13 Little Known Tips for Taj Mahal Visit

A trip to India is pretty incomplete without visiting its most famous landmark! The Taj Mahal isn’t only famous for India, it’s famous all around the globe, with millions of visitors every year. Here are all my best, little-known tips for Taj Mahal visit, so you can make the most of your trip.

The Logistics of a Taj Mahal Visit

First and foremost, if you’re not on a budget, I’d recommend planning your Taj Mahal visit with a tour. It’s a bit out of the way, and there are so many tours that will make it such a smoother experience. 

GAdventures has so a lot of longer itinerary options, which you can check out here. Meanwhile, Viator has some shorter itinerary options here.

ALSO, don’t forget to get your visa! You do need one to visit India in general, and it would be a shame to read all these tips, arrive in India, and realize you can’t even enter the country! I swear by iVisa. It’s easy and straightforward. Check out my post on getting a tourist visa for India here and check what you need on iVisa here.

IF you want to do it on your own, here’s my experience.

Visiting the busier Taj Mahal after such a zen experience in Rishikesh probably wasn’t the best idea. We had such a relaxing time at our ashram and were sort of dreading going to Agra. I’m not going to lie- I just wanted to fast-forward and have already seen the Taj Mahal. It was starting to feel like a chore.

Chloe and I hitchhiked to Haridwar, where we took a rickshaw to the bus stop. The bus to Agra was pretty unbearable. I was still suffering really bad from the side effects of dengue fever and the last couple hours I was in tears telling Chloe I think I needed to go to a hospital. I wasn’t eating because I knew I’d just get stomach cramps, and I think we were both dehydrated and tired. (Guys, get travel insurance. Dengue fever is no joke)

If you go to the Taj Mahal, I highly recommend not taking the bus. You can take a train or, much more easily, fly into Delhi or Agra. Check out Kiwi to see all your budget options.

The Taj Mahal is a World Wonder perfectly placed on the Yamuna River and stunningly magical, but the same can’t be said about Agra. If you want to plan a Taj Mahal visit, you will have to base yourself out of Agra. It’s a loud crowded town filled with pollution, touts, and litter. 

I wouldn’t stay in Agra for longer than necessary.

I know some people will be offended by this, but hey, like I always say: I’m going to tell it on the blog like I would to a friend, and I wouldn’t be telling my bestie to book a few nights in Agra.

We got in and out easily thanks to catching up with a couch surfer. He even let us leave our bags at his place. He’s a police officer and drove us to the Taj area then picked us up later. So nice and helpful! He really was a saint especially with how sick I was feeling. This is where Chlo and I said our goodbyes and I went on to Varanasi while she went off to dusty Rajasthan.

Anyhow, here are my little tips for actually visiting the Taj Mahal!

13 Tips for Taj Mahal Visit

1. First of all, I recommend reading up on the Taj.

I’m not going to go into the past here, but it did take 22 years to complete. It’s made of all marble, and took 20,000 workers to build. All to show love to a woman. Some say the workers’ thumbs were cut off so they couldn’t ever build something like it again.

Taj Mahal Agra travel tips

Taj Mahal Agra travel tips

2. It is hard to get to if you aren’t doing the Golden Triangle all at once.

It’s less than 200 km from Delhi, but you’ll most likely book a local bus at the station. Follow my local bus tips to stay safe. You can hire a driver or tour guide from Delhi to plan a daylong tour. You can also take a train in or fly!

So many of my friends who come to visit me in Goa, first fly into Delhi so they can go see the Taj. They take a day tour from Delhi to Agra and back to Delhi where they then fly onward to Goa. These tours are easy breezy and take out all the headache. You can do a Viator tour by car or a tour by train

3. If you have the budget and time to do so, stay at the Oberoi Amarvilas Agra Hotel.

You can see the Taj from your hotel window just like so many celebrities and royals have! Now, unfortunately, I am not a famous blogger who gets free stays at 5-star hotels, but in this case, if you own this hotel and are reading this, please, hit me up! ;) I will totally let you pour me a cup of tea at the Oberoi!

