Plan a Trip to Jaipur: An Insider’s Guide to the Pink City
Whether you want to spend a week exploring the old city or are ready to bunker down for an extended stay as an expat, this guide will tell you everything you need to know about Jaipur!
Jaipur is not only the capital of Rajasthan. Rather, it is a world-class culture capital full of historic sites, traditional forms of art, and beautiful outdoor scenery. With its electrifying mix of the historic and the new, the Pink City is not to be skipped on any trip to India.
But what should you do on your trip to this extraordinary city? Jaipur offers no shortage of options in terms of food, shopping, and sightseeing, so we at Jubel put together this complete guide to Jaipur to help you live your best life in the Gulabi Shahar, or, as they say in English, the Pink City (so-called because the whole old city painted its walls pink to welcome the Prince of Wales in 1876)!
What to Know Before You Plan Your Trip to Jaipur
The Best Time to Visit Jaipur
As always, it depends on what you are looking for. October and March is high-time for tourists to visit Jaipur, as that is after the city gets incredibly hot in the Summer (April to June) as well as after the monsoons which barrage the city from July to September.
However, if you are looking for cheaper accommodations and fewer tourists, you may want to visit during monsoon season or the summer. Although it will be hot and rainy, respectively, it is a great way to experience the city away from the crush of tourists, and to get off-the-beaten-path.
Visas and Vaccines
It has gotten a lot easier for US, Canadian, and EU citizens to visit India lately, as India now grants e-visas. Just do an online application here at least 4 days (though preferably more) before the date of travel. You will need a passport, a photograph against a white background, and $100.
As for vaccines, make sure to talk with your doctor for all medical advice. Here are the WHO recommendations for all travelers going to India.
Safety and Cultural Norms
Jaipur is generally a very safe city, though it should be noted that Rajasthan is often more conservative than other states in India. We recommend that all women where modest clothing (high cut shirts that cover the shoulders and loose pants/skirts). Men generally wear pants out even in the summer, not shorts.
Generally, it is recommended that women stay in groups after dark.
Getting To and From the Airport
The easiest way to travel around Jaipur is Uber. You can select to have an autorickshaw Uber take you rather than a car. UberAuto (on the same app as Uber; you just swipe up when selecting a car and then select Auto) is by far the cheapest, but if you have bags, regular Uber is reasonably priced too.
If you hail an autorickshaw off the street, make sure you haggle the price! Generally, the lowest price is going to be 30 rupees, plus 15 rupees per kilometer, though that depends on the hour, amount of people, and level of traffic.
What to Do in Jaipur
Whether you want incredible shopping, beautiful sites, or historic locales, Jaipur can offer it all. Keep reading below to find out exactly what you can do when you visit the Pink City.
Visit Some Historic Sites
Jaipur was founded in 1727 by the Maharaj Jai Singh II (hence the name, Jaipur, aka the City of Jai). The Maharaja and his successors built many incredible palaces and fortresses to house their courts, and these beautiful sites are definitely worth a visit almost 300 years later.
First, head to the Old City and go to the Hawa Mahal, or the Palace of Winds where you’ll be blown away (pardon the pun) by its immense beauty. Built in 1799 by the grandson of Jai Singh, the Hawa Mahal is an incredible honeycomb structure with intricate designs etched onto its facade. While you can look inside, the best view of Hawa Mahal comes from Tattoo Cafe, right across the street. Sip on your chai while enjoying this unbelievable panoramic view.
Then head to City Palace, which is adjacent to the Hawa Mahal. Built in 1727, City Palace today is still the home of the Jaipur Royal Family. There are many different museums within City Palace, but the main attraction are the exquisite doors that guard the entry to the palace from the courtyard. The colors are absolutely brilliant, and they make a great photo-op.
However, keep in mind that different areas of City Palace, such as the Chandra Mahal, are not included in your initial ticket fee. It is often advised to go with a guide to City Palace, so you get the full gist of the history and know exactly where to go in the large complex. You can find a guide through your hotel or hostel, or check out this site!
