In March 2018, I spent about a week in Jaisalmer.
During this time, I explored some of the top sights and best places to visit in Jaisalmer. You can still have a great time with just 3 days in Jaisalmer by doing some of the activities I did.
The Jaisalmer itinerary
Here first is the quick list of my itinerary for a week in Jaisalmer:
- Getting to Jaisalmer: Jodhpur to Jaisalmer by train
- DAY 1
- Visit to a Jaisalmer haveli
- Sunset boat ride at Gadisar Lake
- DAY 2
- Sunset points for some of the best views of Jaisalmer
- DAY 3
- DAY 4
- Sunrise over the sand dunes
- Morning camel ride through the desert
- Failed visit to Jaisalmer Fort Palace – Royal family funeral instead
- Getting lost on the golden streets of the Golden City
- DAY 5
- DAY 6
- Day trip to Sam sand dunes
- Sunset on the rooftop of a haveli
Read on below for more information below about each of these Jaisalmer activities!
- Hiking: What to wear hiking in hot weather/Hawaii + NOT
- Water sports: Best things to wear snorkeling + NOT
- Cruise: What NOT to bring on a cruise
Adapting this into a 3 day itinerary
Since I had more time, I was able to spread out these things out over more days.
If you have a shorter time, you can pick and choose from these Jaisalmer activities to have a memorable trip in the Golden City and desert area!
Getting to Jaisalmer: Jodhpur to Jaisalmer by train
I arrived in Jaisalmer by taking a daytime train from Jodhpur to Jaisalmer.
This was a local train so you can just show up to the train station on the day of travel to book a ticket. For me, it seemed the most convenient in the sense that it didn’t require advance booking.
There are other trains that are a shorter duration though if you want a shorter train ride. Some train routes may lack seat availability or require booking well in advance, depending on the time of year you’re traveling and the specific train you choose.
To find what train options to Jaisalmer were, I searched for trains using trainman.
I also did look at bus options using redbus, but I liked the train option better.
Here are some of the best places to visit in Jaisalmer as a tourist
DAY 1 IN JAISALMER
Visiting a Jaisalmer haveli
Apart from desert experiences, one thing that Jaisalmer is famous for is its havelis. These are a specific style of homes or buildings, and there are a number of them scattered throughout the city.
Among the famous havelis are:
Sunset boat ride on Gadisar Lake
For a nice relaxing evening, you can head on over to the Gadisar Lake.
You also have the opportunity to go for a boat ride on this lake too.
This boat does require manual labor though!
These are cycling boats, which means it requires pedal power in order to move! So be prepared to get a little bit of exercise during this sunset boat ride!
DAY 2 IN JAISALMER
Visiting sunset points for the best views in Jaisalmer
There are a number of spots in Jaisalmer that are called “sunset points” which will give you some of the best views in Jaisalmer.
It wasn’t sunset, but I wanted a low-key day, so I thought that visiting some of these sunset points and finding views of the city would make for a good day!
The best way to locate the sunset points near where you are staying is to ask the staff at your hotel!
I ended up going to 2 different places with views of Jaisalmer Fort after seeing some elevated hilltop areas and asking how to get there.
So once you get to your hotel, look around and see what you can find!
DAY 3 IN JAISALMER
Holi in Jaisalmer
Holi is a festival of colors that’s celebrated every year by Hindus, mostly in north India.
It’s when colored powder is rubbed onto you and thrown all around.
If you want to experience Holi, Rajasthan is a good place to visit during this time!
In Jaisalmer as a foreigner, the best place to experience Holi is to head to the Jaisalmer Fort.
Holi is a messy (err… colorful) time, and if you go into the Jaisalmer Fort during Holi, there is almost no chance you will walk out without colors on your skin, hair, and clothes. Basically, you will be colorful when you leave!
The Holi activities at Jaisalmer Fort were relatively low key (as low-key as Holi can get) and I’d say it’s a pretty safe place to be.
There are some cities in India in which it’s generally advised not to go for Holi as a solo traveler because things can get a little crazy. But I thought the Holi celebration at the Jaisalmer Fort was a good place to be as a foreigner.
If you walk down residential streets in Jaisalmer, kids will also be happy to color you! Once one kid starts by putting colors on you, expect that many more will likely come running at you to do the same!
Sunset camel safari
Jaisalmer is famous for camel rides in the desert. It’s also possible to make it into an overnight camel safari in the desert, and these overnight desert tours are what Jaisalmer is famous for as well.
I opted to do the overnight camel safari having heard about the highlight of such a trip being “sleeping under the stars.”
So this sunset camel ride was the start of the overnight group tour in the desert!
Campfire dinner in the desert with Rajasthani cuisine
After we made it to the “campsite” in the sand dunes just outside of Kanoi, we had some free time to walk across the dunes at sunset while our dinner was being prepared from scratch over a campfire.
The campsite really just felt like a random spot in the desert, and this made it feel more natural too. There were no other groups around, although occasionally there were camels with tourists riding on them that passed by in the distance.
Shortly after sunset, there was another campfire made, and everyone in the group sat around the campfire. Then a Rajasthani dinner was served!
Sleeping under the stars in the desert
With my overnight desert tour, there was the option of sleeping in a tent, or sleeping directly under the stars with no shelter.
DAY 4 IN JAISALMER
Sunrise over the sand dunes
The overnight desert tour continues!
I woke up before sunrise which meant I was awake early enough to see the sun come up over the sand dunes!
Morning camel ride through the desert
Shortly after sunrise, breakfast was ready.
Breakfast in the desert consisted of simple foods including:
- Boiled eggs
- Bread with jam
- Maggi (basically an Indian version of instant ramen noodles)
And shortly after breakfast, it was time to go for another camel ride which also meant the end of the desert tour.
