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First time in India & Mumbai, please help

Hua Hin, Thailand
Level Contributor
729 posts
82 reviews
First time in India & Mumbai, please help

My husband & I recently retired in Thailand. One of the reason we chose Thailand is our ability to visit other Asian countries easily.

We are now ready for our first visit to India. We're sure we will have other opportunities to come back to India & after some research, we've decided to come only for 6-8 days & mostly stay in the Mumbai area. We've already planned 3 other months at other times of the year to visit other countries/areas of Asia that is why we're only doing a short visit to India at this time.

We know we want to stay at least 3-4 days in the Colaba area. We're not sure if we should stay the whole time in that area, split our stay in Colaba & another neighborhood of Mumbai or split our stay between Mumbai & the Lonavala area. The exact length of our visit will depend on what we decide to do.

We're in our late 50ties. We mostly like to explore places on our own, take our time & keep our itinerary flexible. We're not into museums but more into experiencing the culture, the food, people watching & soaking in the atmosphere. We love Indian food. We are not into fine dining but would rather try street food & favorite casual places frequented by locals. We don't mind guided tours as long as they are less than 3 hour long. We don't like long tours & day trips that are hectic & keep us away for long periods of time without any flexibility for us to abort the tour if we don't enjoy it. We don't mind traveling for a while to experience other areas/food as long as we can easily do it ourselves (or with a hired driver).

If the seas are not too choppy (unfortunately I tend to be seasick), we might want to go to Elephanta Island for a day. We're interested in Lonavala because it looks so different than the big city feel of Mumbai. We like big cities but we also like nature & hiking.

In our past travels, our favorite experiences have always been when we mix in with the locals. We can easily adjust ourselves to different cultures/customs.

I have not booked our flights yet but we will leave from Bangkok & our trip will be sometime between the end of October & the middle of November. Time is starting to run out before the price of the flights start going up. So based on the information I have given here what would you recommend?

14 replies to this topic
Hua Hin, Thailand
Level Contributor
729 posts
82 reviews
1. Re: First time in India & Mumbai, please help

As I'm doing more research I see that we could hire a driver for about 36 hours for an overnight in Lonavala for less than $100usd. Considering this, would it work for us to stay 5N/4D in Cobala, hire a driver on the 5th day to take us to Lonavala, spend a night there & then come back the next day & get drop at a hotel closer to airport to fly back to Bangkok on the following day. That way we could have a leisurely drive back & forth with stops along the way for short hikes & take in the natural scenery.

I'm guessing it would be better to do this on weekdays to avoid major crowds & traffic.

Any thoughts/suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

India
Destination Expert
for Mumbai, India
Level Contributor
5,608 posts
8 reviews
2. Re: First time in India & Mumbai, please help

The plan to split the stay in 3 parts is doable, though I would choose Matheran instead of Lonavala.

The first part in Colaba makes sense. Can understand your trepidation about the Elephanta boat ride. My wife has the same issue. We got onto the boat and she started feeling nauseous while waiting for the trip to start. Considering that the ride is about an hour we decided to abort the trip.

Overnight at a place like Matheran or Lonavala is doable on a weekday. Less crowded and more enjoyable.

The third part of staying near the airport makes sense too. I suggest any hotels in Juhu.

Mumbai, India
Level Contributor
1 post
23 reviews
3. Re: First time in India & Mumbai, please help

For food and culture experience, I strongly recommend Kalyan Karmakar who blogs at finelychopped.net https://www.finelychopped.net/

His trips to Colaba and food walks around that locality will surely add to make your trip memorable.

Hope you have a nice time exploring this Maximum city and may you take back lovely memories.

Instead of Lonavala, I would suggest a trip to this small sleepy town on Nasik. Sula vineyards have beautiful accommodation and this city of Temples has enough to satisfy your curiosity of culture- Temple of Trimbakeshwar, River Ganga,Old temple of Kala Ram etc.

