Palace on Wheels Train: A Journey Through Rajasthan

March 14, 2018

India, Luxury Travel, Train travel

Palace on Wheels Train Journey Through RajasthanMost first-timers in India focus on exploring the well known Golden Triangle area of the country that encompasses Delhi, Agra and Jaipur. It is here that you can experience the hustle and bustle of Old Delhi, while also getting inspired by the world’s most famous monument to love at the Taj Mahal in Agra before heading into the beautiful pink city of Jaipur in Rajasthan.

There are few regions more fascinating than Rajasthan. With opulent palaces, historic forts and animals galore, you are fully immersed into the history and culture of India, both past and present. Travel here is a sensory experience on all levels – the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of Rajasthan provide visitors a perfect sampling of what the country has to offer. Trust me, as soon as you spot women in their bright pink or orange sari’s, you will be swooning.

Palace on Wheels Train Journey Through RajasthanGiven that Rajasthan embodies the classic image that fills most people’s imagination about India, it’s only fitting that one of the country’s most popular train journeys, the Palace on Wheels, traverses 3000 kilometers through this colorful desert state.

Spanning a large portion of northwest India, Rajasthan is massive, and virtually impossible to fully experience even on a longer trip. That said, the Palace on Wheels train journey offers an amazing itinerary hitting the major sights of the state in a very short amount of time. In just 7 nights, the Palace on Wheels includes the Golden Triangle, two national parks and more forts and palaces than you can count.

Read on for more information and our Palace on Wheels review on this iconic traditional train journey taking visitors though one of India’s most beautiful states.

Palace on Wheels train journey through RajasthanThe Palace on Wheels itself is a wonderful mix of traditional and modern India. Billed as a luxury train, I would clarify it as being more traditional with luxury aspects. The decor of the train harkens back to the days of the Raj with gold embroidered textiles giving guests the feeling of living in their own Rajput palace. While the train itself has all the amenities needed during a 7 night journey, it does not embody plush luxury that many Westerners might envision. But as my 7 year old told me “Remember, you are on a train!”

Exploring Rajasthan by luxury train on the Palace on WheelsWith 14 cars hosting 41 rooms, the Palace on Wheels maintains a small group feel with a total passenger capacity of 82 people. There are only 2 double bedrooms on the train (you better book quickly if you want those!), leaving all other rooms as twin share. Twin share rooms are actually perfect for families or friends traveling together as everyone will have their own bed. It may not sound romantic to have seperate beds, but believe me it comes in handy when the train is rocking and rolling in the night!


Palace on Wheels TrainThe Palace on Wheels includes all typical items that you would expect in any hotel. There are hairdryers available, toiletries, towels, stationary, etc.  However, there is not a mini-fridge or proper safe in the room. That said, cold drinks are available at any time on request. In addition, instead of a safe, there is a wardrobe/closet that has a lock with key for you to secure your belongings during the day if you so choose.

In addition to the in-room amenities there is also a spa car with facilities for manicures/pedicures and massages. I did not have time for a massage, but I heard they were fantastic!

Palace on Wheels reviewFor those who can’t unplug while in India, each car is provided a sharing WiFi hotspot dongle which may or may not work depending on where you are in the journey! Internet was quite good in the cities, but on the rails and as we delved further into rural Rajasthan it became less consistent. I would definitely recommend a pocket WiFi device or to get a local SIM Chip in India if you need more consistent connectivity.

The cabins on the train cars were perfectly air conditioned (Well ours was at least. Some people complained their cabins were too cold) and the shower water was perfectly hot. My two main comfort requirements when traveling in India.


Palace on Wheels TrainAs this is an all inclusive package, your meals are taken care of for the duration of the trip. Most meals are served on the train with a few lunches provided at luxury establishments in town. While on the train, guests will eat in one of two dining car saloons on the train switching between the two for their meals, making sure guests get to experience each a variety of times.Palace on Wheels Review

Palace on Wheels Train

Breakfast consists of made to order eggs, toast, sausage and bacon with fruit for the Western palate and select Indian breakfast items varying throughout the week.

Dinner is served as classic silver service style beginning with soup and salads followed by a wide variety of Continental selections before serving a few classic Indian dishes each evening. The Indian food can be quite bland in order to satisfy most Western standards, however we found the chef was more than happy to make spicy versions of most dishes, you just need to ask!

