Mumbai Gay Travel
wolfyy’s Mumbai gay travel guide to the best hotels, things to do, nightlife, and local gay life.
The Gay Travel Experience: Mumbai, India
I’ll never forget the evening I was driving back from my adventure at the Kanheri Caves in Mumbai. Distant car horns echoed around me as traffic intensified to a crawl.
Rolling down my window, evening prayer calls roared in adjacent Muslim neighborhoods. The sunset illuminated the smog over the ocean and I experienced the overwhelming feeling that there’s no place I’d rather be.
Mumbai is one of the largest and densest cities on the planet. The financial capital of India, Mumbai’s energy is one of the most intense I’ve experienced—one of the reasons I love India so much in general. In my opinion, Mumbai should be second to New York as a “city that never sleeps!”
Kids will come up to you all the time and ask you to take selfies with them, especially if your skin tone is much lighter than what is common in India. It’s like being a celebrity!
Before getting into the recommendations of this Mumbai gay travel guide, I would like to warn you that this city is not for the faint of heart. Mumbai is beautiful and quite safe, but if this is your first trip outside of Europe or America, you should expect quite a culture shock.
When I say culture-shocked, I mean more than being in a foreign place with a different language, foods, and mannerisms. You may encounter some unsettling sights in the streets of Mumbai.
But, don’t let me deter you…just be sure to read all the travel tips later in this guide. I want you to be well prepared for your Mumbai gay travel adventure.
Gay Mumbai: Hotels & Where to Stay
Hotels in Mumbai are extremely affordable for travelers. You can get some pretty awesome deals with many of the world-class sophisticated hotel chains.
Getting to this area from the airport is a convenient 30-minute drive, as long as you don’t hit rush hour.
Another reason I recommend hotels in south Mumbai is the plethora of unbeatable rooftop venues. You will also be near Marine Drive, the iconic semicircular road along the shoreline.
The Intercontinental Mumbai checks all these boxes, and as you can guess is one of the most popular Mumbai hotels.
Lastly, the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel is Mumbai’s most famous hotel. This property is a five-star classic, world-renowned for its architectural style that most people simply refer to as “the Taj.”
Mumbai Gay Travel Experiences
The Bandra Worli Sea Link has some stunning views. It’s a modern bridge that connects west and south Mumbai, built to alleviate massive traffic congestion between Mumbai’s suburbs with the main island.
You can get a great look at the Bandra Worli Sea Link from Bandra Fort, which is described below.
Bandra Fort (Castella de Aguada)
The entrance to Bandra Fort is down the hillside. Through this walkway, you can get the best view of the Bandra Worli Sea Link.
There are lots of secluded little areas in the adjacent park to walk around or sit to enjoy the greenery. The Bandra Fort area will likely get a complete renovation very soon.
In early 2020, a construction team was shortlisted. If you’re visiting Mumbai, double-check local information to see if this site will be open.
The Kanheri Caves
Hiking the Kanheri Caves in Sanjay Gandhi National Park was definitely my favorite experience in Mumbai. Wandering through the dim rooms adorned with articulate sculptures and engraved scriptures was peaceful and relaxing, especially after the trek up the hills.
On your journey toward the caves in the park, look out for the monkeys! These adorable little guys will be plenty busy snacking and perching on fences.
Be sure to bring a small snack and plenty of water, as you’ll be exploring the caves for a good couple of hours. When you reach the top of the mountain, it will be a good time to refuel.
For some more information, The Culture Trip has a great informational page about the Kanheri Caves experience.
Hire a local driver to take you for the day. If you’re going only to the park and back, this shouldn’t cost more than $30. For perspective, a private driver for a six-hour tour of various sites should cost about $50.
The driver will park and wait around for you as you take your time at different attractions. I found mine on the street in the Fort neighborhood where tourists congregate.
The Hanging Gardens & Malabar Hills
The Hanging Gardens of Mumbai is a great stop on your gay travel tour of Mumbai! Wonderful flowers in a lush field are a breath of fresh air. There are great views of the Mumbai skyline overlooking Marine drive.
Mumbai is a city with such incredible energy, I absolutely loved wandering the streets. A great place to do this is in Malabar Hill.
This neighborhood is home to the most expensive real estate in Mumbai. Although nothing seems extravagant on the surface, there are a lot of good restaurants and some ice cream shops in the area.
Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus railway station is my last suggestion for a visit because it is a UNESCO world heritage site. Conveniently located in the northern part of the Fort neighborhood, it’s an easy walk if you are staying anywhere near Marine Drive.
Keep in mind that this place is extremely busy! Take a stroll through and then grab some food nearby.
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Mumbai Gay Bars
Below, I’ll mention the top Mumbai gay club options, although I personally did not have the chance to visit them during my trip.
Salvation Star is the longstanding, most popular LGBT club in Mumbai. They’ve been in business for over ten years now and are well known for hosting chic gay parties.
If you make it to one of their events, I would absolutely love to know about it. Send wolfyy a message with info about your experience!
The Dome rooftop bar and restaurant at the top of the Intercontinental Hotel were absolutely fantastic! A night of chatting with a few local guys over drinks was perfect with the stellar view of Marine Drive.
Also, while India’s gay nightlife scene isn’t the biggest, the country still has some stunning drag queens!
Looking to meet other gay travelers to explore with? Join wolfyy’s Gay Travel Facebook Chat and introduce yourself to some new friends!
Mumbai Gay Travel Tips
Rideshares like Uber and Lyft are stunningly cheap. I once took a short ride to a bar and the ride was less than one US dollar! Your money will go very far in India.
Prepare yourself to witness extreme poverty when arriving in Mumbai. I dislike mentioning too much about the negative sides of cities, but the following few paragraphs are to inform you so you can know what to expect. I adore Mumbai; however, you have to take note of a few points.
Approximately half of the entire population lives in slums. These slums occupy about 9% of Mumbai’s land area, dispersed throughout the city.
Mumbai has a severe affordable housing crisis and struggles to deal with the slums. Land is expensive, and so most residents don’t make enough money to be able to afford to rent a home.
Don't Let Me Scare You…
On your car ride to and from the airport, you will sadly encounter the slums. It is not uncommon to have a beggar knock on your cab window. The people that live in these slums are not bad people in the least bit. They are victims of a crisis that the Indian government struggles to deal with.
Now that you’re informed, don’t let this scare you. Walking around Mumbai is safe. To make your journey easier, my suggestion is to hire a day-long guide. This person will negotiate for you whenever needed, drive you everywhere, and often can get you little treats for free.
It’s almost certain that street food will make you sick. Did that stop me? Nope! I found a local Pani Puri sand and went at it. If you follow suit, make sure you have some Ciproflaxin from your doctor before leaving for your trip.
Traffic in Mumbai during rush hour can be very hectic. When departing the city for the airport, leave yourself plenty of time and account for the traffic.
Consider Travel Insurance
Many travelers feel much more at ease booking travel to unfamiliar countries when they insure their trip. Trip cancellation protection, lost-baggage coverage, travel delay reimbursements and medical coverage abroad are just a few reasons why you should always have some sort of insurance policy.
Travelex Insurance is one of the easiest providers to use. Their website gives you an immediate quote based on your age, trip cost and a few other factors. They then offer plans in several price tiers.
Alternatively, you can shop among the quotes from a whole bunch of different providers using a travel insurance marketplace service like Aardy.
Mumbai Gay Events & India LGBT Resources
Lastly, there are a few other online resources that you may find useful for finding local LGBT events. Gay Bombay is a local organization that promotes LGBT+ rights awareness. They host gay events in Mumbai like film screenings and workshops.
Gay Life in India
Being gay is still taboo in India and homophobia is still prevalent, although it is on the decline. India still has a long way to go regarding LGBT inclusivity. The laws regarding homosexuality have oscillated over the years with a recent positive outcome.
India decriminalized homosexuality in 2009. This ruling was reversed in 2013 with the government deferring to legislators on the issue. In September 2018, the Indian high court unanimously agreed to decriminalize same-sex relations, a huge step forward.
Tolerance of the gay population in India is slowly changing. In most large Indian cities there is significant support for LGBT people. They are much less conservative, as you might expect.
In 2016, ILGA found that about a third of Indians support same-sex marriage and another third are not sure. This speaks to the fact many Indians simply need guidance on supporting their fellow LGBT citizens.
All in all, India has made great progress so far, and I am looking forward to seeing even more protections be put in place for the gay community!