Palace on Wheels Itinerary
One 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
Here, 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.
From 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
The 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.
A 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
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.
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
A 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
Today 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
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.
The 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
Traveling 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
I 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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