Entering Gadisar Lake, you feel like entering a fairy garden.

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!

View of the pier at Gadisar Lake.
Panoramic view of Jaisalmer city seen from Jaisalmer Fort. | jaisalmer blog

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.

India, which breaks all of my personal notions and prejudices about religion.

Jaisalmer blog: Overview of Jaisalmer

Jaisalmer is like the heart of the vast Thar desert. | jaisalmer blog

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.

Jaisalmer is a city located in the vast Thar desert, in the state of Rajasthan, northwest India. | jaisalmer blog

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”.

Jaisalmer or the “Golden City of India” still well preserves its huge golden sandstone structures from castles, fortress, palaces, buildings to houses which stretching endlessly in the large desert of Thar as a legendary mark of a glorious period in the past. | what to do in jaisalmer

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.

The whole city of Jaisalmer is as beautiful as a fairy tale full of mysteries that the more you discover the more you feel excited! | what to do in jaisalmer
Jaisalmer still has many cultural heritages and monuments of great value, which makes curious visitors come here to explore and experience. | jaisalmer blog

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.

Riding a camel on the endless sand dunes is an unforgettable experience when coming to Jaisalmer.

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.

Women wearing colorful sarees.
Brilliant sunset in the Thar desert. | what to do in jaisalmer

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…

Located on the main axis of the Silk Road, Jaisalmer is famous for silk products, embroidery with diverse patterns and motifs. | jaisalmer blog

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.

Jaisalmer desert festival. | what to do in jaisalmer

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.

Jaisalmer, the Golden City is located in the heart of the Thar Desert, where settings often appear in Bollywood’s cult movies. | jaisalmer blog

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.

Train

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.

Jaisalmer Railway Station. | what to do in jaisalmer

Plane

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.

Train from Jaipur to Jaisalmer. India’s railway system is very developed, the railway station in Jaisalmer is well connected with other major cities such as Delhi, Jaipur, Agra and Jodhpur. | jaisalmer blog
An old man waiting for his train, 20km from Jaisalmer station. | jaisalmer tourist guide

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.

To getting around Jaisalmer, you can use tuktuk service or rent a motorbike. | jaisalmer blog

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
Jaisalmer is quite small, with the area of just over 5 square kilometers for the whole city, so wherever you stay in the city center, you can also go to the tourist attractions very close and convenient.
The Golden Haveli hotel that I stayed in Jaisalmer. | jaisalmer blog
Golden Haveli’s room. | jaisalmer tourist guide

You can check rates and book a room at Golden Haveli via Agoda.com or Booking.com.

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.

Tokyo Palace Jaisalmer overlooking Jaisalmer Fort. | jaisalmer blog

Check out more top and best hotels in Jaisalmer on Agoda.com or Booking.com.

Jaisalmer blog: Where to go and things to do in Jaisalmer?

View from Golden Haveli hotel, you can see in the distance is the heart of the city, Jaisalmer Fort.

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.

Cow everywhere. | jaisalmer blog

Jaisalmer Fort

View of the city seen from Jaisalmer Fort. | jaisalmer tourist guide

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 blog

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.

The entrance to the inner citadel of Jaisalmer Fort. | jaisalmer blog

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.

Souvenir shops inside Jaisalmer Fort.

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.

Locals sunbathe in front of an ancient palace. The weather was now the beginning of winter. | jaisalmer blog

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.

Strolling around the nooks and crannies of Jaisalmer Fort, you will see a lot of interesting experiences about the life of the locals.
Inside Jaisalmer Fort, there are still many valuable architectures. | jaisalmer tourist guide
You will find a lot of coffee shops, restaurants and even homestays inside the inner citadel of Jaisalmer Fort. | jaisalmer blog
Finding a rooftop cafe and seeing the whole city from above is a must-do! | jaisalmer tourist guide

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.

Me and the owner of a traditional handmade carpet workshop passed down for 5 generations, he live in a tiny house inside Jaisalmer Fort. | jaisalmer blog
It is known that this is the traditional profession of his family for many generations.
He said that these Saree carpet products are made by people in the family, wholesaled everywhere and especially sold to Chinese people a lot. They buy and resell with many times higher prices under the name of Chinese goods.
Saree silk carpets are really beautiful at affordable prices. | jaisalmer tourist guide
The sandstone of the fortress is the same color with sand in the desert, so when the sunlight changes, the color of the fort also changes with the sand as a camouflage of the city.
Jaisalmer ancient fort is the only fort in India where residents live right inside the fort.
| jaisalmer blog
Another view of the fort.

Buildings built entirely by sandstone with intricate stone carvings.
Jaisalmer city view from the fort. | jaisalmer blog

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