Finally got to cross India off my bucket list. Visiting India with all its vibrant colors and flavors has been on my list forever, but I've always been a bit concerned about going because of its reputation of being "unsafe"... I finally manned up and booked my ticket. Jacob and I had a week off from school in February, so we didn't have a long time to spend. India is too big to see in only a week, however, eight days in the Golden Triangle is about perfect! And no, it wasn't as scary as I thought it would be. I've written a whole post about safety if you have the same concern. You can read it here. Hopefully this will inspire you to visit India as well and maybe you can use this as inspiration for your own itinerary one day!
THIS GUIDE WILL INCLUDE
Important tips to know before travelling to India
Our day-to-day itinerary
Map of itinerary
IMPORTANT TIPS TO KNOW BEFORE TRAVELLING TO INDIA
Buy a sim-card with data in the airport - no matter how long the cue is!
Travel by day to stay/feel the safest
Bring long skirts and dresses for fewer looks from locals and for temple visits
Always buy tickets online or from official ticket stands
Download the Uber and/or Ola app (same thing but Ola is the local version)
Bring hand sanitiser and wash hands often
Buy pro-biotics as a pre-trip prevention to avoid Delhi Belly
Bring lots of cash since very few places take credit card
This is just a short overview of the good stuff. Want to really prepare yourself? Go read my post All you need to know before travelling to India for all of the tips and why it's so important!
OUR DAY-TO-DAY ITINERARY
We arrived in Delhi Airport and started our journey here. Eight days later we flew back to Denmark from the same airport with a short but sweet roundtrip in-between. There is a few ways to do this, which I will go over... Lots of people book a day-tour or a two-days-tour from Delhi to Taj Mahal (Agra) and back. Then they fly from Delhi to Jaipur and back. That's because it's not the easiest to travel between Agra and Jaipur. It's a short flight, however, the flights are often cancelled last minute (which we learned the hard way). Our flight was cancelled an hour before take-off. We took a six-hour cap ride instead, which in hindsight, we should have just done in the morning instead of wasting several hours waiting on a plane.
DAY 1 - EXPLORE DELHI
We arrived in Delhi a little before noon with the intentions to go explore the city. Unfortunately for us, we picked the wrong day and arrived on an election day. The whole city was closed until midnight - including our hotel. Our trip was off to a bad start, but we didn't let it ruin the fun. We got a cab and went to our next stop: Agra. A 3-4 hour drive from Delhi, which we were supposed to do the next day anyways.
Hopefully this won't happen to you, so I'll tell you what we where supposed to see:
Jama Masjid - one of India's largest mosques
Drive through India Gate
Humayun's Tomb and its symmetrical gardens
Old Delhi Spice Market rooftop
Tip! Delhi has a well-functioning metro system. The cheapest and easiest way from the airport to the city is with the metro. It can be a bit difficult to find the metro at the airport due to bad signage.
DAY 2 - TRAVEL TO AGRA
Take the train or Uber to Agra early in the morning so you'll get the most out of the day. First stop in Agra is lunch at Saniya Palace Restaurant. It is a hotel but on the roof there's a restaurant for both guests and non-guests. From here you have the best views of Agra and the first glimpse of Taj Mahal - also amazing and cheap Indian food. There's a few other sights besides Taj Mahal worth visiting in Agra. We chose to go to Akbar's Tomb in Sikandra. You can also go to Mini Taj, Jahangir Mahal or Jawab Masjid. In the afternoon, we went down to Yamuna River. If you go to the East Gate of Taj Mahal, follow the wall to the water, then at one point the road splits in two. The road near the wall leads down to the place at Yamuna River where you can rent a 10 minutes boat ride to see Taj Mahal from the water. I recommend timing it for sunset to get the most out of your money!
DAY 3 - TAJ MAHAL SUNRISE/SUNSET
Book a ticket online to skip the line at Taj Mahal. We booked our tickets for 30 minutes before sunrise (when they open) so the crowd was as little as possible. Still there was a pretty long cue outside the East Gate, however, it was quite peaceful when we were inside. It can be quite foggy in the morning, but the views are still amazing! First stop was at the pool in front of Taj Mahal. Second stop is the gates to the left of the Taj. If you go really fast, you might get a completely undisturbed picture with the gateway framing Taj Mahal. After this you can relax and breath all the beauty in!!
If you only have one day in Agra, I would spend it at Taj Mahal and Agra Fort; my second favourite place in Agra. Here you can spend hours wandering around in the red and white fort. It's completely red on the outside but white marble on the inside. Spare the trouble of bringing your tripod to neither Agra Fort or Taj Mahal because you'll be asked to leave it outside.
For sunset we wanted to go to Taj Mahal again to see it at sunset, but we mistakenly bought tickets for the wrong date hahaha. Instead we decided to see the sunset from the famous garden Mehtab Bagd on the opposite side of the lake, which provides you with cheaper but still undisturbed views of the Taj.
DAY 4 - TRAVEL TO JAIPUR
Either you can choose to go back to Delhi and catch a flight to Jaipur from there or you can take a cab from Agra to Jaipur. Either way, most of the day will be spend on transportation. If you're in Jaipur before sunset, I recommend eating at The Tattoo Café & Lounge across from Hawa Mahal. Then you'll start your Pink City adventure with something pink and something beautiful. However, be ready for lots of people here at sunset.
