Mumbai is a long, narrow peninsula on India’s west coast that extends like a finger into the Arabian Sea. It occupies an area of 440 sq km, a little over half the size of New York City. Mumbai can be divided into two main areas: the city in the south and the suburbs in the north.
From Colaba in the south to Mahim further north is South Mumbai, also known as South Bombay (“SoBo”) or “the town.” It is bordered by Mumbai Harbor to the east and by the Arabian Sea to the west. This southernmost district is home to the wealthiest Mumbaikars and is the richest area in all of India. Here you will find the central business district, high-end real estate, the Gateway to India, the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower, and many shops and restaurants. Driving north, you’ll come to Marine Drive, nicknamed the “Queen’s Necklace” for the way the curved promenade glows at night. Marine Drive connects the business district at Nariman Point to Chowpatty Beach. From this famous beach, you can head southwest to ritzy Malabar Hill, which is a small residential strip jutting out into the Arabian. If you drive north instead, you’ll pass a popular expat area called Breach Candy and then hug the coastline as you go by the Mahalakshmi race course.
The race course marks the start of central Mumbai, compromised mainly of Worli and Lower Parel, which are both major shopping areas. From Worli you can hop on the Bandra-Worli Sea Link to continue into Northern Mumbai. This $400 million dollar bridge connects the city to the suburbs (and vice versa) and has eased some peak traffic since it opened in the summer of 2009.
After the bridge ends, the road becomes the Western Express Highway, and you arrive in the first suburb – Bandra. It’s a greener, leafier area, but still crowded with people, cars, and buildings. From here you can bear west on S.V. Road, which runs parallel to the highway, through residential Bandra West, Khar, and Juhu. A bit inland from Juhu is Vile Parle East, where Mumbai airport is located. Continuing north is the mostly industrial neighborhood of Andheri where many expats who live in the suburbs work. Crossing through Andheri to the east, you’ll come to Powai, a quiet area on a lake popular with expat families. Just above Powai is the start of Sanjay Gandhi National Park, a huge park full of flora and fauna. After the national park, Mumbai’s city line is drawn, and the neighboring district of Thane begins.