aMumbai is a major megalopolis, home to more than twenty million people. It is often seen as the gateway to India, since it is home to multinational Indian firms, India’s stock exchanges and the capital of its movie industry. Business travellers may want to make the most of a brief stay in the city, but its size and sometimes hectic pace can make it seem impenetrable to some. Here’s a guide for those who want to experience the best of Mumbai while traveling on business.
The Essentials on Express Travel
Mumbai is well-connected to the UK and other countries. Three different airlines fly daily out of Heathrow to Mumbai. The journey time is about nine hours. You can also travel to Mumbai via Middle Eastern airlines and their hubs in Doha and the United Arab Emirates. Almost all of these flights arrive at Chhatrapati Shivaji International airport. Both domestic and international terminals are now part of this airport, though they’re separated by about four kilometres.
The trip from Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport to downtown takes anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours. Plan accordingly so that you are not late for your business meeting. Getting around Mumbai can take a lot of time, too. If you’re in town for the International Travel Roadshow Mumbai, their website is full of information on how to get around the city.
The Business Culture
English is the language of business in India, so Brits and Americans won’t have a problem there. However, you may need to get accustomed to the generally relaxed attitude. For example, you’ll have to be more lenient when it comes to meeting times, since punctuality isn’t as strict in Mumbai. Traffic can be an issue as well. So, make sure that you plan your itineraries well in advance and always take rush hour into consideration.
There are many hotels in the northern business districts of the city, and a fair number of new ones have opened in the area. Accommodations range from world class business hotels to basic budget hotels.
A good way to get immersed in Mumbai’s culture is to go on a food tour after your business meetings. You’ll be able to eat street food at well-chosen locations, explore the Fort District and learn about this city.
You should note that Mumbai residents eat dinner later, typically around 9 P.M. You should also note that since India went cashless in 2016, tipping is still possible but trickier. Ask the waiters to add ten percent to your bill before they swipe your payment card, or ask the hotel desk to add gratuities to your bill before they ring up your final bill.
The Top Cultural Destinations
When you’re in Mumbai on business, you may only have a day or two for sightseeing. One of the best sites to visit is the Shree Siddhivinayak Temple. This temple is dedicated to Ganesh and is often frequented by politicians and local celebrities. If you’re a fan of Bollywood, you should consider visiting the Mount Mary Roman Catholic church. Its beautiful architecture regularly appears in Bollywood movies.
Another option is going shopping in Old Mumbai. The best place to start is the Lion Gate. You can buy everything from folk art, to custom jewellery, clothing, and historical artefacts. If you have a full day free, take an hour long ferry ride to Elephanta Island. The basalt caves are carved with relics to the god Shiva, some of which are 1500 years old.
Mumbai is a great place to do business, and even better once you get acclimatised. Make sure that you take the time to understand local business etiquette and that you’re equipped to face the challenges of doing business there.