Visitors Guide to Mumbai, India

By Sara | April 28, 2017

When you think, “Mumbai”, what comes to mind? Many people say Bollywood, India’s major film industry. Those more familiar with India may comment, “income disparity”, nodding to the drastic quality of life differences between Mumbai’s poor and wealthy. Yet others may answer “variety”, “opportunity”, or even “heat”, pointing out the small and major nuances of the metropolis.

Each of these aspects is a part of Mumbai, and there is so much more that makes up the city. Mumbai is the largest city in India, well known as the Bollywood capital of the world. It is a financial and entertainment center for the subcontinent, has the highest number of millionaires in the country, and is home to one of the largest slums in the world. Covering over 230 square miles, Mumbai is a massive place to explore with endless things to experience.

We spent two weeks in Mumbai, and could go back for another two weeks and not repeat a single attraction. There are endless things to experience in Mumbai, so we’ve put together a “starter kit” for some of the more popular Mumbai neighborhoods.

How to Get Around

While public transportation is available through parts of Mumbai, most people get around via rickshaw or cab service. Keep in mind that Mumbai is a very big city, and going from top to bottom can take well over an hour with traffic. Our suggestion would be to plan activities that are close together, and spend one to two days exploring each area.

Car: Uber is widely available throughout Mumbai, and seldom costs more than $3-6 to get anywhere in the city.

Rickshaw: Rickshaws are available through most of Mumbai, and many drivers rely on the meter for fares, unlike other cities in India. Be sure to either negotiate a rate before you start driving, or ensure that the meter is on to avoid getting ripped off.

What to See

Andheri & Airport Area

Global Vipassana Pagoda
This meditation hall is capped with a gold pointed dome and serves as a place of peace and harmony. It was built out of gratitude to Buddha’s teachings, and offers free meditation courses.

Sanjay Gandhi National Park
For a bit of greenery on a trip to Mumbai, check out the Gandhi National Park. Set across 40 square miles, it’s one of the most visited parks in the world. There are a variety of exhibitions through the park, and visitors should come prepared to walk or rent a bike as the distances are quite far and park transportation is not always reliable.

national park mumbai

Essel World
Essex World is an amusement and water park in north Mumbai that draws almost 2 million visitors each year. Visit for bowling, roller coaster rides, water park fun, and an ice rink.

Aksa Beach
Aska beach serves as a popular weekend destination in Mumbai. It’s a quieter area of Mumbai surrounded by Aska village, and is a good place to step away from Mumbai’s busyness.

Bandra & Juhu

Linking Road
Linking Road extends through a major part of Bandra and is filled with clothes, bags, shoes, and other shopping for bargain prices. It’s well worth a walk through the area.

Linking Road Mumbai

Prithvi Cafe
One of the best cafe’s we visited in Mumbai was the Prithvi Cafe. Tucked on a side street, the cafe is quite spacious with hanging lanterns, fresh baked goods, and plenty of chai. The cafe doubles as a theatre with regular local shows.

Juhu Beach
One of the nicest beaches in Mumbai is Juhu Beach. Located amongst several upscale hotels, the entire Juhu area is home to a slew of celebrities and Bollywood stars. Food vendors and a variety of good restaurants sit both on the beach and in the vicinity.

Juhu Beach Mumbai

Dharavi & Dadar

Dharavi Slums
The Dharavi slums encompass less than one square mile yet are home to almost 1 million people, making it one of the most densely populated places on earth. Most people who reside in Dharavi live on about $1 USD per day, and Dharavi has been subject to many epidemics due to poor sanitation and healthcare. There are guided tours that explain the problems and challenges in more detail throughout Mumbai.

Dadar Flower Market
Photographers may enjoy a stroll through the Dadar Market, which serves as a wholesale flower market for Mumbai’s weddings and events. The best time to arrive is early mornings when the flowers are fresh, as most business is over by 9-10am.

Siddhivinayak Mandir
Mumbai has no shortage of temples, and the Siddhivinayak Mandir is no exception. Said to be one of the wealthiest temples in the city, the temple is dedicated to Lord Shri Ganesh, one of the most worshipped deities in the Hindu religion.

Worli

Quattro Ristorante
If you get tired of Indian cuisine, or just can’t handle the spiciness, Quattro is a fantastic restaurant to try out. Just across from a major mall in Mumbai, Quattro serves true Italian fare and has stellar service. A four course meal for two costs around $40, which is pricey by India standards, but quite affordable for westerners.

