• jaisalmer travel tips

6 Reasons You’ll Love Jaisalmer

“I find Jaisalmer too touristy… you can’t really enjoy it”

 Blah, blah. Not true!

I loved Jaisalmer with a passion. I’m going to tell you 6 reasons why you’ll LOVE Jaisalmer, plus some Jaisalmer travel tips! I didn’t only love this desert town for the famous camel safari. It’s also got a still inhabited fort with massive imposing walls and surrounding mazes of alleyways. Such a fun place to explore and daydream.

The fort is literally a giant real life sandcastle. It’s magical. It was bustling with trade to Persia, but eventually Bombay took over, and now Jaisalmer is like an ancient town stuck in the past.

jaisalmer travel tips

IS the camel safari touristy? Well, if only I had a hobby of riding camels around the world so that I could do a comparison for you guys. In reality, I don’t decide if something isn’t worth my time by how touristy it has become. All that matters: it’s a fabulous escapade over soft rolling sand dunes just kilometers from Pakistan. That’s pretty cool.

Like all great attractions in the world, it has brought in curious people, but I’ve expressed before how you CANNOT let the threat of being labeled a tourist stop you from seeing the wonderful world!

You do NOT have to constantly “stay off the tourist path”. Sometimes, what the tourists are doing is a great adventure, and even without the safari, Jaisalmer is that, an adventure.

6 Reasons You’ll Love Jaisalmer

 1. The camel safari.

Of course! This is the number one reason because it was incredible and I would do it again in a heartbeat. I have another post dedicated to the details, read it here tomorrow.

jaisalmer travel tips

jaisalmer travel tips

2. The landscapes.

Remember the sandstone buildings I told you about in Jodhpur? Times that by ten! I don’t care if there are 10 million tourists (there weren’t), I felt like I was in an ancient hidden town of India. Granted, I was there October,  just before the crowd comes rolling in.

I could wander the streets all day, not see hardly any other western faces, gaping at the intricate carved details on the havelis that have magically held up over time.

jaisalmer travel tips

Each state in India varies so drastically in food, dress, and customs; Jaisalmer is no exception. The further into the desert I got, the darker and prettier their skin, the brighter their eyes, the more colorful the turbans, and more sequined the sari.

The women just keep layering on the gold and I couldn’t help but wear a couple jiggling anklets myself. I got more henna, more piercings (my friend had her nose pierced with a nail on the street!), and more photographs of kids.

jaisalmer travel tips

jaisalmer travel tips

jaisalmer travel tips

It is truly like walking through a movie set. I have to pinch myself to make sure it’s real. I didn’t take classes here or try anything new, other than the Fort… I really just spent my time sitting around, drinking chai, and people watching.

Someone would bump into me with a basket, and before I knew it a cobra would be feet from my face. I didn’t have to find adventure; it came to me in Jaisalmer.

jaisalmer travel tips

3. The Fort “Jaisalmer Fort”.

I loved touring through this old fort, and people still live in it. It used to hold the entire town, but now only 4,000 people live there, mostly Brahmin, the highest caste. The sandstone the fort is built from took the color desert sand, so as the sun changed it stayed cleverly camouflaged and giving it the name the “golden fort”.

Tourists are allowed to stay in the fort as well as a very decent price. There is substantial overcrowding and deteriorating plumbing. It is considered a little unethical to stay in the fort, and I found just touring it was fun enough for me.

The fort is busy with people and full of merchants as well as positive vibes! It’s a strange thing to be in a still in use fort, that hasn’t been turned into a museum.

Be ready to tell vendors no on repeat. I have never seen such lighthearted jokesters of merchants like here. They had funny signs about ripping tourists off, Viagra, magic bed sheets, and it made it much more relaxed.

jaisalmer travel tips

jaisalmer travel tipsthere are views of the fort from every angle! even when I hang my clothes out to dry

jaisalmer travel tips

4. Bhang Lassies.

Bhang is from the cannabis plant and is prepared and mixed in a yoghurt fruit drunk for your pleasure. This is considered a drug in many eyes, but not in India. This is part of the religious culture in India and shops are government approved.

