The craziness of Mumbai will live with you forever. If it’s your first visit then arriving at Bombay airport and negotiating customs is a breeze, especially with your Visa all done and dusted before your arrival. There are options of either a 5 year or 6 months multiple entry visa. These are a whopping £350 and £115 respectively. There is now the 60 day E-Visa for $75 that’s valid on arrival and can be pre-booked up to 2 months in advance. This is obviously the cheaper option if only passing through for a few weeks. You can find the India visa pages HERE.
Outside your senses will be hit with the noise and atmosphere of being out there within the city and living and breathing it all in. If not prepared then it’s like a bomb exploding in your head, as it’s the maddest vibe known to man – let me tell you. As 8 lanes of traffic manage to systematically move within only 4 lanes and sometimes only three that are marked on the road ahead (don’t mention roundabouts) , it all somehow works itself out. Only god knows how it does work, as actually logically it doesn’t.
We weaved through the madness of missing other vehicles by centimetres and pedestrians who have a death wish. They were walking through traffic as if they were on a mission to end their days. Our taxi driver finally got us to our destination in one piece, and at the end of the journey, seemed happy enough with the 60p tip he got on a £2.40p journey. From the airport this took took close to an hour and 40 minutes so happy days. But remember to give yourself plenty of time, as this was midday.
As we were only having a overnight stay and being that this coincided with my birthday, we managed to book into a 150 rupee per night squat come home stay….yeah that wasn’t going to happen.
We had a one night stay in the prestigious and number one hotel, Mumbai’s Taj Mahal Grand Palace hotel on a cheap deal( it’s usually £200 per night – are you kidding me) and as we’re still working for a living, was just for the experience.
The place was stunning and amazing, even more so than the faces of the staff on our arrival. We had managed to book the most unlikely vehicle to arrive at the Taj, with barely just enough room for our backpacks. A surreal experience. as a very posh well spoken front doorman stopped our vehicle and asked” is one staying here sir?” “Yes we are” as we threw our rucksacks at the porters. We barley managed to get out of the smallest tin tuk tuk taxi invented by man. We had just travelled in the same clothes for well over 18 hours, and our attire was just above the common appearance of some of the street beggar’s.
After a quick tour of the Hotel, we headed straight to Leopold’s Cafe about 10 minutes around the corner. Here we sampled some cold kingfishers and some nibbles as we tried to offset the jet lag. Leopolds cafe was established in 1871 and has had many guises, one being a pharmacy and also mentioned extensively in the Novel Shantaram ( A great read if you’ve never visited Mumbai ) as a meeting point on the Colaba causeway.
After a few Kingfishers we headed back for my birthday bash at the Masala Kraft restaurant in the Taj Mahal Palace with our own chef cooking our meal in front of us….a nice touch and superb food with a running commentary of all the ingredients and spices used in our dishes, oh, and a colossal amount of red wine. We suffered the next morning, and had a flight to Goa to catch….I never learn from past mistakes.
You have plenty of options for onward travel, be it by train, plane or buses. Mumbai’s domestic airport is 4 km from the International airport, and has flights all over India. Check out Skyscanner for cheap options on deals.
Trains are also a cheap option to get around major cities in India, and a good website is HERE. You can sign up online and access ticket bookings and other info.
Local buses are the cheapest options with prices in pence rather than pounds. Get local information once on the ground.