Jaipur Guide - A Design Haven City
Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan and a dream destination for design lovers, is nicknamed India's Pink City due to it's plethora of pink shaded walls and buildings. It's also the country’s capital for artisanal craftsmanship, block-printed textiles, and the gem trade. The city can keep you entertained day after day with it's numerous palaces, temples, markets, hand made boutiques, cafes, and restaurants.
If you are looking for a list of the most beautiful, ornate, and well designed spots in the Pink City - this is it!
Things to do
Things to eat
Places to shop
Places to sleep
This location is best accessed on the way to/from the airport. The highlight here is the Patrika gate designed beautifully with intricate motifs and colors. The gate gives you a sneak peek into the vibrant culture of Rajasthan as each pillar is dedicated to some part of the state.
No visit to Jaipur can be complete without seeing the City Palace.
There are two types of tickets you could buy at the City Palace : just the museum tour (cheaper), that gets you access to the museum and the outdoor courtyard, OR the Royal Grandeur which comes with a personal guide and a tour of the stunning private blue room (Chhavi Niwas). The Royal Grandeur ticket is well worth the extra price since you get access to the blue room.
If you want to make the most of your time and money - be sure to get to the ticket office right at opening. Get your full access ticket and tell your guide that you want to go directly to the outdoor courtyard (famous for it's ornate colorful gates) before everyone else gets there. The guides know their way around and will do all the navigating for you. They can also take your pictures and share as much or as little about the Palace history as you want to know.
For ticket prices and more info, check out the official page here.
If you've bought the full city palace ticket, head to the private blue room area (Chhavi Niwas). The experience here is much better since not many people pay for the more expensive ticket. We had about 20 - 30 minutes by ourselves to soak in the details and beauty of the Blue Room. Which really meant non stop picture taking haha.
Amer Fort is located 11 kilometers outside of Jaipur and is one of the most popular attractions with boatloads of visitors and tourists. If you want to see or photograph the Fort without the crowds your best bet is to get a taxi and arrive 10-15 minutes before it opens at 8 am.
Just to show the difference between waking up early and pushing the snooze a couple times -
This picture was taken at 8 am :
And this one was taken at 8:30 am:
Stepwell Panna Meena Ka Kund
When you are done with the Amber Fort don't rush to go back to the city just yet! A short car ride (less than 10 minutes) into the Amer village will take you to a beautiful and not at all crowded 16th century water well. The criss-crossed symmetrical stairs are masterfully designed and snake along 3 of the 4 walls of the well. This place was once utilized for social meetings by people who were coming to fetch water, swim or simply hang out. Entry is free and good pictures are guaranteed.
Tapri Tea House
This rooftop tea house / restaurant offeres cozy outdoor and indoor sitting. Get your masala chai fix and feast on delicious tapas-style plates. One of Tapri's specials are the Maggi noodles which go really well with a pot of milky Masala Chai.
28 Kothi Cafe
Tired of the crowds? Grab a quiet moment and a bite at 28 Kothi Cafe - our favorite urban oasis in Jaipur. This beautiful cafe is located inside 28 Kothi, a boutique guest house located within a quiet but central residential area. It offers fresh, delicious and organic vegetarian food that is safe for Westerners to eat. For a taste of their best selection of local dishes call ahead of time and ask if you can order the vegetarian thali ( Indian-style meal made up of a selection of various dishes served on a round platter)
Naturals Ice Cream
Ice cream is probably not the first thing that comes to mind when people think of India. However, Naturals Ice Cream is a MUST stop for us every time we visit India. The Mumbai based chain uses only fresh, seasonal, and local ingredients to create rich, indulgent, and authentic Indian flavored ice creams and gelato that are world class. Make sure to try the Mango, Sitaphal (custard apple), Chiku, Pistachio and my personal favorite Gajar Halwa (carrot-based sweet dessert pudding).
Bar Palladio & Caffe Palladio
Bar and Caffe Palladio are two of Jaipur's most beautiful and iconic restaurants. The mastermind behind the design is Dutch fashion star turned interior designer Marie-Anne Oudejans who spends time between Jaipur and Paris. She was inspired by the opulent lifestyles of the maharajas of the early 20th century and managed to channel all of that glory into the luxe interiors of the two spaces.
I'm listing these two under "Eat" because they don't welcome sightseers with open arms. In order to properly enjoy the perfect design marriage between clean lines, color, and outrageous ornamentation - you must first order something off the menu.
Bar Palladio Address: Narain Niwas Palace Hotel Kanota Bagh, Narain Singh Road Jaipur – RJ 302004 India
Caffe Palladio Address: 100 JLN Marg, Santha Bagh Jaipur – RJ 302004 India
Trendy cuts, fun colors, and block prints are what you'll find at Anokhi. All of the pretty merchandise is fixed price so you don't have to worry about being given the tourist price.
Anokhi is a bit more expensive than your average Indian bazaar - but they accept credit cards, give you great service, and have Air Conditioning!
Tucked away inside the courtyard of Alessir Haveli, Tokree is a small boutique shop specializing in contemporary Indian-style clothes. Everything is hand made in small quantities and the inventory changes often.
A cheap bazaar famous for jewelry, brass work, textiles, blue pottery, and woodwork shopping - it's not as crazy as some street markets but it's still semi-chaotic. Prices are not fixed so prepare for to play the bargaining game, if you're into that. When negotiating, start at about 1/3 of the asking price and try to meet in the middle. Don't be afraid to try the walking away tactic either.
When it comes to accommodation If you can only splurge in one city let that city be Jaipur. The Pink City has accommodation for design lovers at many different price points. Here are our recommendations for the most comfortable and Instagram worthy stays:
Centrally located inside a quiet residential community, 28 Kothi is a boutique guest house where you can rest and recharge. All staff members are extremely helpful, friendly, and make you feel right at home. The property has only 5 rooms (which are spacious, clean and comfortable) so book well in advance. If you go in the winter, you'll especially appreciate that the rooms have central heating.
Built over 175 years ago as the royal family manor, Samode Haveli reflects the style and elegance of Jaipur's elite. The former royal apartments are now deluxe rooms and suites, each having distinctive character and providing comfort along with modern amenities.
Sujan Rajmahal Palace
Home to the Maharaja of Jaipur, this exquisite royal palace is located at the heart of the Pink City. The splendor of the Sujan Rahmahal Palace is hard to put into words but let's just say that it will give you an authentic taste of modern Indian luxury. Each wallpaper in the property was especially created for specific rooms. Some of them display the many stories of Jaipur and it's rulers while others show their legacies and the collective history of the Kingdom of Amer.
You don't have to be a hotel guest to explore and enjoy Rajmahal Palace. Book a table for the daily afternoon tea and request a hotel tour on arrival! It's one of the best ways to spend your afternoon in a Wes Anderson-like fantasy world.
hire a driver
The best way to maximize your time and avoid scam taxi/tuk tuk rides is by hiring a driver.
Through one of our accommodations we found Shankar - a really friendly driver who was always on time (which is sometimes hard to find in India), had a clean air-conditioned car, knew his way around, and drove safely. He operates a small transportation business with his family and can drive you all around Rajasthan. Shankar is also available on WhatsApp, so you can easily communicate prior, during and after your travels. If you are looking to hire a driver in Jaipur/Rajastha, here is Shankar's phone / WhatsApp number : +919828155909.