Information About Mumbai: What to Know Before You Go

Your Essential Guide for Visiting "Maximum City" Mumbai

Gateway of India, Mumbai.
••• Gateway of India, Mumbai. Adrian Pope/Getty Images

Mumbai, officially named Bombay until 1995, is the financial capital of India and the home of India's Bollywood film industry. Also called India's "maximum city", Mumbai is known for its extreme standards of living, fast paced lifestyle, and the making (or breaking) of dreams. It's a cosmopolitan and increasingly westernized city that's an important base for industry and foreign trade. This Mumbai information will help you plan your trip.

History

Mumbai's interesting history saw it ruled by the Portuguese for 125 years until, incredibly, it was given to the British as part of a wedding dowry. Catherine Braganza (the Princess of Portugal) married Charles II (the King of England) in 1662, and the city was included as a dowry gift. The British firstly developed Mumbai as a port, before embarking on extensive urban construction works in the early 1800s onwards. After India obtained Independence in 1947 and the British departed, a population boom followed, brought about by the lure of wealth and opportunities unavailable elsewhere in the country.

Location

Mumbai is located in the state of Maharashtra, on the west coast of India.

Timezone

UTC (Coordinated Universal Time) +5.5 hours. Mumbai does not have Daylight Saving Time.

Population

Mumbai has a population of about 21 million people, making it India's second largest city (rapidly expanding Delhi is now the largest).

A majority of the people are migrants from other states, who have come in search of employment.

Climate and Weather

Mumbai has a tropical climate. It experiences very hot, humid weather during April and May, with temperatures around 35 degrees Celsius (95 Fahrenheit). The onset of the southwest monsoon begins in early June and rain is experienced until October.

The weather remains humid, but the temperature drops to around 26-30 degrees Celsius (80-86 Fahrenheit) during the day. Following the monsoon the weather gradually becomes cooler and drier until winter sets in, in late November. Winters in Mumbai are pleasant, with top temperatures of 25-28 degrees Celsius (77-82 Fahrenheit) during the day, although nights can be a little chilly.

Airport Information

Mumbai Chattrapathi Shivaji Airport is one of the main entry points into India, and is undergoing major renovation and upgrade. New domestic terminals have been added along with a new integrated Terminal 2, which opened in February 2014 for international flights. Domestic airlines are currently in the process of relocating to Terminal 2 in a phased manner. Terminal 2 is located in Andheri East while the domestic terminals are in Santa Cruz, 30 kilometers (19 miles) and kilometers 24 (15 miles) north of the city center respectively. A shuttle bus transfers passengers between the terminals. Travel time to the city center is around one and a half hours, but is much less early in the morning or late at night when traffic is lighter.

Viator offers private airport transfers from $11. They can be conveniently booked online.

  • Private Arrivals Transfer: Mumbai Airport to Hotel
  • Private Departures Transfer: Hotel to Mumbai Airport

Transport Options

The best way to get around the city is to take a cab or auto rickshaw. You'll only find auto rickshaws in the suburbs, as these noisy little creations aren't allowed to travel any further south than Bandra. Mumbai also has a local rail network with three lines -- Western, Central, and Harbour -- which extend outwards from Churchgate in the city center. The newly opened air-conditioned Metro train operates from east to west, from Ghatkopar to Versova, in the suburbs. The local train offers a relatively fast way to travel, but it gets suffocatingly crowded during rush hours. Riding the Mumbai local train is a must-do experience in the city though. Bus services operate in Mumbai as well, but they can be slow and unreliable, not to mention hot and uncomfortable.

What to Do

Stunning examples of colonial British architecture can be found all over the city and make up many of Mumbai's top attractions. There are some fascinating tours that you can go on. Try these 10 Mumbai Tours to Really Get to Know the City and 10 Mumbai Tours from Viator that You Can Book Online. Alternatively, you may prefer a walking tour of the city. Mumbai also has many unforgettable bars, live music venues, and traveler hangouts with cheap beer. Shopaholics will love Mumbai's biggest and best malls, top markets, and places to buy Indian handicrafts. Afterwards, relax at a luxury spa.

Where to Stay

Most tourists stay in south Mumbai's Colaba or Fort districts. Unfortunately, Mumbai is an expensive city and the price of accommodations can be shocking for what you get (or, rather, don't get). If you're on a tight budget, these Top 8 Mumbai Cheap Hotels and Guest Houses are among the best options. Also recommended are these Top 5 Mumbai Budget Hotels Below $150 and Best 5 Star Hotels in Mumbai.

Health and Safety Information

Despite its overcrowding and other problems, Mumbai remains one of the safest cities in India -- especially for women. Normal standards of care should however be taken, especially after dark.

Mumbai traffic, on the other hand, is horrendous. Roads are extremely congested, horns are continually honked, and people overtake from both sides at whim. You should be particularly careful when crossing the road, and don't attempt to drive yourself. Avoid traveling on the local trains during rush hours as the crowd turns into a heaving mass, and there have been instances of people getting crushed or falling out of trains.

Be careful of pick pockets in tourist areas, such as the Colaba Causeway market. Begging is also a problem in tourist areas and at traffic lights.

As always in India, it's important not to drink the water in Mumbai. Instead buy readily available and inexpensive bottled water to stay healthy. In addition, it's a good idea to visit your doctor or travel clinic well in advance of your departure date to ensure that you receive all the necessary immunizations and medications, especially in relation to illnesses such as malaria and hepatitis.