GET IN TO CHENNAI - ROAM, HAVE FUN- STAY SAFE
Chennai International Airport (IATA: MAA) is the third busiest in India (after Mumbai & Delhi). All international flights arrive at Anna Terminal, while the domestic flights arrive at Kamraj Terminal. The two terminals are on the same road and are 150 m (492 ft) away from each other.It is the second-largest cargo hub in the country, after Mumbai. Chennai is well connected to London, Frankfurt, Singapore, Malaysia, Middle east, New York, Hong Kong, etc. It is in the process of being upgraded to a world class airport with direct Metro rail connection to the city.
Europe and North America: Jet Airways offers daily service to New York with one stop in Brussels. Lufthansa (Frankfurt) and British Airways (London-Heathrow), fly nonstop to Chennai with connecting service from their European hubs to points in the United States and Canada.
South-East Asia: Thai Airways offers nonstop service to Bangkok. Silk Air, Singapore Airlines and Tiger Airways connects you to Singapore along with many Indian carriers like Indian Airlines and Air India Express. AirAsia connects passengers to Kuala Lumpur, Penang with affordable fares while Malaysia Airlines offers nonstop service to Malaysia. India's very own Jet Airways flies non-stop to both Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. Cathay Pacific flies non-stop to Hongkong. Air Mauritius flies non-stop to Mauritius. Air Seychelles flies nonstop to seychelles.
Middle East: Nonstop services are available from Chennai to Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Dubai, Dammam, Doha,Jeddah, Kuwait, Muscat, Qatar, Riyadh and Sharjah on Air Arabia, Indian Airlines, Air India Express, Oman Air, Emirates, Etihad Airways, Kuwait Airways, Qatar Airways, Saudi Arabian and Gulf Air.
Sri-Lanka: Chennai is a hub for flights to Colombo with SriLankan Airlines, Jet Airways, Indian Airlines, Air India Express, JetLite and Kingfisher Airlines.Chennai is the traveling hub for Colombo.
Domestic: All the major Indian domestic carriers (Jet Airways, Kingfisher, Spice, Go Air, Indigo) connect Chennai with multiple flights to points all over India and most use Chennai as a hub for flights to smaller cities in South India. Paramount Airways is a low cost all business class airline that offers flights from Chennai to points in South India. Chennai is also a staging point for flights to Port Blair in the Andaman Islands.
Airport to City connection the cheapest way to the city is by taking the suburban train into the city which only costs ₹ 12 ($0.2,€0.16). The suburban train connects you to Chennai Central and Egmore, the two main passenger train stations. Check your destination though, either before getting to Chennai or at the information desk. It may be impractical to take the suburban train. This is best if you don't have large amounts of baggage. You have to exit the airport and walk a considerable distance (~500m) to reach the station "Tirusulam". Tickets bought don't have to be validated but save the ticket in case there is an inspection. The Chennai Metro is under construction and expected to open in 2014. It is advisable to take a first class ticket in the train if you happen to reach the airport during peak hours. The general compartments are often over-crowded as they transport regular commuters to work. In peak hours even the first class compartments may also be crowded. Tickets are priced around ₹70 ($1.27,€0.96). Otherwise, use the pre-paid taxi booth. Aviation Express is massively overpriced.
Using the pre-paid taxi to get to the city, each terminal has several booths for several taxi companies when you exit the airport, outside before you meet the crowd.Fast Track has the best rep, figure on around 550 to the city centre for a minivan. The fares are different for the domestic and international terminals though the terminals are next to each other. You can either choose the standard Taxis (Black with Yellow tops) which are usually the ancient Ambassador cars or the private call-taxi (which can come in any model and in any color). As in any Indian airport, you will be immediately haggled for transportation with promised offerings of the best price. A firm No should make them lose interest, ignore them if they continue harrassing you. It's better to keep small change in hand while paying at the counters. Note the taxi number written on your charge slip (one copy is for the passenger and the other is for the driver to collect the fare from the counter). Make your way to the taxi stand and get the taxi number allotted at the designated desk. The helpful drivers offer to take your luggage and guide you to the taxi that drives up quickly near the allotment desk.
A new cab provider named "Fasttrack" has started off their service and a pre-paid booth of them is available at both domestic and international terminals. Comparing with the rest of the taxis their fare and service is pretty much good. Depending on the number of persons and the luggage, you can hire anything from a city car to a mini van.
