Chennai, a city of contrasts

From the beautiful Coromandel coast to its bustling malls and shops, there is something for everyone in Chennai.

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The best time to plan a trip

The city has a tropical climate with monsoon season from October to mid-December. Temperatures in June can reach 40 degrees C. January is the coolest month and the average 25 degree temperatures make it the best time to visit.

The 3 day Pongal harvest festival takes place in January. Other celebrations include Karthikai Deepam with firecrackers and lights at the December to November full moon and the 10 day festival culminating in a procession to honour Ganesh, Vinayak Chaturthi, is in September. Fans of classical music from the south of India will enjoy Chennai Music and Dance Festival from mid-December to mid-January. Kollywood, the Tamil Film industry is also a big attraction.

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Tips for visitors to Chennai

There is very little risk of Malaria but it is recommended that routine vaccines like Hepatitis B, Japanese encephalitis and Rabies are updated.

Tamil is the city's official language but the local dialect Madras Bashai is also widely spoken.

It's very cheap to live in Chennai and a meal in a basic restaurant is approximately Rs 20.

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Local information for those arriving in the city

Travellers can take the suburban train to the city centre from the airport. It departs from Tirusulam station which is 500m from the terminal and a single to either Chennai Park or Egmore costs about Rs 5.

Prepaid taxis charge about Rs 300 and the taxi number is written on tickets obtained from the booths.

It is approximately Rs 400 per night for a single room in a boarding house or hostel or from around Rs 1000 in a mid-range hotel.

Auto rickshaws are readily available. Although they are metered they can still overcharge if you are unsure of the rates which are roughly Rs 25 for 1.8 m. However, journeys can take longer than expected due to heavy city traffic.

The suburban trains are a faster alternative to rickshaws or buses and the fares start at approximately Rs 5.

MTC buses are cheapest at around Rs 3 and day passes can be bought for about 50 rupees. There is also a weekly pass for around Rs 300.

Taxis are not air conditioned and cost about Rs 100 for 4km and then about Rs 12 for every further km.

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