution: Make sure to book in advance if coming during festival times, especially during Ganesh Chaturthi, Mumbai's biggest festival in August/September.
What to Eat
Mumbai not only has plenty of world-class restaurants, but is also renowned for its street vendors, with people lining up to eat local specialties like pav bhaji (spicy vegetables with fluffy bread rolls) or bhelpuri (puffed rice and chutney), which can be found all along Chowpatty Beach. For a European splurge, places like Indigo in Colaba are highly worth a visit; in fact Indigo was named as one of the top hot tables in the world. Most of Mumbai's best restaurants are found in the Fort area and Colaba.
Caution: In fancy restaurants like Indigo, advance reservations are essential.
Be Sure to Sample: Pav bhaji, bhelpuri.
Things to See
Most of Mumbai's attractions such as museums, old colonial buildings and the Gateway of India can be found downtown in the Colaba District. Marine Drive and Chowapatty Beach make for great strolling and are quite popular for vendor snacks and sunsets. For escapes slightly further afield, don't miss the Borivali (Sanjay Gandhi) National Park up north of the airport and make the pilgrimage out to Elephanta Island, just off the coast from the jetty downtown.
Hot Tips: Make use of Mumbai's well-planned railway network for getting around, but avoid rush hour when it becomes a complete zoo.
Places to Party
Mumbai is no slouch when it comes to nightlife, full of some of India's most happening bars and clubs. While many nightspots can be found inside the swanky hotels and around the Fort and Colaba areas, if you want to really be seen, head out to the famous Olive Bar in Pali Hill up north near the airport, where you can live it up surrounded by Bollywood stars and other high society types.
Hot Tips: In Olive or other high end nightspots, a reservation is essential if you want a table.
Where to Shop
Mumbai has a vast selection of shopping plazas, boutiques, and outdoor markets. Crossroads, up near the Central Rail Station, is Mumbai's glitziest designer mall, while the Linking Road area of the Bandra suburb up north has many fashionable boutiques. While it may be chaotic, raucous and smelly, a visit to Crawford Market is a classic Bombay experience, as well as an opportunity to pick up some of Mumbai's most coveted item, the Alphonso mangoes, when they are in season.
Best Local Souvenir: Khadi homespun clothing, Alphonso mangoes.
Ready for Your Dream Vacation?
People often wonder why Mumbai was never made the capital of India. This fast-paced, dynamic city has been the economic powerhouse of the nation ever since colonial times, when the British founded Mumbai as the cotton processing capital of the British Empire. Today, the engines driving Mumbai's phenomenal success are finance, fashion and film, courtesy of the Bombay Stock Exchange and the Bollywood movie machine. Some even claim that the city has more millionaires per square mile than Manhattan.
Known as Bombay until 1996, Mumbai takes its name from the Hindu goddess Mumba Devi, the mother-goddess of the Koli people who inhabited this stretch of coastline before the arrival of the British. From humble beginnings as a colonial outpost, Mumbai has grown into a vibrant metropolis with a rich cultural heritage — think of it as an Indian version of New York and you'll have some idea what to expect.
With a population of 13 million, set to swell to 25 million by 2020, Mumbai is one of the largest and busiest cities in the world. A staggering 6.5 million commuters travel on Mumbai's suburban rail network every day - during rush hour, the crowds have to be seen to be believed. To accommodate all these people, the... Read more »