Mumbai, formerly called Bombay, is India’s largest city and most popular cosmopolitan center. Want to be at the center of the real Bollywood? Then Mumbai is the place to be. You’ll find a city that once used to be an area of seven islands, with a rich, diverse history and mosaic of different cultures.
There are so many places to see and experience in Mumbai, we’ve managed to include a few to help you to start planning your trip below.
From flamingos, to Japanese graveyards, hanging gardens and Chinese temples, there’s no shortage of culture and rich history in this city. (Note: There is, however a shortage of toilets - so be aware if you’re if you’re used to having avid plumbing options in big cities!) Bombay was actually named by Portuguese explorer Francis Almeida. The present day name Mumbai is named after goddess Mumba Devi.
Mumbai manages to be a city for just about every type of person, and leaves most visitors exhilarated and entranced. With a population of 12 million and counting, Mumbai can be noisy. However, peaceful places exist all throughout the city. There is always something new to see in the fast-growing city, but some things manage to never change.
Mumbai’s architecture combines Gothic, Victorian, Art Deco and contemporary styles. The Gothic and Venetian style Rajabai Tower in south Mumbai models London’s Big Ben. The city has the second largest number of Art Deco buildings in the world.
Walk around Marine Drive, listed as the city’s most posh area, with a promenade, countless restaurants and galleries. Don’t leave Mumbai without visiting Chowpatty Beach, one of Mumbai’s star attractions, especially during the weekend. It is located on the northern side of Marine Drive.
Need to take the train? Wonderful. The Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (previously known as Victoria Terminus) is a gorgeous train station you’ll love to use, if you get the chance. It is one of the busiest train stations in India though, so get there early.
Pack a picnic blanket, grab your favorite Indian snacks and head to the Hanging Gardens at Malabar Hill, a.k.a. Pherozeshah Mehta Gardens, a beautiful and popular garden with animal shaped hedges. You will also have a view of the Arabian Sea there to marvel at from a distance. These gardens were built on top of three reservoirs in the city in the 1880’s.
Over the centuries, Mumbai has been inhabited by various communities; one being the Japanese. Although their presence is inconspicuous today, they still form a significant part of Mumbai’s historic past. A visit to their graveyards pays homage and interest to a little known part of Mumbai’s history.
Mumbai is home to a Chinese shrine to date, the Kwan Kung Temple. The mural of Fuk, Luk and Sau is a gem that you find as you walk up a small wooden staircase. Although it is a very small temple, it still holds the mystical Yin-Yang and the Fortune Bamboos that provide us valuable insights into the Chinese culture that once inhabited this area.
Fun fact: Most will know that a group of fish is called a “school,” but did you know that a group of flamingos is called a “flamboyance?” Well, during Mumbai’s winters (which run October-March), it becomes the seasonal home to a flamboyance of flamingos! They started appearing in the 1990’s on city’s eastern waterfront. If you want to spot your first flamboyance, you won’t be disappointed.
Foods to Try in Mumbai
The good news is you get to indulge in the most authentic Maharashtrian cuisine you can find in the country (unless you have home-cooked meal connections elsewhere). Example dishes include Misal Pav, Surmai Fish Thali, Kelfulache Wade, and Modaks.
Flights to Mumbai
Traveling to Mumbai might seem difficult, but we’ve outlined some tips below to help make flying to Mumbai simple. To start, finding cheap flights to Mumbai has never been easier. All you need to remember is that no single airline always has the best prices, and that the time to buy your flight matters.
You can find cheap flights to Mumbai daily or search for cheap flights from Mumbai to thousands of destinations around the world. Any traveler looking to save money should compare airfares, and it all starts with FareCompare. For long haul flights, start shopping for flights as early as 5 months ahead of your departure, and don’t wait longer than 1.5 months before the date to buy. To make things simple for you, set a FareCompare airfare alert for your route and let the deals come straight to your inbox during that time.
The international airport in Mumbai is called Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (BOM). It is the second busiest airport in India Air India and Air India Regional’s hubs are there, as well as GoAir’s and Jet Airways’.
Mumbai is a focus city for IndiGo, and other predominant airlines include Air India Express, Emirates, British Airways, Flydubai and Spicejet. Having won awards like 2015 ASQ Best Airport in the 25-40 million passenger category gives you an idea of just how well the Mumbai airport manages their volumes. Their busiest international routes include to Dubai, London-Heathrow, Singapore and Bangkok.
If you have room to be flexible with your travel plans, remember that a little inconvenience can mean a great deal of savings. As we all know, connecting flights typically come with better deals than non-stop flights. Also check flights departing from airports a bit farther away from your home city (the savings could make it worth your while). Finally, check larger airports (and airline hubs), which may have cheaper airfare options.
For those of you traveling with a group, try booking one ticket at a time (versus the entire group’s at once). Generally, when booking multiple tickets at the same time, they are required to be at the same price within a single transaction. Therefore, you might lose out on a cheaper available fare by shopping for all tickets at once, whereas you can save if you shop one ticket at a time.