Things to do in Chennai: Hot milk for pulled tea and pulled sock coffee in Chennai
Things to do in Chennai: Hot milk for pulled tea and pulled sock coffee in Chennai

Chennai Travel Blog: Table of Contents

Where, How?
Chennai on C&C
Best Time To Visit Chennai
Personal Notes
Where to Sleep
Let’s Eat!
Let’s Go For a Drink
What to See and Do
Tipping in Chennai
Common Scams & What to Avoid
C&C’s Google Map of the City

Chennai Travel Blog: Where, How?

Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India, Asia (formerly known as Madras)

Population: 10,435,000 (2017)

Currency: Indian Rupee (INR)


Chennai International Airport (MAA)

Airport NotesChennai International Airport is the fourth largest airport in India. It serves the Southern Indian metropolis of Chennai. It acts as the southern regional headquarters for the Airport Authority of India (AAI).

The airport is large and efficiently run. It features a modern design and is spread out over an area of 1,283 acres. Chennai International Airport features two terminals. The domestic terminal is called the Kamaraj Terminal. The international terminal, known as the Anna Terminal, connects the city with over 20 destinations worldwide.

Air Asia, Air Costa, Air Pegasus, Jet Airways, Air India, Air India Express, and SpiceJet Airlines are some of the major airlines traveling in and out of this airport.

Transportation to-and-from the Airport: The easiest and most affordable way to get downtown from the airport is by subway. The Tirisulam Railway Station can be found just outside the airport entrance. Trains connect directly to Chennai Central. There is a bus stand located directly outside the airport gate.

Each airport terminal features its own taxi stand where pre-paid car services can be acquired. Uber and Ola private car services are also available in the area.

Inner-City Transportation

The public transportation system in Chennai is easy to use. Buses are the most inexpensive way to get around the city. Connections are widely available. Fares are typically between ₹3 and ₹14. Be wary of bus travel during peak commuting hours. The buses tend to get very crowded. Daily and weekly bus passes are available for purchase.

The Chennai Metro Rail opened in 2016. Depending on your destination, it can be an effective and affordable means of travel in Chennai. As the system is new and still being completed, there aren’t as many stops. Trains run from 5 am to 10 pm.

Auto rickshaws are commonly available throughout the city. It is best advised to negotiate the fair before agreeing to the ride. Drivers will often try and charge inflated rates. There are many pre-paid rickshaws stands throughout the city. Those are preferred over individual drivers with meters. Car rentals are available but not recommended due to high fares and insufficient parking.

A Note on Taxis:

Taxis and private car services, such as Uber and Ola, are the quickest way to travel in Chennai. Be sure to plan for traffic delays during rush hour. In general, taxi services in the city are safe. It is still preferred to go with a private car service when available, as they tend to be quicker and easier transportation means. Most taxis will not be air-conditioned.

Just like anywhere, Uber is cheaper and safer. If you don’t already have an account, use this link and get 15 dollars off your first ride!

Navigation Tips: There are two main navigation tips to keep in mind: the ocean is east, which makes most navigation easier. Also, Anna Salai Road, which is also called Mount Road and is renamed a few times along the way, is a main thoroughfare that runs diagonally through the city. Remember where it is relative to where you are and you’ll know your location in the city.

Chennai is a culture-rich city and features many galleries and street art landmarks. (This is a copyright free photo)

Chennai Travel Blog – Neighborhoods

George Town, once known as Muthialpet, is a lively neighborhood in Chennai. Kasi Chetty Street has various shopping outlets for imported goods. Sowcarpet is an area where traditional Indian garments are sold. There are also many options for tiny eateries. Armenian Street features some historical architecture. There you will find the Armenian Church, and the St Mary’s Anglo-Indian Higher Secondary School, which is one of the oldest in India.

Mylapore is a cultural hub in the southern sector of Chennai. It is known for its scenic tree-lined avenues. It is a peaceful neighborhood. Here you can visit the Kapaleeshwarar Temple or go on a schedule cultural walk.

Triplicane is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Chennai. It is well-known for its crowded markets. Top attractions in this area include the Marina Beach, the Parthasarathy Temple, and Triplicane Big Mosque. It is also home to many South Indian eateries and popular biryani stalls.

Egmore rests on the northern banks of the Coovum River. It is best known for the Egmore Railway Station. The Gothic-style building is an architectural landmark. This neighborhood is also the home of the St Andrew’s Church. It is an old Scottish Presbyterian Church nicknamed the “Kirk.”

