Jet Set to Jaipur: Part 1 – Planning and Introduction

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Back in March 2014 when we were a couple, Daraius and I flew to India as part of an around-the-world trip for my parents.  During our journey, we visited India, the Maldives, and Hong Kong.

We took a 4-day trip to Jaipur, a city in the Northern part of India called Rajasthan.  I really like Rajasthan for its historic palaces, extraordinary forts, and excellent shopping.  And we even took a picturesque elephant ride!  It’s different than anywhere else I’ve traveled, and that’s why I liked it so much!

Planning And Introduction

Now This Is First Class Travel!  No Miles or Points Required

This series of posts will cover the logistics of getting to Jaipur, the hotel we stayed in, the activities we did, and restaurants we visited.

Jet Set to Jaipur Trip Report Index:

Planning and Introduction

India is 1 of my top 5 places I’ve ever been.  That’s because it’s a feast for the senses in every way!  Here’s a video that highlights some of my favorite places I’ve visited in India.  India will always be a magical place for me.

In later parts of this series, we will go into more detail about the airline, hotel, sights, shops, and restaurants.  This post is a brief overview of everything we did.

Getting to Jaipur, India

We used United Airlines miles to fly from Austin to Chicago on United Airlines, then from Chicago to Mumbai (via Frankfurt) on Lufthansa.

We paid 60,000 United Airlines miles each for our seats in Business Class (these tickets now cost 80,000 United Airlines miles).  But you can fly coach for just 42,500 United Airlines miles 1-way.

Planning And Introduction

We Had a Terrific Time Flying Lufthansa Business Class From Chicago to Mumbai (via Frankfurt)

It was my stepdad’s 1st time overseas, so we wanted to make it memorable for him.

We stopped in Mumbai for 2 weeks, and then flew round-trip to Jaipur and back.  If you are considering stopping in Mumbai or Delhi, you can read about our travels there in December 2013!

We took an IndiGo flight to Jaipur for less than $200 round-trip.  IndiGo is a regional Indian airline.  Last-minute flights are fairly cheap (unlike the US).  There’s no good way to use miles, so we paid cash.

Planning And Introduction

On the Road Again!  Next Stop, Jaipur!

It took 1 hour to drive from South Mumbai to the airport at 9:00 am for our 11:20 am departure.  The Mumbai airport was easy to get through.

Planning And Introduction

IndiGo Isn’t Fancy, but Check-In Was Quick and Efficient

The non-stop flight from Mumbai to Jaipur was just 1 hour and 25 minutes.

Planning And Introduction

There’s No Business Class on IndiGo’s Domestic Flights, but for a Short Flight Coach Is Just Fine!

Ancient Forts and Lavish Palaces in Jaipur

Our 1st day in Jaipur, we went to the City Palace.  It was built between 1729 and 1732 by the Maharaja of Jaipur.

Planning And Introduction

So Serious! My New Bodyguards at the City Palace, Jaipur :)

We loved the old architecture and painted archways.

Planning And Introduction

The City Palace Has an Interesting Mix of Indian, Muslim, and European Architecture

One of my favorite activities was to ride my 1st elephant up to the majestic gates of the Amber Fort!

Planning And Introduction

An Elephant Ride to the Amber Fort Gates Costs 900 Rupees, or ~$14

We also found some excellent shopping (OK, us ladies did anyway!)

Planning And Introduction

Daraius Was a Good Sport – He Knows I Love Shopping Almost as Much as He Loves to Eat!

ITC Rajputana Was a Great Use of Starwood Points

While in Jaipur, we stayed at the ITC Rajputana, which is a Starwood Luxury Collection hotel.

Planning And Introduction

An Amazing Deal for a Starwood Luxury Collection Hotel!  The ITC Rajputana Is Now a Starwood Category 1 – Only 3,000 Starwood Points per Night!

The hotel was very pretty and had unique Indian artwork and architecture.

Planning And Introduction

My Mom Loved the Interesting Lights and Chandeliers in the Lobby

The rooms were very modern and comfortable.

Planning And Introduction

Not the Biggest Rooms We’ve Stayed in, but They Were Nicely Decorated

We’d happily stay at this hotel again!

Indian Food Enchanted Our Tastebuds

We tried the local Rajasthani version of thali.  There were so many little dishes to try!  Everything was so flavorful and the portions were huge!

Planning And Introduction

Daraius in His Happy Place!  An Amazing Array of Dishes to Sample

You Can Do It, Too

Here’s how we made the trip happen!

