You’ll find plenty of pink hues around India’s ‘Pink City’, but actually – Jaipur is a riot of colors. From crumbling forts to some of the country’s savviest concept stores, we’re giving you the lowdown on where to eat, shop and sleep in Jaipur.
First things first: the Jaipur highlights
We’re never big on ‘must-see’ tourist attractions, but visiting Jaipur and skipping the forts and palaces would be a crime. Armed with a camera, bottled water and a healthy dose of patience you’ll be able to tick them off in a single day. Even without a guide.
Start early to beat the crowds at Amer Fort, about 20 minutes North of Jaipur. Take some time to explore this gigantic sandstone structure showcasing an intricate blend of Hindu-Muslim architecture. Do make sure to venture into the small stairways and quiet corners.
Make a quick detour to the Panna Meena ka Kund stepwell, accessible by taxi from the main entrance gate, or by foot if you follow the small path at the back of the fort (ask a local for directions, they’re happy to help). There is no entry fee, but if you want to walk down the stairs a guard will likely ask you for 100 INR. Fortunately skipped by many, this stepwell is a mesmerizing sight to behold and absolutely worth the extra 30 minutes (or, for something bigger and better, look up the Chand Baori stepwell, some 100 km away).
Most of Jaipur’s other tourist sights are all conveniently located around the Manak Chowk roundabout. First, stop by at the iconic Hawa Mahal, also known as the Palace of the Winds. Albeit beautiful on the outside (though somehow more impressive on pictures), you won’t miss much if you skip a visit to its interiors. For the best vantage point, cross the street and head up the stairs to the rooftop terrace at Wind View Cafe.
While you’re around, walk a few blocks north to get your picture taken with Mr. Chand’s antique box camera for a quirky keepsake.
After a coffee, head to the Jaipur City Palace, a few hundred meters from Hawa Mahal. Pay the 500 INR entry fee, and explore a vast complex consisting of multiple courtyards surrounded by pink stuccoed walls and buildings in both Rajasthani and Mughal architectural styles. Do not skip the Pritam Niwas Chowk courtyard, known for its lavishly decorated doors. If you have the cash to splash, opt for the guided tour (2500 INR) that gives access to the Royal family’s living quarters, including the all-bling-everything Shobha Nivas and gorgeously blue painted Sukh Niwas.
Visited by only the most dedicated Instagrammers, the Patrika Gate at the Jawahar Circle is worth a quick stop on the way to the airport. This pink structure houses a colorful hallway that makes for a stunning backdrop to any picture.
Little black book: shopping in Jaipur
Those ‘oriental’ pillowcases you saw at Urban Outfitters, or that patterned dress from Anthropologie? Fat chance that they’ve been sourced from Jaipur, arguably one of the world’s best destinations for block-printed textiles and semi-precious jewelry. If you’re after hardcore, straight-from-the-source shopping, pick up a copy of Fiona Caulfield’s ‘Love Jaipur, Rajasthan’ for local sourcing contacts and specific market stalls to seek out – otherwise, the following shops will serve as a good introduction to what’s on offer:
A Jaipur institution and a go-to for royals and celebrities alike, the Gem Palace () is an experience in itself. Browse around its huge collection of opulent antiques and precious stones to get inspired, but if you’re in the market for a pair of shimmery earrings or a new necklace, we’ve been told that better deals can be found elsewhere.
Albeit slightly out of the way, Teatro Dhora () is worth a stop if you’re after work by young Indian designers. Some of our favorite labels like Naushad Ali and Shift can be found here – along with a wide selection of jewelry, furniture and (home) accessories. The small Cafe Dhora upstairs is a welcome refuge from the Jaipur heat.
Take your time at the cluster of shops in front of the swish Narain Niwas Palace Hotel, as some of the city’s sleekest boutiques all have a presence here. Upon entering, you’ll find Idli () occupying two sides of the building’s entrance. On the right, its womenswear boutique stocks flowy dresses and a big collection of shawls, bags and home decor in colorful, circusy prints. On the left, its menswear store is the perfect place for guys that don’t shy away from being a bit bold in their fashion choices.
Stop by Studio Kassa () for leather accessories that look much smarter than the ones you’d find at Rajasthan’s handicraft markets. Combining traditional crafts with modern techniques such as laser cutting and leather marbling, their bags, wallets, and shoes will appeal to even the most fashion-forward visitor.
Next door, Anantaya () lures design-savvy travelers with home accessories that are refreshingly modish (a-la Tom Dixon), yet unmistakably Indian. Driven by a mission to preserve the traditional crafts of the region, Anantaya’s founders Ayush and Geetanjali Kasliwal collaborate with skilled artisans to create contemporary furniture, textiles, and wearables that positively impact the local community.
