India | Jaipur & Taj Mahal

19 September 2017



Visiting India had been my goal since a long time ago, but everyone had been discouraging me to go to India based on their impression that it's especially unsafe for female travellers. Though, I know so many female travellers who have visited India alone with no issue at all. I would not say India is 100% safe, but then again which part of this world is guaranteed to be safe? What I think is, nothing should stop you from exploring places as long as you plan well and know what you are doing. It would be best if you have someone to travel with you should you be concerned about traveling alone.

I first heard about Ladakh two years ago from my good friend KW. We agreed to make it happen this year. Unfortunately, just a month before the trip, KW had to stand us up because of his work schedule. Eventually it became a duo trip of just me and ST, which was a new experience! Haha.

We had only 9 days and the highlight of the trip was Ladakh. We didn't think it was possible to include Jaipur and Taj Mahal in our initial plan due to our short travel period, but because I insisted (HAHA), it took me almost a week to come out with the following itinerary, which then unexpectedly gave us an extra day at the end (read on to find out how we earned the extra day).

Travel Period: September 16 - 24, 2017


Tips: BE CAREFUL when you apply for an e-visa online! I know you are excited. I know you cannot wait and need to do it as quick as possible, but PLEASE be aware of all the third party e-visa application websites! When you search for 'Indian e-visa' on Google, tons of websites will appear on the list and ALL OF THEM look like they are official! All their application forms and processes look exactly the same and I was fooled! I ended up paying RM630 instead of the official fee of RM2xx. Thank God I realized it 10 minutes later and the third party website was willing to refund but not 100%. I lost RM65 for my stupidity innocence.

This is the only official website --->

Do not get cheated and pay unnecessary money. The application process is quite easy. We got our e-visas approved in just one day.

Day 1

Landing in Jaipur

I flew in from Dubai, and ST traveled from Kuala Lumpur. Just before I took off from Dubai, I received a message from ST, who just checked in to our hotel in Jaipur, telling me how shocked he was by the hotel and its surrounding. He warned me jokingly that I probably would not be able to sleep. To be honest, for some reasons, I had never felt this stressed and worried before prior to a trip. So it didn't help me at all when I received this update from him. In my mind I was prepared to book another hotel after landing.

I landed in Jaipur, and thank God I managed to spot ST in the crowd waiting at the arrival area. We got an Uber and headed to the hotel. Just like ST described earlier, it's located in the oldest part of Jaipur. I mean, Jaipur is already quite an old city, the oldest part is even older than old.

Our LUXURIOUS budget hotel

At the entrance of our hotel

There was no electricity when we checked in. ST had to take a shower using the water bucket. We could hear all the noises of honks and traffic from our room. When the electricity was back, our A/C was not cold and ST was literally sleeping in sweat. Our TV was not working too. The corridor looked kind of scary like a scene out of a horror movie when the light bulb was flickering. I thought I could trust the 9.2/10 excellent reviews on their booking website but I was wrong. I was so eager to book another decent hotel but ST disagreed because he thought it would be a hassle to move here and there. So we stayed. Thank God I managed to sleep that night, with my ear plugs on of course.

What an 'exciting' start to our trip! It was quite a different experience to see how the locals live here though. One thing I loved about Jaipur was their food. Most shops serve only vegetarian food, but we managed to find one with non-vegetarian dishes, which were amazing.

I miss their food already!!

Day 2

Hawa Mahal | City Palace | Train ride to Agra

We went sightseeing today in Jaipur, also known as the "Pink City". I really love the architecture in Jaipur as most of their buildings are pink/red in colour.

So we first went to Hawa Mahal, the Palace of Wind, which resembles the honeycomb structure of a bee's nest. Opposite the palace is a row of shop lots where I found a staircase leading to this rooftop area for pictures.

As soon as I got off the car, a man approached me and said, 'This way this way to the roof top!' Apparently I was not the only tourist that knows this picture spot. This man pretended to be 'nice' and walked me to the rooftop, saying it's his house and I can take as many pictures as I want. He chit-chatted with us and even offered to take pictures.

