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Mumbai is where chic meets East, the fashion capital of India and the home of Bollywood. Once given to Prince Charles II as a wedding present, today it is a bustling metropolis with cheap flights to Mumbai being widely available. Built on an island, cheap Mumbai hotels are more common to the south of the island where the majority of the tourist attractions are, with the commercial district located in the north. Booking your flight to India and hotel separately is quite often cheaper, and provides more flexibility than traditional tour operator packages. It's possible to find cheap flights to Mumbai throughout the year but a particularly popular time to visit is during the months of August and September for the Ganesh Chaturthi Festival. So why not time your 2018 or 2019 trip to join in the fun?
Beaches span Mumbai's coastline and sunsets are breathtaking so spend some time soaking up your exotic location. A visit to this vibrant city is not complete without stopping by the Gateway to India which was a monument built in honour of George V and Queen Mary. Enjoy some of the cultural side of the city at the Haji Ali, a mosque and tomb, or visit the Elephanta Caves on a tiny island just off Mumbai.
Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport is the destination for all inbound flights. While you can get cheap flights to Mumbai from all across the UK, if you want to fly direct then you'll need to fly out of London Heathrow. Airlines including British Airways, Jet Airways and Air India fly the route daily, taking just under nine hours to reach Mumbai.
For other UK airports you will need to take a connecting flight, you can either catch an internal flight to London, or you can connect elsewhere in Europe and the Middle East. Airlines with connection hubs roughly on the way often work out great value - look out for cheap Mumbai flights via Istanbul with Turkish Airlines, via Amsterdam with KLM or Abu Dhabi with Etihad. As always, for the best fares, book early and be prepared to be flexible on dates.
Though the majority of people arrive in Mumbai by plane, Mumbai is pretty impressive when reached by boat, with the Gateway to India right at the harbour. So you could consider visiting as part of an Asian cruise.
The easiest way to travel to a hotel in Mumbai is by taxi, and it's best to use the prepaid coupon taxis to avoid bartering or being overcharged. These will generally take you to anywhere in the southern tourist district for the fixed fee. Alternatively, you can take a bus from the airport to Vile Parle Station, from where you can take a train to your accommodation. This route should be avoided in the mornings when it's extremely busy with commuters, and you should preferably travel first class. Car rental is also available, both with and without a driver.
There is a reasonable train network, particularly in the southern and central areas of Mumbai, which can easily get you around the city. In addition, Mumbai has a pretty comprehensive bus network, with bus destinations marked in English. Ferries from the harbour can get you to the outlying islands, and taxis are on hand in case you need to make a quick journey. Yellow and black taxis are cheaper but less comfortable than the air-conditioned branded varieties.
Trains run from Mumbai all across India, including to Goa and Mangalore, the popular beach destinations in the country. There are different terminals for eastern, western and northern areas so make sure you check before you travel. Intercity bus travel is also very popular and there are a huge number of destinations to choose from with regularly departing services. The roads around Mumbai are fairly good so taking short to mid-length journeys is a great idea to see more of the area. To travel a long way you can book an internal flight to minimise travel time.
Mumbai has four seasons; winter, summer, monsoon and post-monsoon, which correspond to the UK's winter, spring, summer and autumn. Summer temperatures average around 30°C whilst winter temperatures hover around 18°C. The monsoon brings plenty of rain and an increased humidity, which tails off during the post-monsoon season. Rainfall is rare during winter and summer.
October to February is the best time to visit Mumbai, but this unfortunately means that prices are higher then, and the attractions busier. If you can handle the heat then you could visit slightly later on in the year although the weather does become more uncomfortable as summer increases. September has unsettled weather but is great for a bargain if you don't mind losing some holiday days to rain.
Religious festivals play a big part in Mumbai life, with Christmas and Ramadan-Id both very popular, showcasing India's multiculturalism. The most important festival is Ganesh Chaturthi, which happens in August and September, there are processions and festivities for this 10-day-long event. To get more into the culture of the city, Mumbai Festival and Bangaga Festival, both in January, pay homage to all aspects of cultural life from music to theatre to fashion to food.
The currency in Mumbai is Rupees. There are plenty of ATMs around in the tourist areas, and many of the shops here will accept card payments. However, travelling further afield or when using street traders you will need cash. Exchange rates are broadly similar across the city, just be sure to check for tattered or torn notes which can be difficult to get rid of.
A local dialect of Hindi called Marathi is most commonly spoken. Knowing a little Hindi will get you a long way, though you will find many people speak English, especially in tourist spots.
+91 for India, followed by 22 for Mumbai and its area
You will need to have six months validity on your passport, and you must apply for a visa before travel, which can be done online for UK citizens by clicking here.