Our Jaipur itinerary post covers all the top sights to see in the Pink City, whether you plan to stay for one, two or more days.
For us as for many people, Jaipur is the first impression of India. It serves as the gateway to Rajasthan, the starting point if you plan to visit Jodhpur, Jaisalmer or Udaipur. It is also one of the points on the “Golden Triangle”, so many people will visit on tours from Delhi to Agra and Jaipur. The city heaves with traffic, the narrow streets of the bazaars can swallow you up and you are as likely to bump into a cow as another human in your attempt to keep your eyes everywhere at the same time. The Pink City is a vibrant and sprawling hive of activity, but the sights you will see there are well worth braving the chaos.
We had opted not to do a Delhi-Agra-Jaipur tour package as we had decided to travel around India independently as much as possible. However, Jaipur was our first stop in India, and the starting point for our tour of Rajasthan which would take in Bikaner, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, Udaipur, Pushkar and further on to Agra.
Once we had found our feet there, we discovered many fascinating sights and much history in the Rajasthani state capital. Jaipur is named after the Maharaja Jai Singh II, who was the ruler of the city of Amer. In the early 18th century, he decided to relocate the city to a new location about 11km away from Amer, due to the increasing population and water scarcity. The city is therefore somewhat unusual in India in that it was planned, and has a grid layout in the centre.
Today, it is a sprawling metropolis, home to three million people and much bigger in reality than we thought it would be. Packed with history, culture and colour, the Pink City is an unforgettable place. It is little wonder that Jaipur is one of the most visited cities in India.
How long to stay in Jaipur?
We have written this Jaipur itinerary with a list of sights you should see, in what we believe is a sensible order of priority and feasibility. Our advice if you are wondering how many days in Jaipur you should stay, would be to do a 2 or even 3 day trip to Jaipur in order to see all of the sights. Many people will cover a packed itinerary during a Jaipur one day tour, which is fine if that is all the time you have. But to fit all the sights below into your Jaipur trip plan, then aim for 2-3 days.
Read on below for all our best tips to make your Jaipur tour unforgettable!
Jaipur Itinerary – list of attractions
Use the links below to navigate if you want to jump to reading about a specific attraction.
The Amber Fort
The Amber Fort, or Amer Fort to give its correct name, is one of the most spectacular forts in Rajasthan and should be top of your list of places to visit in Jaipur.
The fort is constructed from sandstone and marble, and overlooks the Maoja Lake. The fort was home to the rulers of the city of Amer, until the city was moved to Jaipur in the 18th century. The Amber fort is considered to be part of the same complex as Jaigarh fort (below), and the two are linked by a tunnel. From the time that the complex was first constructed, until the city was moved to Jaipur, the fort was used as the main palace residence of the Rajput Maharajas.
Today, it is one of Rajasthan’s UNESCO World Heritage sites, and the most visited tourist spot in Jaipur. Even the tightest Golden Triangle tour itinerary will not miss the Amber Fort out from a Jaipur visit.
Inside the Amber Fort
The main entrance is called Suraj Pol, or Sun Gate and brings you into a large courtyard called Jaleb Chowk. Here is where the ticket office is located, and from here you can enter the fort itself. Once inside, you will enter another courtyard and see the breathtaking Ganesh Pol, which forms the entry to the palaces of the Maharajas. Above the Ganesh Pol is the lattice wall, where the ladies of the palace used to watch the public gatherings that took place below. This second courtyard also features a number of pillars.
Through the Ganesh Pol are the third and fourth courtyards, around which were the private residences of the Maharajas and their families. The third courtyard was the area of private gatherings, and is the part of the palace where you can view the impressive hall of mirrors or Sheesh Mahal. The fourth courtyard houses the Palace of Man Singh in the centre, where the Maharaja would relax with his ladies. The courtyard is surrounded by rooms, each of which housed one of the wives of the Maharaja.
The Amber Fort has an evening sound and light show starting from 7:30pm. Although we did not see it, it is apparently one of the top places to visit in Jaipur at night.
How to visit the Amber Fort
We had hired an autorickshaw for the day, you can expect to pay around 500 rupees to get there and back from the city. Local buses are the cheapest option, departing frequently from the city centre near to the Hawa Mahal. The fort itself is up a path, so we were dropped at the bottom and walked up – it takes about 15 minutes. You can be driven up by 4WD and there are also elephant rides – but this is not an option we would ever use. It made us sad to see these majestic creatures being used to ferry tourists around, and the elephants did not look happy to be doing so.
Tickets for the Amber Fort
Tickets for foreigners cost Rs 500 at the time of writing (around $7.50) although you can also buy a composite ticket that will give entry to the Jantar Mantar, Hawa Mahal, Jaigarh Fort and Albert Hall Museum. Composite tickets cost Rs 1000.
The Jal Mahal is a palace on a lake, located between Jaipur city and the Amber Fort. Jal Mahal literally means “water palace”, as the building appear to be floating on the lake itself. The Jal Mahal was expanded and renovated by Jai Singh II, the founder of the city of Jaipur.
