Traveling the 880 miles that separate India's two largest cities—Delhi and Mumbai—is most easily done by plane. You can fly from one to the other in just over two hours and the variety of budget airlines keeps costs down. For the cheapest transit, you should travel as the locals do and take the train. Journeys by rail take about 16 hours and the comfort level varies greatly depending on what class you choose, but using the train is a way to experience India in a manner that isn't possible by flying. Buses or driving yourself are possible, but not recommended for feasibility and safety reasons.
|Train||16 hours||from $8||Traveling on a budget|
|Bus||25 hours||from $20||Those up for an adventure|
|Flight||2 hours, 10 minutes||from $40||Arriving on a time crunch|
|Car||22 hours||880 miles (1,415 kilometers)||Those familiar with driving in India|
What Is the Cheapest Way to Get From Delhi to Mumbai?
You'll want to book at least a Sleeper class ticket for the train journey from Delhi to Mumbai, which starts at about $8 for a reserved bed in a car with open windows and no air conditioning. You may be able to save a few dollars by purchasing an Unreserved class ticket, but it's not worth the risk of having to stand for the entire 16-hour journey. Conversely, you could spend a bit more for a bed in a car with air-conditioning and more privacy, with prices ranging from $20 for a standard AC car and up to $60 for first-class travel. If you can, make your reservation as early as possible as they tend to fill up. If you miss out, a special Foreigner Quota puts aside a set number of tickets for tourists which you can inquire about at the station.
You can choose from a variety of trains that depart daily from the New Delhi Railway Station (NDLS) and arrive at either Mumbai CST (formerly known as Victoria Terminus) or Mumbai BCT, which are all the most centrally-located stations. A few of the most affordable train options start at H. Nizamuddin Railway Station (NZM) in Delhi and end at Bandra Terminus in Mumbai, both of which are about 20 minutes outside of their respective cities. The trains called "Rajdhani Express" are India's premier overnight trains and provide the most comfortable journeys.
- 12952 New Delhi - Mumbai Central Rajdhani Express: One of the most popular trains for travel between these two cities, the Rajdhani Express leaves Delhi every afternoon and arrives in Mumbai the following morning after 16 hours of travel. The lowest class available on this train is 3AC with prices starting at roughly $24, but you'll have a reserved bed in an air-conditioned car.
- 12954 August Kranti Rajdhani Express: This train is also a Rajdhani Express train and has the same price structure as the aforementioned 12952 journey. It does make more stops, however, so the journey takes about an hour longer.
- 12926 Paschim Express Deluxe: The Paschim Express takes longer than the Rajdhani trains—22 hours of travel time—but at the cheapest price, starting at $8 for a Sleeper class ticket. Sleeper class doesn't have air conditioning, so you may want to avoid it during the hottest months of the year.
- 12910 Hazrat Nizamuddin - Mumbai Bandra T Garib Rath Express: This no-frills train also uses the outlying stations, but it's the cheapest train that still offers air conditioning. Tickets start at about $13 and the journey takes 16 hours.
What Is the Fastest Way to Get From Delhi to Mumbai?
To cover such a long distance, flying is by far the fastest way to travel from Delhi to Mumbai, with a flight time of just over two hours. Passengers can choose from dozens of daily flights connecting India's two largest cities and the wide selection means prices are relatively affordable, starting at $40 for a one-way trip. Some of the airlines include low-cost companies such as AirAsia, IndiGo, SpiceJet, and GoAir, as well as full-service airlines such as Vistara.
How Long Does It Take to Drive?
The nearly 900-mile drive from Delhi to Mumbai takes at least 22 hours, and driving yourself is generally not recommended for safety reasons. It's not uncommon to hire a driver for touring around a city or region of India, but it's less common to do so for a journey as long as from Delhi to Mumbai.
Is There a Bus That Goes From Delhi to Mumbai?
Buses from Delhi to Mumbai are run through private companies—such as RedBus—and are sleeper buses to accommodate the long distance. Travel time is at least 25 hours and up to 32 hours, so it takes significantly longer than even the train. What's more, it's usually the same price or even more expensive. Bus tickets start at about $20, or the same price as a much more comfortable bed in an air-conditioned train.
When Is the Best Time to Travel to Mumbai?
The best time to visit Mumbai depends on what you're looking for. From November to February, the city experiences its own version of "winter," which includes comfortable temperatures, little precipitation, and low humidity. It's one of the most pleasant times to be in the city and the lack of rain makes it easy to explore without getting drenched.
For those who don't mind the rain, June to October is monsoon season, with most of the rain concentrated in a perpetual downpour lasting all of July and August. It may seem like a less-than-ideal time to visit, but Mumbai is a bustling city that never shuts down. For nature lovers, the rainy season is when the nearby hills are at their greenest and the waterfalls at their fullest. As long as you come prepared, it's one of the most beautiful times to be in the city.
From March to May, temperatures and humidity skyrocket. If you can, avoid Mumbai during these months—or you may spend the entire trip locked up in your air-conditioned hotel room.
Can I Use Public Transportation to Travel From the Airport?
There is no train service directly from Mumbai Airport to the city center, but you can take a taxi, rickshaw, or bus to the nearest stations of the Mumbai Suburban Rail Network. Coming from Delhi, you'll arrive at the Domestic Terminal and use the No. 312 bus (or hire a cab or rickshaw) to either Vile Parle or Andheri stations. From either of these stops, you can catch the Western Line or Harbour Line trains into the city center. If you use the bus and train combination, the total cost is less than $2.
Conversely, you could also hire a taxi for about $9–$15 into the city center. The time of the trip varies based on traffic and it's recommended to use a pre-paid cab so you aren't reliant on the meter.
What Is There to Do in Mumbai?
The most recognizable monument in the city and a great starting point for exploring Mumbai is the Gateway of India, a massive arch that was built to welcome King George V and Queen Mary during their visit in 1924. Just 23 years later, it fittingly served as the final departure point for the last of the British soldiers exiting a newly-independent India. For a comprehensive tour of Mumbai's unique history and architecture, consider a guided tour of the city's many "heritage structures," including the regal CST train station, the CSMVS Museum, or the Bombay High Court. The Kala Ghoda Art Precinct is a thriving neighborhood that showcases the best of Mumbai's rich culture, with an endless amount of art galleries and the annual Kala Ghoda Arts Festival in February.