Jaipur is an impressive city. As the capital of Rajasthan, and home to Jaipur’s royal family, it has a certain presence about it. At first glance, it doesn’t seem like a city made for families, but surprisingly, there’s a lot of things to do in Jaipur with kids. Beyond the busyness, the city itself is an ideal starting point for any family adventure in India and the best places to visit in Jaipur won’t disappoint at any age.
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The whole center of town is a terra cotta pink colour, with white designs etched into the buildings. Kacela was really excited for the pink city, and was a bit disappointed that it was more of an orangey-pink rather than the bright pink she pictured it would be. The monochromatic architecture provides a brilliant backdrop for the sights, sounds and smells eponymous with India.
Beautifully colourful women wander along the streets, hiding behind the thin veil of their sari-scarf. Men drink tea and commune on the sidewalks, wearing white kurta offset by a colourful turban, a curled-up mustache framing a friendly smile. There’s a cacophony of horns, animals and motors mixed in with the voices. It’s truly an assault on all senses, in a good way! It makes our Canadian life seem so drab and boring.
Jaipur is part of the famous “golden triangle” in India, which also includes Delhi and Agra. Most people will dip into Jaipur for a day or two, and then move on. We spent six nights in Jaipur, which seemed to surprise everyone we told! It wasn’t that we needed this much time in the city, just that we were ready to take it slow for a few days. There aren’t many specific places for kids in Jaipur, but there’s many tourist places in Jaipur that could easily be made kid-friendly. We didn’t fill up our 6 days by any means, and could easily have jammed everything into 2-3 days. However, it was nice to have a bit more time to get a feel for the city beyond the sites.
A Walking Tour with Yo Tours
We spent our first day in Jaipur doing nothing, and then decided it was time to get out and see a bit of what the city had to offer. I always like doing free walking tours when they’re available, because the tour has to be good in order for the guide to get paid (their only payment is their tip)! In general, I find them to be a great way to get a feel for a new city. Yo Tours offers free walking tours throughout India, and we decided it would give us a good overview of the places to visit in Jaipur. We lucked out, as we were the only ones on the tour the day we went! We covered a lot of ground, went inside a few temples, and our guide pointed out various things to see in Jaipur and gave us suggestions on places to eat. We learned a bit of history about the city, (like why everything is terracotta pink) and got a good grasp on what there was to do and see in the center of town. I wouldn’t consider this a must-do, but it was a nice introduction to the city.
Searching for the Royal Family at The City Palace in Jaipur
If there’s a castle, palace, or anything that has to do with princesses, it seems to make it’s way onto our sightseeing list. The City Palace in Jaipur was no exception! We spent almost our entire third day at this Jaipur Palace!
Jaipur is the capital of Rajasthan, and the royal family still lives here. This made it extra-intriguing for the girls, although they were quite disappointed not to be able to visit them. The living quarters are off limits, but much of the rest of the palace can be visited.
We picked up an audioguide at the entrance, although looking back we could’ve skipped it. Had we visited on our own, the audioguide would’ve been well worth the money. However, it didn’t get used much with the kids! I had read on the City Palace website that activity books were available for kids, so once inside we went on a hunt to find them. Occasionally they’ll have them at the same place as the audioguide, so if you go, make sure you ask there first. Sadly for us, we weren’t that fortunate. The lady told us we could find find the activity books at the gift shop.
On our way to the gift shop we passed the Textile House. It was the first stop on our audiotour so we decided to pop in and look around. This was a mistake because we didn’t have our activity books yet! Even without them the girls enjoyed looking at the clothes, especially the intricately embroidered wedding gowns. From there, the Museum gift shop is hiding in the back-left corner of the courtyard. We found the activity booklets, and picked up a Level 1 pack for each girl. There were three different levels, for ages ranging from 8 years old to 12+.
(Kacela took her activity book work very seriously!)
Once we got the books, the girls quickly got to work. What should’ve been a 90min visit, quickly turned into 3.5 hours! It was such a fun way to guide us through the complex, and maintain the girl’s interest.
There were more tourists here than we’d seen together in any one place in Jaipur, but it still wasn’t overly busy. There were a few larger, open spaces where the kids could run and play. They blew off a bit of steam practicing their “leaps” in one of the courtyards before taking a break in the restaurant, Baradari, for a (very) light lunch.
The restaurant itself is incredibly beautiful, with the nicest bathrooms we’d seen in India! The prices matched our expectation, but the food didn’t match the price. However, it was well past noon and we needed a bit of sustenance. I definitely didn’t expect to spend as long at the Palace as we did.
(There were so many pretty doorways!)
Once the activity books were completed, we returned to the museum gift shop to show the finished product in exchange for a small prize. The girls each got to pick out a postcard and we all left happy. Well, mostly happy. The girls were hoping for a bigger “prize” than a postcard! So, we found cotton candy and masala chai on the street outside. The Palace was one of the highlights of our Jaipur visit, and even with the slight disappointment of not seeing the royal family, it was a very enjoyable day.
