Pondicherry - Travel Tips


Pondicherry - French Riviera of East

Photo of Pondicherry - Travel Tips by Neha Kadam

Pondicherry, a coastal town in South India is perfect destination to unwind yourself far away from chaotic life. If you’re not yet convinced that you should visit this magical, you need to read about my recent visit to Pondi here.

This is a brief guide for your travel to this French Riviera.

First things first,

How to reach Pondicherry?

By Air/ Road: There were no direct flights operational to Pondicherry that time, so we took a flight to Chennai and thereafter a bus for Pondicherry. However, there are some direct flights operational now from Banglore and Hyderabad. Both private and state owned buses also ply from Chennai, Hyderabad, Coimbatore, Bangalore and Madurai to Pondicherry, which are way cheaper than hiring a taxi. Buses are pretty comfortable and frequent. You can even book in advance and choose the seats of your choice.

By Train: You can also travel to Villupuram by train and enjoy the scenic journey. Most common trains are Pondicherry Express and Nagarcoli Express.

How to travel around Pondicherry?

Rickshaws were charging us exorbitant rates to take us to our hotel, then Ola came to our rescue! I was surprised to find Ola available most of the times, but it was not available from some interior areas like Auroville.

While auto-rickshaws are mostly available, the best as well as cheapest way to explore Pondicherry is by "bike/ scooty". You can just go on riding and exploring! Most of the roads are constructed in blocks so you may initially get confused, but positive side to this is, u-turns are easy! Also navigating has become much easier now, thanks to Google Maps. By the end of our trip, I had memorised most of the roads and ironically I'm really bad at remembering routes!

Where to stay in Pondi?

We preferred budget stay at 'Executive Inn' since we would be spending most of the time exploring the town. However Pondicherry has many luxury hotels and villas which are worth an experience for their french architecture. There are some wonderful home stays for even more authentic experience, but you have to book well in advance. In case you are unmarried couple on vacation, make sure to check hotel’s policy for unmarried couples as our hotel did not allow such stay.

What is best time to visit?

Being a coastal town, the climate in Pondi will be generally humid, however winters are pleasant. October to february will be ideal time to visit. Summer can be hot as temperatures can go as high as 40c.

Here are my personal tips for your trip to Pondi:

1. If you’re planning to hire bike/ scooty for travel within Pondi, make sure you carry your valid license and identity proof. Inspect the vehicle for already existing damage and click a picture, so that later vendor cannot hold you liable for anything that you’ve not caused. You can easily get good bargain for hiring at Missions street.

2. The Promenade is vehicle-free between 6-8 p.m. So make sure you leave your vehicle at the hotel since there isn’t any parking space available there.

3. Lighthouse closes at 5 PM so make sure you reach in time to admire the view from up top. Also chunnambar boat house closes at 4 PM, after which you cannot get a ferry for paradise beach. Keep in mind the opening/ closing time of places while planning your visit.

4. Most of the streets become empty post 10 pm. You can enjoy in cafes, restaurants and pubs, however do not wander in streets at night unless in groups.

5. If you’re planning to visit Matrimandir, make sure you get your pass day in advance.

6. While exploring white town, chuck your vehicle and walk around the area exploring places you like. You never know what you end up discovering!

7. If you want to go Scuba diving, you have to book in advance. There will be half day pool session before the day when you actually dive in ocean. So plan your timing accordingly. You can book with Temple Adventures for Scuba Diving experience.

8. Being on the east coast, Pondi offers some magnificent sunrise views. Be early riser to witness it.

9. Even though planning your trip is important to make sure you don’t miss anything, make sure you mark some leisure time to spend at cafes and beaches. Many workshops like pottery, paper making, etc take place in which you can find a new experience for yourself.

That’s all I can think of as of now! If you are in any doubt, don’t hesitate to comment below, I’m a traveller ready to help! :)

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