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Note: flight, boat, train and bus timetables change constantly, and airlines come and go, so please do not rely solely on this information for your travel planning. Check with relevant companies, or a flight search engine like Skyscanner, first.
Mumbai is the main international gateway to Central and Southern India and has the busiest network of domestic flights. The international airport named Chhatrapati Shivaji but still known by its old name Sahar, is about five kms away from the domestic airport, also called Chhatrapati Shivaji, but colloquially known as Santacruz. A shuttle bus runs between the airports, which are 30km and 26km north of downtown Mumbai.
Mumbai has excellent connectivity with most of the major cities around the world. If you are flying from Europe it is generally cheaper to fly from London, and there are several flights daily. The average flying time from London is 9 hours. From New York it's 19 hours, from Los Angeles 22 hours and from Sydney 20 hours.
From the UK:
British Airways, Air India, Jet Airways, Kingfisher Airlines, all fly directly from London Heathrow to Mumbai. BMI and Virgin fly you with one stop in between. Cheaper fares are often available with the Middle Eastern airlines, including Qatar Airways, Etihad and Kuwait Airways, which fly from London Heathrow to Mumbai via their respective hubs.
From the rest of Europe:
Air France, KLM, Lufthansa, Finnair and Swiss International Air Lines all fly directly into Mumbai.
From Australia and New Zealand:
Singapore Airlines is usually the airline of choice into Mumbai from this regions. Qantas, Malaysia Airlines and Etihad also fly via their hubs. There are no non-stop flights.
From North America:
Air India operates direct flights from Newark, as do Delta and Continental. Air India also operates flights from Chicago, Boston and Toronto. For cheaper fares explore airlines such as KLM or Gulf Air with a stopover at their respective or partner hubs.
From Sri Lanka:
SriLankan Airlines and Indian carriers like Jet Airways and Kingfisher Airlines have direct flights from Colombo to Mumbai.
From within India:
You can fly direct to Mumbai from at least 30 Indian cities - try Indian, Jet Airways and Kingfisher Airlines. For cheaper fares look at low cost airlines like IndiGo, SpiceJet and Go Air.
It is said that the best way to see India is by travelling on the great Indian railway system. It is a safe, reliable and affordable way to travel. Central Railway connects Mumbai to pretty much any city, town and village in India and in fact, the overnight AC sleepers can be quite comfortable. The main railway stations in Mumbai are Kalyan, Dadar and CST (formerly Victoria Terminus).
Mumbai may appear labyrinthine but there are several options for navigating your way through the city.
Mumbai has the largest organised bus transport network (BEST) among major Indian cities but do get the advice of a local before getting on one as destination stops may seem unfamiliar to you. Remember that the route number and destination is written in the local language on the front of the bus and in English on the side of the bus. Fares start at IRs3.50 making travelling by bus the cheapest form of travel.
The suburban railway system is equally efficient. There are three main lines - Western, Central and Harbour so figure out which line your destination station falls on. Get a timetable at the nearest railway station. The most useful service is the Western, operating from Churchgate heading north to stations such as Mumbai Central, Bandra, Vile Parle (for the domestic airport) and Andheri (for the international airport). Travelling on a train is quick and convenient (they ply from 4 am till 1 am) but be warned that during peak hours (7 am -10 am and 5 pm - 9 pm) a train compartment can be heavily overcrowded. Women should take advantage of the ladies-only carriages.
Far simpler is to jump into a black and yellow taxi since they are in plentiful supply. A mechanical meter (check that the taxi driver turns it on) decides the fare. Recently private radio cabs have begun plying the streets. The most reliable companies are Meru Cabs and Mega Cabs, and these have to be booked in advance. If local flavour is what you want, hop into an autorickshaw (tuk tuk) and zigzag your way through the traffic.
When in doubt, hire a car with an English speaking chauffeur who, if you’re lucky, will double up as a tour guide of sorts. The air conditioned insides also offer respite from the heat and dust.