Chennai, India travel tips

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Visit the nearby temple town of Mahabalipuram, which is located on the Bay of Bengal.

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Generally speaking, the best time to visit Chennai is from January to April.

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Art lovers must tour the National Art Gallery, which has a great collection of handcrafts and ivory carvings.

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Be sure to visit Santhome Cathedral, one of the country's major pilgrimage centers.

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Be mindful of monkeys. You will probably see them everywhere. They're mostly harmless, but have been known to come in open windows and take things, and they can also carry rabies.

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If you enjoy wildlife, be sure to visit the Madras Crocodile Farm.

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Many dogs in Chennai are feral---not pets. So if you see one, resist the urge to pet it, as it may come after you.

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Crossing the street can be scary. Once you're actually crossing, however, you'll find that there's a strange kind of flow at work. If you panic and stop in the middle of the street, you may cause an accident, or at the least, hold up traffic. Just keep going!

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If driving, remember that in India, you drive on the left side of the road.

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Brace yourself and keep hydrated. The heat is intense, and if you're from a colder climate, it's easy to suffer heat exhaustion and dehydration.

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Water is not safe to drink, and neither is ice, so be careful not to order drinks with ice.

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As traffic is very congested and often chaotic, be extremely careful when crossing the street.

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Visit the Theosophical Society, but be sure to get permission ahead of time. The grounds are lovely and vast.

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You will probably feel tempted to give money to the numerous children you see begging. But keep in mind that if you give money to one, you will likely be swarmed by many others.

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Avoid swimming at Marina Beach, as the current is rough and not a good place for swimmers. Lovely beach, but rough waters.

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If you visit the Kapaleeshwarar Temple, you'll see many people taking off their shoes. They are subject to be stolen if you do this, however, there is a booth not far from the gate where you can pay a small fee and leave them to be watched.

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If you enjoy books, don't miss the Moore Market in Park Town. There are many other goods for sale here, but the market began as a bookshop and still stocks many titles.

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For lovely saris, the best place to go is Nalli, on Nageswaran Road.

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In the area around Fort St. George, which is known as George Town, which is virtually one large market. Here, you can find bargains on virtually anything you might want or need.

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Cotton Street is a great destination if you're shopping for colorful and comfortable cotton clothes. Expect to do some bargaining.

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