Other beautiful sites in Jaipur include the Jal Mahal, a palace in the middle of the Man Sagar Lake that is absolutely beautiful at night and Jantar Mantar, a giant sundial from the 18th century. Also worth seeing are Amer Fort and Nahargarh Fort. For Nahargarh Fort in particular, we recommend getting up early and hiking at sunrise. The view is unbelievable and definitely not to be missed.
Although the air quality in Jaipur is not amazing, it is still a wonderful place to explore the great outdoors. The sprawling Central Park is a popular place among local residents for morning walks, yoga classes, and outdoor exercises, and if you are itching for some movement we recommend you head there.
Another beautiful outdoor spot to checkout in Jaipur is Sisodiya Rani ka Bagh. This incredible garden, built by Maharaja Jai Singh, is not to be missed. A mix of Indian and Mughal style, this garden’s architecture will transport you to another era.
Finally, walk around the stunning Kapoor Chand Kulish Smriti Van, a forest located right in the center of the city. With its greenery and natural biodiversity, this will help you relax from the hustle and bustle of city life without ever actually leaving the city!
Do Some Shopping!
Jaipur is known for its shopping, and tourists often come home with much more than they came with after visiting Jaipur.
First head to Bapu Bazaar and Johari Bazaar in the Old City. These two bazaars have everything you could want, from costume jewelry to Indian clothing to fun toys. Both bazaars are popular among local residents, but Johari Bazaar tends to be less popular among tourists, so you might get better prices there. Remember to haggle (pro-tip: Start by asking for less than half the asking price, and slowly work your way up. For more on haggling in India, check out this helpful guide!)
Looking for some more high-end jewelry and clothes? For jewelry, we recommend heading to Diane Singh’s Concept French Jewellery Boutique. The pieces are designed by a French woman who moved to Jaipur, and she combines her French upbringing with her Indian surroundings in the pieces she creates.
Another high-end jewelry place is Amrapali, a luxury jewelry shop and museum located in the heart of Jaipur.
For clothing, the most popular shop among tourists is probably Anokhi, a shop in the C-Scheme neighborhood which is famous for its intricate block-printing. You can buy beautiful clothes there, as well as journals, handkerchiefs, scarves, stationary, and more. It also houses a great cafe to relax in, if shopping is not your thing.
Another famous Rajasthani craft is blue pottery. Visit the Jaipur Blue Pottery Art Centre for some beautiful accent pieces for your home!
Visit Some of Jaipur’s Engaging Museums
Jaipur is home to many great history and art museums. Most famous is Albert Hall, the oldest museum in Rajasthan. Although it is housed in a colonial building built for the celebration of the arrival of the Prince of Wales, it is now the state museum of Rajasthan. There is stunning art from around the world (and even a mummy) in this museum, and it is definitely worth going to learn about India’s colonial history.
Another interesting museum is the SRC Museum of Indology, one of the first museums in Jaipur with a collection of tantric art. In addition, it holds numerous priceless pieces of folk art, astronomical instruments, and old coins. An eclectic mix, this museum will definitely keep you on your toes!
Is art your thing? Head to Jawahar Kala Kendra, an arts center, library, and cafe. Their rotating exhibits are always beautiful and interesting, and they have many exciting events throughout the month in both Hindi and English that are worth going to. Plus, the cafe is one of the most fun hangout spots in the city, and a great way to make friends with Jaipur residents.
Learn Some New Skills!
There are tons of fun classes around the city that you can take to learn about Jaipur’s culture.
Why not take a cooking class with Chef Lokesh Mathur, who can teach you all about traditional Rajasthani and North Indian cuisines? Or go on a private market tour before cooking up the goodies you bought at the markets!
Another great thing to do in Jaipur is to learn Hindi, one of the main languages spoken in the city. The best place to learn Hindi is the American Institute for Indian Studies, which offers summer, semester, and year-long programs. However, if you are looking for something more short-term, check out Hindi Hour, which offers classes and home stays.
