Mumbai has a tropical climate – typically, a tropical wet & dry climate. If you were to ask me, the city experiences two seasons – the ultra-wet monsoons and the smoking hot summers! June to September is the wet season, whereas December to February is supposed to be a cooler season, but in truth is just as hot as the summers during the day (with some respite after the sun goes down). The average annual temperature is ~27.2 °C, but expect temperatures to be in the high 30s when the sun is out, though it rarely hits 40. The best times to visit Mumbai is probably in the apparently cold period of December to February, when you will at least have some respite during the nights, and it won’t be quite as humid as the rest of the year.
Getting There & Getting Around:
Mumbai houses the country’s second most busiest airport – Chattrapati Shivaji International Airport. Geographically, the airport is located quite centrally (albeit in the suburbs). It is extremely well connected to the main city and neighbouring suburbs (where you’re likely to stay). Pre-paid or post-paid cabs are available as soon as you walk out of immigration. If you feel truly adventurous, you could also walk out and hail an auto-rickshaw – the three-wheeled wonder that plies its trade in the suburban region of the city; though I’d recommend you leave this adventure for a later date when you do not have your luggage to worry about. If you choose to hire a cab by meter, it should never cost you more than 500-600 INR, which should be enough to take you all the way to Colaba, which is the southernmost point and the main tourist district. The streets of Mumbai are more complex than many metropolitan cities you visit, and although the people are generally helpful & kind, if you are unfortunate, you might find a deceitful cabbie that runs you in circles before getting you to your destination, just for an increased fare. Mumbai is extremely well connected by rail & road domestically with multiple govt. run trains running from all parts of the country and countless bus-services providing daily service by the dozen.
For transport within the city, if you really want to test your tolerance levels (and if you aren’t claustrophobic), you could hazard an attempt on the local trains that connect most localities within the city as well as the suburbs. Both the city and suburbs are very well connected by government run buses too, and are just as crowded as the local trains – though, you might be able to catch air-conditioning on some of them. You’d do well to buy a bus+train schedule from a local store if you plan on using these mode of transports. Also remember, cabs/taxis ply in the main city from Colaba to Bandra, beyond Bandra and into the suburbs, you could hire the three-wheeled auto-rickshaw, which isn’t allowed to ply in the main city! Private vehicles are also available for rent – the best thing to do is ask at the place you live, they should be able to help you out. Plenty of services provide taxis on call too – so transport around the city isn’t difficult at all, only a little cumbersome with ever-present traffic 🙂
For all its crowdy splendor, Mumbai is a ridiculously expensive city to live in as far as real-estate goes. In fact, it is considered to be amongst the most expensive cities in the world to live in on a GDP per capita basis. Budget travelers in particular can expect to have a hard time finding decent but affordable accommodation. Mid & upmarket places too, relatively cost a little higher in India than some of the western countries. South-Mumbai, including areas like Colaba & Marine Drive, which are usually frequented by foreign tourists, are extremely expensive. As a general rule, the further south or the closer you get towards the sea front, the more you will pay for your bed. Look for couch-surfing opportunities particularly in the western suburb of Bandra, where if you are lucky, you might just get to stay with a charming little Catholic family in a lovely little bungalow/duplex. There are some great recommendations here, otherwise there’s always booking.com. In general, you could expect to spend anywhere from USD 15 – 80 per day per person on your accommodation (including upmarket accommodation).