As one of the third busiest airports in India, Chennai International Airport is not very far from the city. There are daily flights here from various cities in the country as well as other countries too, making it one of the most well-connected airports. Flights from cities like Bengaluru, Delhi, Mumbai and Hyderabad operate daily to and from Chennai. Internationally, Chennai is connected to Sri Lanka, Singapore, Malaysia and various Gulf countries. There are two terminals here. Anna International Airport terminal receives several international and domestic flights. There’s also the Kamaraj Domestic Terminal that is very close by and there’s a walkway that links both terminals in case of connections. Domestic airlines such as Air India, IndiGo, GoAir and Spicejet have regular and daily flights to Chennai.
The airport is well-connected to the city by way of taxis that you can hire from the pre-paid booths just outside the airport. Autorickshaws can also take you into the city but be sure to negotiate before you start your journey as the Chennai autos may not always charge by the meter. There are also buses that stop on the highway near the airport, so you can use those to get into the city, but it’s not a preferred option if you are carrying a lot of luggage. In recent times, one of the best ways to get into the city is using the Metro. Do check if the Metro reaches your part of the city. Its reach is limited but it’s worth taking nevertheless. The Metro station is between the two terminals. Another option would be to take the local trains which run every 15 minutes but do bear in mind that these are often packed with commuters.
By Bus - Chennai’s bus station is called CMBT – Chennai Mofussil Bus Terminal. It’s reputed to be one of the largest bus stations in Asia and it is quite well-organized. You’ll find daily buses to and from various cities such as Pondicherry, Coimbatore, Bangalore and several other cities here. There are various ranges of buses, from the expensive Ultra Deluxe to the Volvo AC buses to the no-frills government buses. Tickets for these buses can be reserved in advance at the computerized reservation centre. Private buses are even more comfortable than government buses and hence, pricier as well. While their main terminal is not too far from CMBT, at Omni Bus Stand, bus companies have various spots across the city where they drop off passengers, based on their requirements. Tickets for these buses can be bought from numerous online portals.
By Car - One of the best ways to reach Chennai is by road. If you have your own car, then the road trip can be quite fun and interesting. Chennai is connected to all the nearby cities by an excellent road network and these extend out in five national highways. Even if you don’t have your own vehicle, there are several renting options to drive a rental car to Chennai. Another option would be to hire a cab if you don’t want to do the actual driving. Cars will take you to most destinations near and around Chennai as well. The Chennai to Pondicherry route is quite scenic and is best enjoyed on the road.
Chennai has three railway stations but the main station is Chennai Central. The other two are Chennai Egmore and Tambaram. Chennai Central is the most commonly used station for people who are coming to the city from various other cities. A number of highspeed and express trains run from here daily. The station is connected to various other cities such as Mumbai, Coimbatore, Delhi, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Cochin, Kolkata and other cities. Some of the well-known trains that you would find here include Chennai Mail, Shatabdi, Chennai Central, Kovai Express, Tamil Nadu Express, Vasco Express and Coromandel Express to name a few. Travelling by train is one of the easiest and often most comfortable ways of reaching Chennai. Outside the station, you can reach your destination through prepaid taxis, cabs and autorickshaws.
Chennai has very good bus connectivity and this is the most common way of travelling around the city for many locals. However, it can get crowded and it is not the most ideal way of getting around the city. During peak hours, the buses can be quite packed with commuters and it’s not a pleasant experience for many tourists who entirely avoid buses if they can. Fares are quite cheap and there are air-conditioned buses as well which are slightly more expensive. The buses have recently been upgraded and have automatic door system as well.
While autos are the easiest way of getting around in the city, you have to remember that autorickshaw drivers may not always charge by meter, instead, they will quite their own rates no matter where you’re going. It’s a good idea to negotiate the. Fix the price before you get in the auto or there can be unnecessary hassles later on. At night, post 11 pm, do note that rates go up by 50 per cent. You can find prepaid auto stands outside Central station, Egmore station and the CMBT bus terminus as well.
Pre-paid taxi booths outside the airport and Central railway station make it easy if you plan on getting a taxi to reach your destination. However, within the city, flagging down a taxi might not be that easy. The alternative would be the Ola and Uber cabs which are app-based and easily available. These have indeed made life easy for the tourist who doesn’t want to be taken for a ride by taxi drivers. The rates are also very competitive and it makes a lot of sense to hop into an Ola or Uber when required. The other option is to hire a car to travel around the city. With a driver in tow, it makes travelling around the city much easier, if a tad bit expensive.
There are suburban trains that will take you to different locations in the city and vice versa. The trains run numerous times every hour and the tickets are very reasonable, costing not more than Rs. 10. Trains are an excellent idea if you want to explore various parts of the city such as Nungambakkam, Guindy, Saidapet, Mambalam, Kodambakkam, Chepauk etc. There are six rail lines in Chennai and they are well-connected to various parts of the city. They run every 15 minutes and the trains are operational from 4am till midnight.
One of the best and easiest ways of travelling around in Chennai is on the Metro. Although it serves limited areas at the moment, its range will increase and fortunately, it stops at various important places such as the airport, CMBT and even Central and Egmore railway stations. Although the Metro is relatively new, more and more people are using it for the convenience it affords. If you plan on using the Metro more often, then it’s a good idea to get a Metro card that can be pre-loaded. Trains run from morning 5am to 10pm. They’re relatively uncrowded but do check for peak hours, especially if travelling with luggage.