Chennai is the home of one of the oldest languages of India named, Tamil. This language is existing for around 2000 years. There are many oldest temples of the world located in this city along with many famous landmarks and a very colorful film industry. World’s second largest urban beach is located in Chennai.
Why should anyone visit the city?
The city hosts many concerts with a lot of famous artists and singers playing traditional and international music. Chennai is the best place to explore South Indian’s vibrant culture and art. It is the vegetarian paradise and the food is mostly served in the crockery made of banana leaves.
How does one get to the destination (airport, ferry or others)?
Chennai international airport has two terminals and is only 7 kilometers away from the city. The airport welcomes international and domestic flights from various major cities of the world.
The bus terminal of Chennai CMBT is the largest bus station of Asia that is also known as Chennai Mofussil Bus Terminal. It is very well connected to different parts of the province and other cities of India.
Chennai has three railway stations which connect it to every part of India. The network of trains is also used to travel within the city.
Is the city safe? What areas are not safe?
It is considered as one of the safest cities of India with lesser crime rate as compared to the other parts of the country. The famous tourist places, public transport and markets have huge risk of pickpocketing, bag snatching and scamming. Some areas have a high risk of terrorism because of different religion and sect conflicts. Tourists need to keep an eye on taxis, rickshaw and shop keepers for scams. Female tourists face a lot of harassment and sexual assault. It is better to avoid isolated places and walk around at night. Female tourists should dress modestly and avoid traveling alone if possible.
What’s the weather like?
- March to May and September to November is the fall climate of the city because it is the start of summer in May and winter in October. The rains are lesser and it is the best time of travel deals for the city.
- June to August is the hottest time of the peak summer season. It is the busiest time of the city because there are a lot of tourist crowds. Rains also increase with the number of 7 to 15 days each month. The costs of travel and accommodation are higher in July and August.
- December to February is a very pleasant time to visit Chennai because of less rains and low temperature. The tourist crowds and prices are also very high in these months.
What languages are spoken in the area? Is English spoken?
There are many different languages spoken in the city like Hindi, Urdu and Malayalam whereas the official language of Chennai, Tamil Nadu is Tamil. English is also widely spoken in all the tourist areas, eateries, hotels and businesses.
What’s the local currency?
Is US Dollar widely accepted?
The official currency of India is Indian Rupee. US Dollar is not or rarely accepted in the city. Market vendors and sellers only accept India Rupee. You can exchange the currency easily from different money exchange offices.
What are the best areas or districts to stay in the city?
- George Town is located near the Bay of Bengal with some of the most amazing tourist attractions and monuments. This area was the main center for the British colonialists so there are many places from the colonial era. The area has many important buildings, church, accommodations, restaurants and fashionable cafes.
- Thousand lights is the suburban area with the world class experience of shopping in Chennai. There are many eateries with a huge variety of traditional and international cuisines. There is a mall with a cinema and biggest gaming zone of India.
- Thyagaraya Nagar (T-Nagar) faces the biggest crowds of the city. This area is the best option for the first time visitors of the city. There are hotels, gardens, eateries, shopping places and many fast food outlets.
- Egmore and Pudupet are the best places to stay for foodies. You can get a huge variety from snacks to street food to the traditional food served in thalis and banana leaves.
What’re your top 3 hotels (budget, moderate, luxury) and why?
- Ambassador Pallava is a budget place to stay for tourists with wonderful interior, free wi-fi, free parking and outdoor swimming pool. Hotel also has fitness center, car rental service, concierge, currency exchange, restaurants and 24hr coffee shop.
- The Residency Towers is the moderate budget hotel with very nice ambiance, shopping mall, spa, fitness center and restaurant. Hotel offers airport transfers, business facilities, internet and car rental.
- Hyatt Regency Chennai is one of the luxurious hotel chains of Hyatt. It is close to the airport. This is the choice of most of the business travelers because it has a 24hour business center. Many facilities of the hotel also include the outdoor swimming pool and spa.
How does one get around the city? Taxi, Uber, similar apps, ATVs?
- Train network is the major way to transportation that is used to travel around the city. They are frequently and easily available to get around.
- MTC or metropolitan transport corporation buses are another option to reach different parts of the city. They are good to visit the areas which are not reachable by the trains. Deluxe buses are more comfortable but their fare is double as compared to the regular ones.
- Taxis and auto rickshaws are another way to get around the city. They charge the fare according to the meters or per kilometers. It is better to negotiate before getting into one.
- Uber is also available in different areas of Chennai whereas the fares are according to the demand.
Can you highlight the Top 5 MUST see sightseeing?
Government Museum Egmore
This is one of the oldest and the first public museums of India. It has a lot of educational and recreational importance in the history of India. The museum has a huge collection of artifacts, cultural and art of Tamil history. There is also a public library and theatre in the museum.
Fort St. George
This was the center of the British government in Tamil Nadu. The fort is existing since 16th century. It saw the horrors of WWI and the British rule on India. It remained the important landmark for Tamil Government after independence.
