Jaisalmer brings a mysterious beauty that I am sure you will not be able to miss when traveling to India. A “golden dream” as if straights out from a fairy tale with the cultural and architectural heritages left behind by thousands of years and the special lifestyle of the indigenous people here. If you love the stories in “One Thousand and One Nights” and want to see this fairy world in real life, then come to visit Jaisalmer city – the jewel in the heart of Thar – a vast and arid desert of Rajasthan state of India. So, is Jaisalmer worth visiting, what to do in Jaisalmer and how to plan a perfect budget trip to Jaisalmer, India for the first-time? Let’s check out our Jaisalmer blog (Jaisalmer travel blog) with the fullest Jaisalmer travel guide (Jaisalmer city guide, Jaisalmer tourist guide) from how to get there, best time to come, where to stay, best places to visit, what to eat and top things to do in Jaisalmer to find out the answer!
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Tourists often choose to come to Jaisalmer by the attraction of camel riding tour into the Thar desert, or shopping for accessories, signature rugs, and handmade products made from sheep and goat skin at very cheap prices.
Jaisalmer blog: Overview of Jaisalmer
Jaisalmer, a tourist city in the state of Rajasthan, is known as the Golden City because of its massive fort and most of the houses and buildings built of finely carved yellow-brown sandstone, presenting the sophisticated, elaborated art of stone carving by artisans in the state of Rajasthan. Jaisalmer was found in 1156, initially as a fortress, later developed into a small town.
In the past, Jaisalmer was an important part of the Silk Road. This place once played an important role as a busy trading hub, gathering many groups of merchants from Arabia, the West, India, and Persia to exchanging and trading goods. Currently, Jaisalmer people still living and trading as their ancestors before. Here, there are many shops selling brocades, souvenirs, handicrafts, and colorful tapestries. Therefore, when coming here, visitors feel like they are living in a fairyland in Arabian Nights of “One Thousand and One Nights”.
My strong impression when coming here is a pure yellow color covering this city of just over 5 square kilometers. From the early SpiceJet’s flight from New Delhi, looking down at the vast expanses of sand, mountains and desert I immediately thought of this small city maybe will be very desolate and inhospitable.
But when I set foot here, I’m completely wrong. That was only part of the feeling until landing at the airport and starting to getting into the tiny center of Jaisalmer, and especially went into Jaisalmer Fort, which is the only fort in India where people still allow live inside, while all other forts across the country are now just for sightseeing purposes.
Jaisalmer is the heart of the vast Thar desert, all works are built of unique yellow sandstone, so people also call Jaisalmer as Golden City and not far from the border with Pakistan. The sensitivity of political issues between the border areas of the two countries also makes tourists a little worried.
You will immediately realize this “sensibility” as soon as you step down from Jaisalmer’s tiny airport, you are not allowed to stop to take pictures at the airport, the baggage claim area is also limited to taking pictures and there are many soldiers hold guns around.
Far from the glamor or throngs of crowds in Delhi or Jaipur, here you can relax watching the sun rise over the arid desert where the Acacia trees seem to dance, the cobblestone streets winding around sandstone houses, statues of Ganesh – The Hindus god statue of the belief of good luck, women wearing multicolor Sarees carrying water from step wells or vibrant festivals, temples of the mysterious Hindu gods…
Jaisalmer blog: When is the best time to visit Jaisalmer?
The ideal time to make a trip to visit Jaisalmer city is in January and February, when it hosts the biggest desert festival of the year. Visiting Jaisalmer at this time, visitors will be immersed in the bustling atmosphere throughout the streets and alleys. People flocked to the streets to participate in attractive competitions and dancing shows.
Bustling and vibrant atmosphere pervades the city with fun and exciting competitions such as mustache, scarf, camel racing… and colorful shops that attract leisure travelers.
The festival culminates at its peak at the full moon with a performance of sound and light performed by folk artists against the background of desert sand dunes.
If you can’t go to during Jaisalmer festival time, you can also arrange a visit to Jaisalmer in the winter months (November to March). In winter, Jaisalmer’s weather is mild, warm, not too hot like other seasons, giving you a comfortable feeling when sightseeing and take part in outdoor activities as well.
You should not go in the hot summer months, the temperature can reach up to 46-50 degrees Celsius.
Jaisalmer travel guide: How to get to Jaisalmer?
From the capital city of New Delhi, you can choose 2 means of transportation, which are train and plane to get to Jaisalmer city.
If traveling by train from New Delhi, it takes you 18 hours and the one-way first class fare is about $49 / person through the travel agent of Indian Railways is 12go.asia. Booking tickets through this way is a bit more expensive than booking directly on the Indian railway company’s website, but much easier, faster and simpler. One thing to note is that the way to buying tickets at the railway stations for foreigners is quite complicated and confusing. Therefore, you should book train tickets through the official agents of Indian Railways. Although there is a slight difference compared to the ticket price at the stations, in return, the procedure is much simpler and faster.