I did the overnight camel safari through the place I stayed, Hotel Tokyo Palace. I paid 1,750 rupees (a little less than US$30) for the 2 day, 1 night tour that started in the afternoon and returned in the morning. You can sign up for the tour directly at the hotel even if you’re not staying there, but check the prices on the Hotel Tokyo Palace website first. I found it to be cheaper by 200 rupees or so, and they honored the website pricing.
Visit to the Jaisalmer Fort Palace
I was staying in a convenient area near the Jaisalmer Fort. So I went back again to the fort with the intention of visiting the fort palace.
The previous 2 days was believed to be closed for Holi (locals gave me a bit of conflicting information), so I didn’t go even though I would have liked to visit the palace.
Well, when I went this time around, the day after Holi, the palace was closed again!
This time it was closed out of respect for the death of a member of the Jaisalmer royal family. (Or so I was told!)
So instead of visiting the fort palace, I saw what seemed to be part of a funeral procession in which the body of the family member that had passed was carried through the fort. There was a mass of people dressed in white that followed. (White is the color of mourning among Hindus.)
I never did make it back to the palace to take a look inside in the days that followed.
But I also had 2 locals make it sound less than intriguing. One told me it can be done in 10 minutes and it is totally not worth it. (Not really sure about the 10 minutes part!) On the day the fort was closed because of the funeral, another person told me that I’m not missing out on much and that I shouldn’t feel bad about not going.
Still, I think it would have been nice to see!
My favorite guidebook for India travel lists the fort palace entry price as 500 rupees (US$8).
Getting lost on the golden streets of the Golden City
The Jaisalmer Fort has a lot of narrow streets that can make you feel like you’re in a maze the first time you go.
This can make it a good place to explore!
You’ll want to make sure you locate the cannon. This is where you can find some of the best views of Jaisalmer from inside the fort!
DAY 5 IN JAISALMER
Jeep safari in the Khuri sand dunes
A trip to Jaisalmer basically means a desert experience!
So I decided to get some more desert experiences!
When it comes to a camel safari, the 2 most popular areas are the Khuri sand dunes and the Sam sand dunes.
So I was tempted to see what these more popular sand dunes are like.
Khuri is considered the “less touristy” sand dunes of the two, and it seemed like it was possible to get from Jaisalmer to Khuri by bus. So off I went!
The jeep ride through the sand dunes that I took was pretty darn cool!
I went during the day, so there was absolutely no one else around. In the evening, you’re likely to see some people as the camel safaris and overnight desert tours start up.
The Khuri sand dunes are also within the Desert National Park.
I paid 500 rupees (US$8) for the jeep safari.
Right after I got off the bus from Jaisalmer to Khuri, someone approached me about doing some desert activities. I told him I wanted to do a jeep ride, and the first price he gave me was 500 rupees. I had gone around Jaisalmer the previous day inquiring about a jeep safari in the Khuri sand dunes and was being quoted 1000, 1500, and 1600, so 500 sounded good to me!
DAY 6 IN JAISALMER
Walk through the Sam sand dunes
With the Sam sand dunes being the most popular area for a desert experience near Jaisalmer, I also wanted a glimpse of what the Sam sand dunes were about.
I ended up hiring a private car to get to Sam, and then walked around the sand dunes.
It was definitely a different experience than Khuri. With the Sam sand dunes, you can feel the commercial nature of the dunes even during the day when there’s hardly anyone in the desert.
The dunes are located directly next to the main road, which is also where a good number of desert camp resorts are located. So it never really felt like I was out in the expansive desert, even though few people were in the desert itself. (The only people in the sand dunes were the camel men.)
So while I liked Khuri better than Sam for the daytime experience, the Sam sand dunes are known as the place to go for that more luxury desert camp experience with Rajasthani cultural dinner shows.
I found a private car to drive me to the Sam sand dunes by walking around just outside the Jaisalmer Fort. The guidebook I’d been using said 1,000 rupees (US$15) was a good price for a round trip taxi to Sam, so when I was offered this price, I took it. (My first offer was for 1,800 rupees.)
But you can make it more worth it by adding in a few more activities for a little bit extra money.
A few days prior, I had also inquired about a trip to Sam sand dunes, and there were a few that did sound kind of good. One place was offering round trip transportation to Sam, plus a jeep ride in the dunes, for 1,500 rupees. Another place was offering round trip transportation to Sam, a jeep safari, Rajasthani cultural show, and dinner, all for 1,200 rupees.
So if you’re going to make a trip out to the Sam sand dunes, it might be worth it to add in some activities to make your trip to the desert even more worthwhile!
Sunset on the rooftop of a haveli
And a perfect way to end a week in Jaisalmer seemed to be the way it began – with a trip to a haveli!
But this time it was even better, spent on a rooftop overlooking the Jaisalmer Fort at sunset!
How to make these activities into a 3 day Jaisalmer itinerary
If you’re making the trip out to the far western part of Rajasthan, there’s a good chance you have a camel safari or overnight desert camp on your mind!
If you make it an overnight camel safari in the desert, that will leave 1.5 to 2 days for you to take in other parts of Jaisalmer.
Jaisalmer is a laid back city. This means it can make a good first city in India, so consider making it your first stop after flying into Delhi! And it also means it can make for a good city to relax if you’ve crammed in a bunch of activities into other cities in Rajasthan before arriving in Jaisalmer.
Most activities I did are pretty laid back, so even just choosing one activity per day for each of your remaining days can leave with a nice 3 day itinerary for Jaisalmer!
HAPPY JAISALMER ITINERARY PLANNING!
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