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Best things to do & places to stay:

Last updated: 14 December, 2022
Expert travel writer: Amar Grover

Rajasthan – the ‘land of princes’ and more colloquially called the ‘Desert State’ –  was the Rajput heartland, a warrior caste whose clans were led by maharajas who favoured and built impressive forts and opulent palaces. Jaipur – Rajasthan’s capital – was founded in the early 1700s by Maharaja Jai Singh II, for whom it is named after.

Modern-day Jaipur is a compelling blend of huge hillside forts, extravagant palaces, bustling bazaars, memorable heritage hotels and almost comically thronged streets. Often called the ‘Pink City’, as its historic core’s buildings and their arcaded facades are still painted in terracotta pink, it’s a great place to mix sightseeing and leisure. It also boasts some of India’s most eclectic handicrafts and interesting shopping.

Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this vibrant city ticks every cultural, architectural and shopping box. It’s also home to some magnificent hotels that beautifully screen the urban hubbub.

Orientation

Although generally referred to as the ‘Pink City’ (after the predominant colour of its buildings), within Jaipur itself this epithet simply covers the original walled and gated capital erected by Maharaja Jai Singh in the 1720s. Its imposing cupola-topped gateways remain useful landmarks because today’s city stretches well beyond those walls.

Key sights such as the City Palace and Hawa Mahal lie in and around the original Pink City, its grid layout veined with smaller streets, lanes and alleys.

To its north alongside Man Sagar Lake rise rugged hills topped by the ramparts of Nahargarh Fort; further along this ridge but out of view from the city stand Jaigarh Fort and the landmark Amber Fort-Palace.

The bucket list experiences our writer says you must do in this destination

Amber Fort

Jaipur, Rajasthan, India

One of Rajasthan’s great maharaja fortress-palace complexes, dating back to the 16th century, set amidst a spectacular backdrop of stark hills.

Best for ages: 13+ | Free

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City Palace

Jaipur, Rajasthan, India

A fascinating, and among the best-preserved palace complex in Rajasthan, set in the heart of Jaipur’s Old City.

Best for ages: 13+ | £2

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Palace of the Winds

Jaipur, Rajasthan, India

Designed to lend seclusion to ladies of the royal court, the intricate lattice-screened and salmon-pink facade of the Hawa Mahal, or ‘Palace of Winds’, is among the most iconic of Jaipur’s buildings.

Best for ages: 13+ | £1

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Other worthwhile experiences in this destination if you have the time or the interest

Bhangarh Fort
Experience

Bhangarh Fort

Bhangarh, Rajasthan, India

A small, part-ruined medieval ‘ghost-town’ – reputedly one of India’s most haunted places – in picturesque countryside near Sariska Tiger Reserve.

Best for ages: 13+ | £1

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Our selection of the best Viator tours of this destination, plus helpful tickets and transfers

3-Hour Morning Bike Tour of Jaipur

3-Hour Morning Bike Tour of Jaipur

Jaipur

This tour is handcrafted to give you a traditional perspective of how the morning time develops in the beautiful and historical city of Jaip...

$32 | Rating 4.98 / 5 [292 ratings]

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Day Tour Of Jaipur With Driver & Car

Day Tour Of Jaipur With Driver & Car

Jaipur

While dealing with our respective clients we believe in transparency because everyone likes it & also give the priority to service because t...

$45 | Rating 4.96 / 5 [166 ratings]

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Experience Jaipur By Night

Experience Jaipur By Night

Jaipur

The tour offers unique opportunity to witness, experience and see the history of Jaipur and the rich rajput architecture with the comfort of...

$91 | Rating 4.85 / 5 [203 ratings]

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Full Day Guided Jaipur City Tour including Lunch & Entry

Full Day Guided Jaipur City Tour including Lunch & Entry

Jaipur

A private city tour of Jaipur with private vehicle and driver along with a local guide who can give you every little details about the amazi...

$52 | Rating 4.80 / 5 [21 ratings]

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Our writer’s picks of the best places to stay in this destination

Diggi Palace Hotel

Jaipur, Rajasthan, India

Characterful and charming heritage hotel in central Jaipur – a haveli, or mansion, originally built for a wealthy noble family. Excellent value for money.

