May was an incredibly busy month for me – 3 weddings and a graduation! The month brought me to San Miguel De Allende, Mexico , Las Vegas, Ann Arbor, Michigan, and Chennai, India. This was my second time in India, but a very different experience than the first. Here are some tips on how/ where to travel and what to do.
1. Travel from October – March ONLY
The wedding didn’t give us much choice in the matter, but whatever you do- do NOT travel during the off-season in India. The best time is in late fall through late winter because it is so hot and humid there (100+ degrees during the day 80+ at night).
2. Take me to church
I have to admit, we spent a lot of time in our hotel and by the pool due to the weather. When we did go out, we visited the Arulmigu Kapaleeswarar Temple and Santhome Cathedral – two really neat attractions with rich history and culture within walking distance. Tip: Make sure you are properly covered and remove your shoes when entering temples.
3. Beach Bummer
Chennai has the second longest beach in the world, but unfortunately, the beach itself isn’t worth the visit. It’s pretty dirty and the ocean has bad undertow. There is a beach 45 min. south if you feel like taking the trip, otherwise I would spend some time at the Guindy State Park or Snake Park.
4. Eat & Drink & Eat & Drink & Eat
Everything! I love Indian food, especially Chicken Tikka Masala and Gulab Jamun. Don’t be afraid to try different things, but do keep Pepto Bismol on you just in case. Drink only bottled water and be weary of ice. You can usually trust hotels, and ours gave us an unlimited supply of water bottles which was crucial to our survival, which sounds dramatic but it was that hot.
5. Where To Sleep
I recommend staying at a Hotel in India since it’s usually pretty cheap. In Chennai, we stayed at the Park Hyatt with the rest of the wedding guests, which was really nice and one of the best hotels in the area. (Added bonus: The room service is so cheap and there is a rooftop infinity pool) Another nice one was ITC Grand Chola across the street both a good distance from the airport and sights.
One of my favorite things to do in a new city or country is to visit a market or two. It’s such a good way to observe the people, culture and goods. This area of India had less bazaar-like stands and more typical stores. Go to T. Negar, which is the shopping district and check out the sarees, linen pants and scarves.
7. Getting Around
India has Uber, which is ridiculously cheap I must add, and helps the language barrier when explaining where you’re going. Personally, I love tuk tuks, the little manned two seated car thing. The way they drive is really interesting and exciting, plus I think it gives you a cool view and experience of the city. Tuk tuks require a little negotiating on price and it can be difficult trying to explain where you’re going, but don’t worry, it will all work out.
Just In Case – Google Maps Area Download
Google has a somewhat new feature that I talked about on the San Miguel post about downloading the area maps to your phone before hand if you do not have international data. Definitely do this just in case you lose your way wherever you go.
India is huge and most people only go once if ever. When visiting India you have to see the Taj Mahal in Agra and visit Dehli. I also reccomend Jaipur, which is best known as the pink city, and the area on the west coast called Karella.
Alcohol + Attire
The Indian culture is pretty conservative so please be conscious of how you dress especially when going to temples because they will kick you out. You can always pick something up at markets.
In addition, you may find it difficult to find alcohol and bars. Chennai passed a law forbidding any sale of alcohol near a major state highway, which affects most hotels as well. Pick some up at the duty-free on your way in.
Thanks for reading!