I've been looking at places to stay in Mumbai. I'm going to be there mid-May. My boyfriend is from Mumbai, raised in Bandra and he is insisting I stay in Bandra. It seems pretty far north to me though, and he doesn't want me taking the trains (I'm fine with that) and he knows I don't have a lot of money to waste on taxis.
Everywhere I'm reading that Colaba is the backpackers haven there, and more touristy stuff is around. Obviously, growing up there, I should respect his opinion, but he has been pretty ignorant of the concept of "backpacker" up to now (Quote: "White people don't go there." in reference to the Ajanta Caves), so I'm hesitant to believe that Bandra is better.
Help! Honestly, I'm hoping you tell me to chill and it's cool, but if not, please, give me educated reasons why I shouldn't stay in Bandra.
It would depend what you're after I guess. If you're boyfriend was a local there I'm sure he knows a lot about the place so that's a big plus. In terms of tourists yes you probably won't see any.
I stayed near Crawford Market which is between the two but closer to Colaba, and if I walked outside my hotel I wouldn't see any tourists for quite some time. But it was kind of cool not to be in the tourist bubble so to speak. There is a lot of poverty, homeless people (especially at night), etc. but I walked around the area and took a journey on the trains and didn't get harmed. People were generally helpful if I asked for things, but you may get pestered by beggers. Being female though you may have to be a bit careful.
Most of the tourist destinations are near Colaba, although bear in mind many tourists will also be Indians from the south, so even in Colaba and the tourist destinations you may not have the good old westernised backpacker surroundings anyway. (although there was one good restaurant/bar full of backpackers but the name escapes me)
If you're after an authentic, local experience then outside Colaba is cool, but as for Bandra I don't know much about it but it sounds like a good experience if you're after that. Also, for some kind of compromise you might want to consider the more wealthy and slightly less chaotic area by Marine Drive, which was pretty cool spot to wonder around and close to the touristy things.
[ Edit: Edited on Apr 30, 2008, at 1:37 AM by Erik85 ]
Although I am originally from the US, I grew up in Bandra. Bandra is a very upscale suburb of Bombay but does not have a "suburban" feel to it. It feels like an extension of the city - almost like a satellite town. Options for drinking, nightlife, and food are plenty in this area. While I am very fond of Bandra, I doubt it would give you the "backpacker" experience you are looking for. I would definitely recommend staying in Bandra for a small portion of your trip there but for the true backpacker experience, Colaba is probably your best bet. You don't want to spend time getting to that part of town and back to Bandra on a daily basis. It ain't much fun.
As Erik85 suggested, you will run into a lot of western backpackers. The two cafes in Colaba with the highest concentration of westerbackpackers are "Cafe Mondegar" and "Leopold Cafe". I prefer Mondegar because it has a jukebox. Ideally, it would be nice if you could spend time in both places since as Erik85 suggested, you might have the opportunity for a local authentic experience living in Bandra. I would recommend spending more time in Colaba though.
At Bandra, please make a visit to the Portuguese fort at Land's End. If you have any questions about Bandra, please feel free to send me a personal message.
Bandra is a rich area of Mumbai (i am not sure but a lot of the rich and famous of Bollywood do live there). It would be good to stay there as a base. I certainly wouldnt mind. From there you can take taxis all over (dont take these local trains, u will be squeezed) and they are cheap. Colaba is the the main backpackers area, yes. but after a while you have seen it there as well.
[ Edit: Edited on Apr 30, 2008, at 9:39 AM by wouterrr ]
The only advantage of Bandra is that it is right in the middle of extended Mumbai metropolitan area. Apart from this, Bandra does not have much hostels as the concept of backpackers hostel is relatively new here. The area is quite expensive with much of the film stars staying there.
Colaba is the right place for backpackers and also most of the touristic locations of mumbai are within walking distance of Colaba
Thanks for all the replies and solid information. It's very much appreciated.
hey there...i stay there..bandra (west) that is...iit's a cool place to be...but it really depends on what you coming down to do ... be with your boy friend or you wanna explore the city too?
Bandra is a nice cozy suburb and has a lot of good pubs, food-joints and is a chilled place to be. However, as Arif mentioned earlier...it would be expensive than colaba.
Colaba on the other hand is the bagpackers paradise and is the hang-out place for all travellers. If you plan to be in Bandra everyday...from colaba... the travel could get tiring at times..considering its going to be peak summer... trains are quite packed...but i guess that would be good mumbai experience.
it's no big deal..u would manage at both places...think its totally ur call wher u wld be more comfortable.