Jaipur has been popularised with the name of Pink City. The pink colour has its own history. Back in 1876, the Prince of Wales and Queen Victoria visited India on a tour. Since pink denotes the colour of hospitality, Maharaja Ram Singh of Jaipur painted the whole city pink to welcome the guests. The tradition has been sincerlt followed by the residents who are now by law, compelled to maintain the pink colour. 

This Pink City is filled with historic attractions, myriad bazaars, temples, palaces, museums and gardens - so there is no shortages of things to see and do here. If you are planning a trip, take a look through our guide for what to prepare, getting there, getting around, and some of the best things to add to your Jaipur itinerary. 

What to prepare before JAI

1. Visa
All tourists need to apply for a visa in advance of travel.  I highly recommend travellers to use e-visa instead as it's not compulsory to get your visa approval at India embassy. Visit the official site,  indianvisaonline.gov.in and fill up the e-visa application. Print out the visa approval email once you receive it and bring it along during the trip. It costs US$82. 
2. Health requirements 
I would suggest you get Typherix vaccination to avoid diarrhea or any food poisoning issue. Tap water is generally unsafe to drink in India. Even if the piped water is deemed safe by government, don't risk parasites and heavy metals. Stick to drinking bottled water wherever you are in India. 
3. Costume 
Karen and I also customize our own lengha and saree in KL before visiting Jaipur. It takes about 3 days to get it done. As most of the traditional clothes require time to be tailor-made, if you buy at the local market, you might not be able to wear them on time. 

Getting to and from JAI 

Karen and I decided to take a connecting flight because it offers the best timing to arrive Jaipur. AirAsia do offer direct flights to Jaipur, but you will be arriving at night. So we actually fly to Chennai first, then take a local airway to Jaipur.

Getting around JAI

The best way for us to get around Jaipur is to hire a private charter car. We made our booking via Klook. There are options which you can hire a driver for about RM150 for 12 hours ride. At some tourist places, you will meet local guides. Hire them if you are interested hearing the history and learning the best spots to take your Instagrammable pictures. They usually charge about RM30-RM50, and don't forget to tip them. Although tipping isn't the norm in Asia, a little gratuity is sometimes expected in India. 
Download Ola app to get your around. 

Attractions in JAI

We spent 4 days in Jaipur to explore the city's most significant landmarks, bazaars, and palaces. 
1. City Palace 
It is smack in the center of the Old City. This huge complex comprised of ornate gates, courtyards, buildings and gardens. It will take about 2 hours to explore and snap pictures as they are plenty of photo ops in and around the palace alone. 
Ticket: INR3000  (if you want to take pic with in this blue printing room, you will have to pay for the highest ticket option) 

2. Hawa Mahal (Palace of the Winds)
Built in 1799 by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh, this intricate and fascinating facade of the Palace of the Winds is probably Jaipur's most recognizable building. True to the name it earned, it has five floors that contain 953 windows and screens to provide ventilation. 

3. Jawahar Circle Garden
On our way from the airport, you will see this tall pink structure surrounded by a gamut of trees and lush gardens. The entrance of Jawahar Circle is through the Patrika gate, which has been designed beautifully. It gives you a sneak peek into vibrant culture of Rajasthan as each pillar is dedicated to some or the other part of the state. We were there just to snap a photo of this, so if you are not up for a walk in the park. You may skip this spot. 

3. Jal Mahal
The Jal Mahal was built by Maharaja Madho Signh I at the middle of the Man Sagar Lake to serve as a lodge for his duck hunting parties. Jal in the Indian language means water, hence it is also known as the Water Palace. The palace stands bright with five floors, four of which remain under water. The Jal Mahal is on the way to Amber Fort, hence the best plan to visit is either on the way to Amer or in the evening after Amer. There is no entry fee for this palace as government has declared it as a protected area, which means no access to the palace via boat rides anymore. But you still can take a stroll along the river to take some shots. 

4. Amber Fort
Amer Fort is one of the most well-known and most-visited forts in India. The fort is located about half and hour drive from the city. Due to the hot weather, I would suggest you to take an auto rickshaw for about 700 rupees for a return trip up to the fort. A little history about Amber fort. Amber was once the capital of princely Jaipur state, and the fort the residence of its Rajput rulers. Maharaja Man Singh, who led Mughal Emperor Akbar's army, commenced its construction in 1592 on the remains of an 11th century fort. The fort was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2013, as part of the group of six hill fort in Rajasthan. Its architecture is a noteworthy fusion of Rajput (Hindu) and Mughal (Islamic) styles. 
Tickets: INR200

You may also check out this Shila Devi temple along the way to Amber Fort too. 

5. Stepwell - Panna Meena Ka Kund
Don't miss out this symmetrical stepwells, which located near Anokhi Museum (right before entering Amber Fort). During the ancient time, this place was utilized mainly as a water protect pool.

6. Taj Malal 
Taj Mahal, one among the Seven Wonders of the World is an eye candy of Agra city. It has been declared World Heritage Site by UNESCO, as it represents the rich Mughal Culture and Mughal architectural style. It was built in 1653 by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, to commemorate his beloved Mumtaz Mahal, who died in childbirth. The Taj is a soul filled with love, loss and sorrow. This glorious monument is an example how intensely a man loved his wife that to keep her memories evergreen. The ideal time to visit Taj Mahal is before sunrise or sunset, but Karen and I were staying at Jaipur hence we decided to book a day tour private car instead via Klook instead. 
Tickets: INR1100

7. Agra Fort
With Taj Mahal overshadowing it, one can easily forget that Agra has one of the finest Mughal forts in India. Walking through courtyard after courtyard of this palatial red-sandstone and marble fortress, your amazement grows as the scale of what was built here begins to sink in. Agra Fort was constructed in 1565 by Emperor Akhar, and further done by his grandson Shah Jahan. The fort was built mainly as military structure, but Shah Jahan transformed it into a palace, and later became his gilded prison for 8 years after his son Aurangzed seized power in 1658. 
Tickets: INR650

Where to shop

We only went to Johari Bazaar because my dear friend wouldn't want to explore more. Meanwhile some tips to share before you go to any other bazaars in Jaipur:
1. Avoid wearing over-exposed clothing
2. Always bargain, at least 50% 
3. Bring your own tumbler, handkerchief/tissue
4. They don't accept cards so bring cash

Where to eat and drink

 1. Zarpar 
We basically eating Kashimir dishes every day and night. This is one of the restaurants we went when we were in the city. Avoid going for street foods. 

2. Caffé Palladio 
Food was alright, don't expect super fancy brunch food. But they do have a lot of Instagrammable spots and a cute dog. 

3. Bar Palladio
Located across the street of its cafe, Bar Palladio is located inside Narain Niwas Palace hotel. The interior is a series of smaller rooms, each its own wonderland, where hand-painted murals of blue and white flowers provide a fanciful backdrop that is perfect for the gram. 

Majority of people around me have misconceptions about India, some of them even go the extent of convincing me not to go and telling me terrifying stories from the social media. 
Yet Karen and I still decided to go, and we were so glad we made it happen. 

Jaipur has been nothing but amazing. Although there are improvements in terms of the infrastructure and hygiene part, it was overall a very pleasant experience for me. I can't wait to go back again to experience more of its beauty, history, and food.  
Till next time x