Dhobi Ghat
Ever wanted to see the world’s largest open air laundry facility? If it hadn’t crossed your mind, it’s still worth a visit. Dhobi Ghat is where most of the hotels and motels get their sheets cleaned, along with many of the locals. The best view is from the highway bridges, though more adventurous souls can wander through the neighborhood area. Bring a buddy on this trip and beware of scams asking you to pay money to enter.

Dobhi Ghat Mumbai

Nehru Science Center
India places a heavy focus on STEM education, and this interactive science museum assists with that. As the largest interactive science center in India, the museum features over 500 exhibits on energy, sound, kinematics, and mechanics.

Haji Ali Dargah
One of the most recognizable mosques in Mumbai lies on an islet off the coast of Worli. The mosque was constructed in memory of a wealthy merchant who gave up his worldly possessions to travel and teach the Islamic religion. He settled and passed away in Mumbai, with a final wish to be buried wherever his body washed ashore, which is where the mosque now sits today.

Gandhi Museum
Remnants and tributes to Gandhi are visible throughout Mumbai, and India. This museum includes letters written by Gandhi, photos, paintings, and the blood-stained robe that Gandhi wore the day he was assassinated.

gandhi-museum

Hanging Gardens
To get away from the constant hustle and bustle of Mumbai, head to the Hanging Gardens. These terraced gardens offer a quiet atmosphere and some much needed greenery.

AER Bar Four Seasons Hotel
For a glimpse at the Mumbai high life, head to the Four Seasons hotel rooftop bar. The AER bar is a good place to grab a drink and has some incredible views of the city at night.

AER Bar Mumbai

Chor Bazaar (Thieves Market)
One of the major tourist attractions in Mumbai is the Chor Bazaar. As one of the largest flea markets in India, Chor Bazaar has endless antiques and second hand goods. It was nicknamed the Theives market because there is a saying that anything stolen can be bought back at the Chor Bazzar. Queen Victoria herself experienced this when a violin went missing on a visit to Mumbai, and was later found for sale in this market.

Fort

Marine Drive
A trip to Mumbai is not complete without taking a stroll down Marine Drive. The C-shaped boulevard is lined with palm trees and filled with high end hotels and restaurants. Stop by for the view and stay for festivities as nighttime rolls around.

marine drive mumbai

Crawford Market
One of the most famous markets in Mumbai is the Crawford Market. The market is best known for its variety of fruits, vegetables, and poultry items. Another side of the market sells a variety of pets such as dogs, cats and birds. Endangered species are also illegaly sold at this market, so buyers be cautious and considerate.

Flora Fountain
The Flora Fountain is a nice place to take a walk and appreciate an exquisite architectural piece. This heritage monument depicts the Roman goddess Flora and was built in the late 1800’s.

Colaba Causeway
From shopping to dining to art galleries to movies, the Colaba Causeway has it all. The causeway takes some time to explore, so budget at least an afternoon to wander.

Gateway of India
Overlooking the Arabian Sea, the Gateway of India was once used by fishermen as an entry point to Mumbai. Now, the gate welcomes prominent political figures and serves as Mumbai’s top tourist attraction.

gateway-of-india

Bombay High Court
As one of the oldest High Courts in India, the Bombay High Court has jurisdiction over Maharashtra, the state Mumbai resides in, as well as Goa, a coastal state. It is one of the most distinguished courts in the country by both build and duty, and rulings from this court can only be appealed to the Supreme Court of India.

Horniman Circle Gardens
These gardens make up a large park in southern Mumbai, and are surrounded by several offices and banks. The gardens are a nice place to walk around or find some quiet during a day of sight-seeing.

Prince of Wales Museum of Western India
To get a good understanding of Indian history, check out the Price of Wales Museum. With over 50,000 exhibits of Indian history, the museum was founded and named during a visit from Edward VIII, who at the time was the Price of Wales.

Where to Stay

We found choosing a place to stay in Mumbai much more difficult than other cities in India. The hostel scene is not very developed in Mumbai, leaving budget travelers little options. There are many hotels to choose from, all at varying prices, along with several good Airbnb options. We’ve linked to some of our top picks below.

Big Budget: JW Marriot Mumbai Sahar ($150 USD per room) or Mumbai Hyatt Regency ($100 USD per room)
Mid Range Budget: Airbnb ($20 USD to $40 USD per room)
Low Budget: Bombay Backpackers ($14 USD per bed)

Should You Visit Mumbai?

