On The Ground

Insider tips for travellers to Chennai

Insider tips from passionate travellers – Cathay Pacific’s own people

Chennai, India

Shobana Devarajulu

Cargo Account Manager, Chennai

The Explorer

Chennai and the wider area are known for temples, and the best place to see them is Mahabalipuram. Fifty kilometres south of Chennai, the town is on the Coromandel Coast, facing the Bay of Bengal. A wander around the town’s magnificent Unesco World Heritage-listed temples and carvings is a must, especially at sunset.

But before you visit the temples, stop at Moonrakers restaurant for delicious seafood. Other must-visit sights in this coastal town include the Shore Temple, a finely cut granite temple that was once submerged. The exquisite Pancha Rathas are another favourite: they are chariot shaped temples carved out of pink granite, the largest one standing 12 metres tall. Don’t miss the intricately carved sculptures of various Hindu gods and demi-gods, carved into niches in the walls.

Chennai, India

Rajesh Menon

Regional Sales & Marketing Manager, South Asia

The Foodie

The city is most beautiful at dawn. And in Chennai, a day is best started with a walk along Marina Beach. Well known for being the longest beach in India, Marina Beach also has spectacular views of the sunrise above the gentle waves.

Having worked up an appetite after an early morning stroll, Murugan Idli, an iconic chain of Chennai canteens that serve over 3,000 customers a day, should be your next stop. (Get there early to beat the long queues.) Murugan Idli serves idlis, soft, fluffy south Indian pancakes that are popular breakfast foods; and my personal favourite: kapi, filter coffee.

For lunch, have a thali at the temple-themed vegetarian restaurant Annalakshmi. However full you feel, you’ll still be hungry for more.

Chennai, India

Karthik Radhakanthan

Regional Cargo Operations Manager, South Asia, Middle East and Africa

The Adventurer

For adventurers, Chennai has a lot to offer. First, you can cycle along the East Coast Road to Covelong, which is one of the most scenic cycling routes in India. This 30-kilometre bike ride is a dream: you’ll find clear roads with sparkling beaches and undulating hills along the way. While you’re here, stop off at Covelong Beach to surf the waves of the Bay of Bengal. (Can’t surf? Sign up at any of the surf schools.)

In winter, olive ridley turtles nest on Covelong Beach, which is a truly beautiful sight. Combine a trip to see them with a relaxing meal at one of the beach shacks, which serve mouthwatering local seafood. Chennai’s pristine beaches coupled with a growing buzz for watersports has put the city on the map for adrenaline junkies.

Marina Beach Chennai City
Credit: jayk7/Moment RF/Getty Images

Cathay Pacific flies to Chennai from Hong Kong seven times a week

Cathay Travell Book


Discovery online brings together all the inspirational travel writing from our two inflight magazines, Discovery and Silkroad. Be sure to look out for the print editions when you next fly with Cathay Pacific or Cathay Dragon.
Discovery Book Silkroad Book