As for the plane, you can check the airfare of the low-cost Indian airline, SpiceJet which costs about $66 – $88 / way.
After arriving at the airport, you can rent a tuk-tuk to get to Jaisalmer city center for about 400 Rupees ($5.28). Remember to bargain before you take one because the tuk-tuk drivers always “hang the price in the sky” for the reason that it’s far from the airport to the city center.
Alternatively, you can also take the train from Jaipur to Jaisalmer for a distance of 580km and it takes about 10 hours to travel.
You can take a flight to Jaipur like me and the take a connecting train or take a bus to Jaisalmer.
A well-designed road network connects Jaisalmer with other parts of Rajasthan state and neighboring states. You can take a private or public bus from Bikaner, Barmer, Mount Abu and Ahmedabad, which you can book on the Redbus booking app.
Jaisalmer blog: Where to stay?
Jaisalmer is a tourist city, so the accommodation service here is quite developed. You can easily find hostels, hotels or even homestays, campsites here. The 3 most concentrated areas for accommodation in Jaisalmer can include:
- Around Jaisalmer Fort
- Inside the city
- Around the central market
Tips: If you want to stay comfortably, you should choose a hotel with a price of over $45 / night for peace of mind about cleanliness, comfort and security. Anyway, this is also a small tourist city, so the facilities and service will not be as professional as you think.
Below we recommend more best budget, mid-range and upscale hotels with good ratings and reviews you can refer to.
- Shahi Palace Hotel (Agoda.com or Booking.com)
- Suryagarh (Agoda.com or Booking.com)
- Hotel Lal Garh Fort And Palace (Agoda.com or Booking.com)
- Hotel Tokyo Palace Jaisalmer (Agoda.com or Booking.com)
- Jaisalmer Marriott Resort & Spa (Agoda.com or Booking.com)
- Hotel Pleasant Haveli (Agoda.com or Booking.com)
Jaisalmer blog: Where to go and things to do in Jaisalmer?
If you come to India for the first time and especially for the first time to Jaisalmer, you will be stunned by the smell of cow dung. Cows roamed everywhere in the city, they lying across and even block roads and their dung was scattered everywhere, blending and spreading in the dusty dust of sand, creating an indelible impression.
From the hotel to go to the attractions, you can book a tuk-tuk by day or by destination. Tuk-tuk is everywhere, so if you can’t choose one, find another one, just deal the price to 50% or at least 60-70% of the price they offer is reasonable. In case they complain far and cheap, just give them a map, show them the number of kilometers to go to negotiate the price.
Jaisalmer ancient fortress was built more than 10 centuries ago, during the past 1000 years, this place has always been a vibrant urban center, home to about 5,000 inhabitants.
The sandstone that was use to build up the fortress has the same color with the color of sand in Thar desert, so when the sunlight changes, the color of the fort changes follow the color of sand as a camouflage of the city. Besides, the fortress structure interspersed with narrow winding honeycomb-shaped streets leading to many temples, ancient houses along with a variety of restaurants, guesthouses and handicraft shops. Many tourists expressed interest in the silk carpets or rugs with elephant motifs in yellow, pink and blue colors, peacock-patterned doors, wood carvings and antique masks…
Jaisalmer Fort is like the heart of this small city, because from every nook and cranny you can see the iconic stronghold dyed a striking sandstone yellow on a high hill.
Surely this must be the first place to visit because it contains almost all that remains of this city since ancient time from the oldest professions such as carpet making, embroidery… or temples, royal palace Raj Mahal and even the lifestyle of the people here, all will give you unforgettable experiences.
I spent a full day just wandering, curious to observe the very interesting things in Jaisalmer Fort in an ancient-like atmosphere. Jaisalmer’s inner city was built in 1156, with 76m high and still retains almost intact its original architecture. Inside, people live, trade and pray like a closed ancient town, very unique.
There are even homestays along with a lot of restaurants and coffee shops to serve visitors. The combination of the ancient way of life of the indigenous people and the whirlwind of the tourism sector run by families gives Jaisalmer Fort an indescribable attractive feature.
You can wander along the tiny cobblestone streets, seeing handicraft stalls, high-rise cafes or watch the children play exciting local games.
Wandering into the fortress, I was tempted by the architecture and decoration of the architectural complexes here, although the temples are relatively simple from the outside, once you set foot inside, you will enter a world of intricate stone carvings, from floor to ceiling, statues, ancient doorways and more.
You must definitely visit a rooftop coffee shop inside Jaisalmer Fort. From here, you can zoom in on a panoramic view of the beautiful city with a pure striking yellow color. The whole Jaisalmer is just a unique pure yellow color, mixed in the sand color of the famous harsh Thar desert. One name that can always be mentioned is the Kuku cafe shop which is located in a very nice location so you can enjoy the whole city view.