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    [Tried & Tested] First Timer's Guide To Mumbai, India

    2 Apr 2018

    Beatrice Lee

    Klook Travel Curator

    Incredible India

    India has been getting some attention as a holiday destination in recent years and rightfully so! If this is your first time venturing to Mumbai, we’ve gathered some of the city’s sights and sounds to help you make the most of your holiday there.

    Before you leave for your holiday, don’t forget to check out some of our own tips and tricks for a hassle-free travelling experience in India.

    Klook your next holiday in Mumbai!

    Mumbai Unplugged Half Day Tour

    • Start: 8am
    • End: 12pm

    Places of interest covered:

    • Gateway of India
    • CSMT train station
    • Dadar flower market
    • Dhobi Ghaat
    • Dabbawallas

    Car (4 pax) & van (6 pax) transfers available.

    View this activity

    Highlights of Mumbai Tour

    • Start: 9am
    • End: 3pm

    Places of interest covered:

    • Gateway of India
    • Taj Mahal Palace hotel
    • CSMT train station
    • Crawford Market
    • Dhobi Ghaat
    • Mahatma Gandhi's residence
    • Haji Ali Dargah
    • Malabar Hill
    • Banganga water tank
    • Kamala Nehru city park
    • Marine Drive (Queen's Necklace)

    Hotel pick up and drop off included.

    View this activity

    Elephanta Caves Tour

    • Start: 9.30am meet up with guide outside Pizza Express
    • End: 2.15pm end at Gateway of India

    Car (4 pax) & van (6 pax) transfers available.

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    Mumbai Walking Food Tour

    • Start: 6.00pm meet up with guide outside Burger King at Churchgate West Station
    • End: 8.30pm tour ends at Churchgate

    Car (4 pax) & van (6 pax) transfers available.

    View this activity

    Are Mumbai and Bombay the same city?

    Mumbai - India's most populated city.

    Yes! Located on the Western coast of the country, Mumbai is India's wealthiest and most populated city. Previously named "Bombay", this city is home to a wealth of UNESCO World Heritage Sites and the pop culture icon of Indian cinema - Bollywood.

    If Mumbai was never on your bucketlist it's time to include it now!

    Things to do in Mumbai

    1. Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT) Railway Station

    There is no train station more beautiful than the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT) railway station. First constructed as an ode to Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee, this railway station is now one of India’s busiest.

    This UNESCO World Heritage site was first named the Victoria Terminus, then later Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus and eventually Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus in 2017.

    *Klook Pro-tip: *Find the best vantage points for your photos with your local guide on the Mumbai Unplugged Half Day Tour or Highlights of Mumbai Tour!

    2. Dhobi Ghaat

    The Dhobi Ghat is one of Mumbai’s most famous open air laundromats and also one of the oldest. At this 140-year-old establishment, most of the washing is still done the old fashioned way with a good scrub and rinse, then hung out to dry in the scorching Mumbai heat.

    The Dhobi Ghat also houses the "dhobis" or washers and their families. Visit in the morning to watch the dhobis in action, and in the afternoon to see line upon line of freshly washed linen.

    This massive laundromat might look disorganized to the naked eye, but the dhobis run a tight ship with a system known only to those who work the trade. Numbers scribbled on tags indicate the end-destination of the garment - mostly hotels and hospitals, but also the odd restaurant or even the neighbour next door.

    With so many clothes to go through daily, efficiency is key. No one wants to dirty freshly laundered clothes when searching for their own, so instead of flimsy pegs and hangers, clothes are hung by their corners between thin twisted ropes. The ropes create enough friction to hold the clothes in place, but also allow the dhobis to pull them off easily when needed.

    3. Dabbawallas

    The trains in Mumbai may be late but your lunch will be on time 99.9% of the time. That’s the success rate of the "Dabbawallas" - a profession unique to India and in particular, Mumbai. They run a lunchbox delivery service solely through the use of trains and bicycles and then deliver the empty lunchboxes back to where they came from, including your home!

