Awesome unique things to do in Mumbai solo
What are the top unique things to do in Mumbai solo? What are the best experiences to take back home if you are in Mumbai alone? Want to find out? Read on.
The abode of close to 20 million people and a melting pot of all state cultures, there’s obviously always plenty to do in Mumbai. No two days are the same, each experience intense. If you’ve been here even for a day, you’ll know immediately what I mean.
So, if you’re looking for some cool and unique experiences to take back home with you, or have been here for long already and want to try something new, here’s a list of twelve things I’ve tried solo and enjoyed.
Note: Things change at a lightning speed in this city. So no brickbats if a suggestion no longer exists or the details have changed.
So, what are the unique things to do in Mumbai solo?
Take a themed tour
For years I rued over the lack of good walking and Sandeman-like tours in Mumbai, but no more. Several good themed tours have cropped up in the city over the past few years. Priced between $15-40, these tours last from 1 to 3 hours and take you through the narrow and crowded by-lanes of Mumbai where you are otherwise likely to get lost (Not to mention be trampled upon or be suffocated by the crowds). Take a tour through the biggest slum in India at Dharavi. Or walk in the footsteps of Gregory David Roberts—once a wanted man in Australia, who later came to Mumbai and wrote a book, Shantaram.
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I think this was the defining picture of our walk through the slums of Dharavi today. It was a lesson in privilege and a reminder to be grateful. Migrants come to Dharavi in droves. They work 12-14 hours each day to send a few thousands home every month. Thus, the industrial area of Dharavi is a sea of testosterone. Add to that poor living and working conditions… …but most seemed oblivious to their state, almost resigned, as if having large families and hungry mouths to feed back home and working nonstop in hazardous conditions for years and years was altogether normal. As if mandated in a religious book. The trio here is separating pieces of plastic for recycling. Separation is by colour of the part and the three do this for 12 hours each day. And they expect to continue doing this for the next foreseable future. So, think again when you complain that your life was not fulfilling enough. #lifelessons #dharavi #slumlife #lifeislikethat #migrants #travel #travelphotography #travelgram #instatravel #authorlife #blog #travelblogger #traveling #traveler #travels #photooftheday #travelblog #bloggerstyle #blog #indianblogger #travelblogger #travelstories #blogger #storyteller #indiantravelblogger #photostories #instagood #womenwhotravel
Visit a village within the city
Mumbai has several small villages or wadis within it. My favourites are Ranwar and Kotachiwadi. While both are gradually being eaten up by the flurry of construction around—thanks to the burgeoning population and general disregard to old things—residents are still attempting to keep what they’ve been handed down, fiercely guarding their legacy and their homes. Occasionally, tours run to take you through them such as this, this, and this.
Want to explore more of the villages in Bandra? Read this.
Like all major cities in the world, the hipster culture leaves its mark as colourful graffiti across Mumbai’s streets. They don’t last long and frequently need to be touched upon—blame the relentless dust and the equally relentless Mumbai monsoons—but they make for very interesting photo ops. The best ones are in the streets at Bandra, especially along the narrow lanes of Chapel road. As you walk along, also smile and wave at the old men and women fanning themselves in the verandahs.
Chapel Road connects Mount Carmel Church to Hill Road. A walk from end to end takes about ten minutes along the winding road and you may narrowly miss being run over by honking autos many times. As you walk along, you’ll also see the following in no particular order: tailors, pizza shops, sweet shops, chaat places, groceries, snack shops, second-hand book stores, boys playing gulli cricket, roosters crossing the road, men arguing loudly about a match. More graffiti. Never a dull moment. Many of the graffiti on Chapel Road is by the Bombay Art Project, an urban art project started in 2012 to celebrate Bollywood.
Want to know more about the graffiti in Bandra, read this.
Eat at a local’s home
What started as home ventures by elderly matrons, have now turned to full-fledged thriving enterprises. I’m talking about a ‘home meal experience’. The Bohri Kitchen and Authenticook are two examples. Choose from a range of cuisine options: Bohri, Mangalorean, Maharashtrian, Koli cuisines, among others. Partake in a cooking class, if you fancy. Be regaled by stories of the dish and its history, by those who’ve nurtured the recipe in their families for generations. A day well spent, with the heart and stomach bursting.
Take a rural detour
Increasingly, more and more Mumbaikars are opting to go away to a neighbouring village to see how the other half lives and also to reset their own priorities. Grassroutes offers some such rural experience tours such as village stays, farm work, indigenous art workshops, making for a very interesting weekend indeed. These are not impoverished and underprivileged folks you will meet, but proud, hardworking, self-sufficient farmers and artists. You might return a whole different person and forsake city life altogether. Who knows?