4. Get there EARLY.

It opens at 6 am and you should be there right then! I didn’t make it at that time, and it was quite crowded while I was there. To me, it wasn’t a big deal- I’m not much of a monument person anyway. I know some people would have been bummed though.

5. Be prepared to be hassled.

And I don’t mean by vendors. I mean by the nicest families ever… but there are just a few too many of them. If someone wants a photo with you (and they will), just know that once you agree, a line will form. I must have taken at least 30 photos with people, and finally had to say no which always makes me feel bad when it’s nice people. You have to make sure you get your experience there, not just help make other people get a photo they want.

Taj Mahal Agra travel tips

Taj Mahal Agra travel tips

6. There are a few different entry gates.

They all charge the same. Foreigners pay 750 rupees while nationals pay 20 rupees. At the time, I was a little annoyed, but looking back now that I live in India, I completely understand. Foreigners get a free bottle of water, and everyone gets shoe covers you must wear inside.

7. You cannot bring snacks in with you.

They will search your purse. Lockers are located outside the gate. 

8. It’s a little bit of a toss up for what time of year to go to the Taj Mahal.

Read my tips on when to travel to India to know when the best time is for weather, but keep in mind, if you can handle the high heat off-season it would be ideal to miss the crowds.

9. Know ahead of time that although it’s gorgeous from the outside, the walk inside is… not…

It was like herding cattle and being pushed through the walkways of the Taj. It was quite stinky, hot, and crowded. I couldn’t wait to get to get back outside!

10. After the Taj, check out the Agra Fort before you head out of town.

11. Now for the shopping

Unless you want some wholesale marble (which is readily available) don’t shop in Agra. Prices are marked up 100x the real amount. Are you even surprised? I did buy a postcard here at 4x the normal price, but it was very pretty.

12. If you’re looking for the perfect photo, it seems all the best come from across the river.

I didn’t make it over there, and I am by no means a professional photographer, but if that’s your thing you’ll want to find a viewing point. They are not free.

13. Don’t plan your whole trip around seeing this monument.

If you can’t seem to fit it in your itinerary, it won’t be that big of a deal. You know, I once wrote a 4-page rant about my rickshaw driver in Jaipur, but in regards to one of the seven wonders of the world, I wrote, “I saw the Taj Mahal today”. That’s it. It was gorgeous just like the photos, but it wasn’t what made backpacking India special.

BONUS TIP: There is no dress code.

While there’s no specific dress code at the Taj Mahal, you do want to be mindful of your outfits in general. Check out my big post on the do’s and don’ts of how to dress in India

And, on a more fun note, wear something colorful! Since the Taj is all white marble, it’s the perfect place to wear your bright reds, yellows, purples, and blues. 

Here are some outfits that would be perfect!

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2017-07-12T07:22:27+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.

49 Comments

  1. Andrea Anastasiou July 29, 2014 at 3:23 am - Reply

    I’m so going to refer back to all these posts when I’m in India in October. I did wonder whether the Taj Mahal is worth a visit, but we’ve factored it in so I’m definitely intrigued by what it will be like.

    I also heard about people wanting to take pictures with you, but I didn’t realise people actually queue up for it! :)

    • Michael Huxley July 30, 2014 at 3:15 am - Reply

      Andrea, DEFINITELY factor it in, you will regret not seeing it while you had the chance if you don’t. :)

    • Rachel Jones July 30, 2014 at 7:09 am - Reply

      Yes if you’ve planned time for it definitely see it! they don’t always cue up, but here they sure did!

  2. Empty Rucksack July 29, 2014 at 9:16 am - Reply

    About point number 7,we have a joke amongst ourselves, foreigners’ ancestors took away the riches in the old days, now is payback time. Don’t tell me you did not visit fatehpur sikri?

