Jaipur Guide: Planning Your Trip

Your Essential Guide to Visiting Rajasthan's Pink City

Jaipur, Rajasthan. Chandpol Bazaar near Chandpol Gate
Jaipur, Rajasthan. Chandpol Bazaar near Chandpol Gate. Maremagnum/Getty Images  

Jaipur is affectionately referred to as the Pink City because of the pinkish color of its Old City. The city, which is surrounded by rugged hills and besieged walls, is full of fascinating royal heritage and evocative well-preserved buildings. As well as being Rajasthan's capital, Jaipur is part of India's famous Golden Triangle Tourist Circuit. This makes it one of the busiest and most iconic cities in the state, with a population of about 3 million people.

In July 2019, Jaipur was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site. However, it has also evolved to become quite hip with lots of cool cafes, shops, and artist spaces opening up. Plan your trip there with this Jaipur information and city guide.

Planning Your Trip

  • Best Time to Visit: Jaipur has a very hot and dry desert climate. During the summer months from April to June, temperatures rise to 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) or more. Monsoon rain is received, mostly in July and August. However, daytime temperatures still remain above 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit). The most pleasant time to visit Jaipur is during the winter, from November until March. Winter temperatures average 25 degrees Celsius (77 degrees Fahrenheit). Nights can be very chilly though, with temperatures dropping to 5 degrees Celsius (41 degrees Fahrenheit) in January.
  • Language: Hindi and English.
  • Currency: Indian rupee.
  • Time Zone: UTC (Coordinated Universal Time) +5.5 hours, also known as Indian Standard Time. Jaipur does not have daylight saving time.
  • Getting Around: There's a prepaid taxi counter at Jaipur airport, and prepaid auto rickshaw counter at the railway station. App-based cab services Uber and Ola also operate in Jaipur. It's possible to book an Uber for all-day sightseeing (select HIREX or HIREGO on the app). V Care Tours is a reliable company for hiring a car and driver in Jaipur and Rajasthan. They offer day tours of Jaipur in classic restored Ambassador vehicles. Alternatively, take a Pink Auto Rickshaw (driven by women from poor households) or ride a Segway to go sightseeing. Auto rickshaws are plentiful in Jaipur but they rarely agree to go by the meter. So, be prepared to haggle to get a decent price. There's the newly Metro rail network as well.
  • Travel Tip: The constant summer heat is very draining, so it's important to take measures to avoid getting dehydrated if you visit during the hottest months. Make sure you drink plenty of water and avoid staying out in the direct sun for too long.

Getting There

Jaipur is located approximately 260 kilometers (160 miles) southwest of Delhi. Travel time by road is about four hours. Jaipur is also about four hours from Agra in Uttar Pradesh, and you can stop at Chand Baori step well in Abhaneri village along the way.

Jaipur is well-connected to the rest of India. It has a domestic airport with frequent flights to and from Delhi, and other major cities. Indian Railways "super fast" train services operate along the route and it's possible to reach Jaipur in under five hours from Delhi. Here are the best trains from Delhi to Jaipur. The bus is another option, and you'll find services to and from many destinations. A useful website for checking out bus timetables is that of the Rajasthan State Road Transport Corporation.

Jaipur, Rajasthan.
f9photos/Getty Images

Things to Do

Two or three days are enough to cover Jaipur's top attractions. Start by going on a self-guided walking tour of the Old City, or join one of the immersive heritage walking tours conducted by Vedic Walks. The city's many forts and palaces are a highlight, with stunning views and elaborate architecture. Adventurous travelers will enjoy a hot air balloon flight over Jaipur. Check out these recommended places to go shopping in Jaipur if you want to splash some cash. There are also a couple of old step wells near Jaipur with interesting architecture to see. To watch a Bollywood movie, head to Art Deco Raj Mandir cinema near MI Road. This article about the best things to do in Jaipur has more details.

If you're in Jaipur in late January, don't miss attending the annual Jaipur Literature Festival. The Gangaur Festival in March, and Teej Festival in late July or early August, both feature colorful street parades.

The Shekhawati Region of Rajasthan is only three hours drive from Jaipur, and is often referred to as the world's largest open air art gallery. It's renowned for its old havelis (mansions), with walls adorned with intricate painted frescoes. Most people overlook visiting this region in favor of more popular places in Rajasthan, which is a shame. However, it means its delightfully free of tourists.

