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Things to do in Mumbai (Bombay)

Cycle the city before it wakes

Mumbai is constant bustle and buzz, and unless you rise before the sun you won't find a moment's calm. So set an early alarm and join Reality Tours (tel: +91 98 2082 2253; www.realitytoursandtravel.com) to experience the city's most famous sights in the stillness of dawn. After your early morning bike ride, they even provide breakfast.

Don't miss a recital at the NCPA

The mid-20th century building may be out of step with some of India's grander architecture, but inside the National Centre for the Performing Arts (tel: +91 22 2282 4567; www.ncpamumbai.com) is one of the country's finest cultural institutions. With over 600 performances annually, it meets many tastes. Don't miss the Indian classical music recitals.

Experience Mumbai's wet and wild side

Adrenaline junkies will relish white-water rafting on the Kundalika River, 120km (74 miles) outside Mumbai, with Kundalika Rafting (tel: +91 20 6644 7777; www.kundalikarafting.in). Set within virgin forests, it takes around 1.5 hours to paddle the 14km (9 miles) stretch and is a great insight into some of the country's natural surroundings.

Head out to sea and escape the crowds

Chowpatty Beach is a popular stretch of shoreline for those seeking respite. The most peaceful time to go is early morning but the solace won't last long. If you really want to escape the crowds, head out to sea. The H2O Centre (tel: +91 22 2367 7546; www.h2oadventures.in) offer jet skiing, parasailing and speed boating, among other aquatic activities.

Speed around a go-kart track

For a whole day of fun head to Hakone (tel: +91 22 4005 9004), a dedicated sports and entertainment complex in Powai, a 20-minute drive from Mumbai. Here, younger families can enjoy paddle boats, bumper cars and arcade machines, and adults can let their hair down too with paintballing and a large, roaring go-kart track.

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.

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.

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.