DAY 5 - JAIPUR'S OLD CITY
Today is mostly sightseeing in Jaipur's old city. It's possible to walk between many of the sights, however, you can take a Tuk Tuk as well - make sure to bargain hard!! You enter the city through the Pink walls and gates of the old city. First stop is City Palace. They open at 9.30am. There are various tickets, but I recommend doing the expensive one where you get access to the Chandra Mahal (where the royal family lives) with a personal guide. When you're inside, first stop should be the courtyard called Pritam Niwas Chowk. It's accessed through an exit on the far side of the main courtyard (ask your guide). Here you'll find the four doorways representing the four seasons. The most famous is the Peacock Gate pictured below. If you're hungry, the Palace Café is really cute!
Second stop is just next door; Jantar Mantar. It's a collection of astrological instruments looking like massive sculptures. The largest instrument is a sundial with a shadow that can move up to four meters an hour. The next few hours are for the bazaars. There's a bazaar on basically every street but a few of the famous ones are Johari Bazaar for jewelry, Chandpole Bazaar for handicrafts and Bapu Bazaar for all Jaipuri items.
A sunset point you cannot miss in Jaipur is Nahargarh Fort. It is actually a 40 minute cab ride into the mountains next to Jaipur, but from the fort walls you can see the whole city. When you are at the parking area, go to the right side and follow the wall for a few hundred meters for a free sunset views from the wall. On your way there, you should stop and take a look at the Water Palace which is about half way there.
DAY 6 - AMBER FORT
Today is for sightseeing in Amer which is 11 kilometres from Jaipur. If you want to get a photo walking in the step wells of Panna Meena ka Kund, sunrise is the time to go. It's actually not allowed for tourists to go down anymore, which is why you have to go before anyone else and cross your fingers that the guard will let you do it for a fee. At 8am Amber Fort opens, which is the main attraction in Amer - and for good reasons. It's best to be there when they open to avoid crowds, and luckily, Amber Fort is only a short walk from the step wells!
First stop is the entrance to the palace, also called Ganesh Pol. This is the most beautiful piece of architecture which you can see in the picture below. Then you are free to roam the narrow and maze like corridors of the fort. You can easily spend half-a-day here. Make sure to find the room with the small holes in the walls. It was made for the Queen, so she could look out on the people without being seen. Next stop is just beneath the fort at the parking lot near Dil Aaram Bagh. It's the best view point of the Maotha Lake and the fort. Furthermore, it's a pigeons paradise!
For sunset we went to the Amber Fort View Point (location on Google Maps). It's a bit of a climb but the views are worth it!! There's a long and narrow stairway up to the wall and the beautiful (and insta-friendly) watchtowers. It might be even better for sunrise, so if the step wells aren't your thing, I recommend doing this instead.
DAY 7 - SCENIC RESTAURANT TOUR
This day is not about the best authentic Indian food (you can get that around every street corner), but the best scenic restaurants! Either because the restaurant is a piece of art or it's surrounded by beautiful sights. Our breakfast stop was the last one of the above. It's the Wind View Café opposite of Hawa Mahal. They open at 8am but anywhere before noon is a good time to go because the sun won't be too harsh on the beautiful Hawa Mahal and you can really see its beauty!! They don't have a very big menu, so you can also choose to go to the next door neighbour, Tattoo Café and Lounge, for brunch.
Lunch was at the Sicily-inspired Caffé Palladio. Might be my favorite place in all of Jaipur. The whole place is a pastel colored wonderland with the most amazing Italian food. I almost forgot I was in India. It's a great place to get away from the noisy city and relax for a few hours. Dinner was at the dinner-version of the café; Bar Palladio. Instead of a pastel colored wonderland, everything is blue with candles and fairy lights in the garden to watch the sunset from. On our way home, we stopped at Albert Hall Museum. The museum facade is lit by a beautiful light show every night which is worth a visit.
DAY 8 - BACK TO DELHI
Today we're flying from Jaipur to Delhi. It's a short hour flight, which gives us some time to explore as well. Approximately 5 minutes from the airport there's our last sight to see. The colorful Patrika Gate at Jawahar Circle. It's a quick stop, so you can do it on your way to the airport. When you're back in Delhi, it's time to catch up on what you missed the last time you were here. We didn't get to see anything in Delhi the last time, but we decided to go see Arakashan Road and it didn't disappoint. It's a cute road that takes you back in the days with cool neon signs and hotels.
The prices in India are pretty low. However, at the markets and for transportation you have to bargain hard to get good prices! I'm terrible at bargaining but luckily Jacob is a bit more fearless when it comes to that. If we wanted to take a rickshaw somewhere, I'd go on the Ola app first to see what the prices for a cab would be and then I knew what I was willing to pay for the rickshaw.
Here's what one person spent on...
Hotels - $26 per night (hotels with pools so not budgetting much) (182 DKK)
Food - $12 (it's def possible to eat a lot cheaper!) (80 DKK)
Rickshaws/cabs/metro (in cities) - $44 in total (300 DKK)
Uber from Delhi to Agra - $30 (200 DKK)
Ola from Agra to Jaipur - $25 (175 DKK)
Flight from Jaipur to Delhi - $52 (360 DKK)
Entrances - $66 in total (450 DKK)
Taj Mahal entry - $15 (100 DKK)
Yamuna River boat ride - $7 (46 DKK)
SIM card - $6 (40 DKK)