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Chennai Travel Tips - Helpful hints and advice on local destination information

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Due to the vast array of different cultures residing in the city, Chennai is a cosmopolitan city. It is also one of India's safest cities in terms of crime but like all big cities it has its fair share of pickpockets.

The usual health precautions for traveling in India apply, such as only drinking bottled water, avoiding uncooked fruit and vegetables and eating in hygienic restaurants. However, should illness occur, there are plenty of good hospitals in the city.

Customs and etiquette

It is important to dress conservatively when visiting a religious site, and shoes should always be removed before entering a place of worship or a person's home. Visitors should be careful not to use the left hand for giving, receiving, eating or pointing. Tipping is not mandatory but is customary in upmarket restaurants and hotels.

Money

The Indian rupee (INR) is the local currency. Food and daily life do not incur much expense in Chennai. Credit cards are accepted in large restaurants and hotels, and ATMs can be found around the city. Always carry small notes on your person for markets and transport, and keep the bulk of your cash in a hotel safe.

Weather

Chennai has a tropical climate with two seasons: summer and monsoon. Summer is stifling hot and falls between April and June, while monsoon season is at its peak during December. The mildest and most tolerable weather happens between December and February, so this is the most pleasant time to visit. 

Transportation

As one of India's largest cities, Chennai has an excellent transport network. Public transport in Chennai is user-friendly and offers extensive coverage. Many flyovers have been constructed, to ease congestion and provide a more convenient service for visitors. 

Buses are regular, reliable and cheap. The government-owned Metropolitan Transport Corporation provides the service, which covers almost every area and suburb. Overcrowding is the only drawback, but otherwise buses are comfortable and convenient. 

Auto rickshaws are a lot more expensive than buses and drivers almost always try to take advantage of tourists. However, they are a comfortable way to make trips within the city and drivers are more often than not willing to wait for you until you are ready to make the return journey. 

Taxis are the most popular option, especially for longer trips. The Chennai Suburban Railway Network provides useful rail links between the city and the suburbs, and there is also a private minibus service operating in the suburbs. 

The best way to reach the city from Chennai International Airport (MAA) is by pre-paid taxi. This service can be arranged from the Aviation Express booth just outside the airport. Drivers are polite, cars are in good condition and prices are fair. Alternatively, Tirisulam Railway Station is just a short walk away and there are regular trains to the city center. 

Fast facts

Population: 4,590,000
Spoken languages: English, Tamil, Malayalam and Urdu
Electrical: 240 Volts, 50 Hertz; round two or three-pin plugs used
Phone/calling code: +91 44

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