 Retail CostOur Cash CostMiles & Points UsedSources of Miles & Points
Two 1-way Business Class tickets from Austin to Mumbai (via Chicago and Frankfurt)$4,878 per person ($9,756 for two) ~$67 per person (taxes and fees) or ~$134 for two60,000 United Airlines miles per person (160,000 United Airlines miles for two)

Note: The United Airlines award chart has since changed. Tickets are now 80,000 United Airlines miles 1-way in Business Class plus taxes and fees
Transferred Chase Ultimate Rewards points earned from the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Ink Plus to United Airlines
Two round-trip tickets between Mumbai and Jaipur on IndiGo~$173 per person (~$346 for two)~$173 per person (~$346 for two)N/AN/A
Three nights at the ITC Rajputana hotel ~$128 per night (~$384 for 3 nights)$04,000 Starwood points per night (12,000 Starwood points total for 3 nights)Used Starwood points earned from the AMEX Starwood cards

Flights to India

We spent 60,000 United Airlines miles per person plus ~$67 to fly from Austin to Mumbai (via Chicago and Frankfurt) in Business Class on United Airlines and Lufthansa.  These flights now cost 80,000 United Airlines miles per person.

We transferred Chase Ultimate Rewards points earned from the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Ink Plus cards to United Airlines.  But there are lots of other ways to earn United Airlines miles!

That’s not the only way to get there!  Daraius and I have flown to India numerous times using miles and points, including:

Check out our post on all the ways to get to India using miles & points!  And here are guides on how to use United Airlines miles and American Express Membership Rewards points to fly to India.

If you want to fly from the US to Rajasthan, you’ll have to 1st fly to a larger city like Abu Dhabi, Mumbai, or Delhi.

Hotels in Jaipur

We used Starwood points earned from our Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express and Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express cards to stay at the ITC Rajputana.  It was an excellent deal – only 4,000 Starwood points per night!

Note:   The ITC Rajputana now costs just 3,000 Starwood points per night.

There are lots of other chain hotels in Jaipur where you can stay using points, including Hilton, IHG, Marriott, Starwood, and Wyndham hotels, including:

Planning And Introduction

Stay at the Jaipur Marriott for 15,000 Marriott Points per Night!

We like using Hotel Hustle to see how much award nights cost and if there are any available for our travel dates.

That said, hotels in Jaipur are usually inexpensive.  So it might be worthwhile to save your points for pricier stays elsewhere!

Bottom Line

Visiting Jaipur was a unique, unforgettable adventure!  Riding the elephant was my favorite experience, along with visiting the historic forts.  This area of India is one of my top 5 favorite places in the world.

There was also some excellent shopping with very interesting jewelry and handicrafts that you can’t find anywhere else!

The ITC Rajputana was an excellent find for only 4,000 Starwood points per night (now only 3,000 points per night!).  But there are plenty of other options to stay with points, including Hilton, IHG, Marriott, Starwood, and Wyndham hotels.

Stay tuned for more details on our flights to Mumbai and Jaipur!

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9 responses to “Jet Set to Jaipur: Part 1 – Planning and Introduction

  1. Great post Emily! Rajasthan is one of our favourite destinations too…. Here’s a blog post of our time there – Nov 2013…

  2. Nice Post. I took my kid and Parents to Jaipur in November for a few days. We stayed at Le Meridien which also is a SPG hotel and I think it is Cat 1 too(or 2). Rajputana is in the heart of the city, but LM is little off and is actually 10mins away from Amber fort where u do the Elephant ride.
    We also did Agra (Taj Mahal) while we were there, which was a 4 hr drive by road…

  3. “Back in 2014 when we were a couple” – are you not anymore?

  4. Informative post but please be considerate of the plight of the Elephants at Amer fort or anywhere for that matter when you promote such activities. A lot of work is being done to stop the torture of elephants but the lucrative tourism industry pushes it back. I am all for promotions but let’s keep some perspective.

  5. I’m in agreement with Vikram on this as well. The practice of phajaan which means “to crush the spirit” is cruel and leaves these elephants in pain and terror quite often for their entire life. I love your blog – maybe a follow up post on organizations that are trying to change the lives of not only the elephants but for the people involved as well. Wildlife SOS is just one of many!

  6. Amen to Vikram and Heather! I second their sentiments and hope you will take their considerations. This is so important!

    I was wondering the same thing as John…“Back in 2014 when we were a couple” – are you not anymore?

  7. Have to agree with what’s already been said in the comments. My girlfriend and I have an upcoming trip which includes visiting Thailand and one of her hopes was to ride an elephant. She is in love with elephants. So when I explained to her how these animals are treated, she was heartbroken. We took that as an opportunity to learn more and decided to visit and support an elephant sanctuary outside of Bangkok which has a mission to rescue these elephants and give them a peaceful and nurtured life. I don’t really have a soft heart where I would need to admonish someone for riding elephants, but I feel many would reconsider if they knew what was going on behind the scenes. Still love the blog though! 🙂

  8. @ Paras- Glad you enjoyed it! It looks like you also had an amazing time! I love India. 🙂

    @Vaibhav- I’m sure you had a wonderful time with your family. Agra has some beautiful sites as well!!

    @John- Yes, please see this post:

    @ Vikram, Heather, L, and Anthony – I can see your perspective as well, so thank you for sharing. It is easy to forget that sometimes animals can be mistreated. I LOVE the idea about visiting an animal sanctuary.