When we were about to leave, he then pushed us to visit his fabric shop downstairs. That is when I realized his motive for being 'nice'. I did not want to say 'no' and disappoint him, so I thought why not since I already planned to get a saree. Too bad, I didn't like any of their saree so I rejected nicely. When I was leaving, they started scolding and yelling while chasing after me. I was shocked. I felt like I was being threatened so I returned to make a purchase. From 3900 INR for a saree, I bargained it to 1000 INR, but still I kind of regretted this purchase because first - it wasn't what I wanted, second - all the glitters fell off. In the end I had to give it away. Such a shame that I could not keep it as a souvenir.

So you all, if you want to get a saree, I would advise you to go to a proper shop (better to be out of touristy spots) to get a good and reasonable priced one. Try to bargain too, who knows you may end up paying less than half of the original quoted price.

After the unhappy incident, we went to the City Palace. I immediately felt more peace when I got into the palace complex. It is a landmark and must-see while sightseeing in Jaipur. Apart from the regal architecture, the palace offers a stunning view of the Pink City and also an insight into the rich heritage of a bygone era.

This is a must when you visit Jaipur!

Train Ride from Jaipur to Agra

It was a very short stay in Jaipur. We packed our bags and headed to the train station after some sightseeing. One of the things that really worried me since before the trip is the train ride. During the planning, I at first disagreed to take a train to Agra after looking at all the pictures on the internet. I wouldn't mind to pay for a cab instead, but I felt like I needed to respect ST and our practice of traveling on a budget, I mean, we have been doing budget travel every year, this time it wouldn't be different. So I agreed to taking a train (kind of unwillingly).

For the past 2 days in India, I had already been getting a lot of stares from local men. I was fine with it until I came to the train station, where I started feeling overwhelmed and nearly lost my mind. The HUGE amount of crowd, how busy and unorganized the whole station was, and how every pair of eyes were staring at me like I was an alien. I felt so disturbed and uncomfortable. There was a train on the other side of the platform, which totally reminded me of those trains on the TV - old and filthy, open windows, dark interior, fully packed, and people were literally climbing onto the train right from the railway track. I couldn't believe what my eyes saw. I was quite sure that I would take a cab instead, and I said to myself, 'I wouldn't even consider taking this train at all if you paid me 1000 dollars.'

ST was busy walking around looking for a 'counter' to help with our tickets. The platform was too long and crowded I couldn't see the end. I was so stressed out I could not tolerate anymore stares that I had to tell off anyone who stared at me. While waiting for the train, I was hoping that it would never come so I could suggest to take a taxi, but unfortunately it came.

As it was approaching before it stopped, everyone started running towards every door to fight to get in - nobody would let go even when they were being dragged by the train. I was the only one standing still and being shocked while getting pushed. ST had to shout at me before I realized what was happening. He instructed me to start moving so we could get on the train. Although being reluctant, I had to follow ST who was running ahead of me looking for the right cabin of this extremely long train.

While I was following slowly, all I could see was those intimidating eyes looking at me out of their windows, all my nose could sense was the urine smell spreading out from the train. Before I could decide what my head wanted me to do, ST boarded the train. I knew I had no choice. I boarded and sat down with my face looking like I had been possessed. My hands were trembling, my tears were shedding, and I couldn't talk for 15 minutes before I recovered from the trauma and realized we were in a better cabin with A/C, thank God. To be honest, the train journey was not too bad, but none of us even dared to use the toilet for 5 hours.

One of the challenges when taking a train in India is that you'll find it difficult to locate which stop you are at. There were a few other foreign tourists sitting around us, and we were guessing they must be going to Agra too. After almost 5 hours, we knew we were close by and needed to get off soon. At one stop, almost everyone including the tourists got off the train and so we followed. We went to the exit of the train station and expected to see our names and the hotel pick-up driver, but the fact is there was no one with our names. So we waited for 5 minutes, until I had a bad feeling and I turned to ST, 'Are you sure this is right stop?' He started looking and asking around, and surprise surprise, we got off at the wrong stop! It was already 10.30pm. Having just recovered my mood, I got a little upset again and almost got into an argument with ST and all the rickshaw drivers who were surrounding and hassling us for a ride. I just could not stay sane under such stress and started yelling. It was the first time ST saw me like this. LOL I'm sorry ST!

