An all-you-can eat buffet of Indian life situated on India's west coast, Mumbai (called Bombay until 1995) combines some of everything and often India's best. Commercially, it's the country's headquarters for film (Bollywood), fashion and finance. Visitors will find ancient temples, delicious food, energetic nightlife, fascinating museums and even a tropical forest.
It's hard to describe the intense and tireless rain that characterises the monsoon season. Along with winter and summer one of the three seasons in Mumbai, it makes June till September a less desirable time to visit. The best season is winter, from November until February, when temperatures range from a high of 30 degrees C to a low of 17.
Festivals make a visit even more memorable: Holi, a "festival of colour" with decorated participants, is during the full moon in March. Ganesh Chaturthi, is 10 days of processions and celebrations in August and September. Diwali, the biggest Indian holiday, is a festival of lights and fireworks in October.
A visa is required to visit Mumbai: it's available from the Indian High Commission.
Make sure your standard vaccines and boosters are current. Additional precautions include hepatitis A, tetanus and a typhoid jab. Especially for visits during the monsoon season, cholera protection may be advisable. Consider also getting vaccines for hepatitis B, Japanese encephalitis and rabies.
Avoid drinking water from the tap unless boiled thoroughly, and eat only boiled and fried foods. Make sure you peel fruits and vegetables before eating.
Indian costs of living are much lower. 200 Indian Rupees, or approximately £2, buys a budget meal.
Air quality during the dry season can be difficult, with smog conditions somewhat unpleasant.
Mumbai airport is about 28 km out from the city centre. Prepaid taxis cost about 450 Rs to 600 Rs. In the city, the minimum taxi fare is Rs 21 for the first 1.5 kilometres, plus Rs 1 for every 100 metres. A day bus pass is Rs 70 with a Smart photo ID card.
Suburban trains are uncomfortably crowded during rush hour, but provide access to more affordable accommodation further out. Staying in Mumbai is somewhat more expensive than in much of India. Head to South Mumbai or Colaba or near railway stations for more affordable options. Hostel or dorm rooms cost about 250 Rs, while a 3-star hotel starts at about 4000 Rs.