Nasik is at a distance of approx.200 km from Mumbai and a road trip takes about 3 hours one way.

Hua Hin, Thailand
Level Contributor
729 posts
82 reviews
4. Re: First time in India & Mumbai, please help

Thank you both for the feedback & suggestions. I will look into those.

Is early November a good time for Lonavala or should we just stay in Mumbai or choose another area to explore as Eagertraveller suggested?

Hua Hin, Thailand
Level Contributor
729 posts
82 reviews
5. Re: First time in India & Mumbai, please help

We booked our flights! We will be coming October 30th - November 6th.

We'll probably stay at The Trident or Taj Tower in Cobala. We will explore from there. We're currently in the process of getting e-visas. Crossing our fingers.

Level Contributor
69 posts
6. Re: First time in India & Mumbai, please help

Mumbai is a very nice open city. I suggest you visit elephant island, go to Gandhi national park

Hua Hin, Thailand
Level Contributor
729 posts
82 reviews
7. Re: First time in India & Mumbai, please help

Woohoo, we both got our e-visas. Thanks for the suggestions. We have those on our list.

Level Contributor
2 posts
39 reviews
8. Re: First time in India & Mumbai, please help

Hi,

By the time you reach Lonavala may lose its beauty due to arrival of Autumn . Its beautiful during the rainy season . Lonavala can be reached by Bus and also by cab . I would suggest cab . It would take just 2 hours to reach . You can spend a night therein a good property like Fariyas . The other option suggested by a friend is Matheran , thats also a beautiful pace , but that has a hiking for a mile . Its a no-traffic zone . Its better than Lonavala as its less crowded and less polluted . You can take a cab till the last point , it can wait for you overnight in the parking zone . You can research for some nice boutique hotels . You will love it more than Lonavala .

Another hill station near Mumbai is Mahabaleshwar which is 7 hours drive .

While you travel away from Mumbai or around , keep a lot of tissues with you and sanitisers while using the public washrooms . Please try to stick to only bottled mineral water ( Aquafina, Bislery & Kinley) and avoid buttermilk or juices or sharbats etc . As Indians we have immunity against the local infections , which may not be true for you . Also Wifi is not commonly available hence try to see if you get get a cheap Data plan . Since you travel by yourself , mobile data will be extremely critical .

While Mumbai you can dine in Gaylord & Leopold . Colaba will offer a lot of shopping opportunities and bargaining as well . The sea during Nov will not be that choppy hence I would recommend Elephanta .

You can download Uber app for taxis , this way you wont get fleeced at all by cabbies and you would travel in AC .

Let me know if you need any other help .

Mumbai, India
Destination Expert
for Mumbai
Level Contributor
1,175 posts
172 reviews
9. Re: First time in India & Mumbai, please help

You may try Khaki Tours which offer a variety of different heritage walks on the weekends as well as street food walks in Mumbai. Mumbai Magic also conducts a food walk in the Matunga area. Kalyan Karmakar's Finely Chopped also conducts food walks.

Matheran, Lonavala / Khandala / Karla, Saputara, Mahabaleshwar / Panchgani are some of the places near Mumbai.

Hope this helps.

Cheers,

Aadil.

Mumbai, India
Level Contributor
83 posts
191 reviews
10. Re: First time in India & Mumbai, please help

Hi. Colaba is the right area to stay in. I would recommend that you skip Lonavla which is very commercialised. If you do feel you want to make the trip consider staying at The Machan (it is a bit expensive but if you are staying at The Taj or Trident you can afford it). If not consider going a bit further ahead to either Mahabaleshwar or Panchgani - it is a bit more out of the common way. But I would suggest given the time - stick to Bombay - take a walk around the heritage area, enjoy the night life and food. Some good suggestions for blogs and the like to follow. The bar at Novotel in Juhu area (Gadda da Vida) is a lovely place to spend an evening enjoying some good cocktails by the see. A bit far from Colaba though and you should avoid this trip on a weekday.

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