(A better prize than a postcard according to the girls)
That evening we made our way to the Peacock Restaurant. It’s a bit of a ways outside the city center, but was walking distance to our hotel. The atmosphere was fantastic, and we had a relaxing evening watching the sun set from the rooftop restaurant. My only disappointment was that they didn’t start the Tandoor until 7pm. We settled for tawa naan, but this officially marked the beginning of our seemingly continual search for tandoori naan! In my North American world, the very definition of naan is that it’s made in a tandoor. It’s stretchy and chewy and delicious. Now, there’s nothing wrong with tawa naan (cooked on a flat surface on the stovetop), but it just isn’t the same.
A Local Experience (another walking tour!)
The next morning, we were up for another walking tour! As much as we enjoyed our walk with YoTours, I was looking for a bit more food and culture. I found Kumar, and his company Jaipur Cultural Walk, via Trip Advisor. He had fantastic reviews and it seemed like exactly the experience we were looking for. I booked a private, 5 hour, food and artisan tour. It was the perfect mix. We started by visiting a few different food stalls, eating delicious samosas, gulab jamen and drinking masala chai.
Then, it was into the side streets to visit local artists. We visited a sculpter, iron-worker, potter and bangle shop.
Kacela was quite taken with all the artists, but her absolute favourite was the potter. She couldn’t wait to get her hands dirty and try the pottery wheel herself. It took a few tries, but she eventually managed to make a “blessing dish” without getting it all mangled. Calais was happy to watch, but being a little perfectionist she didn’t want to try because it looked too hard!
Calais’ favourite was the bangle shop. The girls each had a bangle made specially for them by the friendly proprietor. As we started down the bangle street, Kumar told us that many people would invite us into their shops, but to politely decline and keep walking. He’d chosen the poorest family so they would, at least, get the visiting money he pays to each artisan. I thought to myself, “this is the kind of tour I want to be supporting”!
After 5 hours of walking and rickshaw rides, we finished with a late lunch at Midtown Multicuisine restaurant. The views over the city were fantastic, and it was quiet enough that it felt like a little oasis. We had the chance to have a great conversation with Kumar about the caste system in India, and ask some general questions that came to mind. It was a wonderful tour, and we really felt like we got great value for our money.
(We visited the flower market, a fruit and veggie market, and the wedding market. The wedding market was SO busy. We made a train and shuffled past the throngs of people while the girls watched the ground for “jewels”, their favourite pass-time!)
Getting Lost in Amer Fort in Jaipur (Amber Fort)
There are so many forts around Jaipur, it could easily become overwhelming and boring, for us and the kiddos! We had enough time to visit them all, but it just didn’t seem worth it. Even with multiple options, we typically choose just one, either the best or the best for kids. In Jaipur, the best fort to visit is Amber Fort.
Our tuk tuk driver from the previous night offered to pick us up and take us to the fort. Initially I wanted to go first thing in the morning, but he convinced me that it would be very busy at 8am when it opened and that it’d be better to go at 10am. So, he picked us up at 10am and we made our way out of town to the fort.
It’s a bit of an uphill climb to the entrance, and I’d read a few reports that had me dreading it! In reality though, it was about 5 min and not strenuous at all (for a 5 & 7 year old). There are elephants available to carry tourists up the hill. However, the elephants aren’t treated well, and we avoid elephant riding on principal. As beautiful as the elephants were, all painted and decorated, it was heart-breaking to see them slogging up hill in the heat. They just looked sad. The walk was easy enough that the elephants definitely weren’t required.
Amber Fort is an impressive structure. It’s the former capital of Jaipur State, and is a testament to just how powerful the Rajput’s must have been. It was one of those places where I loved just standing in the courtyard, picturing what life would’ve been like in the 1600’s after completion of the initial fort. In my mind, I replaced the tourists with peasants, and the souvenir hawkers with merchants, and the whole place sprung to life. We chose not to get the audio-tour, and just enjoyed wandering the gardens and corridors. I was incredibly surprised by the amount of freedom we had to just roam around inside the fort. The kids had a blast being adventurers, exploring the different tunnels and making up games as they went. We told our driver we’d only be an hour, and although we took a bit longer, we could’ve easily spent a couple hours just letting the kids roam and run free.
On our way back into town, we stopped to have a look at the Water Palace, and grab a small snack at one of the food stalls along the promenade. The Jal Mahal (water palace) isn’t open to the public, which is kind of unfortunate. Of the five stories, four are submerged when the lake is full.
Studying the Stars at Jantar Mantar
We were scheduled to leave Jaipur in the late afternoon on our last day. We had one last morning, and figured we should head back into the city center one last time to check out Jantar Mantar. We’d initially planned to come here after our visit to the City Palace, as it’s just across the street. However, we’d taken so long at the City Palace we ran out of time. Instead, we decided to make the most of our last morning and went to check out Jantar Mantar. Technically it’s an observatory, with a number of sun dials and other astrological measuring devices. It was a fascinating place to spend an hour or two. We had a fun time looking at the differences between the winter and summer sundials, and finding our astrological symbols. The best part was the ice cream stop at the exit!