Palace on Wheels Train

Overall, the meals were quite good, especially the Indian selections. The hit each night was homemade ice cream. You will leave dreaming of their roasted almond and mango ice creams!

Bar & lounge area on the Palace on Wheels train

While alcohol is not included (and from what I hear quite expensive), all coffee, tea and water is provided free of charge. I managed to get small bottles of Sprite in my room free of charge, but others were charged for their sodas at the restaurant, so I am not totally certain on what is or isn’t included for soft drinks.

Hospitality & Service

The most luxurious part of the train journey in my opinion are the staff. From the personal butlers to the kitchen staff to the tour managers, your every need will be taken care of from the moment you step into the station to the moment you leave.

Each train car (of 3 rooms) has 2 personal butlers at your service. They are responsible for bringing your bags on board, cleaning, refreshing and turning down your room each day as well as helping make sure you wake up on time and know the program for the day.

Our butlers, Keith and Rajendra, were so wonderfully attuned to our needs that tea and cookies were presented each morning at wake up with spicy Indian snacks and cold drinks in the afternoon on our return. I can’t say all butlers will be this amazing, but from what I saw they all had amazing qualities adding such a unique flavor to the journey.

Apart from the butlers, the kitchen staff to tour guides were all amazing and hilarious too. I can’t stop thinking about one of our servers on the train who dubbed himself the joker because he was always being silling, singing and having fun. Our tour guides were also wonderful as was the tour manager Rajeev who managed our daily schedule, kept us all up to date on changes and let us wander off as needed!

It’s hard to believe how in only 8 days you leave feeling like you are leaving your family behind. Having caring super attentive staff to take care of your every need is worth its weight in gold.

Palace on Wheels Itinerary

Palace on Wheels ItineraryOne of the best parts of this train experience is the itinerary. After reviewing a few luxury trains in India, I found the Palace on Wheels’ itinerary was ideal for first time visitors to India because it takes in the most iconic sites in the country, in the least amount of time. Your journey begins and ends in Delhi, however there are no included activities for the city itself included, so we recommend arriving a few days early or staying a few days afterwards to see the sights here, of which there are many!

Day 1: Board Train in Delhi

Boarding for the Palace on Wheels train journey begins in the late afternoon. Arrive ready to be welcomed in style before getting comfortable in your state rooms.

Day 2: Jaipur

Palace on Wheels ReviewHere, in the Pink City, you will be treated to an action packed day filled with the top sights to be seen in Jaipur. You will start your day off at the Albert Hall Museum which is packed with history and filled with photo worthy opportunities at every turn. Before lunch you will get a chance to check out the beautiful Hawa Mahal and the City Palace.

Palace on Wheels ReviewFrom here, you will head to the amazing Amber Fort either by elephant or jeep. For ethical reasons, we say go by jeep – it’s just as exciting! Once you arrive, you will be led through the many archways to delicately and beautifully crafted rooms en route to lunch at the amazing 1135. This was my favorite lunch of the entire trip, so don’t miss it!

Day 3: Ranthambore & Chittorgarh

Palace on Wheels Itinerary - RanthamboreThe train arrives bright and early at Ranthambore to allow guests to head out for a tiger safari. Bundle up as you head out in open-top jeeps in search of the elusive Bengal Tiger. Not all groups will see a tiger unfortunately, but even without it, the park is beautiful and filled with other wildlife to keep you clicking your cameras.

Palace on Wheels trainA short train ride as you have breakfast and freshen up takes you to Chittorgarh and it’s fabulous UNESCO World Heritage fort. The monkeys here were the main attraction for us! This is followed by a light and sound show at the fort in the evening. To be honest, the light show was lacking, however the story told was fantastic and provided wonderful insight into the fort’s history and what life was like.

Day 4: Udaipur

Palace on Wheels Train

City Palace

The city of lakes is one of the most picturesque spots in the journey. The morning is spent at the massive and beautifully crafted City Palace. Follow the arrows for your own self guided tour or stay with the guide for a quick peak around filled with loads of history. Unfortunately the itinerary here has guests visiting on the weekend which means heavy crowds. Try to ignore them and soak it all in.

