Jaisalmer is one of the most incredible places in Rajasthan and India. There is no shortage of unforgettable things to do in the Golden City!
From camping in the desert to exploring ancient architecture and being immersed in Rajasthani culture!
Continue reading to learn 7 awesome things to do in Jaisalmer which you will cherish for a lifetime!
1. Desert Camping
Desert camping is something you should not miss when you are in Jaisalmer. It is, without doubt, one of the best things to do in Jaisalmer and the whole of Rajasthan.
The Thar Desert, also known as The Great Indian Desert covers 200,000km squared. It forms a natural border between Pakistan and India. The beautiful rolling dunes and shrubs of the Thar Desert are only an hours drive out of Jaisalmer.
There are a few options when it comes to your desert camping experience in Jaisalmer. You can go for the glamping option by opting for a desert camp. Your accommodation will be in a proper bed inside a large tent, complete with a bathroom! You will also have access to a restaurant.
The other option is to sleep outside under the stars in a secluded and remote part of the desert. You will reach this camping spot by camel and be accompanies by a local guide. Your guide will be responsible for leading the camels, setting up your camping site and making dinner. We highly recommend going for this option as it is an incredibly unforgettable experience!
What to expect
Arrive in the Thar desert from Jaisalmer via a big jeep. This will take around an hour and you will be dropped at a desert camping site. Here you will meet your guide and your camel.
Expect to arrive at your actual desert campsite just before sunset, after enjoying the incredible desert landscapes from the top of a camel! Go for a walk through the golden dunes before finding a perch to watch the sun go down. While you are gone your guide will spend time preparing your outdoor beds and a fire to make food. Spend the evening eating and talking around the fire under the stars!
When it is time to sleep you will retreat to your raised stretcher bed. These are complete with plenty of warm blankets for those chilly desert nights. You will sleep soundly in the peaceful desert under the stars and will be woken by a spectacular sunrise! The raised bed means you don’t need to worry about desert creatures crawling into bed with you.
In the morning you will enjoy a chai and a light breakfast before taking a scenic route back to the desert camp through the dunes. This is one of the most incredible experiences you can have in India (for a very reasonable price too!).
Your accommodation providershould be able to book this or any desert experience for you. Do your due diligence to make sure you choose a company that is ethical and takes good care of their animals. We can recommend the desert safari company provided by Gaji Hotel.
2. Wander through the streets inside and surrounding Jaisalmer Fort
Jaisalmer Fortand the surrounding streets are one of the most fascinating places to explore in India. Jaisalmer Fort was built in 1150AD and is one of the only ‘living’ forts left in the world. One-quarter of the city’s population resides inside the fort along with plenty of hotels and hostels. When you enter the fort walls you are stepping back in time!
The Jaisalmer Fort is the perfect place to wander through the streets and just get lost! Stumble across temples, beautiful buildings, amazing shops and homes. Just don’t forget to look up! The ancient streets surrounding the fort are just as fascinating to walk through. They are more authentic and less touristy. You can expect to find street vendors selling produce, chai, lemon water and samosas. It is worth mentioning the bhang is legal in Jaisalmer! There is a bhang shop outside the fort which you can visit if you dare.
Be warned, the streets and alleyways of Jaisalmer are chaotic! You can expect a lot of dust, goats, dogs, sheets, bright saris, long desert kurtas and clutter. It is like a scene out of Alladin.
All of the buildings in Jaisalmer are made out of the golden sand from the desert. This is why it is called the Golden City! Many of the buildings are made of intricately detailed carved sandstone which is incredibly beautiful and signature to Jaisalmer. These are up there with some of the most beautiful buildings you will find in India.
Going for a wander through Jaisalmer is the best thing to do in the city itself. You will find beautiful shops, unique buildings, amazing cafes and have no shortage of epic photo opportunities. The best part is the entry into the fort is totally free!
3. Visit Royal Tombs at Bara Bagh Temple
A visit to the Royal Tombs at Bara Bagh Temple is a must-do activity in Jaisalmer. It will no doubt will become one of the most memorable! Bara Bagh is an incredible temple complex located 6km outside of Jaisalmer. These temples are made up of a set of Royal Centopaths (or tombs) constructed by the Maharajas, or Kings, of the state of Jaisalmer in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries.
And boy are these tombs impressive! They range in size and design and are in various conditions depending on how old they are. You can spend at least an hour exploring in and around the various cenotaphs which overlook a desert mango grove.
You are allowed to walk on many of the cenotaphs, there are just a couple (the newest ones!) that are out of bounds. This is one of the most beautiful places in Rajasthan to take pictures with these incredible structures that epitomise Rajasthani architecture.