  3. Di July 29, 2014 at 9:27 am - Reply

    Hi Racheal,

    Great photos Racheal

    I have never been to India only “little India” in Singapore. Love to go though

    Di

  4. Thanks for the tips. It is always hard to know how to approach travel to places like this.

  5. Justine July 29, 2014 at 7:39 pm - Reply

    I think it’s great that you’re being honest in your last comment. I think it’s important to keep expectations realistic. Sometimes it can be a bit of a let down to see world-famous sites, like the Taj Mahal. The reality of the crowds, etc. might be a little overwhelming and can even taint your experience. So it’s probably a good idea to not plan an entire trip around one thing.

    • Rachel Jones July 30, 2014 at 6:50 am - Reply

      Yeah it’s not something I would plan my trip around, but if in the area it’s obviously worth seeing!

  6. Michael Huxley July 30, 2014 at 3:12 am - Reply

    Great post, but there are a couple of things I slightly disagree with.

    I agree that Agra is not the greatest place in India by a long shot, in fact it is an absolute ….hole and in general I would agree it is not worth hanging round in. And that picture wasn’t clouded by my own bout with dengue, it really is a hole. Saying that it is definitely worth spending at least one or two nights there. Take one day to see the Taj Mahal (which is essential, I know there are crowds and hassle and everything else – like there is at any major monument, or throughout half of India for that matter – but it is a fantastic monument and one of the modern wonders of the world, why would you NOT want to see it? It is definitely worth a small portion of any itinerary) and then watching the sun set over the Taj from one of the many rooftop restaurants is an experience I still remember vividly today. You can always get the train out the day after if you like but it is definitely worth staying over and relaxing for that.

    The best viewpoint I found of the Taj was across the Yamuna river. Same technical view of the Taj as from the front (as it is symmetrical) but without the fountain and courtyard obviously, and without the cost, crowds or hassle. I spent a good few hours wandering around the gardens (the plot for what was going to be a mirror image of the Taj but all in black marble) and just sitting on the banks of the river taking in the sight. There were a few workers in the gardens who didn’t bother me and a few boys playing in the water slightly downriver. Oh, and a camel. Hardly what I would call a crowd compared to the nightmare on the other side!

    • Rachel Jones July 30, 2014 at 6:48 am - Reply

      Thanks for you comment mike! It is worth seeing I think if it’s something you’re interested in. My bf has been here almost 5 years and still not seen the Taj! Crazy.

  7. Renuka July 30, 2014 at 2:27 pm - Reply

    Helpful tips and very nice photos (are they all clicked by you?) :) You know you will be surprised to know that I am yet to visit Taj Mahal! yes, being an Indian and that too a North Indian, I haven’t been to Agra yet. :( But very soon…

    • Rachel Jones July 31, 2014 at 11:52 am - Reply

      no not all, the ones that aren’t have a link to the flickr accounts they come from! I’m so surprised you haven’t been!!

  8. Richelle @AdventuresAroundAsia July 31, 2014 at 12:18 am - Reply

    Great post! I always love practical and truthful travel advice. Tell it like it is! Not enough people do that.

  9. Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) July 31, 2014 at 2:04 pm - Reply

    Great tips, Rachel! There is SO much I’d like to see in India, and the Taj is certainly one of those things, but sometimes I have found in other places that these famous attractions are actually nicer from afar and you don’t even need to pay the entrance fees to appreciate/enjoy them. For instance, while in London, we were perfectly happy to enjoy things like the Tower of London and Buckingham Palace from the outside, which was happily free (and attractions in London cost way more than 750R, that’s for sure!).

    • Rachel Jones August 1, 2014 at 4:31 am - Reply

      I totally agree, likewise I didnt’ go inside the colosseum while I was in Rome and just looked through, but I was on a tight budget then.

  10. The Guy August 5, 2014 at 8:53 am - Reply

    Great tips Rachel. I visited back in 2001 so it was a long time ago. I can’t remember where we stayed but it was a very plush hotel a few miles drive away – I dare say on the outskirts of Agra.

