The Taj Mahal rightfully earns its title as one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
The Taj Mahal
Its grand architecture is truly stunning in person and there are so many corners of this historical wonder to explore. Thousands of tourists come every day to marvel at this perfectly crafted white marble mausoleum.
Despite its beauty, in such a densely populated location it’s easy to fall in tourist traps. While my visit to the Taj Mahal was indeed amazing, I had to learn a few things the hard way. To spare you the tough lessons, here are 10 helpful tips to know before you go.
1. Don’t Pay More Than 50 Rupees for a Rickshaw
Simply put- don’t pay more than 50 rupees for a rickshaw to the Taj Mahal- especially if you’re located 1 kilometer away in the parking lot.
Driving in a rickshaw
As with all of India, you can haggle the price down. A good rule of thumb is 10 rupees per kilometer. The rickshaw should cost no more than 50 rupees to the front gates of the Taj Mahal Entrance.
If the driver doesn’t immediately take your offer, shake your hand signaling you aren’t interested and walk away. Don’t worry because he will call you back- I guarantee it. You can also use this same ‘ignore style’ haggling technique to lower the prices of the souvenirs sold around the Taj Mahal.
2. The Best Photo of the Taj Mahal is by the Second Fountain
When you first enter the Taj Mahal tons of people will be taking photos in front of the railing and first fountain. Keep walking because that picture sucks.
The second foundation
Walk halfway through the plaza until you reach the second fountain. There will be a raised marble floor where many people will be congregated, so it’s easy to spot.
Me and my best friend Lily at the Taj Mahal
Have someone stand on the wooden platform at the end of the marble floor to take your photo while you are in front of the second foundation. It’s undeniably the best photo at the Taj Mahal and it’s often not as crowded as the first fountain.
If you don’t have anyone to take your picture, ask a stranger. Most of my Instagram photos are actually taken by random people and I haven’t had my camera stolen or broken, so don’t be too worried.
Photo of Lily and I taken by a stranger
Just be selective about who you give your camera to. For example, if someone is already wearing a high quality camera around their neck, that would be a good example of a good picture-taking candidate.
3. Don’t Hire a Tour Guide at the Taj Mahal
Simply put, you don’t need a tour guide. However, if you want one be sure to book beforehand or haggle the price significantly down to avoid getting ripped off big time.
The guides will be very persistent and some will even hijack your rickshaw and try to sell you a tour throughout your ride. They will also attempt to sell you a tour package near the ticketing counter as well.
They will insist the line to get into the Taj Mahal takes 2 hours, but in reality it only takes about 10 minutes- especially if you’re a foreign tourist.
4. The Ticket Price is High for Foreigners
Foreigners pay 1,000 rupees compared to the mere 40 rupees locals pay. Take extra cash with you because they don’t take card.
The entrance and main plaza inside the Taj Mahal
Even though the price is high, in reality that’s only about $15 USD and you get to skip all long lines. With the foreigner ticket you can bypass the lengthy entrance line and get expedited into the Taj Mahal.
5. Your Ticket Includes Free Shoe Coverings and a Water
Your ticket comes with a free pair of shoe coverings and a water. Definitely redeem the shoe coverings because you need them to enter the Taj Mahal, but save the water for after unless you plan to drink it all.
If you’re taking photos, a bottle of water will be in every one. If you don’t mind that in your photos and you’re thirsty, grab it before. Although, if this bothers you be sure to redeem your free water after your visit.
6. Wear the Free Coverings Over Your Shoes
In the Taj Mahal, no shoes are allowed. Instead of taking off your shoes, or checking them, just put the coverings over your shoes. This is allowed and the covering is free and included in the price of your ticket.
Me and Lily and a bunch of shoe covering litter
Once you exit the Taj Mahal, throw away the coverings in the recycling bin near the exit. Don’t be the person who litters outside.
7. If You Go Into the Tomb- Don’t Drop the Coin
When you go inside of Taj Mahal you may be asked if you want to drop a coin. Don’t do it because it’s not free. It’s unnecessary and just another cost you’ll need to budget.
8. Buy Petha
Out of all the souvenirs to buy, petha is the most valuable. Petha is one of my favorite Indian desserts and is densely packed with sugary goodness.
The delicious petha
Agra, the city wherein the Taj Mahal is located is famous for its petha. You can buy it pretty much anywhere in Agra, including outside of the Taj Mahal.
9. Don’t Let a Monkey Steal Your Belongings
There are naughty monkeys at the Taj Mahal that like to steal your belongings. While they are mostly in the back by the Yamuna River, secure your items and be mindful of the glasses on your face.
Monkeys steal things- it doesn’t matter where, or when, they will snatch them. While most monkeys I encounter ignore my human presence, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
10. Random People Will Ask to Take Photos with You if You’re Foreign
This is a phenomenon I’ve experienced throughout Asia, but is more common in India than anywhere else- particularly at historical landmarks like the Taj Mahal.
The first fountain at the Taj Mahal and some dude sneaking a selfie with me
If you’re a foreigner people will ask for photos with you. As a female traveler, I usually let women, children, and families take pictures with me, but I avoid taking photos with groups of only men. That’s my personal preference, but feel free to do what you like. Either way, be prepared for paparazzi.
The Taj Mahal is Incredible
I drove 7-hours round trip from Delhi to see the Taj Mahal and it was worth every second.
Taken from the second fountain
While the area can be a bit overwhelming with all of the tourists and thick crowds, these tips will make any trip to the Taj Mahal far easier. I had an amazing time and I can confidently say this is a site to put on any India exploration bucket list.