There are a couple shops right before the entrance of the Fort. Prices are insanely cheap. You can get cookies as well. I have a list of tips, but please do be safe because they make these very strong, sometimes so they can take advantage of your state of mind. 

5. The Shopping.

Like everywhere else on the planet, I found good shopping here. Jaisalmer is known for it’s camel leather. They say they wait until the camel is dead, so no harm is done. Some say it’s not even camel leather at all.

Either way, I got lots of braided leather bracelets as gifts, a purse, and shoes for my mom, a couple cotton tank tops, and a leather crocodile Dundee hat for my brother, which was a massive hit! I purchased my leather from Vijay Leather Works on Asani Road. He does wholesale. You can call him at 02992 252 247 or e-mail him at [email protected]

What is THE BEST BUY in Jaisalmer, or all of Rajasthan? Hand embroidered wall hangings. I think Jaisalmer has the most beautiful of them all. Of all the ones I examined in Rajasthan, here had the most options and detail in design. The problem is, they are quite pricey being near a tourist attraction. It’s up to you! I’m actually going to write an entire post of this in the future!

jaisalmer travel tips

jaisalmer travel tips

6. Dinner with a view.

Like Jodhpur, Jaisalmer has many rooftop restaurants that offer views of the Fort while you eat. I wanted to branch out a little, and had dinner at a Royal Hotel by candlelight with a new friend, Beth.

I tried jeera rice (rice with cumin and peppercorn) instead of regular, but stuck with my favorite order of palak paneer, cheese naan, and dal.

jaisalmer travel tips

As for where to stay…

& one thing I didn’t love about Jaisalmer

 My bad experience with Hotel Garden City

After almost missing my bus from Jodhpur, and a horrible bus journey, I came into Jaisalmer at around 4 a.m. Traveling solo, I like to arrange a pick up from the hotel I’ll stay at. In India I usually pick a place to stay ahead of time just by calling and confirming they have a room.

Rates are low and competitive, so most will offer a free pick-up to make sure you stay with them instead of one of the other hundreds of guesthouses in the area. The hotel agreed to pick me up at 4 a.m. For the first time, a hotel disappointed me with pick up and I had to haggle with loads of rickshaw drivers in the dark, not even sure where the hotel was.

The room was to be 400 a night, and I paid half that for the rickshaw to go 2 minutes up the road.

jaisalmer travel tipsdon’t forget this is what a bus ride is like overnight in India!

jaisalmer travel tips

Now for the bad part, the nightshift guy woke up, let me into my room, and went back to bed. The room was horrible. I do NOT have high standards when I’m traveling budget, especially in India. I mean this was a cheap room; I wasn’t expecting much.

Maybe a sheet or blanket… a towel… working water… a fan.

I digress. So I got in my sleeping bag and slept for 3 hours. When I got up, I couldn’t get out of my room! It had not been communicated to the day-shift worker that I had checked in.

My room had been dead-bolted from the outside.

Being too far away to be heard, I had to crawl out the window after a 10 minute call for help.

My tired grumpy ass got the key, got my stuff, and told them they weren’t getting a penny before I stormed off.

I always have back-ups in case a guesthouse doesn’t work out and I headed there. I stayed at Hotel Swastika (a peaceful sign that Hitler twisted into a hateful reminder).  I was greeted with green tea and a cute little room right across from a bookstore. Thanks to hot water, I finally got my clothes a little cleaner (I’m not a great hand washing… I’m more of a swisher). The room was 250 rupees (5 USD) a night. Contact for reservation at 91 2992 252 483.

jaisalmer travel tips

Extra tip: ATM’s often run out of money here so get enough out before you come in case there’s an issue.