In the southwestern part of the city, lies Guindy. The neighborhood’s top attraction, the Guindy National Park, is the only Indian national park in the city. It extends deep inside features beautiful forests, lakes, and streams. The park is home to many wildlife species, including deer, blackbucks, jackals, butterflies, tortoises, and more. An estimated 700,000 people visit the park each year. You can reach Guindy via the Guindy railway station, or the Guindy metro station.

Adyar is located on the southern banks of the Adyar River. It is one of the most expensive areas of residence in Chennai. It is the home of the Adyar Estuary, which houses over 100 different species of birds. Adyar features easy access to the beach and a popular shopping hub. Adyar Ananda Bhavan and The Grand Sweets and Snacks are two famed locations to find snacks in the neighborhood.

Chennai has some of the most stunning architecture in India. (This is a copyright free photo)

Best Time To Visit Chennai

Average Monthly Minimum And Maximum Temperatures

Average min and max temperatures in Chennai, India
Average min and max temperatures in Chennai, India

Average Monthly Hours Of Sunshine

Average monthly sunhours in Chennai, India

Average Monthly Rainfall Or Snowfall

Average precipitation (rain/snow) in Chennai, India

Chennai Travel Blog: Personal Notes

What’s This Place About?

Chennai, which used to be called Madras, is an important city mostly because it’s the largest city of the province of Tamil Nadu. It’s an important place, culturally speaking, for all Tamils, and is a great way to learn about their way of life.

What’s Great and Fun?

Mostly, the food and the beach!

Chennai Travel Blog – Personal Anecdotes

It’s not the most beautiful city in India. It’s not the most entertaining either­. The beach is filthy. Yet, for me, it was the very first city I’ve visited in India and my port of entry to the subcontinent. And it marked me for life.

Chennai Travel Blog: Places to Visit in Chennai

If you are in a hurry and don’t want to waste much time on searching places to visit in Chennai, go here straight.

On the more affordable side, Zostel Chennai and Red Lollipop Hostel Chennai are both clean and comfortable hostels to stay overnight.

In terms of mid-range hotels, Raahat Inn and Avenue 11 Boutique Residences, Poes Garden Chennai are well-rated and offer great service. But Design Hotel Chennai by juSTa is unique in its gorgeous decoration – not only around the hotel but in the individual rooms as well. These are all four-star hotels.

There are far too many options on places to visit in Chennai. All you have to do is keep eyes and ears open.

If you prefer the major chain hotels, Courtyard by Marriott ChennaiHyatt Regency Chennai and Hilton Chennai are also available.

Just like everywhere, Airbnb is a very interesting option. If you’re not already a  member, you can use this Airbnb link to get $40 off your first reservation.

Chennai Travel Blog: Let’s Eat!

Famous Foods and Specialties

Typical South Indian cuisine offers a lot of options for vegetarians and seafood lovers. Curry and Asian spices are used to give dishes a hint of spiciness. Rice and lentils are two ingredients commonly found in most recipes. Restaurants that serve traditional home-style cuisine are referred to as messes. Thalis are large platters consisting of various dishes. They are generally inexpensive and great to share.

  • Masala Dosa – a dosa is a thin, crisp pancake made from fermented batter. It is a staple of Indian cuisine. The masala dosa recipe is stuffed lightly cooked potatoes, chilis, onions, and spices.
  • Adai – a thinly cooked pancake made with soaked rice and lentils. It is often served with unsalted butter and jaggery.
  • Thayir Vadai – a vadai is a savory doughnut-like snack common in Indian cuisine. Thayir vadai is a version of the dish topped with curd, yogurt, shredded carrots, coriander, and boondi.
  • Idli – a savory rice cake often served for breakfast in Chennai. The cakes are made by steaming a batter consisting of fermented lentils and rice.
  • Fish Curry – pan-fried fish cooked in curry broth and chili powder.
  • Chicken Biryani – a one pot dish consisting of South Asian spices, marinated meats, yogurt, and rice as the main ingredients.

Street food is also very in Chennai. Don’t be afraid to try some authentic cuisine sold by street vendors throughout the city.

Chennai Travel Blog – The Best Drunk Food

  • Chicken 65 – diced chicken marinated in ginger, garlic and chili paste. A favorite appetizer in the city of Chennai.
  • Chicken Pakodas – boneless chicken tenders that are battered and deep-fried. Other popular variations include onion, egg bread, and cabbage pakodas,
  • Meals – also known as a “Madras Meal.” It is a share plate consisting of rice, sambar, pulses, vegetable curry, appalam, and a dessert or “sweet”.