Palace on Wheels

Miniature art in Udaipur

Next you will be treated to a lovely boat ride around Lake Pichola to a little island in the middle, nicknamed the Lake Garden Palace, where you can have tea and snacks before heading back to shore.

Day 5: Jaisalmer

Camel Safari on the Palace on Wheels ItineraryA long overnight journey lands you in the mystical sand castle town of Jaisalmer, where the fort is the actual village. Enjoy time getting lost within the tiny lanes of the fort before heading to the intricately carved havelis in the newer part of town. Don’t expend all your energy as you have a short camel safari in the desert waiting for you at the end of the day!

Day 6: Jodhpur

Palace on Wheels Train Journey through RajasthanToday you will be treated to one of the best forts on the itinerary with gorgeous views of the blue city to boot. Mehrangarh Fort is a well organized fort that you will struggle to see in the time allotted. From it’s beautifully decorated rooms to opulent courtyards, it’s a photographers dream. Before your day is finished you will also venture to Jaswant Thada and the beautiful Umaid Bhawan Palace.

Day 7: Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary & Agra

Palace on Wheels Train Journey Through Rajasthan

Foggy morning at Bharatpur

The last official sightseeing day on the journey starts off early at the Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary. Most of our group skipped out, but I found it wonderful to immerse myself in nature before heading to the very busy city of Agra.

Palace on Wheels Train Journey Through RajasthanThe morning outing is followed by a quick train ride to Agra, the pinnacle of the trip. You will start your visit to Agra at the Agra Fort before heading to what you have been waiting for the entire journey –  an afternoon visit to the iconic and breathtaking Taj Mahal. The perfect way to end an absolutely fabulous trip.

Day 8: Depart Train

All guests must depart the train by 7:30 a.m. which makes for a hectic last day. Plan your onward journey for the same morning or book a hotel with early arrival check in.

Palace on Wheels Cost

Palace on Wheels CostTraveling to India on the Palace on Wheels is not a cheap experience. It is considered a luxury tour due particularly to the high level of service provided and the all inclusive package you will receive.

Palace on Wheels cost is based on a per room basis.  For guests traveling on their own, the Deluxe Cabin for single occupancy starts at $4000 in low season and goes up to $6000 during peak season. For couples traveling together, the room charge will start at $7000 during low season and goes up to $9000 during high season for the twin share room. If you are lucky enough to snag one of the two double rooms, the prices go up to $12,600.

The good news with an all inclusive package is that you will spend very little money outside of this cost. I spent about $150 USD mainly on tips with a little added in for shopping. For people on a budget this is a great way to know in advance how much you will spend before you set off.

The train operates every Wednesday to Wednesday between September and April, with bookings filling up 6 months in advance.

Why You Should Book a Palace on Wheels Luxury Train Journey

Palace on Wheels Luxury TrainI am typically not a huge fan of traveling by tour, but I have to say that experiencing India with the Palace on Wheels was a delight and just might have changed my mind about tours. Travel in India is not always easy or stress free. Days are often filled with haggling over taxi’s, souvenir prices or waiting in line for monuments. Add in figuring out where to eat, how to get there and how long it will take and your stress level will be at its maximum. For some this is the fun of travel, but for many, the joy of travel is actually learning about a destination and experiencing it in it’s best form.

Traveling on the Palace on Wheels means that everything is taken care of for you so you have no need to worry about your meals, transportation or even waiting in lines. Having lived in India and traveled a great deal in the country, I was pleasantly surprised by how amazingly hassle free my visit was while part of the Palace on Wheels train journey. The times that you encounter touts can be met with a fun carefree attitude since you are not dealing with them from morning to night. Being overcharged in a rickshaw is not bothersome because you aren’t dealing with it all day long.

I really found that the Palace on Wheels itinerary was the perfect way to experience the best of Rajasthan with the least amount of worry and hassle. I would highly recommend this to families and couples who want to experience India in a short amount of time.

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Take a luxury train journey through Rajasthan with the Palace on Wheels train

I was invited and hosted by Incredible India for my week aboard the Palace on Wheels. As always, however, all opinions and thoughts expressed here are my own with no editorial influence by the host.
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