After running out of choices, we hired a rickshaw to get to our hotel, which was fortunately not crazy far.

After we checked in, this driver who was supposed to pick us up came to us and offered to bring us to a meal because we were hungry but all the shops were closed. So we agreed. We got in the rickshaw, and I swear it took only 10 seconds before he stopped at the restaurant. I felt cheated and started feeling skeptical about this old man. He said he would wait for us to finish eating but I said no, since the hotel was literally just opposite! He insisted. When we were eating, he came and sat next to us showing us a tour brochure. I KNEW IT! He started going on and on about where he would bring us go the next day, even though we told him we only wanted to visit Taj Mahal, which is not far away from our hotel. He insisted to pick us up from the hotel at 7am and bring us to all the places at 800 INR/person.

Indian digestive

Day 3

Mehtab Bagh | Taj Mahal

The next morning, we were brought to Mehtab Bagh first even though we told the driver we wanted to go to Taj Mahal first. I cannot believe that he made the decision for us instead. I was not quite happy with him.

However I liked how peaceful and quiet Mehtab Bagh was when we were there. It was a great morning walk with a view of Taj Mahal.

View from Mehtab Bagh

When we left Mehtab Bagh, it was already 9am. Our check-out time was supposed to be 10am. It was such an awkward timing and we could not follow our plan to visit Taj Mahal early in the morning, which was disappointing. ST and I decided to just head straight to Taj Mahal and return to the hotel later for late check-out. The driver dropped us at Taj Mahal and left, and asked us to walk back from Taj Mahal to the hotel when we were done (whut???).

Taj Mahal is BEAUTIFUL, especially when seen with your own eyes. We spent 4 hours here!

Photo tips: A lot of people have been asking me how I got pictures in Taj Mahal without people in them. I especially loved the red mosque on the west side of Taj. It was quiet and MUCH less crowded than the other one. You'll get your beautiful pictures here easily. The architecture is simply breathtakinggggg! I really enjoyed studying all the details on the wall and the high ceiling.

We left Taj Mahal at around 1pm and had to walk back to the hotel under the hot sun, even though we hired a driver. How ridiculous.

When we got back, we told the hotel we would extend our stay until 4pm so we could rest and take a shower before we left for Delhi. We told the driver we would not need him anymore, but he still insisted to wait for us until 4pm to send us to the train station, which I disagreed. ST tried to talk to him so he would go away, he refused. I immediately went to him and warned him that if he insisted to wait, we would only pay him 500 INR/person. He responded, 'Ma'am, my job is to make you happy. As long as you are happy.' So I took it as a yes and left.

After a good shower and a decent rest, we were picked up by the same driver who promised to take us to buy postcards. I expected a proper souvenir shop, instead, he stopped us at a shop selling mostly fabrics, which was again located only steps away from our hotel. We did not need the ride at all. We tried to be patient, got some of the oldest postcards taken out from the drawer, and left. He then tried to persuade us to visit a jewellery shop where we suspected he would earn commission from. We refused, he was mad. I told the driver to bring us to get some postage stamps, he said no. He was then told to bring us to any convenience shop for us to get toiletries, again he refused. I felt like we were paying him but he was the one who decided where we had to go, which is ridiculous!!

When we reached the train station, we handed him 500 INR each. Shockingly, he threatened that we had to pay him 800 INR each. I lost my mind and we got into a conflict on the street. I swear I had never yelled at that many people in a short time before. It's understandable that their life may be hard in India and they need to earn as much as they can, but I disagree with being dishonest. For the past few days, I became so skeptical and raised my guard up to protect myself from being harassed or harmed or cheated. I felt like I needed to do that, and it was not a pleasant feeling at all.

My patience was put to a real test these few days. I thought I would get high blood pressure or a heart attack soon. I got so exhausted from saying no, from all the stares and all the hassles. Jaipur and Taj Mahal themselves are incredible, it was truly a surreal feeling to be standing by them and just admiring their beauty. It's a shame I had to be so upset and grumpy for the past few days.

This time, I was not worried of the train ride at all, because the Gatimaan Express from Agra to Delhi is the fastest and probably the best maintained train in India. They even served food on board!

