India’s Mumbai is a frenetic hive of activity and there is always something going on. The heart of India’s movie industry, Bollywood, is in Mumbai, as well as it being a major centre for technology, business, and tourism.
With sights and activities such as the Elephanta Caves, EsselWorld, Haji Ali Dargah, beaches, the Gateway to India, and Mount Mary Church, museums aplenty, a racecourse, Rajabai Clock Tower, national parks, Madh and Worli Forts, gardens, Powai Lake, an abundance of temples, and more, there are certainly lots of reasons to visit Mumbai!
The chaotic and diverse city can be a bit unnerving for first-time visitors though, especially if you’re travelling alone. Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your visit and enjoy a comfortable trip:
Check Accommodation Before Committing
As with many Indian cities, the standard of accommodation varies widely. If you are looking for somewhere to stay once you arrive, do have an actual look at the room before handing over any cash. You will probably want to secure your bed for the night before arriving though, so do a thorough check of reviews before booking anywhere. Seeing what other people have said can make the difference between you getting what you expected and having a most unpleasant shock upon check-in!
Watch Out for Hidden Prices
When booking a place to stay in advance online you will come across many deals that seem too good to be true. With a lot of places wanting payment on arrival, do make sure that you check the small print first before booking. Many hotels and hostels don’t include taxes in their online rates to make them look cheaper and more appealing. Do ensure that you know the final total price that you will be expected to pay.
Be Aware of Local Guides
When wandering around, it is likely that locals will come and chat with you, strolling along with you, casually pointing out things of interest or offering to show you some other places. Be aware that this is almost never a free and friendly chance meeting and that they will want payment for these impromptu, and usually unwanted, guiding services. Ask upfront what the price will be. It can be quite pleasant discovering the city with someone in the know, but it’s not nice to feel like you have been tricked into paying for a service that you didn’t ask for. Knowing the price beforehand lets you choose whether to continue the conversation or walk away.
Use Pre-Booked and Pre-Paid Taxis
It is highly advised that solo travellers don’t hail taxis on the street. This likely ends up in a much higher price than is reasonable, and drivers can become a bit angry if you refuse. It is safer and a lot more convenient to pre-book a cab and pre-pay for your journey beforehand. This also generally stops the situation where you may be taken on a circuitous route for the driver to either bump up the fare or take you to other places along the way to try and score some commission at, for example, a shop that he knows. Ask your hotel to arrange a taxi for you or look for the designated desks at the airport. Whilst the overall cost will be a little higher than the basic price, you know upfront what you’re paying and it provides peace of mind and comfort.
If you take a taxi from the street, make sure that the meter is working. Having ear plugs can help with a good night’s sleep, and don’t go anywhere without knowing the address and phone number of your accommodation; try and remember to grab a business card on check in and keep it in your wallet. Get your haggling head on when exploring the markets, but do remember that people are trying to make a living. Avoid desolate places, especially in the dark, and walk with a sense of purpose, even if you’re lost!
Mumbai is a terrific city to visit – enjoy!