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Situated in the heart of Rajasthan’s Thar Desert, the Golden City of Jaisalmer is best known for its magnificent fort. Visiting the city gives you the unique opportunity to actually stay inside a fort, as it’s one of the world’s last living forts. On top of that, a trip to Jaisalmer gives you the chance to venture into the Thar Desert to see vast sand dunes and get a glimpse of what desert life is really like, with the option to camp out under the stars if you wish! There are a number of great things to do in the city, so it’s a worthy inclusion on any Rajasthan itinerary. Find out how to see the best the city has to offer in a short space of time, with this itinerary of the best places to visit in Jaisalmer in 2 days.
Wondering where to stay in the Golden City? Check out our guide to the best places to stay in Jaisalmer!
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2 Days Jaisalmer Itinerary
Start day 1 of your Jaisalmer itinerary by wandering the ancient streets of the city’s fort. Built in 1156 AD, Jaisalmer Fort is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is the main attraction of this beautiful desert city.
What makes Jaisalmer Fort stand out when compared to other forts in Rajasthan is that it’s one of few ‘living forts’ in the world, meaning that many people actually still live inside the fort itself. Family homes within the fort have been passed down from generation to generation, so the locals that live there descend from families that have lived there for hundreds of years.
As it’s a living fort, there is no entrance fee and you can visit 24 hours a day. There are a number of accommodation options and hotels inside Jaisalmer Fort, and we personally recommend staying there as it’s not every day you get to stay inside a fort!
Take the time to roam the fort’s small alleyways and discover various viewpoints of Jaisalmer and the surrounding Thar Desert. There are a number of these viewpoints to be found as you wander the streets, so keep an eye out and walk up any staircases you discover as they’re likely to lead to the top of the fort walls.
You can easily pass at least an hour just walking through the streets and enjoying the views, as well as visiting the various artisan stores found inside the fort.
After you’ve taken the time to familiarise yourself with your new surroundings, make your way to the magnificent Jain Temple. We visited a number of Jain Temples in India and found them to be incredibly beautiful with amazingly intricate designs.
The entrance fee to the Jain Temple in Jaisalmer Fort is just 200 Rupees, which we recommend paying to be able to see the wonderful interior. If you don’t fancy going in then simply visit the outside of the temple, which is still an impressive sight. It’s also possible to get nice views of the top of the temple from nearby rooftop restaurants.
Don’t leave it too late in the day to visit though, as tourists can only visit the Jain Temple in Jaisalmer Fort before 12pm. Depending on who you ask it’s possible to visit the temple up until 2pm, but it’s hard to find official information so we recommend visiting before 12pm just to be safe!
After you’ve finished up at the temple we recommend getting some lunch before exploring what Jaisalmer has to offer outside the fort.
Aside from the fort, Jaisalmer is also famous for its havelis – traditional townhouses and mansions known for their stunning architecture. The most well-known haveli in Jaisalmer is the Patwon Ji Ki Haveli, which is a truly beautiful building to admire.
If you wish to take a look inside then the Patwon Ji Ki Haveli has an entrance fee of just 100 rupees, plus an additional fee of 50 rupees if you have a camera. Inside the haveli you will find a collection of art and artefacts, although we personally decided against this as we were more interested in admiring the wonderful architecture from the outside.
There are a number of other havelis in the city, so if it’s something that interests you then make sure to add a visit to some of the others to your Jaisalmer itinerary!
For the remainder of the day hire a tuk-tuk to take you to the Jaisalmer War Museum and Bada Bagh. There is no exact price when hiring a tuk-tuk to visit these places, but we’d say between 600-800 rupees is a fair price as both sites are quite a way from the main city.
We recommend visiting the Jaisalmer War Museum first, which gives an insight into the history of the Indo-Pakistani wars throughout the 20th century. In particular, it was established to honour the soldiers of the ‘Battle of Longewala’, which took place in 1971.
Although the museum is relatively small, it displays a vast amount of information about the wars between India and Pakistan. On top of this there are fighter jets, tanks and more on display at the museum.
Entrance to the Jaisalmer War Museum costs just 30 rupees per person, which is great value if you’re interested in learning more about the area’s wartime history.
