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Getting around Mumbai (Bombay)

Public transport

The first line of the gleaming Mumbai Metro (tel: +91 22 3031 0900; www.reliancemumbaimetro.com) opened in 2014 between Ghatkopar and Versova. You can pay for a single trip by token, but a smartcard is more economical if you're making multiple journeys. There are plans for additional lines on the network.

Mumbai is well served by its suburban rail network. It can get extremely overcrowded however, particularly during rush hour. There are ladies-only carriages which are recommended for all female travellers.

Single- and double-decker buses are also useful for getting around town. Fares are cheap around south Mumbai, but bus routes can be hard to fathom; check www.bestundertaking.com for information. Buses are often crowded and seats hard to come by; only a small minority are fitted with air conditioning. Tickets are best purchased from the driver.

Taxis

Mumbai has plenty of black-and-yellow premier taxis plying the streets and they are the best way to get around. Unlike other Indian cities, autorickshaws are banned from the centre of the city and are only available in the suburbs.

You can hail taxis (black and yellow) on the street and drivers almost always use the meter without prompting. Fares (usually inexpensive) are calculated according to a conversion table, which all drivers are required to carry. City Cool Cab (tel: +91 766 655 4466) offers private air-conditioned taxis a third more expensive but also more comfortable.

Taxi drivers don't always know Mumbai's street names, so give directions by landmarks. Tipping etiquette can also be confusing; some drivers demand a tip quite openly, while others are content with the metered or negotiated fare. A 10% tip is generally acceptable.

Driving

Driving in Mumbai is not recommended for tourists. The streets are chaotic and poorly signposted and you'll have to dodge trucks, cows and potholes in addition to finding your way around. There are traffic regulations, but they're regularly ignored. Parking is another huge problem in Mumbai, and another reason not to drive.

Car hire

Drivers in India must be over 18 years, although many car hire companies will insist on a higher minimum age. Drivers will need an International Driving Permit, and insurance must be arranged at the time of hiring.

Avis (tel: +91 22 2281 4449; www.avis.com) and Hertz (tel: +91 22 2653 3141; www.hertz.com) provide self-drive hire cars.

Bicycle hire

Bicycles are popular on the crowded streets of Mumbai and there is no requirement for cyclists to wear helmets.

Motorbikes are available for long-term buy-back (you purchase the bike and the shop guarantees to buy it back from you when you're done) from Allibhai Premji Tyrewalla 205/207 Dr D Bhadkamkar Road, Opera House (tel: +91 22 2309 9313; www.premjis.com).

Featured Hotels

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Gordon House Hotel

Each floor has its own theme at this boutique hotel located just behind Apollo Bunder. Decorated in Mediterranean, Scandinavian or country cottage styles, the rooms are charming without being twee, with plenty of modern gadgets and positively 5-star bathrooms. There's also a bar and the popular Poly Esther's nightclub onsite. Light sleepers should avoid rooms adjoining the club.

Residency Hotel

The atmosphere in Fort is a bit less frantic and a bit more business-like than in Colaba, and the Residency makes a perfect base from which to explore. Rooms are modern and comfortable and decorated in calming colours, with pictures of historic Mumbai on the walls. There's also a cute little café, where breakfast is served.

Hotel Bawa Continental

A comfortable resort-style hotel along lively Juhu beach, the Bawa Continental offers neat rooms, some with grandstand views over the beach and Arabian Sea. Although a hike from the historic centre, Juhu is much calmer than Fort or Colaba, with plenty of upscale restaurants and bars within walking distance. Rooms have TVs, air-con and Wi-Fi (for a charge), and there's a Starbucks on site.

Taj Mahal Palace & Tower

A Mumbai institution since 1903 the Taj has played host to Maharajas and monarchs movie stars and media moguls. Built in striking Indo-Saracenic style this grand hotel was extensively damaged during the 2008 terrorist attacks but an artful renovation has removed all traces of the disaster. For more than a century this has been the epitome of luxury in Mumbai with graceful vaulted ceilings tall archways fine carpets and crystal chandeliers. The Taj also houses some of Mumbai's best restaurants plus luxury shops a nightclub and outdoor pool gym and even its very own fortune teller.

Traveller's Inn

Set on a leafy road in Fort, Traveller's Inn has just 21 rooms, which are small but clean and excellent value. There are inexpensive dorms and better private rooms, and the staff are friendly and accommodating. There's also free wireless internet access in the lobby. Located close to many good value restaurants.

Hotel Oasis

Rooms are compact but tastefully decorated at this inexpensive 30-room hotel in a handy location in Fort, just a short hop from Victoria Terminus and Horniman Circle. For a reasonable price, you'll get a TV, air-conditioning and an en suite bathroom. There are numerous dining options on the neighbouring streets.