How do you squeeze in the vast complexity of Rajasthan in 14 days? Answer: you can’t. But you can visit the must-see attractions, explore the best cities, wander the deserts, and still have time for a spot of glamping.
Find your balance
So, you’ve decided on Rajasthan. Two weeks of annual leave booked. You’re all set to dive head first into this vast, majestic land. But with so much to see and do you’re constantly asking yourself how on earth you can squeeze it all into 2 weeks.
Don’t panic! The secret is to not do too much. It’s all about finding the right balance.
Follow the magic
Avoid jumping from city to city. They can be exhausting. The dust, the traffic, the heat and the crowds can leave your head spinning. And while the palaces and forts are undoubtedly stunning, cultural fatigue can soon set in.
Instead, go into the countryside to experience a more magical side to Rajasthan. Starry skies, friendly locals and sleepy villages feel lightyears away from the chaos, and give you a glimpse of Rajasthan on a more personal level.
Rajasthan in 14 days: How to plan your trip
Our India travel guru, Ben Reed, has tailored this amazing 2-week itinerary focusing on four regions: Delhi, Jaipur, Jodhpur and Jaisalmer
Days 1-2 Fly to Delhi
“Avoid Delhi at Christmas and New Year as the hotels are chocka and prices rocket,” says Ben. “For the cheapest flights to Delhi, consider stopping over in the Middle East rather than flying direct, but keep an eye on the layover times.”
Once you arrive, rejuvenate at the atmospheric Imperial Hotel. It’s grand, it’s dripping in history and the pool will be a godsend after travelling. The central location makes it ideal for sightseeing, but make sure you’re back in time for afternoon tea – it’s legendary.
Also, don’t let reports of ‘Delhi belly’ scare you. “Generally, the food is outstanding,” says Ben. “Just be careful of any raw fruit or veg that’s been washed in tap water, or street food that’s been sitting out for a while.”
Day 3 Hop on a train to Jaipur
It’s really worth factoring at least one train journey into your itinerary. But remember – don’t plan your schedule too meticulously. Allow some time for delays and cancellations. Things will happen when they happen!
The journey time from Delhi to Jaipur is about 5 hours on a high-speed train. “It’s a great way to mingle with locals while viewing the scenery – plus it’s far cheaper than hiring a driver,” says Ben.
Prices vary according to the class you choose, but they tend to start from around 500 rupees for a seat in an air-conditioned carriage.
Days 4-5Explore Jaipur
Discover the fabulous Pink City! Wander through sprawling Nahargarh Fort, see ancient Amber Fort and discover Jantar Mantar, the city’s 18th-century royal observatory.
“Make sure to spend time souvenir shopping,” says Ben. “Jaipur has a mindboggling array of markets and it’s the best place to stock up on vibrant Indian fabrics.”
Also, learn to bargain! It’s a way of life here, and you’re likely to find yourself getting horribly ripped off if you don’t join in. “Go in at a slightly lower price than you’re willing to pay,” advises Ben, “and work your way up from there.”
Afterwards, retreat to Samode Haveli, a palatial mansion that’s everything you imagine a former royal residence to be. It exudes elegance, with sweeping archways decorated in hand-painted frescoes, courtyards illuminated by candlelight, and colonnaded terraces for sipping tea in the cool shade.
Days 6-8 Escape to the countryside near Pali
Urban fatigue might have set in at this point, so hire a driver and zip off into rural Rajasthan for a good rest. The journey time should be around 4.5 hours, and once you arrive you can rejuvenate with a spot of lakeside glamping.
Chhatra Sagar’s magical tents gaze out over a lake that hosts more than 200 species of bird. Each luxury tent is hand-stitched and comes with hand-painted floor, along with an enormous bed and a hot shower. “The homecooked meals are stellar, as is the stargazing,” says Ben.
Days 9-10Continue to Jodhpur
Get lost in the Blue City! Arriving by car (the journey takes 2.5 hours), you can marvel at mighty Mehrangarh Fort, and admire the crumbling havelis (mansions) and artisanal workshops that look as though they’ve been lifted from a medieval film set.
“It’s a very walkable city, with lots of bazaars to browse,” says Ben. “Stroll to old Sardar Market to try Jodhpur’s famous Makhaniya Lassi, a sweet yoghurt drink that’s infused with saffron.”
Where to stay? There’s only one choice: RAAS Jodhpur, a smart haveli with knockout views, heavenly rooms and a gleaming infinity pool. It’s extraordinarily popular so make sure you book early.
Days 11-13Venture into the Thar Desert
The car journey takes 5 hours, but the 5-star treatment at Suryagarh will make your arrival a true delight. Better still, the hotel is damn good value!
The sandstone façade of this dazzling mansion protrudes from the desert like a mighty fortress. Rooms brim with character, the fare is authentic Rajasthani, and there’s an enormous programme of activities for exploring the dunes – plus mighty Jaisalmer Fort is only a short drive away.
Day 14Fly home from Delhi
Fly back from Jodhpur via Delhi, where there are lots of international flights. Suryagarh can arrange a transfer to either airport.
A final word from Ben:
“You might feel a wave of culture shock at first, but Rajasthani people are incredibly warm. The sights are astonishing, the food is out of this world, and most first-time visitors tell me they’re itching to return. There really is no place like it. Enjoy it, traveller!