Adventures Asia Travel

What I wish I knew before I went to Bombay

Bombay (now known as Mumbai) is a fabulous city, and is as frenetic as it is fun, but a few insider tips before you go will help:

Woman in India with a cow behind her eating grass on the street.

Renae Leith-Manos on a street in Bombay, with a cow behind her, a very regular feature in India.

  1. The traffic is a major problem. Moving from one area to another (some 20km) can take an hour each way, so you are better off to split your time there in half and stay in two different areas of Bombay and focus on walking in the area around your hotel for sight-seeing, shopping and meals.
  2. Yoga is the National past time, as it all started in India thousands of years ago. Every upmarket hotel has daily yoga on offer, and it is of a super high standard. Don’t miss this. Someone told me to do yoga every morning in India as it can help cope with the transition to this incredible country. Great advice.

    Renae Leith-Manos doing yoga at The Taj Mahal Mumbai Palace Hotel with Oprah Winfrey’s Indian yoga instructor.

  3. The service and hospitality is six star. I had to see it for myself to believe it, but the Indian people want you to fall in love with their country, their food and their culture, and how can you not when they are so generous. You get used to it pretty quickly.
  4. Many five star hotels like The Taj Palace Hotel, Mumbai and The St Regis in Mumbai have butlers for every room who will literally do anything for you from unpacking your bags to re-packing them, finding the shops you want, make you a coffee. Incredible.
  5. Service charges are included in restaurants and taxis. You can tip, but only if you feel the service has been exceptional. A lot of foreigners arrive thinking they have to tip, that it is compulsory, but it most definitely is not.

    A tree in Bombay full of people in all different coloured western clothing

    The streets of Bombay are colourful and crowded.

  6. Uber works well. And what a relief that is. I was recommended not to take the local taxis, and one day I did and found out why. These guys are a bit too savvy for their own good and try and rip off tourists by saying locations are further away than they are, and misguiding people. Better off with uber or a hotel car.
  7. This is the best place in the world to go veg. In the West, most of us don’t really understand the real concept of vegetarianism. Here in India, they not only get it, they have made a national past time of it. The food is amazing. For most Indians, it is based on ahimsa, “non-violence” to animals.

    Renae Leith-Manos at The Taj Mahal Mumbai Palace Hotel.

  8. Cows: These are sacred in India as millions of hindus worship cows. It is not uncommon to see them wandering or tied up on the streets. Cows are a symbol of the divine bounty of earth, and regarded as the symbol of life and the source of food. However, you can still get a steak to eat if you wish, just ask at a five star hotel.
  9. Many people here do not drink alcohol, so it is a great place to detox or drink significantly less than we do in the West.
  10. Flat shoes for girls: You need good walking shoes that can cope with dust. I managed to pick up a pair at the markets for $5 Aussie, and they definitely did the trick. I am a heels girl, so wore them in the hotels.

    The Table Restaurant, Mumbai. A world class location for a glass of international wine and incredible Western and Indian dishes.

  11. Upmarket food and restaurants? You better believe it. There are some fantastically modern, upmarket restaurants in Mumbai that would fit in well in New York or London, and why wouldn’t there be? Indians are super smart and many in the upper classes are highly educated. They have seen the world, and are bringing it home. That’s not to say the Indian food isn’t mind blowing. I loved the Chinese/Indian restaurants – which serve  super spicy versions of everything from fried calamari to szechuan dishes, stir fry and curries. And street food here is incredible.

    The wonders and colours of India are endless.

 

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