Cut Loose in Kolkata
Kolkata is a popular destination for business and leisure tourists. It is also a fun destination for backpackers.
Best seasons and events in Kolkata
The best time to travel to Kolkata is between September and January. The summer months, from March to June are typically hot and humid. Winter in Calcutta (December and January) can have lows of around 12°C. Monsoon season is from May through September.
Visit in January for Kolkata Book Fair (Kolkata Boi Mela), which runs from the last Wednesday of the month for 12 days. In April (around the 15th), locals celebrate the Bengali New Year (Poila Baisakh) with early morning processions. The first week of October is Durga Puja, a festival in honour of the Goddess Durga. Meanwhile, the first week of November is Kali Puja, a festival in honour of the Goddess Kali with lights and fireworks. Enjoy the Kolkata International Film Festival November 10-17.
Important facts before you go
Bengali is the native language here, but Hindi is also spoken. Expenses tend to be cheaper than New Delhi. You can often find cheap thali for around Rs 130, and a restaurant meal at Rs 350.
Local tips and information
Those needing transport from the airport to the city centre, should look for the AC Bus, located near arrivals. Take bus VS1 to Esplanade (about a 1 to 1.5-hour trip). Bus VS2 goes to Howrah and takes approximately Rs 60. An air-conditioned Volvo bus costs around Rs 50. These run every 10 to 15 minutes all day until 10 pm.
In Calcutta, it is possible to find cheap accommodations for about Rs 700. Mid-range rooms are around Rs 1,500, and luxury accommodations costs approximately Rs 5,000. There are cheap hostels on Sudder Street and budget hotels near Howrah station.
Be prepared to negotiate the fare in advance for taxis and autos. Taxi fares start at Rs 25 for the first 2 km and then Rs 18 for every km. Riding the Metro costs Rs 5 for every 0-2 km, offering six zones. Smartcards are available for around Rs 100, 200, 300, 500 and 1,000. A tourist smartcard is Rs 250 for unlimited rides in zone 1. The tram costs a minimum of Rs 7, and going up from there depending on distance. The bus is the cheapest transport option - Rs. 6 for a non air-conditioned bus. Deluxe buses are slightly more expensive.