Mumbai Gay Travel
Mumbai gay travel advice to help you find the best hotels, neighborhoods, things to do and nightlife, plus Mumbai gay life and local tips.
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!”
I visited Mumbai in October 2016 on a solo trip through central and northern India, and I loved it! Everyone in India is friendly and eager to talk to westerners, especially children and teenagers.
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 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 be quite culture shocked.
When I say culture shocked, I mean more than being in a foreign place with a different languages, 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.
I recommend looking for hotels in south Mumbai anywhere within or between the neighborhoods of Kamathipura and Colaba. It’s the heart of the city and I truly loved it here. 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 nearby to 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.
Mumbai Experiences for the Gay Traveler
If you’re interested in architecture, get a view of the stunning Bandra Worli Sea Link. 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 check out the Bandra Worli Sea Link from the Bandra Fort, which is described below.
Bandra Fort (Castella de Aguada)
I visited Bandra Fort with a previous coworker of mine who recently moved back to the Mumbai area from New York City. She led me to such an awesome spot! Locals play on the rocks and lovers sit on park benches overlooking the ocean. The entrance to Castella de Aguada is down the hillside, and through this walkway you can catch a good 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
My favorite experience in Mumbai was hiking the Kanheri Caves in Sanjay Ghandi National Park. Wandering through the dim rooms adorned with articulate sculptures and engraved scriptures was peaceful and relaxing, especially after the trek up the hills.
For some more information about the Kanheri Caves, 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.
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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 Gay Bars
Since I didn’t have a weekend while in Mumbai, I didn’t get to try the gay clubs. However, I’ll still share with you the top Mumbai gay club options available to you.
During my Mumbai travels, I spent my weeknights hunting for a good rooftop bar. The Intercontinental Hotel Marine Drive Rooftop restaurant ended up being fantastic! A night of chatting with a few local guys over drinks was perfect with the stellar view of Marine Drive.
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.
When arriving in Mumbai, prepare yourself to witness extreme poverty. 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.
Many travelers feel much more at ease booking travel to unfamiliar countries when they insure their trip. A provider like Travelex Insurance can offer protection in case of medical issues abroad, theft and even delays or cancellation of your trip! They have multiple plan tiers starting at $20.
Dont let me scare you…
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.
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.
In 2016, the International LGBT and Intersex Association 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.