If you are visiting the Amber Fort during a Jaipur sightseeing tour, it is easy enough to make a stop off at the Jal Mahal. There is really not a lot to do there – you cannot cross the water to the palace itself, at least at the time of writing. There is talk of a restoration project to turn the Jal Mahal into a genuine tourist attraction, however this will likely be some years off.
However, it makes for some beautiful photos from the shores of the lake, and there is an attractive sculpture also at the shores that I could not find any information about, but it depicts a procession headed up by an elephant.
If you have tourist dollars to spare then there are plenty of small stalls around there who will happily relieve you of them in exchange for souvenirs and trinkets, but our advice would be to go and haggle in the bazaars – you will likely get more for your money there.
How to visit the Jal Mahal
To get to the Jal Mahal, just ask your driver to stop on the way to or from the Amber Fort. There are no ticket or entry costs to stand on the banks and take photos of the Jal Mahal.
The iconic Hawa Mahal is possibly one of the most photographed places in Jaipur. Translating as “wind palace” or “breeze palace” it was constructed in the early 18th century out of soft red and pink sandstone. It has become an emblem of the city due the architectural beauty of it’s 953 windows. These windows were constructed so that the royal women in the city palace could observe goings on outside of the palace, due to their observation of the Islamic tradition of female segregation from males, known as pardah.
Apart from it’s beautiful facade, there is really not much else to see at the Hawa Mahal making it a strange kind of a building. You can go inside, however it is only comprised of a courtyard with buildings on either side of it. One interesting fact about the Hawa Mahal is that it has no foundations and is the tallest building of this kind in the world. It stays upright only due to its curved construction.
How to visit the Hawa Mahal
Tickets are available for Rs 50 for foreigners, or you can enter if you purchased a composite ticket at the Amber Fort. You don’t actually need to go inside to take photos of the outside, as you can do so from the street. The Hawa Mahal is located in the city, north of Bapu Bazaar and next to the City Palace.
If you are participating in a 3 night Golden Triangle tour and pushed for time in Jaipur, then our recommendation would be to see the Amber Fort, plus the Jal Mahal and the Hawa Mahal as the minimum places to visit in Jaipur in one day.
The name Jantar Mantar is derived from the Sanskrit word yantra meaning “instrument” and mantrana meaning “calculate”, hence “calculation instrument”. The Jantar Mantar itself is actually a giant and highly accurate sundial, however this description doesn’t really do justice to the Jantar Mantar monument in Jaipur.
The park of the Jantar Mantar actually contains 19 separate structures, all of which are astronomical instruments of some description. There are five such observatories spread across Northern India. Believe it or not, they were all constructed by the same Jai Singh II who was responsible for building the city of Jaipur, and the expansion of the Jal Mahal.
(In between all the construction and astrological observations, this guy also managed to fight off a few local and foreign invaders over the time that he ruled. If he were alive today, he would no doubt have a lucrative side career writing the kind of blog posts on how to increase productivity that I waste half my productive life reading).
Why should you visit the Jantar Mantar?
The entire park is Jaipur’s other UNESCO World Heritage site – the first being the Amber Fort. The Jantar Mantar was actually one of our favourite tourist places in Jaipur. The park is peaceful to walk around even though it is in the middle of the city. The instruments are beautifully constructed and well-preserved, and it is fascinating to consider that each of these large, immovable structures is actually a precision measuring device built more than 280 years ago.
Although the Amber Fort should rightly be at the top of everyones list of what to see in Jaipur, if you have longer to spend on your Jaipur city tour then we recommend the Jantar Mantar if you are wondering what to see in Jaipur in 2 days.
How to visit the Jantar Mantar
The Jantar Mantar is located in the city, close to City Palace. Ticket entry for foreigners is Rs 200. It is open daily. You will need around 1-2 hours maximum to walk around the park and see all the instruments.
Jaipur City Palace
Another building that can be credited to Jai Singh II, the City Palace was constructed as the home of the royal family at the time that Jaipur was built. The palace is actually a complex comprising numerous buildings. The majority of the space in the City Palace is still used as a royal residence today.
Inside the palace complex with the purchase of a standard ticket, you can walk around the outside of the Mubarak Mahal which has architectural influences from Islamic and Rajput styles. You can also visit the museums housed in parts of the Chandra Mahal including the armoury with its collection of swords, shields and armour used across the centuries. Most impressive for us was the inner courtyard before you get to the Chandra Mahal – Pritam Niwas Chowk. Here, we found four gates decorated with themes of the Hindu gods and seasons. The peacock gate, dedicated to Lord Vishnu, is simply stunning.
Again the City Palace may not be the first thing do see if you are only doing a Jaipur day tour, but if you are planning a longer tour in Jaipur then it is well worth a visit.
How to visit the City Palace in Jaipur
You will need a separate ticket for the City Palace. A standard entry ticket is Rs 500 for foreigners. This will get you access to all of the general public parts of the palace. There is a special ticket available that costs Rs 2500 and gets access to a reserved area within the Chandra Mahal. The City Palace is open daily and is located right in the centre of Jaipur. You will need 1-2 hours to visit on the general ticket.
