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Things to do in Chennai (Madras)

Check out the crocs at the Croc Bank

The Madras Crocodile Bank Trust ( was set up in 1976 to "promote the conservation of reptiles and amphibians and their habitats" and is still going strong. It's safe to say they welcome visitors with welcome arms. Don't leave without getting a look at Jaws III; at 16ft, he's the largest captive croc in India.

Eat George Town’s finest street food

Street food in Chennai is king, and nowhere is it so regal as George Town's maniacal streets. A newcomer may find themselves overwhelmed by the sights, sounds and smells, so take the Food Trail tour with Story Trails (, who will guide you to the best eats.

Learn to surf, Chennai style

Thrillophilia ( run four- and eight-day courses that aim to get you catching tubes (or at least standing up on your board) before you leave. They take place on the beach at the fishing village of Covelong 40km (25 miles) south of Chennai, so they're relatively free of tourists and/or potentially mocking observers.

Take a turtle conservation walk

Every night, between January and April, the Students Sea Turtle Conservation Network ( walk 7km (4 miles) from Neelangari beach to Besant Nagar beach, relocating exposed Olive Ridley turtle eggs. The walk is open for serious volunteers to join and lasts from 2300 to approximately 0500.

Visit India’s oldest bookstore

Higginbothams started life when an English stowaway, Abel Joshua Higgingbotham, set up a bookshop on Mount Road in 1844. Over 150 years later it's still selling the good word and has the honorable distinction of being India's oldest bookshop. It's got a sizable English language section, and worth a visit for the whitewashed colonial visage alone.

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Featured Hotels


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.