Easily my favourite city in Rajasthan, we absolutely loved our time in Jaipur. All chaos and colour, Jaipur is busy, it’s bright, it’s blaring horns, delicious smells, incredible architecture, and all with a beautiful pink haze thanks to the old city walls, that were supposedly painted pink for a visit from the Queen Victoria and the Prince of Wales back in 1876.
We spent two nights, three days exploring all that Jaipur had to offer, ticking off the top sights and enjoying just wandering around the busy streets and bazaars, or zipping super cheap around in a rickshaw. After going on to see more of Rajasthan and its other cities, overall, we still really loved Jaipur the most. Read on for my must-dos, with what to see, where to eat, and a great place to sleep…
Formerly the home of the royal family and the epicentre of the Old City’s grandeur, Jaipur’s City Palace is simply stunning. Allow a couple of hours to soak up every ounce of the palace’s colourful corners, ornate doors, beautiful arches, flamboyant details, and pretty blush pink walls. Prepare to take a lot of photos. We loved it.
Very close to City Palace, Hawa Mahal is another of the Old City’s best sites. Paying the entrance fee to walk around it its worth it, but if you’re on a budget, there’s no doubt the real deal is viewing its incredible facade from the outside. Stand on the street and gaze up at the mind-blowingly beautiful honeycomb-like structure. Better yet, cross the street and pay less than what you would have on the entry fee on a sweet chai at Wind View Cafe to enjoy the epic building at eye-level from its rooftop.
Jump in a tuk tuk and head out of the city 15 minutes or so to Amber Fort. Once you’ve worked your way up the never-ending steps that lead up to it, be wowed by the series of courtyards, corridors, gateways and rooms that make up this grand fortress. On a hot day, there’s little shade, but it’s mammoth and epic to see.
Discovered off of Instagram(!) The Patricka Gate isn’t considered a real ‘sight’ to see in Jaipur, in fact I don't think it’s even in the Lonely Planet guide! Shame on them, it’s INSANE. The most decorative and detailed grand gate I’ve ever seen, it’s a series of colourful Rajput arches and it is beautiful. You just need to take a tuk tuk to Jawahar Circle and there it is — don’t miss it.
The bazaars of the Pink City
It's not all about the sights. The pink walled city is teeming with bustling bazaars selling everything from beautiful block-print textiles to local crafts, pottery, electricals, spices, sweets and more. Let yourself be fully immersed into the chaos as you wander the maze-like blush-pink streets piled high with wares.
eat + drink
One of my favourite places we ate in the whole of Rajasthan, Ganesh is a super simple rooftop restaurant atop the Old City wall near the New Gate. The location is perfect for a mid-shopping pitstop and up high, it’s an oasis of calm away from the hustle and bustle of the bazaars below. Magenta pink-washed walls and rickety tables and chairs are all it is, but the food is cheap and excellent. We mopped up dhal and paneer butter masala with fresh roti and naan, and the bill was a modest 480INR. Totally loved it. (No beer though!)
Peacock Rooftop Restaurant
We had a delicious dinner at Peacock Rooftop Restaurant, atop Hotel Pearl Palace. Along with great, good value food (classic Indian fare plus some token Chinese dishes too!), it boasts good service, a fun, cosmopolitan vibe, and an atmospheric setting with string lights and greenery. It really reminded me of Dishoom! We shared a green vegetable curry and an aloo gobi with roti and a keema naan, which was more than enough for the two of us!
We took a tuk-tuk from our hotel to Natraj, having noted it as a top-rated local spot on Google. Rightly so, it was delicious. Slightly more formal than other places we’d been to with table clothes and leather booths, it offers excellently priced dishes, an extensive menu (though no alcohol), and few different types of thali. We got two Raj Thalis, which we devoured, scooping up every last mouthful from our big silver plates using our hands the sweet side-serve of chutney. So delicious!
Rooftop at Hotel Sweet Dream
We found that a lot of restaurants and cafes don’t offer beer or alcohol in Jaipur, except for at hotels, where it’s much easier to come by. Within the Old City walls, the rooftop at Hotel Sweet Dream (terrible name!) is a good, sun-drenched spot for a refreshing Kingfisher or a sweet lassi, where you can lap up free WiFi and the great views over Nehru Bazaar, the city wall and beyond. Note, hotel restaurants tend to add a 20% GST to your bill, while local restaurants don’t, so prices are a bit higher.
Alsisar Haveli is a heritage hotel set in a 19th-century haveli, with typical Rajasthani details and decor. It’s the perfect base for a couple of days exploring Jaipur, located not far from the sights of the Old ‘Pink’ City. Tuk-tuks are readily available outside and they’ll take you anywhere, cheaply! Rooms are clean and comfy, spacious too with good bathrooms; breakfast is excellent, with local flavours served in the communal garden courtyard; and there’s a pool set among the greenery should you be wanting to cool off. We found Alsisar to be a perfect choice, and a really comfy and welcoming base. (Read my full Checking In: Alsisar Haveli, here)
things worth knowing
— Tuk tuks are by far the easiest, quickest and cheapest way to get around Jaipur. They don't work on the meter here so agree a price before you jump in.
— Haggling for souvenirs is essential to get a good price as most places will hugely over-quote you, but be respectful about how you go about it. Be firm and confident but definitely don't just do it for the sake of it if you have no intentions of buying.
— Travel with cash, in ideally small denominations. It will make your life in taxis, tuk tuks and restaurants a whole lot easier.
— A visa is required for entering India, and the application process is pretty long and frustrating at times. Do it well in advance of your trip as it does take a little while to both get your head around and get it processed.
— It is of course important to be very weary of what you eat and drink in India to avoid getting ill. Stick to bottled water only, no ice, and abide the rule of 'if it's freshly cooked, it's okay'. We avoided fruits on breakfast buffets, all salad/ raw vegetables/ cold chutneys served with curries, and only ate in places we saw other people eating, and didn't get ill at all.