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World Travel Guide > Guides > Asia > India > Chennai (Madras)

Chennai (Madras) Weather

40°C

Local time Chennai (Madras)

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Getting around Chennai (Madras)

Public transport

The suburban railway (daily 0500-2300) runs approximately every 10 to 15 minutes between Central Railway and the northern suburbs, from east to west, and from the eastern beach to the southern suburbs. Stations include Egmore, the airport (Tirusulam), St Thomas Mount, Lighthouse (Marina Beach) and the fort (Park Town).

Buses (daily 0500-2200) are extremely crowded and best avoided for longer journeys. Signs are mostly in Tamil so ask around for the correct route and destination. It can be a real leap of faith, but this is definitely the cheapest way of getting around. Auto-rickshaws are another mode of transport - agree the fare to the destination before you get in.

The Chennai Metro (tel: +91 44 2379 2000; www.chennaimetrorail.gov.in) is a light rail system which opened in 2015 and travels from Alandur to Koyambedu, with further stations and lines under construction. Preloadable smartcards are available. 

Taxis

Taxis are mainly seen outside large hotels, local taxi stands and some transport hubs. You can book taxis independently or through hotels and some travel agents (the latter two attract service charges). You should negotiate the fare at the start of each journey; tipping is optional. Taxi companies include Comfort City Cabs (tel: +91 44 4214 8555) and Fast Track (tel: +91 44 2473 2020).

Driving

Although the city's roads are better than average, driving in Chennai is best done if you have experience as it can get horribly congested and often traffic rules are routinely ignored. Those who hire cars often hire drivers too - it's pretty cheap and less stressful than driving independently.

Car hire

Hiring a car with a driver is possible at the airport and from most hotels; many major international companies are represented. Avis (tel: +91 44 4221 2802; www.avis.com) and Hertz (tel: +91 44 4554 0077; www.hertz.com) are reliable options. Local car hire companies include Praveenn Tours and Travels (tel: +91 44 2485 2034; www.praveenntravels.com) and Express Travel Corporation (ETC) (tel: +91 44 2827 2279; www.expresstravelcorp.com).

Rates differ depending on quality of the vehicle and whether you opt for air conditioning or not. It is strongly recommended that you do not try to drive yourself - not only is it difficult to deal with the vagaries of Indian driving, but the cost of the insurance will probably outweigh the cost of a driver.

Featured Hotels

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The Park Chennai

Converted from the old Gemini Film Studios, this 5-star deluxe property offers sleek modern design with a spattering of movie magic. Original film posters fill the stylish lobby and the movie theme extends to the rooms and hallways. Rooms are modern and stylish, with wood flooring, frosted glass and sumptuous fabrics. There is also a rooftop pool and stress-banishing spa, plus several bars and restaurants.

ITC Grand Chola Hotel

Vast and opulent, the Grand Chola lives up to its ostentatious name, with 522 rooms and 78 luxurious serviced apartments in a veritable palace with lush grounds in the heart of Chennai. The décor evokes the wealth and luxury of the Chola Dynasty, the greatest maritime power to rise in South Asia, with carved columns, curving stairways, granite statuary and vast open spaces.

Vivanta by Taj Connemara

There are several lavish Taj properties in Chennai, but Vivanta by Taj Connemara is the closest the city has to a proper heritage hotel. Set in an art deco mansion, the hotel was founded in 1854 but remodelled extensively during the colonial period. Rooms are calm and sophisticated, the dining options are top notch and there's a gorgeous palm-shaded pool.

The Residency Towers Chennai

Offering top value for excellent facilities, the Residency Towers has stylishly furnished rooms and suites in a handy location between Thyagaraya Nagar and Teynampet. It's a smart modern property, with a swimming pool, a small gym and good eating and drinking options on site, including South Indian restaurant Southern Aromas, and the popular Bike & Barrel bar.

E Hotel

Located in the Express Avenue mall, this boutique property has excellent shopping right on the doorstep, and a crisp, modern style that marks it out from the competition. The 44 rooms are equipped with flatscreen TVs, Wi-Fi, tea and coffee making facilities, a mini bar and plush bathrooms, with some pretty textiles to add a splash of colour.

Hyatt Regency Chennai

Offering the usual Hyatt Regency package in a convenient location close to the attractions of Mylapore, this hotel provides the comfort of familiarity in this often hectic city. There are 327 comfortable rooms with excellent facilities, plus three restaurants, a spa and fitness centre and a tempting pool to cool down from the heat.