India is relatively conservative, especially in many parts of Rajasthan. If you’re wondering what you should wear, check out this post on packing for India from a local! It’ll give you a good idea of what type of clothes you should wear, but also what you can buy while you’re there!
Where We Stayed
Our accommodation was so poor here I’m not even going to mention it!! Jaipur is a fairly popular city, and by the time I got online to book there was very little available in our price point that looked adequate. We stayed in the Bani Park area, which was close enough to the city center (about 100 ruppees by rickshaw into the center) to be easily accessible, but we still felt like we were in a local neighbourhood. If I had more options, I would’ve stayed at All Season’s Homestay (budget accommodation) or Buddhayan Villas Apartment (mid-range).
Where We Ate
Grill & Curries
This was our first proper meal in India, so I might be a bit biased! The restaurant is located in a small shopping plaza near the train station, close to a number of ATM machines, money changers, and the Airtel shop (for a SIM card). Our meal was fantastic, everything I was hoping for from my first “real” Indian meal!
Cost: 1075 rupees ($21.50 CAD) for 3 dishes, 2 naan and soft drinks
This was sadly the WORST chai we had in India! The view was fantastic, especially during sunset, but I’d suggest sticking to the coffee or a soft drink and staying away from the chai!
Cost: 370 ruppees ($7.40 CAD) for chai, coffee, soft drink and a snack.
Baradari (City Palace)
This restaurant is located in a quiet garden inside the City Palace in Jaipur. The food was mediocre, and overpriced, but somewhat to be expected given the location. I don’t think it’s worth stopping in for a full lunch, but it’s a good place for a cold drink, snack, and to rest your legs if you end up staying for 3.5hrs like we did!
Cost: 1485 rupees ($29.70 CAD) for 2 appetizers, 2 soft drinks and a latte
The food here was delicious and the view over the city, especially during sunset, was spectacular. The only side note is that they don’t turn on the tandoor until 6:30pm, so there’s no tandoor naan available until then!
Cost: 1041 rupees ($20.80 CAD) for 2 meals, bread, a pot of chai and large bottle of water
This was our valentine’s day dinner, so we splurged a little (and had 2 glasses of wine!). The food was good, but not amazing give the price. The girls ordered pizza, and it was sufficient for them. The highlight was the ice cream for dessert, and the wine!
What We Did
There aren’t a lot of exclusive places to visit in Jaipur for kids, or specific kid activities in Jaipur, but there’s still a lot to do!
The best place to visit in Jaipur with family is the City Palace…if you get the activity book! It only costs a few dollars, but provides a ton of great entertainment for the kids. If you’re not with kids, grab the audioguide. It’s incredibly informative, and it’s a place where you’ll want to know what you’re looking at!
Cost: 500 rupees ($10 CAD) per adult, 500 ($10 CAD) for the audio guide, kids free. Activity books was 50 rupees each.
Amer Fort (Amber Fort)
The Amber Fort is quite impressive, and should top the list of things to do in Jaipur for kids. It should also top your list if you’re going without kids!! It’s nice to get out of the city a bit, and the scale of this fort is incredible. There are so many hidden passageways to wander and explore. If you’re really interested in history it’s worth getting the audioguide or an actual guide. If you just want to explore, skip the guide and get lost in the fort!
Cost: 500 rupees ($10 CAD) each (kids free)
Yo Tours Walking Tour
I’d recommend the YoTour Free Walking Tour for any age, as it gave a great overview of the places to see in Jaipur. Our guide was enthusiastic and full of great recommendations. It’s a fantastic introduction to the city.
Cost: Free (kind of!) Because we were the only ones on our tour, I voluntarily paid the private tour price of 500 rupees ($10 CAD) per person.
Jaipur Cultural Walk
We did the Old City of Jaipur Guided Walking Tour with Kumar. He was friendly and very knowledgeable about the city. We ate some great food, walked down a number of back streets, and interacted with locals in a way we’d never be able to on our own. I love that he’s been deliberate in his choice of artisans to visit, and pays a visit fee so there’s no pressure to buy. He has a young son himself, so was able to easily adapt the tour to our kid’s pace. This made the experience much more enjoyable for everyone!
Cost: 2000rupees ($40 CAD) per adult, 1250 rupees ($25 CAD) per child
Although Jantar Mantar wouldn’t be on my “must do” list of places in Jaipur, it was interesting to wander around for an hour or so. Because it’s located right outside the City Palace gate, it’s easy to combine with a visit to the Palace if you’re interested. It would be worth getting a guide if you want to know and understand what all the large instruments actually do beyond the small description provided. It was a great place for the kids to roam around, and there’s a stall at the exit with ice cream and tea, which made it that much better for everyone!
Cost: 200 rupees ($4 CAD) each, kids free
What Did We Spend?
Average per day in Jaipur was $133.38, average per day in India was $132.78.
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