Welcome to Mumbai!
Locals of Mumbai know the best places to eat, the best places to get the latest designer trends, and the best places to enjoy a great scenic view. Mumbai is full of the local’s best-hidden spots; it surely won’t disappoint you on your visit as a worldwide local.
Enjoy the view as you fly into the Mumbai airport. Mumbai (or Bombay), famously known as the city of dreams and home of the “Slumdog Millionaire,” is the wealthiest and most populous city in India. There is so much to see and do in this expansive and vibrant city. You’ll definitely need more than a day if you want to see and experience it all. This insider’s guide will help you get the most of your time in this iconic city.
Mumbai Basics: Geography
The first thing you need to know about Mumbai is the lay of the land. To a tourist’s eye, the city is divided into two; the north is where you can find Bandra, Juhu, and Andheri; the south is where you can find Colaba and Marine Drive. The best way to explore the city is by picking either the north or the south side for a day of exploration. Trying to see all of Mumbai in a day can prove to be challenging and frustrating because the traffic here is hard to navigate through quickly.
Worldwide Local Tip: To avoid the traffic as you move from the south to the north side, use the Bandra Cable-Stay bridge, named Rajiv Gandhi Sea Link, to enjoy the magnificent view of the Arabian Sea and the city’s skyline. If using a taxi, advise your driver to take this road, though it’s not a guarantee they’ll use it. There is, however, a toll fee, but the experience is well worth it.
The south side of Mumbai is where most of the tourist sites are, including the famous Taj Mahal Palace Hotel and the Gateway of India. For a better experience, visit the Gateway in the evening, as the sun is setting, to witness the breathtaking views (don’t time this in sync with the Mumbai rain). It also lights up at night, making it a sight to behold and providing a perfect photo opportunity.
Explore the Queen’s Necklace
To have an authentic time in Mumbai, take a rickshaw or walk to Marine Drive, also known as the Queen’s Necklace, and enjoy a cup of chai while you mingle with the locals. Most Mumbaikars (“people of Mumbai”) come here with their families to relax and talk about the events of the day. This provides the perfect opportunity for a worldwide local to chat them up and get a feel for the city through their eyes.
Worldwide Local Tip: Trident Hotels has the most beautiful view of Marine Drive. You can opt to stay there or just have a meal as you soak in the city’s magnificent skyline.
Unwind at the Beach
Escape the speediness of the city traffic and head to one of the beaches of Mumbai for some relaxation. Girgaum Chowpatty is a famous beach where you can indulge in some local street food, take part in a game of beach cricket, enjoy a beautiful big red sunset, or even get picked to be an extra in a Bollywood film! If you want to enjoy time away from the crowd, there are several beaches located on the outskirts of the city like Uran Beach in Navi Mumbai and Marve Beach in Malad.
Worldwide Local Tip: After a relaxing time at Girguam Chowpatty beach, enjoying the Mumbai weather, plan a stop for some delicious ice cream at K. Rustom & Co. This is a popular stand for locals to enjoy ice cream sandwiches in various different flavors. This is a must-have experience.
Essential Local Experiences
Visit Mahalaxmi railway station, in Mahalaxmi, Mumbai, for a good look of the largest open-air laundromat, Dhobi Ghats. For a thorough experience, get an English-speaking guide to take you around the ghat. Here you’ll witness how nearly 7,000 people wash almost half a million pieces of clothes daily.
Another must-do is a visit to the large food court next to Juhu Beach Mumbai, on the north part of Mumbai. The food court feels like a food carnival with so many stalls and local food options to choose from. This is the perfect place to try local dishes like pav bhaji, falooda, pani puri, paneer jalebi, and a bombay masala sandwich.
Worldwide Local Tip: If you have a sensitive stomach, but still want to experience the local foods, head out to Citrus, the informal dining restaurant in Leela Hotel Mumbai. There is a buffet with various food choices that are prepared in a clean environment.
Shopping in Mumbai
Mumbai is a city of markets, famous for its street shopping, branded showrooms, and malls. Delight yourself into street shopping which generally sells second-hand items and/or rejected top brand items. For Mumbai’s best shopping, wander Fashion Street, Linking Road, Crawford Market, or Colaba Causeway. These street shops are full of the latest fashion items including various dresses, jewelry, shoes, and bags. Purchasing items from these shops will keep you abreast of Mumbai’s latest fashion trends.
Worldwide Local Tip: Get lost in the shopping bazaars alongside the rest of the Mumbai population, and you’ll be sure to find some trendy designs and unique artwork. Warning: you probably won’t leave without buying something, so make sure you arrive prepared to spend money.
Enjoy Your Stay!
Mumbai is a city of contrasts so, embrace the diversity of seeing it from a local’s eye as a worldwide local. You’ll be sure to leave with memories that will last a lifetime.