    They can single out one lunchbox in a sea of thousands simply by the different symbols inscribed on the exterior. Only the Dabbawallas know this code.

    4. Gate of India

    The Gate of India is one of Mumbai’s most iconic landmarks for both locals from other parts of India and tourists alike.

    This impressive structure was built to commemorate the landing of King George V and Queen Mary, but now marks the site for visitors to and from Elephanta Island instead.

    5. Elephanta Caves

    Mumbai’s Elephanta Caves is a modern marvel built without the use of any modern machinery. Originally built as a temple to the Hindu god Shiva, the Elephanta Caves still remain as a popular pilgrimage destination for most Hindu devotees.

    To get there, you’ll need to hop onto a ferry from the Gate of India to Elephanta Island. It takes 1 hour to travel to the Elephanta Islands via traditional ferry and 20 minutes by speedboat, though the latter is far more costly.

    We Klook-ed our Elephanta Caves visit and met up with an Elephanta Island local who brought us through the history of the island, the caves and even gave us the best photo-taking advice, like this shot of both the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel and the Gate of India in one frame!

    The caves are built from basalt and feature sculptures in the lightness of the Hindu god Shiva. What’s amazing is that these were all hewn from one single rock without any joinings! There are five caves in total, but only two still contain remnants of these sculptures.

    You do have to climb a few hundred steps to reach the Elephanta Caves, so do come prepared with comfortable attire and walking shoes.

    6. Crawford Market

    Crawford Market is best known for their fresh local produce and spices. Fruit sellers display their best guavas, mangoes and even strawberries all grown on Indian soil. The fruits come in smaller sizes here (mangoes were barely palm-sized) but we were told these are extremely sweet and pesticide-free.

    Spices form the very heart of everything Indian. You’ll find ginger, cardamom and saffron in tea, curries and even desserts. The secret to your favourite butter chicken? A wicked combination of spices.

    Purchase any bag of spices and receive a simple recipe book for free! This way, you can bring the flavours of India home long after your trip.

    If you’re lucky, the shopkeepers might even let you play spice-walla for a while!

    Don’t forget to pick up a piping hot cup of chai before you leave the market! The trick to drinking a cup of chai quickly is to take quick sips of only the very surface of the drink. The locals do this with finesse and can down a cup of chai in a matter of seconds.

    7. Gandhi’s Residence

    Located some ways down the atypically quiet streets of the posh Laburnum Road lies house number 19 or “Mani Bhavan” - Gandhi-ji’s past residence in Mumbai. The house belonged to Revashankar Jagjeevan Jhaveri, Gandhi-ji’s friend. This was a key location in Gandhi-ji’s fight for independence - it was where he launched Satyagraha in 1919 and also where he was eventually arrested on the balcony.

    This converted museum contains much information about Gandhi, including the room where he slept and worked, kept in the same likeness as it was in Gandhi-ji’s time.

    8. Mumbai Street Food

    If you didn’t already know, Mumbai was once called “Bombay” which coincidentally happens to be part of the name of the popular party snack - Bombay Mix. Here, you’ll find that the equivalent of Bombay Mix is in fact a sticky mixture of crispy lentil crackers, beans and puffed rice mixed together with tamarind juice and other delicious sauces.

    Another Mumbai must-try is the Puri Bhaji - a crispy shell filled with lentils in gravy. Join the Mumbai walking food tour for a true taste of local life!

    View this activity

    9. Banganga Water Tank

    You’d never think to find a place like the Banganga Tank in the heart of a big city like Mumbai. Located in the furthest corner of the wealthy Malabar Hill district, this water tank has been around since 1127 AD.

    Despite its proximity to the sea, the water tank supposedly holds water from the sacred River Ganges or “Ganga” in Varanasi and is therefore one of the holier sites for Hinduism in Mumbai.