Bazaars of Jaipur
The bazaars of Jaipur are famed for the variety of goods available, and are a paradise for any keen shopper. Even more so if you enjoy the process of haggling! If you are looking to buy Indian textiles of any description, or jewellery, pottery or souvenirs, then you can eat your heart out at any of the 7 main shopping bazaars of Jaipur.
Not a soft sell
I am sorry to say that walking around in the bazaars was one of the experiences in Jaipur we enjoyed the least. We are not big shoppers. We travel around the world with our backpacks and purchases dig into our savings. So we just never think about weighing ourselves down with souvenir bought in every location. Which is probably the biggest issue when visiting somewhere like this. We would be happy to just browse around and look at the goods available, and maybe make the odd small purchase. The stallholders are keen to move onto the sell, and so any casual browsing is out of the question.
As I said, if you are a savvy haggler and don’t mind this hard-sell style, you may enjoy it. For us, it made browsing the bazaars more stressful than fun. This is not unique to Jaipur – we found this hard-sell approach everywhere in India, and we came to accept it as part of the culture. Although it may be sad for the stallholders we met during our time in India, their invitations to “just come and look” meant we usually fled in horror rather than ever stopping to browse their goods!
Eats as treats
That said, there were opportunities for our kind of enjoyment right outside the bazaars, on what is known by locals as MI road – Mirza Ismail Road. It is one of the busiest streets in Jaipur, and home to some of the best eats. We visited Moti Mahal restaurant on MI Road early on in our visit to try their famed butter chicken. It is still some of the best we had in India.
Afterwards, head to one of the Lassiwalla stalls, to wash down your meal with a freshly made lassi.
Albert Hall Museum
The Albert Hall Museum was opened in 1887 and functions as the state museum of Rajasthan. It is named Albert Hall after King Edward VII visited Rajasthan in 1876. The foundation stone was laid during this visit. Incidentally, it was also in honour of this visit that Maharaja Ram Singh had ordered that the buildings of Jaipur be painted terracotta pink. Since then, Jaipur earned the moniker of the Pink City. As well as housing a large collection of Rajasthani exhibits, the building itself is a beautiful example of Neo-Mughal architecture. Albeit, with a lot of pigeons!
We did only end up visiting the Albert Hall Museum because we had entry on our composite ticket. It is definitely not one of the top sights in Jaipur. The others above are the ones I would recommend visiting first. However, if you find yourself with a spare hour and are looking for Jaipur sightseeing places beyond the top sights on a standard Jaipur day tour, then the Albert Hall Museum has some beautiful photo opportunities.
Plus, some of the exhibits are very interesting if you like learning about local histories and Hindu folklore. The sculptures demonstrating some physically impossible yoga poses were some of the most fascinating things we saw! Although the “nightmare horse” as Tom calls it, composed of several human figures, is indeed the stuff of nightmares.
How to visit the Albert Hall Museum
The Albert Hall Museum is outside of the city walls, and is most easily reached by taking an autorickshaw. Tickets by themselves cost Rs 300 for foreigners. The museum is open daily.
Getting around Jaipur
If you are travelling with an organised tour then you can generally disregard this section. Your guide will organise all your transport for you.
Uber is available in Jaipur, as is Ola (the local Uber). We can recommend using Uber as being the only way to get around that avoids the haggling process. You can pay cash for Uber in India, which is useful.
If you want to travel like the locals do, then you can take an auto rickshaw. However, NEVER start a journey without agreeing a price in advance. A trick we fell for is when the driver will offer to take you somewhere and tell you the price is up to you to decide. But once he has your trust, he will hike up the price for the next journey beyond what is reasonable. Especially if you are agreeing to any all-day or multi-stop excursions, make sure you have agreed the price up front. You only need to pay the driver at the end.
Taxis are generally the most expensive option, and still likely to require some haggling. Buses are the cheapest, and will be at at fixed price, but you will have the least comfort and flexibility.
Your hotel may be able to organise your transportation for you. If they do, you will generally pay far over the odds. In our case, our hotel just told us to hail an auto rickshaw from the street, which was not particularly helpful.
Walking is the least attractive and least sensible way to get around Jaipur, not least because the city is huge. The pavements are often non-existent. Where they do exist, they are as likely to be accommodating motorbikes or bicycles as pedestrians. The main streets like MI Road have no pedestrian crossings and traffic is usually bumper to bumper. Don’t risk it, especially considering the cheap cost of using a rickshaw.
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We hope this Jaipur itinerary guide is useful for you in planning your own visit to the Pink City. If you only have 3 days in India and time for one sight in Jaipur, we recommend the Amber Fort! If you’re a female traveller and you’re unsure about how to dress in India, we recommend you to read this What to wear in India post by Year Of The Monkey!
Do you have any tips for visiting Jaipur that you can add to this list? Please share with us in the comments below!