The next stop on the desert itinerary is Jaipur. Guidebooks will rave about this town, but it wasn’t the favourite on my list. Would I go there again? Yeah, of course. I’d go anywhere in India in a heartbeat! Except maybe Patna. Ugh. Anyway, it’s worth going (almost) anywhere, in my opinion, just to see it and make up your own mind about it. Jaipur is part of “old India” and a conservative, ancient city with minarets and palaces to visit. If you’ve got money there are opals for sale here, mined from the surrounding dessert. It’s also more expensive than some other cities and I found (as a woman travelling with one other woman) that it was one of those places I tended to end up with unwanted hands on my ass.
Tip: Jaipur has lots of good second-hand bookshops. It’s a great place to refresh your reading material. Lots of backpacker hostels here will also offer a book swap library: Take a new book from the bookshelf and replace it with something else you’ve finished.
Pros: Take some amazing photos of the palace, if you’re not there while it’s covered in scaffolding for maintenance work, like I was! Cool down with mango lassis so thick you can stand a stick up in them and stay in relaxed backpacker havens.
Cons: Harassment can be an issue here, and Jaipur does get hot. Booking cheap hostels in advance can be a problem: some places will promise you one price over the phone and tell you another when you turn up at their door. Plan to arrive early in the day so that you have plenty of time to find somewhere else if this happens to you – you have a lot less bargaining power if you turn up at 9pm and it’s already dark.