When you’ve finished exploring the museum, get your driver to take you to Bada Bagh to see the impressive cenotaphs for Jaisalmer’s Maharajas. There is a small entrance fee of just 50 Rupees for Indians and 100 Rupees for foreigners at Bada Bagh, but this beautiful complex is well worth it.
The architecture of the cenotaphs is wonderful and so it’s an incredibly picturesque spot. We recommend visiting towards sunset as the sandstone cenotaphs glow in the light of the golden hour, which makes for some stunning photos!
It’s worth noting that if you want an unobstructed view of the sunset itself then Bada Bagh isn’t the best place to be. There are a series of wind turbines in the direction of the sunset, so if you’re at the complex as the sun goes down you won’t have the best view. Despite this, we still think it’s a brilliant place to spend sunset to see the cenotaphs glow in the fading sunlight.
If you don’t end up spending sunset at Bada Bagh then we recommend heading back to Jaisalmer itself to watch it from one of the many rooftop restaurants. Alternatively you can ask your driver to take you to what is known as ‘sunset point’, which has a nice view of Jaisalmer Fort but we personally think the views from rooftop restaurants are better!
One of the most popular things to do in Jaisalmer is to take a desert safari in the Thar Desert to see vast sand dunes. There are a variety of desert safaris available from Jaisalmer, from day trips to overnight trips, each offering a different itinerary.
Before arranging your trip, you need to decide exactly what you want to do and what your budget is. The majority of desert safaris in Jaisalmer include riding a camel, but we recommend avoiding tours that offer this as camel rides are unethical and they camels are poorly treated.
Although most tours do involve a camel ride, it is possible to arrange one without this. Instead of riding a camel you will be taken between all the stops on your tour by jeep, which avoids unnecessary animal cruelty.
The best way to arrange a tour without a camel ride is to do so in person once you’re in Jaisalmer, but it’s also possible to do via email if you contact companies directly and make this request before you get to the city.
There are a number of operators running trips, and the price can vary massively between them depending on the quality of service and what’s included on the tour. It’s important to research companies and look for reviews on Trip Advisor and Google before booking with them, as that way you can tell whether their tours are of a good standard.
We personally opted to take a tour with Ganesh Travels, as they are one of the best reviewed companies offering desert safaris in Jaisalmer. The company is run by a friendly guy named Sebastian, who grew up in the desert and was very knowledgable about the area.
Sebastian and Ganesh Travels do offer camel rides on their trips, but were more than happy to arrange a trip for us that didn’t include this. We also liked that the trip was to a more secluded area of the desert and we saw barely any other tour groups.
This is partly because our trip avoided the famous Sam Sand Dunes, and instead went to a less touristy area. We opted for a half day trip as we didn’t fancy staying overnight in the desert.
If you are interested in staying overnight in the desert then many companies (including Ganesh Travels) offer trips for this. Be careful when arranging these trips, as some companies just provide a blanket and a mattress on the sand, whereas some actually provide tents for you to sleep in. Make sure to clarify exactly what you’re getting and to check reviews before booking any trip!
The itinerary of a desert safari from Jaisalmer will vary depending on the operator and whether you’re doing a day trip or overnight trip. Our half day trip included a stop at 2 desert villages, an oasis, dinner on sand dunes during sunset, a brief lesson in making chapattis, as well as a return jeep ride from Jaisalmer to the desert.
As we’ve already mentioned, there are a variety of different itineraries to choose from, so pick the one that interests you the most. Some people love the chance to spend a night out in the desert, but some people find it cold and prefer the comfort of a hotel room. Many tours also offer the chance to enjoy a Rajasthani folk dance and music during/after dinner.
Whatever you opt for, a tour of the Thar Desert and its sand dunes is an essential inclusion on any Jaisalmer itinerary.
As you’d probably expect, there aren’t many facilities in the desert so it’s important to pack what you need for your trip. We recommend taking some toilet roll and sun cream, as well as insulated water bottles so that you have access to cold water.
How to get to Jaisalmer
The best way to get to Jaisalmer is to take the train from one of the other cities in Rajasthan. If you’re not in Rajasthan yet then you’ll need to get there first, which will probably involve taking a flight – especially if you’re not in India yet!
If you want a bit more information on how to get to Jaisalmer from other cities in Rajasthan then check out our handy guides below!
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