 

Did you enjoy this post? Let me know in the comments or by sharing it with the social media links! I’d love to keep giving you travel tricks & tips so feel free to subscribe by e-mail in the big purple box below. Don’t forget you can follow me on facebook, twitter, instagram & bloglovin‘.

2017-01-30T23:03:13+00:00

About the Author:

Rachel Jones left a career in nursing to live on the beaches of Goa, India almost four years ago where she is now a travel writer. Her website gives advice on the 35+ countries she's been to but has become the go-to site for India travel, focusing on offbeat places & “glamorous travel”. Hippie in Heels has been featured in ELLE magazine, Tripadvisor, and Thomas Cook. Her blog is one of the top 50 travel blogs in the world based on traffic. She also enjoys writing for BravoTV.

32 Comments

  1. Shalu Sharma April 30, 2014 at 11:04 am - Reply

    Jaisalmer is a lovely place, been there a couple of times. Although I would not suggest anyone take a camel ride as its not for the faint heated. Nice pictures.

    • Rachel Jones May 1, 2014 at 6:42 pm - Reply

      Yes it was a little bit challenging but was so fun! I would do a camel safari again.

  2. Maria from Nerd Nomads April 30, 2014 at 4:11 am - Reply

    Jaisalmer looks great! Nice photos! Would love to go on camel safari, looking forward to read your next blogpost with details about that. The hand embroidered wall hangings looks really beautiful, would love to buy one of those! You say they are pricey. How much would you have to pay for a wall hanging?

    • Rachel Jones May 1, 2014 at 6:38 pm - Reply

      the ones that are not as traditional are as low as 1-2,000 rs (up to 40 dollars) and the real ones can be as much as 1000 US dollars!

  3. Fiona April 30, 2014 at 7:12 am - Reply

    Your posts make me long to visit India. They are honest and paint a beautiful picture of the country.
    I have to comment on this ‘You do NOT have to constantly “stay off the tourist path”. Sometimes, what the tourists are doing is a great adventure’- such a good point. I find people sometimes become so obsessed with staying away from the tourist trail that they deliberately avoid some amazing sights and experiences

    • Rachel Jones May 1, 2014 at 6:39 pm - Reply

      I’m glad you agree! Especially in a place that is SOO chaotic and not touristy, even the “touristy” places aren’t at all compared to some in Europe, which are awesome too

  4. Christie @ The Butterfly Editions April 30, 2014 at 7:22 am - Reply

    I never made it to Jaisalmer when I was in Rajasthan, but it sure looks incredible. I hope to do a camel safari one day too, have heard so many good things! What a horrible experience you had at that Guesthouse, some of them can be awful can’t they. In Ahmedebad I arrived after midnight to one that I had booked over the phone earlier in the day however when we got there they claimed not to have any reservation, no vacant rooms, and were not helpful at all helping us find another place to stay – not what you want to deal with in the wee hours of the morning! Thankfully there are plenty of great guesthouses out there too :)

    • Rachel Jones May 1, 2014 at 6:40 pm - Reply

      Ahh I hate when that happens.. sometimes they get someone to pay more so they just give your room away :/ Glad you found somewhere else to stay! the camel safari was so fun, I have a post about it coming :)

  5. Rebekah April 30, 2014 at 8:01 am - Reply

    Your friend got a piercing with a nail? Thats hardcore. also getting locked in your room sounds horrible. I’m not sure what I would do…. The more I read your blog the more I want to go to India though….

    • Rachel Jones May 1, 2014 at 6:41 pm - Reply

      haha yes!! and he “sterilized” it with a lighter, but didn’t wash his dirty hands lol. She still has the piercing though and they had no problems.