For anyone traveling to India, we’d suggest visiting Mumbai for at least a few days. Mumbai is a massive city with endless areas to explore, and provides a good introduction to the country. To have an enjoyable and safe experience, here are a few parting tips we’ll leave you with:

  1. While you’re out and about, try some of the street food from vendors with long lines. Longer lines usually indicate that the food safe to eat, and tastes good too!
  2. Always travel with a buddy, particularly if you are female. India is a fascinating country, and though Mumbai is progressive in many ways you will likely feel safer traveling in pairs.
  3. As for any city in India, always carry hand sanitizer, a few sheets of toilet paper, and extra rupees (cash), as it can be hard to find these items while you’re out and about.

Have some must-visit places in Mumbai that we missed? Comment your suggestions below!

How Much Does it Cost to Travel India for 3 Months?

By Sara | March 6, 2017

India. When we began contemplating where to go after Europe, we knew that it had to be somewhere different. Though Europe is amazing, we weren’t being pushed to experience a completely different lifestyle in the way that we hoped to.

Our final two choices came down to the east coast of Africa, or the subcontinent of India. If it wasn’t obvious from the title of this post, India was the winner.

We didn’t know much about India other than the fact that most people either loved it and swore it changed their life, or hated it with a burning passion. After spending three full months there, we can see how both types of people arrive at their conclusions.

India is dirty. It’s smelly, smoggy, dusty, a litter mine, you name the type of gross and it can be found. Soap is a rarity, toilet paper is almost non existent, and bugs of every kind live wherever they please. Many of the citizens do not respect each other, and female safety is a legitimate daily concern.

But India is also stunningly beautiful. It has some of the best landscapes in the world. The cuisine is bursting with flavor. The art and textiles are vibrant and one of a kind. Many people will welcome you into their homes as if you were family, and the children just want to be kids like everywhere else.

India is a place of parallels and changed our outlook on many aspects of life. In addition to being an incredible place to explore, India is a very inexpensive country to travel through. We stayed in India for three months and spent a grand total of $3,978. Split between two people, that’s $1,989, or $663 per month. Keep reading to find out how we did it!

Accommodation

While booking accommodation in India is not difficult, there are less options available than when booking in westernized countries. Our favorite way to travel is through Airbnb, but we found that aside from global cities like New Delhi, Mumbai, and Bangalore, there really weren’t a lot of options. Be prepared to stay in either hotels, hostels, or guesthouses through much of India.

Our nightly budget for accommodation in India was $20, which is a generous amount for most of India. Every booking we made was well under this price per night, with the exception of Mumbai. During the three months we traveled through India, we spent a total of $1,108 on accommodation. That’s $12 a day for two people, or $6 a day per person.

We were pleasantly surprised to find that most hostels in India were higher quality than hostels in Europe, and for much better prices. On average, a hostel bunk in India costs $4-6 per person each night. In lieu of shared rooms, many nearby guesthouses rent out private rooms, which range from $8-15 per night.

The tricky thing about housing in India is that the line between basic accommodation and high quality accommodation has a very large price difference. Budget travelers will have an easy time finding affordable places to stay, but those craving western amenities should expect to pay for a 4 or 5 star hotel, which averages $100+ per night in India.

We looked into mid range accommodation at 3 star hotels, but found more often than not that the hotels were infested with bugs or lacked basic amenities, like windows and private bathrooms. We were more impressed with the quality for price we received for budget accommodation than mid-range accommodation, and would recommend either choosing high end or budget stays when visiting India.

When booking accommodation in India, there a few things to keep in mind:

1. Visit the Property

While many times planning accommodation ahead of time is helpful, this isn’t always the case in India. Particularly for long stays, it’s far better to book one night at a highly rated guesthouse, and then spend an hour or two “shopping” for other options. Many times we found places that weren’t advertised online that had better amenities and lower rates than the original place we booked.

2. Read the Reviews

Many budget guesthouses and hostels do not include photos of their property, or include poor or outdated ones. This is a common reality in India, so rely on previous reviews, particularly those with details for a rough understanding of what’s included. Look for reviews that state “hot water”, “clean premises”, “comfortable beds”, and “good wifi”.

3. Be Flexible

Unless you book every night in India at hotels like the Marriott or Hyatt, expect to lower your standards for accommodation. Things like constant hot water, absence of bugs, and quality food are likely to not be present at some of the places you stay, especially in rural India. Arriving with low or no expectations can alleviate some of the stress of not having western amenities.

To get a better idea of how far your money will go, we’ve ranked the cities we visited by accommodation cost. Below you’ll find the top 3 most expensive cities we stayed at in India, as well as the top 3 cheapest cities we stayed in. All of these costs represent either Airbnb or hostel stays.