    I certainly agree on the timing of arrival – get there early! The place becomes chokka block after a short while.

    It is definitely a place to see if you can. Nothing in the world can compare to it.

    As for buying marble, yes we fell for that. Our handy tour guide dropped us off for an hour or so and I ended up buying some very expensive coasters. They are still going strong though!

    • Rachel Jones August 6, 2014 at 6:12 am - Reply

      I’ve had my fair share of buying things at 10x the price they should be, but if at the time it seems like an ok price, why not!?

  11. Glamourous Traveller August 18, 2014 at 10:55 pm - Reply

    Wonderful tips. One thing to add though from my view point. The herding inside is pretty bad and horrible, but I remember the magic of stepping through the gates and seeing the Taj Mahal for the first time. It was pretty darn magical.

    If you’re entering at sunrise (opening hours), I recommend you not get caught in the frenzy right at the beginning of the podium where everyone wants a picture with the Taj. Instead, quickly walk down and through the gardens before the herd of tourists descends. Almost everyone gets stuck at the entryway, so if you move fast you may get that rare isolated view (and picture!) of the Taj Mahal

    • Rachel Jones August 19, 2014 at 4:17 am - Reply

      Thanks for your tips! I’ll do that next time I go!

  12. Anurag October 21, 2014 at 7:22 am - Reply

    I usually see posts mentioning a visit to Taj Mahal, but no mention of Fatehpur Sikri. A lot of people seem to miss this beautiful place which is around 25 miles from Agra. In one way you will find this a bit more architecturally satisfying than Taj Mahal.
    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fatehpur_Sikri

    And about Taj, visit it early in the morning. You will find very little crowd and enjoy it more.

    • Rachel Jones October 22, 2014 at 9:16 am - Reply

      Yes, I do mention visiting early in the AM :) and this post is only about the Taj, but thank you for mentioning another great place.

  13. Otto Bohn February 15, 2015 at 9:49 am - Reply

    Thank you for your post. I’m going to make the effort to get in. I was thinking of spending two days near there, but you mentioned one. These are valuable tips that save me the headache. I can’t wait to take photos. :)

  14. chris watts February 23, 2015 at 6:52 pm - Reply

    Thanks for your comments about Agra and the Tag..having arrived today. .can’t wait to get up at dawn. .see the Tag and then get out of Agra. Such an anomalie having theme park opposite..the entrance.

  15. nick March 30, 2015 at 9:12 pm - Reply

    Thanks for the tips. I can start now doing plan B. But would it be better to stay in Delhi or its just same scenario?

  16. Prasad Np January 4, 2016 at 1:49 am - Reply

    I have been there may be 20 times already, ( with friends, clients and guests from US ) but I am heading there first time with the Missus and kids.. and this is the most useful post I have read to prepare me for my visit to Taj with my family.

  17. EG III March 7, 2016 at 12:42 pm - Reply

    Great advice, I once wrote an piece encouraging readers not to visit Iceland solely to see the Northern Lights so I can relate to you on not visiting India just for the Taj Mahal. However, after visiting Iceland and actually NOT seeing the Northern lights I’m going to make sure that when I’m in Agra in a few weeks I see the Taj from the inside, outside, morning, night, and just about every other angle imaginable :)

    • Rachel Jones March 7, 2016 at 12:51 pm - Reply

      Haha! That’s a good plan :) I wish you the best of luck. I really do want to see those Northern Lights ;)

  18. Lisa April 15, 2016 at 7:13 am - Reply

    Thanks for the information! Enjoyed reading the tips and some of your other posts as I’m planning a trip to the golden triangle in October. One thing, you have a little typo in 4. About getting there at 6AM. Just wanted you to know. Happy traveling!

  19. Hanna September 16, 2016 at 3:31 pm - Reply

    Hi Rachel,

    I have become a big fan of your posts – they are very helpful! I will be in New Delhi for 3 days and as I am a solo female traveler, Im a bit nervous. I tried to get a group tour to the Taj Mahal, but it seems that private tours with private drivers are the norm. What would you suggest? As I dont want to travel on my own via public transport and Im not sure the private tours (they are very expensive) is also safe?