Official star rating:

Khas Bagh

Amer, Rajasthan, India

Resembling a cross between a noble’s mansion and a maharajah’s hunting lodge, this rural boutique hotel near Jaipur has the personable ambience of an upscale homestay.

Official star rating:

Rambagh Palace

Jaipur, Rajasthan, India

Formerly the Maharaja of Jaipur’s palace, this superb heritage hotel boasts luxurious and characterful rooms, coupled with impeccable service and charming gardens.

Official star rating:

Samode Haveli

Jaipur, Rajasthan, India

A beautiful boutique hotel combining heritage and romance in an atmospheric corner of the Old City.

Official star rating:

When to go

The main ‘foreign tourist season’ runs from October to March – clear skies with warm to hot days. Peak season is Christmas and New Year as well as the Indian festival of Diwali in late autumn.

May and June bring extreme heat and are worth avoiding while the July and August monsoon cools things slightly but brings more humidity. Mid-December to early February can deliver surprisingly chilly nights.

Getting there and away

Jaipur is served by a small range of international and many domestic flights including to/from Delhi (one hour). There are no direct or practical flights between Jaipur and Agra.

To get from its airport to the city centre (about 8 miles) there are public buses and taxis (taxis are best booked using the pre-paid taxi counter inside the terminal).

For travel to/from other cities, Jaipur is well-connected on India’s vast train and bus network. Delhi, Agra and Jaipur are all connected by numerous trains and public buses, but the best public transport option is the express ‘Shatabdi’ or superfast-designated train services between New Delhi railway station and Jaipur which are safe and reliable. Numerous other regular (ie non-Shatabdi) express trains link Jaipur and Agra.

Auto-rickshaws are the cheapest option to get from train and bus stations to your hotel though (unless you grab the slightly larger ones that also have rear-facing seats) not comfortable or practical if carrying more than a small backpack or suitcase.

Getting around

Many visitors are likely to have a chauffeured car – easily the most comfortable and convenient option for getting around the city. Most upscale hotels can arrange this with little notice or, almost certainly cheaper, you can simply use local travel agencies.

Autorickshaws nip around everywhere in Jaipur – cheap and cheerful though some won’t enjoy the seemingly stunt-like death-defying road etiquette characterising Indian roads. The city’s metro is clean and efficient but not yet particularly comprehensive.

Where to stay

One of Jaipur’s main attractions is the breadth of high-end hotels, especially those in former royal palaces which have been tastefully if not opulently adapted to take guests. Less obvious are the almost-palatial havelis, or merchants’ mansions, also adapted for guests.

With a few exceptions these stand outside (but still reasonably close to) the core historic Pink City where there’s more space  for tranquil private lawns and gardens offering a welcome respite from the city’s bustle.

Where to eat or drink

Stretching across central Jaipur and on the southern edge of the old city, MI road has several good restaurants. Eateries and snack joints tend to dominate the old city. For ‘fine dining’ head to the upmarket hotels.

What to buy

Famed for handicrafts in general, Jaipur really excels in textiles and gems/jewellery. The central Pink City bazaars and markets abound in both but Johri (or Johari) bazaar is the apex of Jaipur’s jewellery trade.

Where to shop

Midway between Sanganeri Gate and the Hawa Mahal, the old city’s Bapu Bazaar is probably the single best place for shopping, especially decorative handicrafts, puppets, clothing and (camel) leather footwear, though you’ll need to sharpen your bargaining skills. Other places worth checking out are Nehru, Kishanpol and Tripolia bazaars.

A great fixed-price alternative is the state-run Rajasthali Handicraft Emporium (on MI Road opposite Ajmeri Gate) which focuses mainly on Rajasthani handicrafts.

The Narain Niwas Palace hotel near Central Park has a charming shopping courtyard with several well-known high-end boutiques.

Our writer’s recommended itineraries for this destination

Other guides relevant to this destination

Agra destination guide

Uttar Pradesh, India

Home to the iconic Taj Mahal, the relentlessly congested and clamourous city of Agra and its hinterland host an array of superb Mughal architecture, along with vigorous bazaars.

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Delhi destination guide

India

India’s intense sight- and monument-filled capital is a compelling blend of the modern Raj-influenced New Delhi, and the sights, sounds and smells of Old Delhi’s heaving and exotic lanes and bazaars.

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