No other city in India knows how to have a good time quite like Mumbai. Here you'll find everything from dingy "permit rooms" (basically cafeteria-style rooms with a liquor license) so dirty they make an American dive bar look like the Rainbow Room, and clubs so fancy they make the Rainbow Room look like a permit room. Whatever destination you choose, they all hold their own special charms. If you're in the mood for a cheap tipple, and you appreciate the character of a down and dirty dive bar, head to Gokul, behind the Taj Mahal Palace, it's the most tourist-friendly of Mumbai's permit rooms.

If you're more inclined to clubbing, Mumbai has lots to choose from—though club owners seem to have decided that the only option that works in this city are lounges with blaring music and tiny dance floors: be forewarned, though, that prices are steep, and you'll often pay New York prices, or more, for your drinks. Note, too, that many clubs and bars have "couples" policies, wherein a "stag" (lone man) is not permitted to enter without a woman. This might be a circuitous attempt to prevent brawls, pickup scenes, and prostitution—or just a club owner figuring that in a country where many more guys are allowed to stay out late than girls, a club full of dudes isn't going to attract much business. To avoid an unpleasant encounter at the door, check with your hotel staff to find out whether your destination club or bar will allow you to enter if you're a man traveling alone or in a group of men. Dress nicely and you'll probably get in; an advance call from your hotel concierge might also make your entry smoother.

One area where the suburbs have it over the city is nightlife, and the after-dark scene in the wealthy enclaves of Juhu and Bandra thrive on suburbia's young nouveau riche as well as city folk willing to travel for a good night out.

Revelry peaks from Thursday to Sunday nights, with an early-20s-to-mid-30s crowd. Pubs open daily at around 6 or 7 (except a few, which open in the afternoon) and close by 1:15 am or a little later, depending, honestly, on how much they've paid the local cops. Some places collect a cover charge at the door. As in any metropolis, the reign of a nightspot can be ephemeral. Ask a young hotel employee to tell you where the best clubs or bars are, as trends change quickly in Mumbai.

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  • 1. Aer

    Central Mumbai | Bars/Pubs

    The rooftop club at the Four Seasons is one of the most popular—and most expensive—bars in town, but it offers stunning views of the city in...Read More

  • 2. Blue Frog

    Central Mumbai | Live Music

    International bands and local acts play Tuesday through Sunday nights at this spacious, trendy nightclub with top-notch acoustics. Munchies...Read More

  • 3. Busaba

    Colaba | Bars/Pubs

    In addition to its Asian restaurant, which serves a mix of Burmese, Chinese, Vietanmese, and Thai, Busaba has a relaxed but small and attractive...Read More

  • 4. Busaba Lower Parel

    Central Mumbai | Bars/Pubs

    ...Read More

  • 5. Dome

    Churchgate | Bars/Pubs

    With some of the best views of the city, the open-air Dome attracts a young, good-looking crowd who sit, amid candlelight, on plush white sofas...Read More

  • 6. Eau Bar

    Nariman Point | Bars/Pubs

    Facing the Arabian Sea, this bar is elegant and more reserved than many of its peers, and attracts a rather high-class clientele for the live...Read More

  • 7. Geoffrey's

    Churchgate | Bars/Pubs

    A relatively staid yuppie crowd likes to hang out in the clubby (in the British sense) setting here, but it's also one of the few bars with...Read More

  • 8. Gokul

    Colaba | Bars/Pubs

    The safest destination to test out one of Mumbai's infamous permit rooms offers a no-frills, dingy atmosphere—this is the kind of place you...Read More

  • 9. Koyla

    Colaba | Bars/Pubs

    Koyla is a rooftop hangout with hookahs, Arabian music, a good breeze, and tasty barbecue bites. No alcohol is served. ...Read More

  • 10. Olive Bar and Restaurant

    Bandra | Bars/Pubs

    This candlelit nightspot draws Mumbai's who's who for bites of top-notch antipasts, risotto, seafood salad, and sips of caipiroskas (caipirinhas...Read More

  • 11. The Ghetto

    Malabar Hill | Bars/Pubs

    Among the most legendary dives in the entire city, complete with a pair of beat-up pool tables, black light, and a psychedelic mural of Jim Morrison. ...Read More

  • 12. The Hawaiian Shack

    Bandra | Bars/Pubs

    Small but popular, the Hawaiian Shack resembles a Goa beach spot and plays retro music. ...Read More

  • 13. The White Owl

    Lower Parel

    The White Owl brewpub currently stands as a reminder of how tricky it is to get government permission to brew beer here. Huge brass tankers...Read More

  • 14. Vie


    Great food as well as great beats—opt for the lounge on the beach. ...Read More

  • 15. Wink

    Colaba | Bars/Pubs

    One of the more popular bars in south Mumbai, Wink is on the spendy side, as is common with bars in high-end hotels. The main draw is its chill...Read More

  • 16. Enigma

    Dance Clubs

    CLOSED - OMIT ...Read More

  • 17. Polly Esthers

    Colaba | Dance Clubs

    At Polly Esthers the retro music, large bar, and spacious dance floor attract hordes on the weekends, but the crowd can be a bit sketchy, and...Read More

  • 18. Zenzi

    Bandra | Bars/Pubs

    Zenzi is one of Bandra's edgy night spots. You can dine (great international cuisine), drink, and dance at this comfortable but trendy, happening...Read More

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