4. Find the best viewpoints on the fort walls
One of the best things to do in Jaisalmer is to find the best viewpoints on the walls of Jaisalmer Fort. These points have epic sweeping views over the rest of the city and the desert.
To find these viewpoints you can wander through the streets to find the outer edges of the fort or ask around. By stumbling upon an epic viewpoint, you’ll likely be the only ones there!
Otherwise, Cannon Point and City View is a place you can navigate to with google maps. There is a huge cannon and platform on the edge of the fort with an outlook to the city below. There is an awesome cafe right next to it called The Panorama Restaurant. This has insane views and beautiful decor to enjoy the Rajasthani desert vibes.
5. Enjoy the sunset from a rooftop restaurant
Another incredible thing to do Jaisalmer is to watch the sunset from one of the amazing rooftop restaurants in the city.
We recommend going to a rooftop restaurant that is outside the Jaisalmer Fort. This way you have a view of this epic piece of architecture as the sun goes down. We also suggest not going to a rooftop restaurant until the heat of the sun has significantly decreased. The rooftops provide little or no shade.
Our top picks for rooftop restaurants to enjoy the sunset and epic views in Jaisalmer are Gaji’s Restaurant, Prithvi Restaurant and Pleasant Haveli Rooftop Restaurant.
6. Wander around Gadisar Lake
Gadisar Lake is one of the most enchanting and royal places in Jaisalmer! This is a manmade lake to impersonate the beauty of an oasis in the middle of the desert. It was constructed by Raja Rawal Jaisal who was the first rule of Jaisalmer. This rainwater lake is of great historical importance and it used to provide the whole town it’s water!
Located on the outskirts of the city, the entrance to the lake is through a large and intricately detailed archway known as Tilon-Ki-Pol. The lake is surrounded by beautiful buildings and temples with stairs leading to the water. There are even beautifully constructed domed pavilion in the middle of the lake. Gadisar lake is striking in its beauty and is the perfect oasis to explore, making it one of the best things to do in Jaisalmer.
7. Take a tour inside a royal Haveli
Haveli’s are big houses or mansions. They were usually built by wealthy people who were of significant importance to the city such as successful merchants and ministers. The haveli’s in Jaisalmer are particularly amazing with their incredible sandstone carvings and unique designs.
While the Haveli’s can be admired from the outside it is well worth choosing one to pay to go inside for a tour. You will learn so much about the intricacies of the design as well as the culture and what everyday life was like. It is truly fascinating! Even if guided tours arent your thing, give this one a shot!
Our recommendation is to visit the Salam Singh Ki Haveli. This haveli was built by the minister Salim Singh and has a very unique design which can only be appreciated from the inside. The roof of the haveli is designed like a peacock with 38 balconies each with unique designs carved into them. By taking a tour you will learn about how the minister and his wives used to live and what different rooms were for. You will also get to experience the architecture up close, witness the beautiful and intricate interiors and see some very special views of the city. This will give you a palpable sense of what it was really like to live there in the past.
Other haveli’s that are worth taking a tour in or just admiring from the outside include Patwon ki Haveli, Nathmal Ki Haveli and Mandir palace hotel. These are dotted around the city and are easy to reach by foot.
Best time to visit
Since Jaisalmer is a desert, it gets incredibly hot in summer, with temperatures frequently in the 40s! Therefore the best time to visit Jaisalmer is between October and March during the autumn, winter and spring months.
In the winter the desert can get extra freezing at night so if you are wanted to camp outside in the desert, it is best to visit in the warmer spring and autumn months.
There is also an annual desert festival held in February which is an epic time to be in Jaisalmer.
How to get to Jaisalmer
Probably the most difficult thing about Jaisalmer is actually getting there! Jaisalmer is very far to the west and a bit out of the way. But rest assured it is worth every effort and sleepless night to reach!
There is an airport but there are limited flights. The easiest way to reach Jaisalmer is by train or overnight from one of the other main cities in Rajasthan with Jodphur being the closes. In fact, every form of transport has to go through Jodphur to get to Jaisalmer! Jodhpur is a big city, is easy to reach and can be your gateway to Jaisalmer. You can also get trains and buses from Udaipur, Jaipur and Ajmer.
To get train tickets, you will need to have an agent book them for you in advance. Otherwise, an overnight sleeper bus is a good option which can be booked last minute. Just note the roads around Jodphur are VERY bumpy!
There you have 7 incredible things to do in Jaisalmer!
Jaisalmer is a unique destination with so many unforgettable things to do. Add Jaisalmer to your bucket list today!