My recent visit to Rajasthan was a really special trip for me because I went on October 13th, almost exactly five years after the first time I went to Rajasthan! As I flew into Udaipur, I had so many memories come back of arriving five years prior by a 17-hour train from Mumbai. My travel style has changed a lot from my backpacker days. I was excited to see Udaipur from a new angle – and I was not disappointed! I found the BEST hotel, had the perftect boat ride and other top things to do in Udaipur, saw the iconic places to visit in Udaipur, and had my bestie, Tia, there with her new clothing collection to take lots of photos for Instagram!
In case you’re curious about what I got up to Udaipur, you can check out my older posts from my backpacking budget days. I suggest this anyway as it shows you a fuller picture of the city AND in these posts, I go into more detail about the history and culture of the area. The basic thing to know is that this is the “white city” of India or “Venice of India”. It’s a small city built around four lakes, with Lake Pichola being the most popular, and has many Ghats around (stairwells to the lake with people swimming and doing laundry).
It’s as laid-back as an Indian city can be and somewhere that should be #1 on your Rajasthan itinerary and top 5 in your India itinerary overall! I think it’s the most beautiful city in India and SO easy to travel around.
- Guide to Udaipur (this guide still shows up #1 on Google search!)
- Spiritual stuff & classes to try in Udaipur
The MUST DO Things to do in Udaipur
I’m going to break this post down for first-time visitors to Udaipur and make sections like how to get there, how to get around, best hotels in Udaipur near Lake Pichola (so important), things to do before you come, shopping and more!
You DO need a visa to come to India and you can easily get one with iVisa using this link. I also recommend travel insurance with World Nomads (follow this link for a quote). Here’s my article on what is covered with WN insurance. While I saw Udaipur alone the first time and with a friend this time, you can also try out a tour. For tours in Rajasthan, I recommend the USA company, G Adventures. If you want to have the most epic trip in India, buy a copy of my India Guide ebook – it’s 6 years of travels in India all organized into your handy guide to my favorite places in India and all the tips you need on itineraries, volunteering, shopping, tours, and more like WiFi and health. This link has a full chapter breakdown.
Getting to Udaipur and Getting Around in Udaipur
Train/Bus to Udaipur:
Both of these are easy options to get to Udaipur. I have taken a train here before and I have taken a bus out of here. The stations are close to town. Here’s more information on trains and buses in India.
Flights within Rajasthan are expensive and the major cities are all about 5 hours from each other so it’s best to travel via taxi or public transportation rather than fly once you are within Rajasthan.
Flights to Udaipur:
From Goa, of course, I had to fly. I found a deal on Kiwi.com (my go-to for flights) for around 4,000 rs or $60 USD into Udaipur airport. The airport itself is outside the city about 40 minutes and you can call a Uber to take you into town.
There are rules about the one-ways in town and past a certain time at night the driver CAN drive into the city center near the lake, but not during the day. They might tell you that you need to get out close to your hotel and get a rickshaw the rest of the way. You can call your hotel and verify if this is true (but with Uber it wouldn’t be a lie, as the longer the trip the better for them!)
For me, Uber was the best way to get in and out of the city. Around the lake and the best restaurants and shops it’s all walkable though so once you’re in, you can walk or for longer distances take a rickshaw. They are so cheap and save so much time!
Taxis in and out of Udaipur:
My trip this time was Udaipur > Jodhpur > Jaipur. From Udaipur to Jodhpur I took a private taxi which I hired from Vicky’s Travels just outside my hotel, Jagat Niwas. He gave me a rate of 3,500 Rs without negotiating and it was the perfect ride with the driver coming a couple of days later to collect me from the hotel. I paid 1,000 Rs in the office ahead of time and gave the rest to the driver. This rate included A/C car and tolls. Because I was traveling with a friend, the split rate was $32 USD. Being peak travel season in India meant that this was cheaper than the 2 A/C train ride we looked into and although more expensive than a bus, WAY faster. Another major reason to go by car is that the price included a 50 km detour to THREE stops which are pretty epic (you can read about them here in detail). This time we wanted to get there fast and I’d seen all these places before, so only stopped at Ranakpur Temple (funny story there).
Contact for Vicky’s tours (you can call or WhatsApp him): +91 99838 53111 or you can find their shop at Gangour Ghat Road, Jagdish Chowk, near Jagat Niwas hotel.
Best Hotels in Udaipur
There are an overwhelming amount of hotels in Udaipur and most are cute family-run Havelis so it can be really hard to find that gem of the best boutique hotels in Udaipur with a view or even budget hotels in Udaipur near Lake Pichola. But don’t worry – I finally found the most EPIC property and honestly, Tia and I both said it’s the best place we’ve stayed in India. I’ll share about my hotel, Jagat Niwas, and give you a few other options I know about. Here are some key reasons you should choose Jagat Niwas on your trip to Udaipur:
- 17th Century Haveli with the Rajasthani charm you definitely want
- Rates are based on various room types ranging from 3,000 Rs to 10,000 Rs.
- Epic lake views from the rooms, restaurant, and rooftop
- The BEST suite is under $200/night and that is insane for what you are getting
- Family-run and the nicest staff.
- Great Indian food – must try the traditional Rajasthani thali.