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The Story of Grassroutes is our effort to share with everyone, how the work and people all came together to add value to the vision of tourism with a purpose.. #grassroutes #india_unveiled #farming #agritourism #everydayindia #_soi #dailylifeindia #natgeo #lonelyplanet #natgeoindia #nature #culture #tourism # livelihoods #indiapictures #ig_india #gf_india #india #indiame #wanderlust #beautiful#ecotourism #golocal
Watch a movie or a play the local way
Mumbai is the land of Bollywood i.e. Indian Cinema. While walking through the roads of Bandra or Versova, it’ll be unusual if you don’t see a wannabe actor strutting his six pack abs or an aspiring enchantress twirling her always-done-curls. Thus, entertainment options in Mumbai are aplenty and revolve largely around movie screenings and star-studded shows.
A favourite multi-screen movie theatre of mine is Gaiety Galaxy and watching a movie here is an experience unto itself. Ooh, what can I tell you about Gaiety? It is the last bastion of the original cinema watching experience. Large posters, rickety fans (both the overhead rotating types and the ones jumping on their seats), big bags of salty popcorn and oily samosa, watery-sugary chai, balcony and stall seating, wolf whistles, and impromptu dances, tickets in black. Gaiety, I hope you never change. These days called G7 Multiplex, watching a movie here, especially a Salman Khan movie—first-day-first-show—is a life-changing experience. Kidding, I am not.
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Throwing it back once again to the #PrithviFestival 2016 where the beautiful ambience took our guests’ breath away. Capturing here all the awe and excitement customary to the festival each year! This #throwback is hitting us right in the feels! Excited for this year’s festival? Well, only 1 day to go!! BOOK NOW for the #PrithviFestival 2018 powered by @officialbankofbaroda on https://bit.ly/ptf18-tickets @bookmyshowin @mumbaiopera
Have dinner differently
On a cruise ship
Or a diner which runs on sign language
AB Celestial: A floating restaurant on the sea, AB Celestial is a ‘luxury yacht’ with 4 levels and a sky deck open rooftop. Imagine the views of the Bandra-Worli Sea link, the Mumbai skyline, and sunset on the sea. The time slots to enter the yacht are 6-9:30 p.m. and 9:30-1 a.m. There’s a cover charge of INR 2300 or $33 per person to enter which is nonrefundable even if you don’t use all the money. Call to book. Reservations are required.
Mirchi and Mime: This popular restaurant in Powai employs the hearing and speech impaired. Diners are requested to place their orders by mimicking hand-gestures associated with a particular food item. The food is pretty amazing too and the service heartwarming. Costs about INR 700 or $10 per person per meal.
I don’t mind eating alone, but if you do, fret not, there’s plenty more on the list.
Sample organic fair trade coffee
I am totally digging the recent trend of locally-sourced, organic, fair-trade coffee in India. It is simultaneously, delicious and soul lifting
First on my list is Koinonia at Chium Village in Bandra. The café is tiny, able to seat only around 6 to 8 people at one time. But take-away their freshly roasted coffee and cold brew bottles to savour at home. The cafe also sells some delicious croissants and brownies. And when the jazz comes wafting from the stereo overhead, you’ll definitely be transported from Chium to Paris . The website.
Blue Tokai is another locally sourced, organic, fair trade coffee maker, one of the first to arrive on the local coffee scene. I’ve been a big fan of their coffee and coffee making philosophy from when they started, devouring their website, sampling all of their single estate coffees. Even their vision statement will make you salivate.
Our mission since we started has stayed simple: introduce our customers to the estates we directly buy our great tasting coffee from, roast the beans with care, and make high-quality coffee more accessible through our cafes and our website. The coffee we roast is the coffee we like to drink, and we hope you like it too.
Be warned though, all their cafes are almost always spilling over with people, no matter when you go. Open from 8:00 AM – 11 PM every day. Located at Perry Road.
Taste the local craft beer
Local brews and wine cost $3-$7 a glass, depending on the place and the quality, and yes, it’s far more expensive than in the drinking world abroad. But there are some local microbreweries doing interesting artisanal craft beers, and I’ll encourage you to try them out. Doolally, The White Owl, and Brewbot are Mumbai’s very own. They also hold brewing and tasting sessions in their pubs and other fun events. Chug a drink while you knife-paint or fight it out in a trivia contest. A great place to meet other people too.
Follow the three on Facebook to know when their events are held.
Attend a drop-in fitness class
The suburbs of Bandra, Versova, and Juhu are littered with fitness and yoga studios and you can avail a class for as low as INR 500. The classes range from yoga, Zumba, Bollywood dance, and if you are the fitness-before-fun kinds, choose from functional training, Pilates, and MMA. Use an app like Fitternity or cure.fit to book your classes. Plenty of solos attend, so you wouldn’t stick out (although your other parts are going to be sore)
Watch the sun rise or set over the sea
I’ve lived in Mumbai for over a decade and even so, often overlook the grand spectacle of the sea right beside me. But whenever I do spend some time by the sea, it always lifts my spirits up.
