The Taj Mahal, as most would probably guess, ended up being one of our favorite attractions in India!
Find out what I thought of India overall here!
And although no-one can ever fully prepare you for what to expect anywhere India, these are definitely 15 tips you need to know before visiting the Taj Mahal!
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1. Get there as early as possible
The Taj Mahal opens at 6am and if you want to get there for sunrise I suggest showing up 30-45 min earlier.
Something we didn’t expect were the long ticket lines and the security checks that make the entry process a pretty long one.
Even though we still got good morning shots, we definitely missed sunrise…
2. Watch the sunset behind the Taj Mahal in the Moon Garden!
We would have never known about this place had our taxi driver not suggested it.
Moon Garden was so peaceful and beautiful. It was definitely the perfect place to sit on the wall or in the garden and just study the Taj Mahal. It is way less crowded but just be sure and bring a good zoom lens since it’s across the river.
3. When purchasing your tickets you will be bombarded by locals asking if you want a guide.
This is something that we were completely thrown off by, but just politely say no and keep walking. There is no need to spend money on a guide around the Taj Mahal, especially if you have already done your research on it.
Which brings me to my next point!
4. Know the story behind the Taj Mahal before you go!
Knowing the story behind the Taj Mahal before you go makes it that much more special. I’ll admit, I always just thought the Taj Mahal was just a beautiful building/monument. It wasn’t until we decided to come to India and I did some homework that I realized there is actually a beautiful love story behind the Taj Mahal.
It would not have been near as special had I not known the true meaning behind it all.
5. Prepare to tip someone if they offer to take a photo of you with your camera in front of the Taj Mahal.
Unfortunately, you cannot trust that any locals are just wanting to do something “nice” if they’re offering to take your photo for you.
I can’t even count how many foreigners photos I took for them so the weren’t having to settle for a “selfie” with their loved ones.
Then I accept a photo to be taken for me with my husband by a local and of course they wanted money for it.
For one photo.
I wish I would have known that because it made for a frustrating and disappointing moment at one of the coolest places in the world.
6. Bring Sunglasses
I am not a huge sunglass wearer. However, I wish I would have worn some that day!
The Taj Mahal is white, obviously. And once the sun is up it makes it very hard to look at up close. It got to a point where I couldn’t look at it for too long and was squinting like crazy.
This is a simple tip, but trust me. You will thank me for it.
7. Invest in a wide angle lens
Some of my favorite shots have come from my 10-18mm lens and let me tell you. I could not have survived my Taj Mahal day trip without it.
Once you’re up close, there is no way to get the entire thing into one shot. The Taj Mahal is just so much bigger than you would imagine.
8. Be patient to get the perfect shot
It is so extremely crowded at the Taj Mahal and everyone wants that perfect centered picture with no-one in it. So just do what it takes to get the photo!
There were so many times where I had to just stand my ground and wait sometimes for 5 to 10 minutes to get the photo I wanted.
Your future self will thank you for being patient and getting the perfect picture.
9. Tripods are not allowed
Somehow this is the one place we decided to not bring our tripod and I am glad we didn’t, because we didn’t know until we got there that tripods were not allowed!
10. Get your camera ready BEFORE you get to the entrance. (Enter through the Southern Gate “Main Gate”)
I almost missed the perfect shot because I didn’t have my camera turned on and ready while walking through the main entrance.
There were so many people flooding in and it made for a photo that really put into perspective what I was seeing in that moment.
11. Tourists pay a whole lot more than locals to see the Taj Mahal
For just about every attraction India has a “tourist” price and a “locals” price. Just be prepared for the price differences.
Locals pay 40 Rupees (.57 Cents) and tourists pay 1,000 Rupees ($14)
12. Don’t leave out the details!
It is so easy to get caught up in the grandiosity of the Taj Mahal and just snap photos of the entire thing.
But when you’re close enough to touch the Taj Mahal you’ll notice the incredibly intricate art on the Taj.
Photograph it all!
13. Try and go on only around sunset or sunrise time
This kind of goes back to the sunglasses thing.
In the middle of the day, not only is it extremely hot but very bright as well. Which won’t produce the best photos.
Going during sunrise & sunset puts the most beautiful colors on the Taj Mahal and just gives it an overall, majestic feeling.
14. Prepare to separate from your travel buddy if they’re of the opposite sex
Another thing we didn’t anticipate. (There’s a theme here…)
There is a female foreigner line, male foreigner line, female local line and a male local line.
It feels a lot like herding cattle but it’s so women can be searched in a separate more “private” area. (I think it was just a curtain up while they pat you down.)
The female foreigner line moves so freaking slowly so again, that’s a good reason to get there that much earlier!
15. When walking out to leave, turn around and stop every minute or so to really take it in…
The Taj Mahal looks so different and beautiful from every angle, every distance, vantage point, etc.
I will never forget doing this with Tom and it really helped me remember and appreciate what I had just seen and the fact that I was leaving it possibly for forever.
The Taj Mahal is a once in a life time experience. (If you choose for it to be) Hopefully these 15 tips make it the best experience it can be for you!