- Read reviews and check availability for Jagat Niwas here. If you have questions you can get in touch with them directly by emailing them: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Jagat Niwas was so amazing that I actually have too many photos to share, so am going to write a complete post just about the hotel and the boat ride I did with them! I’ll link to that soon.
When it comes to five-star hotels here there is the notorious Taj Lake Palace hotel in the middle of the lake. You will have to take a boat every time you want to leave. Non-guests cannot visit the Taj in Udaipur. Most of the other 5-star hotels are not right on the lake and here in Udaipur, I highly recommend a lake view hotel.
Previously, I stayed a more budget option called Hibiscus Guesthouse which at the time was 1,700 Rs. per night and had views of the lake but is now 2,500 per night. Check out my old backpacker’s post about Udaipur to see the seriously budget 300 Rs. options.
Restaurants in Udaipur
I was here just three days, so I couldn’t try all the best restaurants around but I did try to focus on the places that were ranked really well and sort through which were worth going to. I had pretty good luck with tasty food in Udaipur. In general, the Western food is not good here so stick to Indian food while traveling Udaipur. There are so many delicious restaurants here! PS: In Jodhpur not so much, so if you’re headed there next then EAT UP! lol.
Jagat Niwas – My hotel had great food. I had malai chicken tikka kebabs, veg kadai, and mutton seekh kebabs, as well as a Rajasthani traditional lunch with dal batti the most popular dish in the state.
Natural View Restaurant – Only ranked 50th in the city, this was recommended to me by a member of my India Travel Tips Facebook group and WOW it was so so good with the best view in Lal Ghat. Again, had to get my chicken tikka kebab but it’s different everywhere, haha.
Rainbow Restaurant – a multi-cuisine place that was quite tasty!
Chirag Rooftop Restaurant – Tia liked her eggplant curry here but I wasn’t stoked with my meal. The view was okay and monkeys were hanging around
Charcoal by Carlsson – for BBQ, grilled meat, and a mix of western and Indian food
Grasswood Cafe – a healthy cafe with vegan options for Western food like cheese toasties, good real coffee, WiFi, and lots of travelers hanging out in the A/C.
Ambrai – I went here years ago and didn’t get a chance to go back but had to mention it because I still remember this tasty meal with the perfect view!
You’ll see lots of standard “tourist” shops here with ali baba pants, Rajasthani textiles, pashminas, tee shirts, and dresses but for me it’s all cheaper in Jaipur so I didn’t shop in Udaipur at all, but I did look a little haha it’s impossible not to!
Things to do in Udaipur as a Tourist
There is a lot here for tourists to do and stay entertained during their time in Udaipur. I have written a little spiritual guide of things to do in Udaipur in this article and while there this time, checked that it is all still accurate. Because nothing has changed, it makes the most sense for you to read that rather than me to type it all out again.
I’ll just list the items here and in this link, you can read more about each one:
- Art class
- Yoga & Meditation class
- Visiting Animal Aid Unlimited
- Ayurvedic Massage
- Boat tour (more on this in its own article as I did a new one that was amazing)
- Sunset traditional dancing at Bagore Ki Haveli
- Cooking classes (not mentioned in that post but there are signs everywhere)
Don’t Forget These Tourist Places to Visit in Udaipur – They Are the Main Reason to Visit!
City Palace Udaipur
Shop the wrap here
The city palace is the #1 attraction in Udaipur and it does NOT disappoint. Of all the forts, temples, and palaces in India, this is my favorite building. Every inch of it is incredible. Give yourself a couple of hours here if you are into photography!
All of my outfits on this trip are from Tia’s shop here in Goa which she also sells online on Etsy. I’ve linked to them. PS: I do cover my shoulders while walking around the streets but in a quiet empty alley or in a room like above at the palace, I do take my shawl of for pictures :) I have a post coming soon with all my outfits from this trip and where to buy them.
Lake Palace Udaipur
The Lake Palace is the Taj Hotel and you cannot actually go onto it but can go around it. This is best seen from the boat which will go quite close for photos – and I’m going to share all about our boat ride in another article because it was AMAZING.
This palace is a little outside of town (just 100 Rs with Uber) and I’d say if you have a third day here with not a lot to do then go for a visit, but it’s not the BEST place compared to the City Palace. It does have good views of all the lakes below.
The most popular temple is Jagdish Temple which is right in the center of town near the markets and City Palace. You couldn’t miss it if you tried. I really feel like this guy was laying here five years ago when I was there – or else, I just had some weird deja vu when I saw him!
Yep, you might find a sacred cow inside!
Often Eklingji Temple and Drinathji Temple are listed as temples to visit in Udaipur but they are missions away and I don’t recommend taking the time to do this unless you are very interested in temples.
There are four lakes in Udaipur, with Lake Pichola being the most famous. If you fancy it, you can visit the other three which was “top attractions” according to guidebooks but to be honest, I think that’s a waste of time as a lake is a lake and Pichola is the prettiest!
I really hope this information on traveling Udaipur will help you know which places to visit in Udaipur are really worth it and which to skip – as well as let you in on the best hotel in town and yummy food!
Pin these things to do in Udaipur for later, just hover over the one you like best and a “P” will pop up so you can add it to your favorite travel board.
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