Like any other bustling metropolitan city in the world, there are many ways of getting around Chennai on land. Travelers can take a bus, train, auto-rickshaw, taxi, or car to get around the city. Getting around the heart of the city can take time without knowing what mode of transportation to take on a certain route. Getting to a destination on time may then become difficult because of heavy traffic jam and congestion on certain busy streets across Chennai most of the time.
Since most main streets, especially in the center of Chennai, are congested with vehicles and people, traveling by train is the most advisable way to get around without the added stress and the waste of time. There are four main routes when taking the suburban train, which are a reliable and faster transportation option compared to buses. There is the Chennai Central–Gummidipoondi-Sulurpet-Gudur, Chennai Central–Arakkonam, Chennai Beach–Velachery (MRTS), Chennai Beach–Tambaram, and Chengalpet. Fare rates in Chennai suburban railways are cheaper than the rest of the country. However low the price is, travelers are guaranteed comfort unlike in railway trains in other metropolises across India. Just like when traveling to a foreign country, it is best to keep an eye on one’s personal belongings and never leave it unattended when traveling by train.
Although roads in Chennai are better maintained compared to other parts of the country, using a car is to get around the city is definitely not advisable for foreign travelers. Different traffic rules and lack of knowledge of certain areas around the city are always a problem. Unknowingly plunging into a heavy traffic jam will totally blow all travel plans and put a crack in an otherwise enjoyable time in Chennai. If travelers still choose to rent a car, it is advised to hire a local driver instead. There are companies offering drivers paid in an eight-hour shift or on a daily basis.
Traveling by bus is relatively cheap when getting around Chennai. There are many government-run Metropolitan Transport Corporation (MTC) buses roaming around the city as well as some State Express Transport Corporation (SETC) buses. Travelers can choose to ride a normal bus or a deluxe bus. Deluxe bus fares are twice the amount of normal bus rates. There are air-conditioned and non air-conditioned deluxe buses that are not as crowded as normal buses. They also have long distance routes that normal buses usually do not have. Travelers with baggage, depending on size, are expected to pay the amount of an extra person. MTC Chennai bus routes are available online at their official site.
Auto-rickshaws in Chennai do not use meters so travelers need to beware of drivers that might overcharge. These vehicles are often used for short distance traveling only since they can become uncomfortable during longer periods of travel. It is advisable to know the going rates for auto-rickshaws or ask around before availing one to be able to negotiate for a better price.
Getting around Chennai on land can be relatively cheap compared to European and U.S. standards. However, in India, it is considered a little steeper than in the other cities. Nevertheless, travelers can benefit from a well-planned travel itinerary.