Top 3 Expensive Cities We VisitedPrice Per Night on a $20 BudgetTop 3 Cheapest Cities We VisitedPrice Per Night on a $20 Budget
Mumbai, India$32Manali, India$9
New Delhi, India$22Agra, India$10
Kochi, India$15Udaipur, India$12

Food

With our accommodation costs so low, we were able to eat as cheaply or as extravagantly as we wanted to. Food is a tricky game in India, because the water is unsafe to drink and many basic food storage standards in western countries do not exist in India.

We followed a general rule of thumb of only eating street food from vendors that had a queue, and sticking to restaurants that had good reviews. For the most part, these principles kept us healthy, though Greg did experience a bout of food poisoning after eating a vegetable dish where the food hadn’t been properly stored.

As a safety precaution, we would not recommend eating any meat in India unless you prepare it yourself. Every time we tried a chicken or beef dish, sections of the meat were not fully cooked. Meat dishes aren’t very common in India because of Hindu beliefs, so if you can go vegetarian while there you’ll probably have some tastier meals anyway!

While we typically like to cook our own meals, we found due to the lack of Airbnb’s that it was seldom an option. Luckily, food in India doesn’t cost very much. A typical meal on the street may run $1-3, and a decent meal at a restaurant costs $5-10. We ate a fantastic 4-course meal at a nice restaurant in Mumbai for $40. Overall, our total food cost for three months in India was $1,382. That’s $16 a day for two people, or $8 a day per person.

Transportation

Last but not least, transportation. We published a full post on transportation in India here, but will touch on it lightly in this post as well. Transportation in India is very cheap, but can also be very difficult to navigate.

During our three months in India, we collectively spent $265 on rickshaw and Uber rides inside each city, and $393 on flights, trains, and longer busses to switch cities and leave the country. Added together for a grand total of $658, that breaks down to about $7.50 per day for two people, or $3.75 per person.

The easiest and fastest way to get around is by plane, and if planned in advance isn’t too expensive. Trains and busses typically cost $5-15 per person, but take much longer and are difficult to book without an Indian phone number and bank account. If you have any plans to take ground transportation, we recommend booking with a travel agent in the city, who will charge a $1 fee in exchange for booking your ticket.

For a more in depth look at navigating India, check out our full transportation post here.

Everything Else

Accommodation, food, and transportation are the biggest costs you’ll have when traveling India, unless you happen to get sick enough for a hospital visit. We met several people on the trip who this had happened to, which is another reason to have a global travel insurance policy.

Though we did not have to pay for hospital expenses, we still had a few extra costs during our time in India. As we mentioned in our 9 Months in Europe post, every month we pay a phone bill of $90 to T-Mobile so that we can both have data automatically in every country. In India, this bill went up by about $20 per month because we used Uber to get around, and the international driver calls cost 20 cents per minute for each call.

Additionally, our 5×5 storage unit with all of our belongings costs $60 per month, and our car insurance for the car we keep in storage is $40 per month. Added together, we paid $669 in phone, insurance, and storage bills while in India.

Be sure to factor in what types of souvenirs you’ll want to bring back from India, because it truly feels like another world, and many states are known for having exquisite textiles, rugs, and fabrics. We shipped one medium sized box back to the states for Christmas for about $15.

Lastly, you will very likely need a visa to visit India! We obtained our 3 month visas while in Spain, and paid $75 per person.

The Total Cost for Three Months in India

Traveling through India has been one of the toughest, but most rewarding experiences we’ve had during our travels. While it certainly isn’t for everyone, it’s a life changing experience for those who do go.Here’s one last full breakdown of how much it costs to travel India for three months.

Total For Two PeoplePrice Per PersonCost Per Person Per Day Over Three Months
Visa Fees$146$73$0.80
Accommodation$1,108$554$6
Food$1,382$691$8
Transportation$658$329$3.75
Bills and Boxes$684$342$4
Grand Total  in India$3,978$1,989$23

On $23 per day, per person we were able to live somewhat comfortably and eat as much as we wanted. We do some freelance work while we travel, and increased our net worth while in India thanks to the low cost of living. This budget could easily slide up or down depending on how high or low your standards are for accommodation, housing, and transportation.

Though India is a rougher and tougher place to travel, it’s a great place for adventurers who are open to new experiences and who have a lower budget. With the exception of the high life that can be found in Mumbai and parts of Goa, expect services to be very basic.

We could have easily spent more money on accommodation in India, but found that we gained a better local insight when staying in budget guesthouses. We also could have saved more money on food, but preferred to have quality, safe meals. Our costs reflect this, and we advise anyone traveling to India to adjust their budgets according to their preferences.

India is the most vibrant country we’ve ever been to, and will remain part of our lives forever.