Chennai and Bangalore are the two main gateway cities in South India which handle most of the international travelers flying in and out of South India. Other major international airports in the region with decent connecting flights are in Hyderabad, Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram and Coimbatore.
Even if with the teeming hordes as a cultural immersion experience, you should still get to know the airports in Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Kochi. You might save time traveling by place and spend all of your time exploring destinations and attractions within each state. So here’s the info on these four key airports:
Cochin International Airport (IATA - COK) - Located at Nedumbassery, about 30 km or 19 miles northeast of Kochi. Has two passenger terminals - one each for domestic and international flights. Both have all the usual facilities air passengers need, but with a distinctly local Karala touch and design that’s refreshing compared to the usual metal and plastic sterilized places that airport usually are.
Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (IATA: BOM) is the main airport serving both domestic and international passengers flying in and out of Mumbai. The airport spans across the Santa Cruz and Andheri suburbs. The main passenger traffic is divided into domestic terminals 1A and 1B and the new international terminal T2.
Chennai - There’s a train station at Tirisulam that’ll take you to Egmore station in Chennai in about half an hour. Alternatively, you could take a bus at the airport gate, purchase a pre-paid taxi ticket at the arrivals hall, or take an auto rickshaw. Either way, it’ll take you about 40 minutes to get to the city. Buses and trains are very cheap, and the pre-paid taxi fare will vary based on where in the city you want to go.
Kochi - You can take the KSRTC’s low-floor air-conditioned buses that provide airport service, or buy tickets for the prepaid taxis at the arrivals hall. It’ll take you between 45 minutes to an hour to get to the city. The taxi fare varies based on your destination in Kochi. A trip to Ernakulam may cost around Rs. 500 ($8) while a taxi to Fort Kochi may cost about Rs. 650 ($10).
Mumbai - The Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) buses run all over the city and quite regularly. You can take bus no. 312 from the domestic terminal to the aforementioned railway stations, or bus no 321 from the international terminal to Ville Parle East, or bus no. 308 from the international terminal to Andheri East.
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For starters, you can check with your hotel or other travel service provider. Many of the luxury hotels and sightseeing tour operators offer airport transfers and will send someone to pick you up at the airport. Secondly, you can book a car rental at the airport. You can get your usual rentals from Hertz or other major companies and drive on your own, but the traditional concept here is a bit different - a lot of people get a rental car with a driver who also acts as your private guide/concierge. It’s not a limo or taxi, but kind of like a value-added car rental service.