An Insider's Guide to Jaipur, India with Zornitsa Shahanska
Bulgarian-born visual designer and fashion blogger Zornitsa Shahanska might call San Francisco her current home but over the last several years a penchant for printed textiles, vintage palaces, and pink walls continue to whisk her away to Jaipur, India. Ahead, Zory, the founder of This Life of Travel, a digital travel/photography publication that she runs with her boyfriend Henry Wu, shares an insider's guide to Jaipur complete with standout restaurants, hotels, high tea spots, and more. Scroll down to journey to Jaipur's world of striking color and craftsmanship.
Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan, is a design haven and dream destination for anyone interested in artisan craftsmanship and block printed textiles. I’ve been to Jaipur several times over the years. I keep going back for its pink hues and crazy energy. There are also countless markets, palaces, temples, boutiques, and beautifully designed cafes to keep you entertained. The creativity of the whole place is just so inspiring to me Art, food and culture—India's rich and layered history has shaped the country in many different and unique ways. It's a bright, colorful and textured tapestry that will enchant your senses. I visited in December but the best time to visit Jaipur is between November and February as it starts to get hot and stuffy after March.
Beauty Packing List
- OUAI Dry Shampoo Foam
- Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment Sunscreen SPF15
- Bobbi Brown Under Eye Corrector
- La Mer The Moisturizing Matte Lotion
Fashion Packing List
I love bringing maxi dresses by Faithful The Brand, Free People and Anthropologie. A Lack of Color hat is also a must. Don’t forget a comfortable pair of walking shoes—for that I always bring my ever stylish Allbirds.
Booking the Trip
Booking and Agoda are great for hotels and Google Flights is pretty much the gold standard for airfare. It takes about 16 hours to get to New Delhi from San Francisco. From there to Jaipur is another one-hour flight. Bring a good book and a travel pillow!
I like to be efficient with my time when I’m traveling, so I definitely do a lot of research before visiting a new city. Also, knowing where I’m going allows me to plan my wardrobe accordingly. I’ll usually consult Pinterest first, then head over to Instagram, and then finally use Google for my research. If you are headed to Jaipur make sure to check out my blog. I have a section on India where I’ve written tips on how to plan your trip to India, bargaining/shopping, and city guides (Jaipur included). Some Instagram hashtags for India inspiration that I recommend: #incredibleindia, #henryzoryindia, and #india_ig.
Where to Stay
My favorites are Sujan Rajmahal Palace, ITC Rajputana, Samode Haveli, and 28 Kothi. On this trip, I stayed in the Suraj Nagar neighborhood, which is close to everything but also residential and quiet.
Dressing the Part
India is such a colorful place so bring the whole rainbow! Pack chinos, linen shirts, maxi dresses, and alway have a big scarf to cover when entering holy places that have dress codes.
If you can fly, do it! Trains can be unreliable and the roads in India are a bit chaotic. That said, you can’t always fly so just be prepared for things to always take a bit longer when traveling inside India.
Tip for First-Timers
India can be quite overwhelming for first-timers. Make sure you don’t have unrealistic expectations. Allow yourself time to ease into the new culture. I promise it’s worth it.
Jaipur Pink Walls
10AM Brunch at 28 KOTHI. Nested in a residential area not too far from the action, 28 KOTHI offers a curated menu of delicious local dishes.
12PM Shopping at Hot Pink, Anantaya Jaipur, and IDLI DESIGN PVT. LTD Located next to each other, these modern Indian boutiques offer high-quality limited edition local designs. Some of my favorite things here are their clothes, accessories, and home decor.
3PM Afternoon tea at SUJAN Home to the Maharaja of Jaipur. This exquisite royal palace is located at the heart of the Pink City. The splendor of Sujan Rahmahal Palace is hard to put into words but let's just say that it will give you an authentic taste of modern Indian luxury.
High Tea at Sujan
5PM City Palace. No visit to Jaipur can be complete without seeing the City Palace. A complex of courtyards, gardens, and buildings—the impressive City Palace is a joy for the senses. I highly recommend booking the Royal Grandeur Tour which comes with a personal guide and a tour of the stunning private blue room.
7PM Enjoy a cup of chai tea with an unmatched view of the Hawa Mahal. Right across the famous wind palace (Hawa Mahal) there is a little rooftop cafe with the best view of this iconic pink building.
8:30PM Bar Palladio is Jaipur’s most beautiful and iconic restaurant bars. The inspiration behind their unique interior was the opulent lifestyles of the maharajas of the early 20th century.
Panna Meena Ka Kund Stepwell
11AM Breakfast at Tapri Tea House. Start your day with the rich flavor of Indian Masala Chai and light scrumptious fusion bites.
12:30PM Amer Fort & Water stepwell and Panna Meena Ka Kund. Perched on a ridge overlooking the pink city of Jaipur, Amer Fort is a spectacularly ornate structure. This is one of the true gems of Rajasthan and cannot be skipped!
2PM A short car ride (less than 10 minutes) into the Amer village nearby will reveal a striking, beautiful 16th century water stepwell called Panna Meena Ka Kund. The criss-crossed symmetrical stairs are masterfully designed, snaking along three of the four walls. They make for the perfect backdrop for photos as well as provide unique angles to take shots.
3:30PM Lunch at Caffe Palladio. When you enter the courtyard of Coffee Palladio, you’ll feel like you’re in a hidden oasis surrounded by pink and turquoise hues and ornate decorations. Enjoy a laid-back lunch in this paradise.
5PM Shopping at Anokhi. Luxury cotton and colorful block prints are the DNA of Anokhi. The brand truly represents the local artisan community.
7:15PM Dinner at Cinnamon (Jai Mahal Palace). Treat yourself to an authentic fine dining experience. Jai Mahal Palace is a former palace with Cinnamon being its star restaurant. It serves dishes traditionally enjoyed by royalty with some of the standouts being the Dal Cinnamon, which are cooked slowly overnight, and the Laal Maas. Make sure to call ahead for reservations.
9PM Naturals Ice Cream Naturals. Ice Cream is a MUST stop for us every time we visit India. The Mumbai-based chain uses only fresh, seasonal, and local ingredients to create rich and indulgent world class ice creams and gelato. Some of our favorite flavors are Custard Apple, Carrot Halwa, Black Grape, Mango, and Lychee.
28K Hoti Boutique Guesthouse