Our Suggestions – Dishes and Restaurants

Chennai is full of top-rated restaurants where authentic local cuisine can be found. Junior Kuppanna, Annalakshmi, and the Hotel Saravana Bhavan are three of the must-try options for South Indian dining in the city.

Don’t look for places to visit in Chennai far away from a good restaurant and dining options.

I have enjoyed all of my meals at Hotel Sennthur.

Are you walking around the city? Can you see street food stalls selling pakoras or samoas? Try them! Can you find the pulled coffee and tea parlours? Go, and do as the locals do! There’s nothing better! This Chennai Travel Blog recommends street food at all times!

Chennai Travel Blog: Let’s go for a Drink

What do the Locals Drink?

Old Monk rum – cheap and delicious! – and palm wine are popular spirits sold in Chennai. Locally made beer, wine, and whiskey are also available. Kingfisher is the best-selling brand of beer in India. Arrack, Sunda Kanji, and Chuak are a few other beverage options often found in bars and restaurants.

Drinking in Public

The legal drinking age is in Chennai is 21. Drinking in public is not permitted.

Our Suggestions – Bars and Pubs

In general, Chennai is not a paradise for partying. Most bars will close around midnight, even on weekends. The most popular nightlife establishments are usually found inside of large hotels. Many of these locations have 24-hour licenses and host after-hours events. Trendy spots will charge a cover, especially for male patrons. Be sure to check the dress code beforehand, as top-rated establishments tend to be strict.

If you want to make the best choice on places to visit in Chennai, you need to know the location of the best bar in the city. It is always better to keep both near as much as possible.

Le Waterina, Pasha, Bike & Barrel, and Radio Room are recommended for interesting bars and lounges to visit in Chennai. 10 Downing Street is a fun British-style pub that features DJs and themed parties.

As regular readers of this column know, I don’t know anything about clubs. Sorry!

Chennai Travel Blog: What To See And Do

Egmore’s Government Museum and The National Art Gallery are the oldest of their kind in all of India.

The Fort Museum of Fort St. George displays a noteworthy collection of artifacts from the British Era, including the first flag of India from 1947. The Archaeological Survey of India oversees the museum.

Don’t look for places to visit in Chennai too far away from a happening tourist attraction.

The Kapaleeshwarar Temple is one of the oldest temples in the city. It is a classic example of Dravidian style architecture, and the San Thome Cathedral are well-known landmarks found in the Mylapore neighborhood.

Marina Beach is one of the world’s longest beaches. It is a must-see in Chennai. Unfortunately, bathing and swimming are illegal at Marina Beach due to a dangerous undercurrent. It is one of the most crowded beaches in the country. It attracts between 30,000 and 50,000 visitors per day. Activities available at Marina Beach include fishing, windsurfing, and sunset-watching. Edward Elliot’s Beach is the second most popular beach destination in Chennai.

The Semmozhi Poonga Botanical Garden is one of Chennai’s top-rated attractions where tourists can enjoy nature and wildlife. The Arignar Anna Zoological Park, also known as the Vandalur Zoo, is one spot recommended for those traveling with children. It was the first zoo in India and features over 170 species of animals. The Madras Crocodile Bank Trust and Centre for Herpetology is a reptile zoo and herpetology research station located approximately 40 kilometers south of Chennai.

The Music Academy in the city showcases live events and performances, including music, dance, and seminars. The Kalakshetra Foundation and Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan offer free events on occasion.

The city is home to several theme parks. MGM Dizzee World and Queen’s Land are the most popular two. Daily and weekly passes are offered for purchase. Group rates are available.

Shopping malls in Chennai feature many recognizable worldwide stores and chains. The commercial and retail sector has been rapidly growing in the city. The neighborhood of George Town remains the best area to go for those looking to shop. Top shopping destinations in Chennai include Express Avenue, the Chennai Citi Centre, and Spencer Plaza. The Phoenix Market City is the newest and most luxurious shopping center in the city.

Tipping in Chennai

Just like in most of Asia, it is not expected to tip but it is a nice gesture. If you’ve received good service, a tip between 7-10% of the total cost of the bill is a good amount.

Chennai Travel Blog: Common Scams & What to Avoid

In Chennai, like anywhere else in India, stay aware of your location, don’t flash your expensive belongings and stay polite at all times, and you’ll have no problems.

Women should be aware that men can get sexually aggressive. Cover yourself at all times.

When you decide on places to visit in Chennai , be sure to avoid these places.

How to Stay Safe: Tips and Tricks

READ MORE: Travel Canada Advisory for India.

Chennai Travel Blog: C&C’s Map