Watching the sun rise and set over the sea is a humbling experience. Also, a good time to take some stunning photographs. Popular spots to do some sea watching are: Bandra Reclamation, Bandstand, Carter Road, Haji Ali, and Marine Drive. Plenty of solos loiter around, walking, running, or simply stealing a moment from the city’s mayhem.
The Bandra Worli Sea Link is another not-to-miss sight in Mumbai. Two good places to photograph the sea link for an impressive photo are: Bandstand and Bandra Fort.
Visit an astrologer for a ‘Nadi’ reading
Now, this is a bizarre one, but try it out for the experience.
Nādi Astrology is a form of Dharma astrology practised in Tamil Nadu and Kerala. It is based on the belief that the past, present and the future lives of all humans have been foreseen by Dharma sages in ancient time and inscribed on palm leaves. Thus, a person’s future can be located amongst these leaves based on the thumb impressions—right for men, left for women. The basic logic in this way of thinking is that all our lives can be boxed into 150 or 200 different types. While it’s disturbing to imagine that human lives follow a recurring and replicable pattern, I’ve also heard of people whose ‘future leaves’ have not been found in the pack. So, you may be one of those lucky ones whose life is unique (a new soul). In such a case, you will also not need to pay the astrologer anything.
I’d visited a nādi astrologer a couple of years ago and was quite blown by some of the things he said. A few can be attributed to intelligently guessing—they ask you some basic questions to start with and tell you it’s to find the right patra—but some he conjectured quite correctly (like telling me my mum’s quite unique first name). The reading itself cost me INR 1000 or $15 (in 2014, it may have increased considerably now) after which the astrologer asked me to invest in a holy ceremony to ward off all the evil things in my life (which were extensive). Ignore that but go for the experience, albeit at your own risk. Website.
To book the above experiences and find out when they’re happening, visit — Bookmyshow, insider, or Brown Paper bag. Not affiliated to any of them or for that matter any others on the page. Though wish I was.
Where to stay in Mumbai as a tourist
I recommend Bandra as the ideal base for a tourist in Mumbai. It is central, has great restaurants, cafes and options for entertainment, and is great for shopping and people watching too. It has a unique mish-mash of old and new Mumbai which will give you a quick overview of the city.
High end (USD 180-250)
Located at one end of Bandstand, and close to Bandra Fort, Taj Landsend is the place to stay if you can cough up some dough. The top floors also provide a great view of the sea. The cafes and in-house restaurants are fabulous, where occasionally you might also glimpse the odd Bollywood Star making a star-studded entry with her troupe to discuss her next movie. (Err…because I have seen a few myself)
Mid-range (USD 80-100)
The location of the three-star corporate hotel ‘Executive Enclave’ is not my favourite because of the narrow roads and slums close by, but the rooms and service are top-notch. This hotel is a good alternative for those who don’t want to spend a lot, yet want to stay central and connected to everything.
Low range (USD 20-40)
A quirky hostel in a cool part of Bandra which offers dorms and one private room. The hostel is relatively new but wears all the colours of Bandra already. Some rave reviews about them on Tripadvisor already. I live close by and can vouch for the amazing location at least.
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Another new hostel option located in the quaint and quirky Ranwar area of Bandra, central to everything, with a lot of old world charm.
Churchgate / Fort/ Colaba
High end (USD 180-250)
Lots of iconic and old school five-star hotels in this part of town, overlooking the sea, with great food and vibe. Choose among the following:
Taj Mahal Palace if you want to splurge. Nothing compares to staying at Taj Mahal Palace. It is a dream for most of us, and easily the best-looking building in Town. Or opt for Taj Mahal Tower Colaba next door that comes only slightly cheaper.
Overlooking the Marine Drive is another iconic hotel – The Ambassador. It is located right opposite to the famous Queen’s Necklace and is a 2-minute walk from Churchgate Railway station. The revolving Pearl of The Orient Restaurant at The Ambassador used to once be my favourite Chinese cuisine go-to in Town.
Mid-range (USD 80-100)
Low-end (USD 30-50)
Yeah, sometimes it’s nice to have the comfort of chain hotels. I hear ya. A bed and upholstery you are familiar with, points you can accumulate and use. Only a gentle tinge of sarcasm there; I have been guilty of it too.
There are several chain hotels in the city, concentrated in and around Nariman point, Bandra Kula Complex, Juhu, and the airport area (Vile Parle, Andheri)
- Bandra Kurka Complex has a few good options for business hotels. Choose from Sofitel or Trident.
- Near the airports: ITC, Hyatt, Leela, The Lalit, and Sahara Star are located close to the two airports and are good options to stay in if you can pay. Ibis is the thriftier cousin with a nice little café and restaurant.