    I also wanted to go to Jaipur for one day – same problem it seems.

    • Rachel Jones September 16, 2016 at 9:44 pm - Reply

      Hi Hanna Happy to help. I haven’t done a private tour – I used the local buses. Most hotels will set up a safe tour for you even last minute in Delhi so I wouldn’t worry about it too much. I paid just a few bucks for the bus but it’ll be closer to 200 USD for a round trip with private car unless you are a good negotiator.

  20. Sharon September 29, 2016 at 8:22 am - Reply

    The Taj Mahal was breath taking, we spent a full day there and it went by so fast yes there were crowds but frankly where in India aren’t there crowds. People were very respectful and would only come up to us when we had eye connections with them. I would have regretted not going to spend time there.

    We did a loooooong day trip from Delhi, on a Greyhound type bus we were the only non Federal Indians on the bus and loved it. Once the people found we were interested in their lives they shared their experiences, the positive and negative aspects of living in Modern day India.

    • Rachel Jones September 29, 2016 at 4:41 pm - Reply

      I’m glad you had such a positive experience. It’s always good to get to know people on public transportation… lots of good convos on long journeys :)

  21. vinita October 9, 2016 at 6:35 pm - Reply

    very impressive blog :-) good to see how incredible India become one of the favorite travel destinations to visit. keep blogging.

  22. Susan November 22, 2016 at 1:36 am - Reply

    If you are blond , just ask 50 rupees for the photo , they won’t ask again . The the Taj at sunrise is amazing. Don’t miss it. Coral tree home stay 5 min walk from gate is recommended

  23. Roshan De Silva January 19, 2017 at 8:40 am - Reply

    Straight, on sight, authentic information with interesting writing skills.
    No wonder that you gave up your nursing career and became a blog writer.
    Cheers!

  24. Twinkle February 9, 2017 at 9:30 am - Reply

    being an Indian even I feel a need to put some policies by the government on the visits to historical monuments. People are so busy taking selfies with the monuments that you can’t even observe the place or feel the feel of being at one such place. The security and guards keep on enjoying there lovely time with free money for resting on chairs, which is simply miserable.

  25. Ademar Arau June 14, 2017 at 6:25 pm - Reply

    Nice Blog. I liked this post so much. Agra is a famous tourist attractions of India located in Uttar Pardesh. The major tourist attractions of Agra is Taj Mahal.

  26. […] epic adventure in the country. Not to mention the chance to see India’s must-see sights including the best of Taj Mahal and the hidden gems off the beaten paths. And if you need more reasons to go, here are some of the […]

  27. Kristine October 1, 2017 at 9:47 pm - Reply

    Thank you so much for your insights. I am traveling to India soon and have the option to travel from Delhi to Agra by the express train or by a private motorcoach. Could you please recommend one versus the other? I will spend one night in Agra and after seeing the Taj at sunrise and exploring for a bit, I will need to head back to Delhi to catch a flight. My preference is for speed, air-conditioning, and comfort for the to/from Delhi and Agra. Thank you so much!

    • Rachel Jones October 2, 2017 at 12:39 pm - Reply

      If it’s speed air con and comfort then 100$ private motorcoach as they blast the AC and the seats go back really far

  28. Ashley October 12, 2017 at 6:45 am - Reply

    I’m so glad I found this! We are planning a 10 day trip to India for a friends wedding. Following the wedding, the bridal party is going to Goa. Since we only have 10 days (including travel), we’ll have to choose between going to Goa or the Taj. If you had to choose, which would you pick??

    • Rachel Jones October 12, 2017 at 9:38 pm - Reply

      I mean the taj would take just a half day, and then you’d be in Agra with basically nothing to do – so Goa is better in that sense. It depends how set you on seeing the Taj really. It’s important to some people and others don’t mind. My bf has been here 8 years and never seen it!

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