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A view from Mumbai's harbour | © Vidur Malhotra / flickr
A view from Mumbai's harbour | © Vidur Malhotra / flickr
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13 Useful Things to Know Before Visiting Mumbai

Picture of Aditi Mukherjee
Updated: 16 November 2017
Mumbai was, and is, one of the most important cities in India. With the Arabian Sea on one side of the city, Mumbai has long been a trading town. This bustling, crowded metropolitan hub is the nucleus of progressive India and it’s not surprising that the city attracts many tourists. Here are some useful things to know about Mumbai to make your visit better!

Notorious traffic

Mumbai’s traffic is notorious at certain ‘peak’ hours or rush hours. Morning traffic is at its worst between 8 to 10 from the suburbs towards South Bombay. In the evenings it’s best to start your journey between 4 and 5. After 5.30 in the evening, the roads from South Bombay towards suburbs get quite jam-packed!

Mumbai’s traffic tends to be worse at certain hours of the day
Mumbai’s traffic tends to be worse at certain hours of the day | © Nabeel Syed / Unsplash

North and South

South Bombay and the suburbs are one very distinct area of the city. South Bombay essentially starts as you cross Bandra and proceed towards Mahim. The Bandra-Worli Sea Link is a bridge over the Arabian Sea that takes you from Bandra to Worli and saves a lot of time.

An aerial view of Mumbai showing the clear partition between North and South of the city
An aerial view of Mumbai showing the clear partition between North and South of the city | © Chirantan Patnaik / flickr

Airport

The airport in Mumbai is called Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport. It can get a bit confusing for inexperienced travelers because there are two separate terminals – T1 and T2. T1 is, essentially, the domestic airline terminal, whereas all international flights take off from T2. However, there are a few domestic airlines that land and take off at T2 too. So, if you are going to travel within the country from Mumbai, make sure you know what airline you are going with and where it takes off from.

There are two terminals that are quite far away from each other in Mumbai airport
There are two terminals that are quite far away from each other in Mumbai airport | © sarangib / pixabay

No selfie zones

Since India has a high mortality rate due to selfie photos, the police have declared 16 non-selfie zones in Mumbai –areas where it is too dangerous to point the phone at yourself and click images! So, make sure you are aware of these areas and avoid trouble.

There are 16 ‘ no selfie’ zones in Mumbai
There are 16 ‘ no selfie’ zones in Mumbai | © Ian D. Keating / flickr

Hotels

Booking a room in Mumbai is quite easy. Some of the best hotel booking services are Oyo and Treebo. So, even if your visit to the city is last minute, these online services can help you get a roof over your head while you’re visiting Mumbai.

Many online services in Mumbai help you book hotel rooms at the rate you want
Many online services in Mumbai help you book hotel rooms at the rate you want | © bottlein / pixabay

Cab services

Online cab booking services are quite popular in Mumbai. The most popular are Ola and Uber. Cabs are quite easy to book and you can even rent them for a day if you don’t want the hassle of booking a cab every time you want to go from one place to another while exploring the city.

Cab services run all the time in Mumbai
Cab services run all the time in Mumbai | © Hetarllen Mumriken / flickr

Helpful citizens

People in Mumbai are generally helpful. It’s rare that you if ask for directions or any kind of help that people would refuse or behave rudely. You will meet friendly people who are almost always willing to help.

‘Mumbaikars’, as people in the city are called, are always helpful and friendly
‘Mumbaikars’, as people in the city are called, are always helpful and friendly | © Barry Silver / flickr

Tropical weather

Mumbai is a coastal city and, on an average, the elevation above sea level is 46 ft. This means Mumbai has a warm, tropical climate all year round. Daytime is even warm during the winter months. It’s best to carry easy, cotton, light clothes for your stay in the city.

Local trains

The trains are busy with a footfall of 2.6 billion every year. The local railway line is divided in three sections – Western, Central and Harbour. The trains are packed in the mornings (from 8 to 10) and in the evenings (from 6 to 8). You can buy a two-way ticket but there are no tickets that enable you to hop-on, hop-off any train you’d like across the city. Mumbai also has metro railway and monorail connecting certain parts of the city.

The Suburban railway, albeit old and slow, is the lifeline of the city
The Suburban railway, albeit old and slow, is the lifeline of the city | © PlaneMad / Wikicommons

Rickshaws

Rickshaws, the famous three-wheeled vehicle, painted black and yellow in Mumbai, are actually a really good way to get from A to B in the city. Rickshaw drivers are generally sweet and will help you with directions. The best way to get their attention is to shout ‘auto!’. Rickshaws run by the meter in Mumbai, so the chances of drivers cheating you on the fare are rare. Be aware that the rickshaws don’t run beyond Bandra.

These three-wheelers are a great way to explore Mumbai
These three-wheelers are a great way to explore Mumbai | © Abe Bingham / flickr

Monsoons are havoc

Monsoons are quite difficult in Mumbai and the coastal city experiences heavy rainfall every year! Flooding is common, traffic is worse than usual and even trains come to a stand-still. If you want to visit and explore the city you’d be better to visit during a different season.

Monsoons in Mumbai can be quite difficult and it’s best not to visit the city during the season
Monsoons in Mumbai can be quite difficult and it’s best not to visit the city during the season | © Rajarshi MITRA / flickr

Ferry services

There are ferry services to nearby islands like Alibaug and Elephanta Caves that depart from the dock area in South Mumbai. This is a cost-effective way and fast route to visit rather beautiful places!

Boats are a great way to reach beaches and caves near Mumbai
Boats are a great way to reach beaches and caves near Mumbai | © David Brossard / flickr
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Tickets for events and performances

Bookmyshow is a great place to keep yourself informed about live performances and events happening all over the city. Your itinerary should involve some time to attend a show at the National Centre of Performing Arts or Prithvi Theatre.

National Centre of Performing Arts, NCPA Marg, Nariman Point, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400021, India

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Shopping

The street markets in Mumbai are great places to visit for inexpensive, trendy clothes and accessories. South Mumbai has Colaba Causeway and the suburban areas have the Hill Road market, Irla in Vile Parle and many more.