  6. Catherine May 1, 2014 at 2:38 pm - Reply

    Wow, as if people still live in the fort, that’s amazing! Sounds like such a great place, shame about the first hotel but at least it makes for a good story :)

    • Rachel Jones May 1, 2014 at 6:47 pm - Reply

      that’s the thing about terrible days that happen while traveling, they make for the best stories ;)

  7. Colleen Brynn May 1, 2014 at 9:17 am - Reply

    You are right… and I know we agreed on this during one of our many discussions. Touristy things are touristy for a reason. I wish we as travelers could feel more free to just wander and do as we please and discover the curiosities we want to – even if they’ve been discovered a thousand or ten thousand times before us.
    This post makes me think it’s a shame I’m not going to make it to Jaisalmer… Anyway, if I’ve learned anything in these 2 months, it’s that I need to come back to India.
    Hope you are having a nice trip home. x

    • Rachel Jones May 1, 2014 at 6:48 pm - Reply

      You need to come back for sure!! so we can wander off and backpack together!

  8. Anna @ The Blonde Banana May 2, 2014 at 4:32 pm - Reply

    The camel safari sounds amazing. I’m always sad that I never did a camel trek while I was in Morocco…. guess I’ll have to plan a trip to India so I can do it!

    • Rachel Jones May 3, 2014 at 9:44 am - Reply

      Great reason to come to India! Let me know if you’re ever in Goa.

  9. Agness May 2, 2014 at 9:35 pm - Reply

    I have never heard of this place, but this camel safari would certainly make my stay there. Look at these local kids! They look so adorable. I’m in love with them already!

    • Rachel Jones May 3, 2014 at 9:47 am - Reply

      OHhh you would just love this town! It’s just something straight out of a book!

  10. Rebekah Voss May 3, 2014 at 8:11 am - Reply

    oh my GOD you were locked IN to your room? The claustrophobic in me would’ve freaked out. Awful! Good thing the rest of your trip was great, gorgeous photos. The colors are so vibrant it makes me feel like I could never be tired or in a bad mood again.

    • Rachel Jones May 3, 2014 at 9:53 am - Reply

      Yes I was locked in!! They use these huge deadbolts at guesthouses in India. It was so scary and I hadn’t gotten any sleep. But you’re right the place was so amazing it was forgotten pretty quickly :)

  11. Karyn @ Not Done Travelling May 6, 2014 at 1:46 am - Reply

    Whoa. That’s horrible that they locked you in the room. What if the window was locked too, or you hadn’t been able to get out of it??

    Also, your friend got a nose piercing with a nail on the street? lol!

    • Rachel Jones May 6, 2014 at 4:17 pm - Reply

      ha i knowww! so scary. and yes but her nose was completely ok after!

  12. Prince Bhatia May 20, 2014 at 8:40 am - Reply

    I have been to Jaisalmer several times, there is no doubt it’s a beautiful place. If you look at the prices of desert camps its cost more than the 4 star hotel for a night. The other problem is that people try to scam you with over price tours and activities which are not even worth the hassle.

    • Rachel Jones May 20, 2014 at 10:19 am - Reply

      Hmm, I think it depends where you look. Mine was less than 1500 rupees for overnight with food and camping and I had other offers for as low as 700 rupees. Just gotta shop around!

  13. Chico October 28, 2016 at 11:01 pm - Reply

    Well this tread is kinda old, but i had to comment. What a place Jaisalmer is.. One of the most beatifull places i for one ever visited though it’s been some years now. Must go back once in this lifetime.

  14. Natasha Welch November 2, 2016 at 3:10 am - Reply

    You are my absolute favourite travel blogger “Sometimes, what the tourists are doing is a great adventure” yes yes yes!! i dont know how i would go about planning my india trip without your blog!

    • Rachel Jones November 2, 2016 at 12:03 pm - Reply

      oh thanks!! I’m so glad my blog is helping you plan :) I tried to write these posts just like I would tell advice to a friend.

  15. Cindy Eyler December 18, 2016 at 10:16 pm - Reply

    oh i loved your segway… ” … don’t forget this is what a bus ride is like overnight in India! {inserted pic of what the bus ride is like LOL.. and then…) …Now for the bad part, (as if that wasn’t bad enough. wow what an experience you had at that first place… eek!! i love the way you write.

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