Besant Nagar Beach / Elliot’s Beach
It is the most popular beach among the youngsters of Chennai. There are numerous restaurants, cafes and fast food chains. It is an important outing place for the locals. The beach becomes more crowded during the warm months.
Arignar Anna Zoological Park / Vandalur Zoo
It is the largest zoo of India which attracts thousands of visitors from the entire country. It was the first public zoo with almost 1500 wild species, 46 endangered species and many other types of animals, reptiles, insects, plants and birds.
It is the 1300 years old temple. It is among the most famous and oldest temples of the country. The temple is not just a place of worship whereas an important center of art and culture. There are many events of classical music, dance and other festivals hosted by the government.
What’s the best place to take a photo?
Madras Crocodile Bank Trust
It is like a crocodile sanctuary that is one of the best attractions and animal research center of Chennai. It has about 2400 reptile species along with the 14 major alligators and crocodile species from different parts of the world. This sanctuary also works for the conservation of the Olive Ridley Sea Turtles. You can take some of the unique photos for your travel diary.
What about the top 3 restaurants?
- Pan Asian is the luxurious restaurant with the different fusion foods options. It is a very famous place among the locals. This is a five-star restaurant with a huge delicious menu to try some international and traditional foods.
- Southern Spice at the Taj Coromandel Hotel is the best place to try the classic and typical Tamil Nadu flavor. This luxury restaurant serves delicious cuisines from different parts of Tamil Nadu. The entire interior of the restaurant is done according to the Tamil culture.
- Annalakshmi Chennai is one of the best places to try the typical vegetarian food of Tamil Nadu. The menu has a huge range of foods cooked with fresh vegetables, lentils and herbs. It is very famous in different parts of the world because of its branches in Singapore, India, Australia and Malaysia.
What about the top 3 breakfast places?
- Spectra the Leela Palace is the best place to have a meal like a King. The ambiance is superb with the beautiful views of the sea. Restaurant serves a range of foods to start the day with flavor.
- Jonah’s Bistro is the best place for the buffet breakfast with the unique food fusions. It has a European breakfast menu with a huge range of dishes. The special menu designed by the chef is available only on weekends.
- Pantry D’ Or is the place of sleepy heads. The people who want to sleep for longer but then grab delicious brunch. It is a reasonably priced place with delicious options to add in the breakfast or lunch.
What’s the one thing you MUST eat in the city?
There are a lot of delicious foods which worth trying in Chennai. However, Sundal is a type of snack made of boiled chick peas or green peas. They are mixed with spices, mustard seeds, curry leaves, raw mange, grated coconut and herbs. It is also served in many clubs and bars of the city.
What about food markets?
Kapaleeswarar Temple eat street is the best place to try some delicious vegetarian foods and rice dishes. However, the food stalls have almost every kind of dishes, desserts and snacks.
Marina and Besant Nagar Beach is the best known for its bhajji and fish fry stalls. The delicious bhajji is made up of different vegetables and served with a specific sauce. The area also has a huge range of food stalls selling different types of foods.
Where should one go at night? Any bar/nightlife areas or districts you recommend?
George Town is the best place for couples with many cafes, restaurants and nightlife areas. There is a hillside parks and many more. It is near the beach so there are many party places with wonderful views.
Thyagaraya Nagar (T-Nagar) is the area of crowds and some of the top most hotels of the city. This area has some of the most vibrant and luxury places to spend the evening.
Any rooftop bars or restaurants that you recommend?
There are many restaurants and bars in the city within every price range. Some of the best rooftop places are:
- Skyline Rooftop bar
- Skyloft Rooftop Restaurant – feathers A Radha Hotel
- Broad walk The Restaurant
Can you recommend the best shopping areas? Best shopping mall?
- The Pondy Bazaar is the best place to buy clothes, fabric material, accessories, handbags, mobile phones and a lot more. There are a lot of shops and stalls of every size. You can buy some of the best products in reasonable prices, if you know the art of bargaining.
- The Pantheon Road is the home of some of the best types of cotton fabric because it is the major choice of the locals. You can get some of the most amazing and high quality cotton clothes in very reasonable prices.
- The Sowcarpet is also known as the Mini Rajasthan in Chennai. There are different types of traditional clothes and accessories shops and stalls. The things are mostly inspired by the northern part of India.
Do you recommend any tours outside the city? Islands? Boat Tours?
Some of the best day trips from Chennai are:
- Pulicat Lake – best for Trekking , Boating, Bird Watching
- NagalaPuram- Camping, Bird watching, Hiking
- Mahabalipuram – Sighseeing, Artifacts, Beach
- Kanchipuram- Temple Exploration, Bird Watching
- Tiruttani- Temple Hopping
- Vellore- Fort, Museum and Temple
Are Casinos allowed? Blackjack tables? If so, what’s the best Casino in town?
Casinos are illegal in major parts of India. There are no casinos in Chennai whereas a huge variety of nightlife places so visitors never get bored.
Any last advice for people visiting the city?
- Be careful about the scams and pickpockets
- Female faces harassment and rape assaults so they should not travel late at night.
- Dress conservatively while exploring the city and carry a scarf if you are visiting different religious places.