How to get from the main Indian airports to the city center locally?
India, Mumbai, New Delhi, Dabolim (Goa)
We travel on a budget, independently and mainly locally! Are you arriving at one of the main Indian International Airports? Do you refuse to pay exorbitant prices for taxis or organized shuttle buses for a trip to the city center? Learn how the locals do! In reality, it's simpler than expected, and the final travel cost will definitely not disappoint you.
Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport
1st option (cost per person)
For a taxi from the Airport to Colaba, you will pay a minimum of 450 INR, for a rickshaw a minimum of 250 INR. Please note that rickshaws are denied access to Colaba.
In 2014, a new international Terminal 2 at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport was opened. This terminal is very well communicated with public transport. Thus you don't have to deal any longer with the complications we had in 2013.
In front of Terminal 2, turn left and head north towards Hyatt Regency Mumbai hotel. Look for the bus stop Indian Oil (map). Wait here for the bus No. 308 which will take you after nine stops to Agarkar Chowk (14 min, 10-14 INR, more info on BEST web site). Here you will see the Andheri Train Station, from which you can conveniently take the local train (90352 Mumbai Church Gate) towards Church Gate (35 min, 10 INR). The Church Gate - Final stop is 3.5 km away from Colaba center. This distance can be walked easily in 40 minutes.
Total travel cost from the airport to Colaba: 20-24 INR
If you do not want to go the whole distance to Colaba on foot, look for Ahilyabai Holkar Chowk bus stop just 200 meters away south of Church Gate (map). Wait for the bus No. 137 and head for the Afghan Church (25 min, 14 INR). Get off, and Colaba district is right in front of your nose!
Total travel cost from the airport to Colaba: 34-38 INR
2nd option (per person)
Get off Terminal 2 and head north on Airport Rd. After 1 km you will reach the Marol Naka Metro Station (map), eventually the Airport Road Metro Station (map) on Sir Mathuradas Vasanji Rd. 3 stops later you arrive at Andheri Metro Station (6 min, 18-20 INR, Mumbai metro web), from where you proceed according to option 1.
Total travel cost from the airport to Colaba: 30 - 44 INR
3rd option (per person)
This is the most expensive and currently the most complicated variant of all. In 2013, we arrived in Bombay one month before the metro was opened and a year before the Terminal 2 was opened. We had to choose this original and purely local variant that I describe in the article "First moments on Indian ground"!
Near Terminal 2, locate the rickshaw spot, preferably not right in front of the terminal gates (would be pricey). Take a ride to the Vile Parle train station (70 INR, map) from where you can travel by train to Church Gate (10 INR).
Total travel cost from the airport to Colaba: 45 - 59 INR
Indira Gandhi International Airport
Delhi (New Delhi)
Terminal 3 (Terminal 2)
If you arrive in India from abroad, you will land at Terminal 3. This terminal serves all international flights. The fastest and most convenient option is the journey by metro. In front of Terminal 3 (200-300 m from Terminal 2), go to the IGI Airport Metro Station (map). From here you can get to New Delhi Station (map). When exiting New Delhi Metro Station building, go straight ahead. Slight to the left, continue through the Pedestrian Overpass, the bridge over the vast New Delhi railway station. You may come across the wannabe controllers posing at the entrance to the bridge, requesting a valid train ticket for entry. Act confident and do not let them stop you (this method has been successful many times). In our case, however, no one has checked on us. After crossing the bridge, you enter the famous Main Bazar Rd. Here you can find accommodation options and restaurants of all kinds.
When taking domestic flights, you arrive at Terminal 1. Right in front of the terminal building, look for the Airport Express Shuttle bus, which takes you to Delhi Aero City metro station (30 INR, 15 min, map). From Delhi Aero City, take the metro to New Delhi (20 min, 50 INR - 11/2015).
Goa International Airport
In the case of the small international airport in Goa, the situation is somewhat more complicated. Taking into account the size and importance of the airport, unfortunately, public transport infrastructure has not yet been entirely built. There is no metro or official shuttle bus here. There are two options available - either you can use the overpriced taxi services or use the local variant (public transport).
Check the taxi rates from the Dabolim airport to the popular tourist destinations in Goa (10/2015). Remember, after 11 PM (until 5 AM) the taxi drivers will charge you a special 35% night surcharge. A fee of 10 INR per each bag remains the same.
If you arrive at Goa International Airport late at night and still want to travel locally, read here how we spent a night at this airport.
There are many local routes available. I describe the route we took. Nevertheless, its versatility applies to more destinations.
In front of the airport terminal building, turn right and go downhill. Under the hill, you will reach the main junction - you take a left, on the Airport Rd. Although the road does not offer a pedestrian sidewalk along its entire length, there is more than enough space for safe walking within the emergency stopping lane. Continue on Airport Rd towards Chicalim. After a 1.5 km of walking, you can withdraw Indian Rupees from the ATM HDFC Bank (e.g., here, there are another 2 ATMs nearby). After another 500 meters, you will reach the Chikalim Junction (with Swatantra Path). A regular bus to Panjim stops here at the bus stop (map, 23 INR). If you don't need to withdraw money prior traveling (thus walking to Chikalim), there is a possibility to wait for the bus to Panjim (or to Vasco da Gama) at the stop just outside the Airport Terminal (map).
At the bus station in Panjim, take a bus to Mapusa (15 INR). The touts will direct you to the right bus. The bus station in Mapusa (eventually in Panjim) operates numerous direct and regular routes to most destinations in Goa. In Mapusa, we hopped on the bus that took us to Arambol (25 INR). For more information on local routes and fares, check out this link.
For comparison, I give the following calculation:
Night taxi from Dabolim to Arambol airport: 1,862 INR for two
Local fare Chikalim (Chicalim) - Arambol: 126 INR for two (saving 1732 INR, which will cover accommodation in a cottage for three nights for two) !!