Gatimaan Express

We could immediately tell the difference in cities when we were approaching Delhi. There were proper modern buildings and roads were wider with more cars. Of course, Delhi is the capital of India.

However, we arrived to a street fight among rickshaw drivers outside the train station. It was quite terrifying. And at the same time, we were again being surrounded by all the drivers offering to give us a ride. Why would this never end?

Anyway, due to the roads getting blocked by all the rickshaws, no cars or Uber could come in to get us, so we had no choice but to hire a rickshaw to the hotel. We stayed in an area FULL of budget hotels. ST was saying how much this place looked like Hong Kong LOL (with all the neon lights).

We stayed here for a night before our flight to Leh the next morning.

Tips for trip planning: 
Don't get me wrong, Jaipur and Agra are beautiful places and I would still recommend them to all the travellers out there. But please plan well. Traveling on budget may not work too well in India, as you'll literally get what you pay for. You don't have to choose the cheapest accommodation to save money. You don't have to take a train if you don't need to, as hiring a car is not expensive at all. You pay a little more for comfort, sense of security, and less stress.

But if you are looking for a different local experience and you don't mind all the hassles, try the train. You get to see more of India. To look on the bright side, I've had this once-in-a-lifetime experience of seeing India differently, which is amazing. Even though it was just 2-3 days, I felt like it changed me in some ways. 
Also, try to use Uber instead of rickshaws. Uber is really cheap in India. We have met good people in India too, one of them is the Uber driver that we hired in Jaipur. He was really patient and even spent time to help us with the local sim card.

Now, time to move on to the highlight of our trip. I felt like we were in a totally different world as soon as we got on the aircraft heading to the Himalaya.

How magnificent is Ladakh?

Why would I think Ladakh is even more attractive than Iceland?

How much did we spend throughout the trip?

Stay tuned for Part II.


Train Tickets:

Booked via Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation Limited. You have to sign up first before buying tickets.


  1. Jaipur: Not recommended

  2. Agra: Hotel Ray of Maya - Click to earn 10% back on

  3. Delhi: The Prime Balaji Deluxe - Click to earn 10% back on


  • Total expenses at the end of Part II


  1. Great write up! But your experience is a bit too scary for me. I'll definitely have high blood pressure there. :(

    1. Hey Eunice. Thank you! But I hope it won't stop you from visiting India. I'm trying to help so you all won't repeat mistakes I've made. :)

  2. Hi Chu,
    Thank you for sharing your experience and fabulous pictures. Being a resident of Jaipur, I would like to say sorry for all the trauma you faced here in India. I hope you will visit India again in the upcoming future to explore different cultures and different cities. Keep posting amazing clicks..!!

    1. Hi Abhinav, thanks for dropping by! Don't say sorry it wasn't your fault in any way. I will visit India again as there are so many beautiful places that I'd like to see. :)

  3. Dear Chu,
    Thank you for your no holds barred writing! I'll be visiting India in April with a friend, so every tip you have given here will probably be a life saver. Can't wait for part II ♡

    1. Hi Aida. Thank you. I hope it will help you in planning your trip! :)

  4. Hi Chu. First of all, thanks for your reply. It's wonderful to see that you want to visit India again in the upcoming future. It would be an honor for us to welcome you again. However, to avoid all the hassle you faced earlier, I would like to suggest you some key points which you should follow while visiting India. I have already mailed you all those suggestions on I hope that you will read my email and find it useful. And I'm eagerly waiting for Part II. I hope you will upload it soon. Thank you again for all the amazing photographs. Keep posting!!

  5. Ah Kak, mana part ll?
    I want my Ladakh


  6. Cool! Can't wait for part II too!

  7. Hello~~ I'm going with another girl to India in the end of Feb and your tips are a great insight on what to expect once we get there! I was just wondering where you got the sari you wore at the Taj from? Did you buy it or rent it? It looks so beautiful on you! :D Thank you for sharing your insights and beautiful photos with us :D

    1. Hi thanks for dropping by and I'm glad you find the post helpful. Like stated in the post, I got my saree in Jaipur. Included some tips in the post too. :)

  8. Hi, interesting travelog. Maybe you can use Maps.Me next time, a free offline GPS map. come in handy when there's no internet connection on your phone.


Latest Instagrams

© wanderchu.