What to Eat and Drink

Rajasthani specialties include daal-baati-churma (dal with breads), laal maas (hot mutton/goat curry with yogurt and spices), ghevar (a round sweet cake laden with ghee and sugar syrup), and kachori (a deep fried pastry snack with spicy filling).

To sample some local street food, head to Masala Chowk -- the first-of-its-kind open-air food court with an assortment of street food stalls in Jaipur. It's situated in Ram Niwas Garden, close to Albert Hall Museum, and is open daily from around 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. There's an entry fee of 10 rupees per person.

Natraj, on M I Road near Raj Mandir Cinema, is a decent place for a vegetarian Rajasthani thali (platter). It also offers a wide variety of other Indian vegetarian dishes.

Handi Restaurant, opposite the post office on M I Road, is the place for authentic laal maas. Non-vegetarian dishes are the specialty there.

At Johari Bazaar in the Old City, Laxmi Misthan Bhandar (or just LMB) is legendary for its sweets and traditional vegetarian fare including some of the best kachoris in Jaipur. Rawat Kachori, opposite the bus stand, is famous for its onion kachoris.

Tapri the Tea House, one of the best places for tea in India, is where roadside chai meets hipster hangout. You'll be able to drink India's iconic drink in a cool, clean environment.

The popular Peacock Restaurant at the Pearl Palace hotel has a lovely arty rooftop ambiance in the Hathroi Fort neighborhood. The global cuisine is excellent yet inexpensive.

If your budget can manage it, have a meal at the Taj Rambag Palace's stunning Indian restaurant Suvarna Mahal (the original palace dining room). It serves up authentic royal cuisine from Rajasthan, Awadh, Punjab and Hyderabad. Steam is a novel option at the hotel -- it's a lounge bar and restaurant in a restored vintage colonial train.

Relax with a sunset cocktail or gin and tonic at chic Bar Palladio at the Narain Niwas Palace Hotel, with interiors by Dutch designer Marie-Anne Oudejans. Italian cuisine is served there too. It opens at 6 p.m. For a lazy afternoon drink, head to the the hotel's Shikaar Bagh restaurant and bar next door instead. It turns into a happening spot to be in the evening.

Check out Jaipur's nightlife at Blackout Club & Terrace in C Scheme for views, or Club Naila at Naila Bagh Palace hotel for a pool party.

Palace hotel in Jaipur.
Izzet Keribar/Getty Images

Where to Stay

Jaipur has an outstanding range of accommodations for all budgets, ranging from luxurious authentic palace hotels to sociable backpacker hostels. In terms of location, the peaceful Bani Park and Hathroi Fort residential neighborhoods are conveniently central to Jaipur's railway station and the Old City. Choose from this pick of top hotels, guesthouses and hostels in Jaipur.

If money is no object, the Jaipur royal family has listed their palace's magnificent Gudliya Suite on Airbnb.

For longer-term stays of a month or more, Om Niwas in Bani Park has one-bedroom apartments with kitchens.

Culture and Customs

Jaipur was built by Sawai Jai Singh II, a Rajput king who ruled from 1699 to 1744. In 1727, he decided it was necessary to shift from Amber Fort to a place with more space and better facilities. Jaipur is actually India's first planned city, and the king put great effort into its construction. He recruited Bengali architect Vidyadhar Bhattacharya to design it according to the principles of Vastu Shastra (the Indian version of Feng Shui). The Old City was laid out in a rectangle shape of nine blocks. State buildings and palaces occupied two of these blocks, while the remaining seven were allocated to the public. As for why the city was painted pink -- it was to welcome the Prince of Wales when he visited in 1876! Local laws require the color to be maintained, so the painting continues.

Jaipur is a much-visited tourist destination -- and where there are tourists, there are scams! Expect to be approached numerous times. The most common scam that all visitors should be aware of is the gem scam. It comes in various guises but the important thing to remember is under no circumstances should you purchase gemstones from someone who asks you to do so, or enter into a business deal, no matter how much you think it may be in your favor.

Scams involving auto rickshaw drivers are also common in Jaipur. If you arrive by train, be prepared to be surrounded by them, all vying to take you to a hotel of their choice where they will get a commission. You can avoid this by going to the prepaid auto rickshaw counter at the station.