You’ll find celebrity favorite Hot Pink () on the premises, too. Set up by Munnu Kasliwal, the man behind the Gem Palace and 28 Kothi, this spacious boutique stocks everything from cashmere scarves to trendy tunics. Prices are, unsurprisingly, much higher than anywhere else in town, but the high quality and intricate designs more than justify it.
Need more Indian souvenir inspiration? Check out these 7 India Souvenirs for Design-savvy Travelers
Eat and drink around Jaipur
We’ll save you the unsanitary details – but let’s just say we weren’t really in the condition to eat around Jaipur as much as we had hoped to do. Drawn from our limited experience, the following spots are worth seeking out:
No visit to Jaipur would be complete without a stop at Bar Palladio (), an India-meets-Italy extravaganza located in the garden of the Narain Niwas Palace Hotel. Decked out with electric blue walls, intricate flower motifs, and brass chandeliers, this bar-cum-restaurant truly is a feast for the eyes. Skip the Italian fare (you’ll find much better food elsewhere), but come for the desserts and surprisingly affordable cocktails.
A five-minute walk away, Caffé Palladio () (by the same owner) swaps out the blue hues for shades of saffron, but is just as endearing. On its menu, you’ll find a multi-cultural mishmash of Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and Italian dishes like paninis, tangines, and pastas. When weather permits, its sun-dappled garden is a great place to kick back with a refreshing cold-pressed juice or smoothie.
Feel like a Rajasthani royal at The Verandah (), the al fresco restaurant at the Rambagh Palace hotel. Overlooking the impeccably manicured palace grounds, complete with fort views and regal peacocks roaming freely, there is hardly a better place to spend a lazy lunch. Don’t come here to be blown away by culinary masterpieces, though. The food is palatable – but a tad bit overpriced (keep in mind that a minimum spend of 2500 INR per head is expected).
Another hotel cafe worth checking out is Cafe Kothi (), adjacent to the charming 28 Kothi boutique hotel. This cozy neighborhood joint serves up a mix of Indian and Mediterranean fare – think split pea falafel, quinoa biryani, and wraps – and stocks an excellent selection of loose-leaf teas to wash it all down.
Lastly, for a quick pick-me-up, ask your driver to make a stop at Lassiwala (). Locals swear by its creamy lassis, and for good reason – there are few better places to grab one than at this famous institution. Don’t be fooled by the imitators that sprung up along the same road – keep your eyes open for the ‘312’ sign to make sure you get the real deal.
Staying in style: boutique hotels in Jaipur
Jaipur and its surroundings are dotted with extravagant palace hotels and lavish havelis, but the “more is more” approach doesn’t always do the trick.
If you are, just like us, after a more contemporary stay, look no further than the fantastic 28 Kothi in the quiet but centrally located Shivaji Nagar area. Set inside a brightly colored villa, this small-scale boutique hotel boasts five spacious rooms named after different precious stones. Contrasting the extravagance you find at Jaipur’s palace hotels, 28 Kothi is kept simple and is tastefully decorated with a highly curated collection of objets d’art and mid-century modern furniture. Read our full review of 28 Kothi.
A bit more classic, but still a far cry from any of the palace hotels you’ll encounter is the cozy 47 Jobner Bagh. This ‘luxury guest house’ is a favorite of visiting designers, and upon entering the green courtyard it’s easy to see why. Counting only 11 rooms, the whitewashed property sports antique furniture, loads of greenery and a fantastic rooftop palace overlooking the Nahargarh Fort.
If you prefer a more economical alternative, but still want to experience the feel of a boutique hotel, then Airbnb has several charming options, with our top picks all belonging to the same French-Indian couple. The rooms and apartments are spread over different buildings in different parts of the city, but all of them are filled to the brim with artworks, bold colors, modern amenities and a homey hospitality that equals that of a fine boutique stay.
And if you insist on doing the whole ‘over-the-top Rajasthani palace’ thing, you might as well do it right. Check in at Sujan Rajmahal Palace for a dose of lavishly maximalist wallpapers, pastel-colored furniture, glitzy chandeliers and rooms that would make Wes Anderson want to shoot a sequel of The Darjeeling Limited on the spot. Be prepared to empty your wallet, though, as even the most basic rooms start at a hefty $700 a night.
Jaipur’s international airport serves most major cities in India. As ticket prices are generally lower than to destinations elsewhere in Rajasthan, Jaipur is the perfect base for exploring the province. The airport is also connected to several international destinations like Dubai, Singapore, and Bangkok, making Jaipur a great option for a long-weekend getaway.
Multiple trains and buses connect Jaipur to New Delhi, but we’d recommend a private car or taxi for some extra comfort. Savaari offers one-way cab rides for 2700 INR and can be booked online.