Yoga classes are very popular in Jaipur as well. The Yog Sadhna Ashram offers daily yoga classes taught by experienced teachers (though the classes are quite different than Western-style yoga). For more exercise-heavy classes, check out FitYog’s offerings.
Where to Eat in Jaipur
You won’t be starved for food in Jaipur -- there are some amazing places for every cuisine.
First, the street food. Whatever you do, head to Lassiwala, a famous Lassi shop on M.I. Road beloved by tourists and locals alike. We promise you -- this Lassi, a traditional yogurt drink, is unlike any you’ve ever tried before. Another popular street drink is the coffee lining the streets surrounding Central Park. More like hot chocolate than coffee, this sweet drink is the perfect pick-me-up after a long day.
There are many great Rajasthani and North Indian restaurants in the city. For a no-frills option, check out Mohan Dhaba. The Paneer Lababdar and naan will have you salivating in no time. Another great low-key spot is Sanjay Restaurant, which offers amazing all egg everything, from omelettes to egg parathas (a flat bread generally cooked in ghee).
On the more high-end side, the Four Seasons (not related to the hotel) has mouth-wateringly delicious Rajasthani thalis (a traditional Indian meal made up of many different dishes), as well as other Indian and Indo-Chinese delicacies.
Finally, if you want a traditional Rajasthani dining experience, head to Chokhi Dhani, a traditional folk restaurant in Jaipur replete with folk dancing, music, and even elephants. The dal baati (a Rajasthani dish of lentils and round bread) is always a hit, and this place will provide entertainment for the whole evening.
In the mood for non Indian food? Check out Bar Palladio, a stunning Italian restaurant whose interior is almost as beautiful as the food. We recommend the homemade gnocchi (with a glass of Sula wine, of course) and the caprese salad. Another fine dining site are the restaurants at the Hotel Taj Ram Bagh Palace, whose atmosphere cannot be beat.
Cafe culture is also big in Jaipur, with people hanging out and drinking chai at cafes with their friends for hours. Some popular cafes include JKK Cafe, Cafe Palladio (the sister restaurant of Bar Palladio located just down the road) Tapri Tea House, Blue Tokai, Nibs, and Cafe White Sage. All of these places offer food as well, so they are great places to sit down for a casual lunch.
Where to Drink in Jaipur
Alcohol is heavily taxed in Rajasthan, so a glass of wine could run you as much as 700 rupees (about 10 USD), which is comparatively incredibly high for a single glass. If the price doesn’t deter you from it, there are some amazing places to enjoy a cold one in Jaipur.
Jaipur has some incredible rooftop bars that give you a panoramic view of the whole city skyline. Head to Ta-Blu at sunset, a high-end bar located near World Trade Park. The cosmopolitans are to die for! Other great rooftop bars in Jaipur include Beatles, which often has live music, Piante, and House of People
Where to Stay in Jaipur
Jaipur offers a range of choices for accommodations, and where you should stay depends on whether you are there for a long or short-term visit. If you are just visiting for a few days, we recommend staying in C-Scheme. It is a nice and incredibly safe area, and centrally located to great cafes, bars, and sight-seeing.
If you are staying longer, consider living in Raja Park, which houses numerous shops, restaurants, and gyms. Although the main road is incredibly busy, just off that road there is peace and quiet, so your house won’t be too loud at night.
For long term options, check out Magic Bricks which lists flats without brokers, or check out Property Wala for a list of good brokers in the area. It is often much easier to go through a broker. Jaipur has great AirBNB options, as well, though they can be more expensive than just getting your own flat.
For shorter term stays, we recommend AirBNBs, hostels, or flats. If you want to stay at a hostel, we recommend the Mellow for its cheap prices and hip decor. If you are looking for something a little more high-end, check out Shakun, whose great location and service will leave you content.
With this guide in your hand, you’ll be all set for a beautiful tour of the Pink City.
Looking to plan your trip to Jaipur? Jubel will craft you a personalized experience matching your style, your budget - anywhere. Easily get started here.