Prepaid and yellow top taxis are not air-conditioned, are of vintages right from 70s and 80s, rickety, prone to stop midway, drivers exhibit rough behaviour, sometimes could be dangerous, demand exorbitant fares, pre-paid may mean nothing and they may demand more when you get down. Keep away from these types. Or know that you can always negotiate. Typical ride into the farthest part of the city shouldn't cost more than ₹1000 by local standards.
By trainChennai has two main long-distance train stations, Chennai Central (code MAS) and Chennai Egmore (code MS). Both are connected to the Airport by the Suburban rail and to the Bus Terminus by City buses. Central has daily trains from/to Bangalore, Mumbai, Coimbatore, Delhi, Hyderabad , Kolkata , Ahmedabad and virtually all other major Indian cities.Egmore has trains which cover all the places in Tamil Nadu and also a few important places outside it.
You can arrive at the prepaid taxi/auto stand and book a cab to transport you to your place of stay.
Many long distance trains to Egmore stop at Tambaram (code TBM) and some trains to Central stop at Perambur (code PER).These are two railway stations which serve the suburban areas of Chennai. Find all Trains to Chennai - http://trainspy.com/static/station/(MAS)CHENNAI-CENTRAL
Trains that connect Chennai to major hubs like Bangalore, Mumbai and Delhi are usually booked out days in advance. If you plan to travel by train, consider making an advance reservation, the reservation opens 60 days before the day of travel. The AC compartments in the trains are preferable for new travelers as the sleeper class and sitting class compartments are generally very crowded. A 3-tier AC berth from Chennai to Bangalore or Coimbatore costs around 700 and that to Delhi around 2500 including meals.
By bus Chennai has one of Asia's largest bus stations, Chennai Mofussil Bus Terminus (CMBT). Seven different state owned corporations drive buses to and from various destinations within South India. Connected to the Airport and the passenger train stations (Chennai Central and Egmore) by direct buses, it offers a cheap and spontaneous mode of travel. There are hourly buses for places like Tirupati, Pondicherry, Coimbatore,Tirunelveli. You will get the option of A/C or Non-A/C coaches for cities like Bangalore, Trivandrum, Hyderabad.
Several private players also operate buses between most southern destinations. During the weekends most buses are fully occupied and it's better to reserve a ticket in advance. All buses terminate near Koyambedu but there are different stands for state owned (CMBT ), and private buses (Omni bus terminus). Both these terminus are near each other, and it is better to tell your exact destination to the taxi/auto-rickshaw driver. Buses usually drop passengers at various points in the city before reaching the Terminus. Feel free to ask the driver or fellow passengers the closest drop-off point to your destination. Always ask for the ticket and carry it until the end of your journey. Conning is very rare.
Chennai is very well connected and to other parts of India by road. Five major national highways radiate outward towards Kolkata, Bengaluru, Tiruchy/Madurai, Tiruvallur, and Pondicherry. With the progress of the Golden Quadrilateral project, driving down from Bangalore is an option too. Indian drivers will have no problem fitting into the traffic but international drivers are strongly advised against driving in India. Rules are not really rules and lane switchings happen without any notice.
Get around Getting around the heart of Chennai city often takes time, due to traffic and heavy congestion, more so because of construction work in progress for Chennai Metro. So it is advisable to plan your journey accordingly. Travelling within Chennai is not so cheap by Indian metropolitan standards, and are quite cheap by European and USA standards. As for foreigners, it is safe to wear a mask during traveling by motorcycles as pollution is bit of a concern.
To know more on public transportation routes in Chennai, then you can find it here http://www.mccc.co.in
Chennai has a suburban train network. There are four routes:
Metropolitan Transport Corporation(MTC) buses ply throughout the city accessing areas which are not accessed by the suburban trains. These are government-run and extremely cheap.
Chennai has few major termini from where the majority of the buses ply towards the rest of the city. CLICK HERE FOR ROUTES
Normally Bus Fare in MTC range from 4 - 50. Deluxe and A/C Buses are also operated on major routes. Fare for deluxe bus is almost two times as compared to normal bus. For same route, deluxe and normal bus have same number but deluxe buses are being run targeting long distance journey since it will stop at major bus stops only. So if you find normal buses too crowded, take a deluxe one. Non AC deluxe also have power gates and better suspension which you wont find in normal bus. If you have luggage with you, you might have to pay the cost of an extra person depending upon its size. A simple way of identifying the category of the bus is this: White Display Board - Standard Service, Yellow Display Board/LED- Deluxe Service, A/C Service- You will know when you look at it.
AC bus run by MTC chennai which run between important routes like Parrys - Tambaram, Parrys - CMBT, Chennai Central - CMBT, Chennai central - Tambaram, etc. Most frequent AC bus runs between CMBT towards Pondicherry and are known as East coast road (ECR) buses and is very comfortable for intracity travel too.
