Flight and hotel Mumbai
Mumbai: Where everything is happening right now
Book a flight and hotel in Mumbai to discover a city rich in history and culture. Home to around 16 million people, the city was colonised by the Portuguese in the 1500s and called Bom Bahia, or Good Bay. The British changed this to Bombay when they were gifted it by the Portuguese in 1662 with the marriage of King Charles II and Catherine of Braganza.
Some years after independence in 1995, the city became known as Mumbai after Mumbadevi, goddess of the fishermen who lived here in ancient times. What was once a quaint fishing settlement is now a loud metropolis with a furious energy, but as the sun falls over Chowpatty Beach, it’s still possible to look out to sea and imagine what those first settlers must have felt.
What to know before you go to Mumbai?
Take a flight to Mumbai and you’ll need a visa. UK residents can apply online for 60 starting on the day you arrive in the country. Visitors taking flights from London to Mumbai or Manchester to Mumbai will land at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, 30km from the city centre. From here, take a pre-paid taxi or auto rickshaw to your hotel. Make sure you pay for your taxi in advance or agree a price with your driver, or you might be charged a hefty fee at your destination.
India’s currency is the rupee and they follow India Standard Time, which is five and a half hours ahead of GMT. The official language of Mumbai is Marathi, but a number of other languages are widely spoken, English being one of them. Not everyone you meet on package holidays in Mumbai will speak English, but enough will for you to feel at ease.
When should you visit Mumbai?
The best time for city breaks in Mumbai is between October and March, after the monsoon rains but before the temperatures soar and the humidity rises. Visitors taking package holidays in Mumbai in late August or early September and enjoy Ganesh Chaturthi, the annual festival honouring the elephant-headed Ganesh.
What is there to do in Mumbai?
Mumbai is a place where cultures collide. Home to some of the world’s largest slums as well as the wealthiest homes, it’s a city of contradictions. Spend a weekend in Mumbai’s streets, and you’ll find yourself contemplating some of life’s bigger questions.
- See the Gateway of India, built by the British in the 1900s, and observe the flourish of local life there.
- Take an evening stroll along Chowpatty Beach for a true Mumbai experience: see fortune tellers, smell the delicious array of street foods and watch children play as the sun goes down.
- Buy fresh produce at Crawford Market.
- Take a boat to Elephanta Island, and be awed by the three-faced Shiva sculpture.
Where should you visit in Mumbai?
Packed full of activities, this is a city that would take a lifetime to know. But even on a weekend to Mumbai, you'll have plenty of time to discover some gems. And if you’re in Mumbai for the weekend, don’t forget your dancing shoes.
- Visit Dhobi Ghat, the largest laundromat in the world, where 700 stone washing platforms see thousands of clothes beaten and scrubbed every day. The colourful washing lines are a sight to behold.
- See the Kanheri Caves which date back to the first century BC.
- Get lost in the maze of the Central Bazaar, where you’ll find clothing, fresh produce, and just about everything else.
- Spend a night or two in Juhu, Mumbai’s trendiest area.
Eating out in Mumbai: a taste sensation
Being a modern, multicultural city, Mumbai offers cuisines from all over the world. But visitors on city breaks to Mumbai have the opportunity to enjoy some local flavours. Maharashtra state is known for its street foods, and bhel puri and sevpuri are two of the best. Sample Konkan Coast fish curry or sit down for a masala dosa: a thin vegetable pancake eaten with coconut chutney. Wash it down with a banana lassi: a drink made from yogurt, or opt for a Kingfisher beer.
What gifts should you bring from Mumbai?
Take a flight and hotel to Mumbai, and make sure your suitcase is half empty. From patterned cottons and hand-crafted bedspreads to jewellery and gems, you’ll find it all here. Buy a kurta, or Indian tunic, or take some silver bangles home. Buy quality spices at Lalbaug Spice market or handicrafts in Kala Ghoda. Mangaldas Market offers a range of handmade leather goods including belts and purses, and you’ll find decorative lampshades and retro Bollywood posters for sale in Chor Market. Finally, get yourself a henna tattoo. They’re available everywhere, and will last over a week, giving you something to remember your holiday by.