If you are getting into a bus from Chennai central railway station you can either catch a bus just in front of railway station or you can take the subway to cross the road and get it from the bus stop in front of government hospital.
Bus Route information for MTC Chennai is available online at official site, jaanlo, desiroutes and rab. While official site only provides stage wise info, others have more interactive interface which can ease your life specially if you are new to the city like desiroutes is google maps based while rab is based on open street maps.
Daily and weekly bus passes are available for tourists costing 50 or 300. They can be used on normal and deluxe bus services on all routes within the city. It is worthwhile to purchase the daily pass if you plan to visit more than a couple of sights in a day and it will save you from the trouble to maintain loose change. The daily pass can be purchased on the first bus you board from the conductor, while the weekly and monthly passes are sold at all major terminus. Recently a hop-on hop-off tour bus has also been organized by the Government. The service covers many of the famous sights along the scenic East Coast Road up to Mahabalipuram.
Auto-rickshaw/Tuk-tuk drivers in Chennai do not use meters; some try to overcharge and often drive rashly, but that's part of the fun of being in Chennai. They are happy to exploit foreigners and locals alike. The advantage of being a local is that you know when you're being fleeced, and so you'll know when to walk away and find another auto.
The upside is that autos are ubiquitous and possibly the easiest form of transportation to locate. Use Auto-rickshaws only for short distances because they are uncomfortable. Before talking to an auto driver you might like to try and ask any local person what the actual fare should be, because the drivers will often ask for up to 3 times more. Even so, by Western standards, they are dirt cheap. You'll have no problem once the fare has been agreed and for short trips the Auto is a must.
Share autos have emerged in the recent years as an alternative mode of transport in Chennai. They are over-sized three/four wheelers charge slightly more than the bus but way lesser than a regular auto. Likewise they are faster than the buses but slower than the autos. There are four wheelers known as meter taxis, which don't have a meter and are not taxis. They supplement the existing bus services and sometimes operate on routes based on popular demand.
On a side note - if you are fascinated by the idea of going around in an auto, think about all those foreigners, who are riding an auto from Chennai to Mumbai. A Chennai based event management company, Chennai Event Management Services, has been having these auto-rickshaw rallies from Chennai to Mumbai, or Kanyakumari, etc., and has developed a great fan following for the same.
Taxis (locally called "call-taxis" since they must be pre-arranged) are available by phone. Since there are so many listed in thr phone book already and they are mostly reliable we don't list any. They can be ordered air-conditioned and have digital fare meters, although time-based hire is also possible with some companies. Most companies charge a minimum fare of 100/-(Non-AC)/150/-(AC), which is for 4km (2.4 mile) and for every subsequent kilometre they charge 12/- or 13/-.
Alternatively, you can hire a car for a half/full day for around 1200/1500. These figures are for basic models,add about 50% if you want the comfort of higher-end models. If your trip is time-sensitive, it's best to book your taxi a few hours in advance and call shortly before your trip to confirm. However, there is every possibility of your not getting one in spite of advance booking as they book without any planning/system and ditch the customers in the last minute. A proper system of confirmed allotment at least 45 min prior to the scheduled time (like in Delhi/other cities) is what is required for Chennai.
There are many car rental companies available. Car rental agencies such as BookCab, Clear Car Rental,Cabs24x7, Avis, Chennai Cabs and Hertz.
By carIt is generally not advisable for foreign travelers to drive on their own as they might be unaware of the traffic rules and congestion in the city. Negotiating the Indian traffic is not a part of standard driving lessons and can only be mastered by experience. The roads in Chennai are better maintained than the average Indian road. Rush hour traffic may result in nasty jams. Chennai has three arterial roads: Anna Salai/ Mount Road, EVR Periyar Salai/ Poonamallee High Road, Jawaharlal Nehru Salai/ 100 feet Road.
If you choose to rent a car, it's highly advisable to hire a driver as well. Typical driver fee comes to around 250/- for 4-hour shift and an additional 50 every hour thereafter. Outstation trips cost a driver fee of 750 for a 12 hour journey.
Foreign travelers should keep in mind that both diesel and petrol are used as fuel in India and it varies with the model of the car. Some cars have identical models with only a D badge to indicate diesel. Make sure you find out what type of fuel the car uses from the rental company.
ECR or East coast road is one of the very few places around Chennai that is best enjoyed by car. There are a lot of scenic views with many sightseeing options along the route. For most of the sights within the city limits, travelers would be better served by public transport or a taxi.
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