A 7 Day Gangtok and Darjeeling Itinerary You Must Do

A holiday in the North-East for the quintessential Indian tourist means going to the charm of Sikkim (actually just Gangtok and around) and Darjeeling. Even though things are slowly changing for good and people have started to look beyond, no north-east destination comes closer to the Gangtok-Darjeeling duo as yet. Nestled in the laps of lush green mountains and snow-capped peaks of the Eastern Himalayas, Gangtok is one of the most beautiful state-capitals of India. Darjeeling, the queen of hills too, is equally mesmerizing if not more. Not to mention the quaint little towns spread all around and the to die for views from them. And then there’s the mighty Kanchedzonga which overlooks the entire region. Who would not want to go there, no?

Kanchedzonga from Pelling

Kanchedzonga – Photo from Shutterstock

If you too have fancied a trip to this part of the country, let me suggest you some things to see in Gangtok and Darjeeling. Places that would help you get a feel of the place. But before that, let’s find out about the most important part.

How to Reach Gangtok or Darjeeling?

The nearest you can get to Gangtok & Darjeeling by train is New Jalpaiguri (NJP) in West Bengal. If you plan to fly-in, Bagdogra in West Bengal is where you should book your flight for. From there on, it’s all by roads irrespective of whether you are headed to Gangtok or Darjeeling. It’s roughly a 4-hour drive give or take to both the towns. According to me, heading to Darjeeling first and then to Gangtok is a better idea than doing it the other way round and so my this itinerary for Gangtok and Darjeeling trip would be based on the same.

There are two roads that connect Darjeeling with the plains. The first one is the one the Tata Sumos (shared taxis) take. This route takes around 3.5 hours. The other and more scenic route is through the town of Mirik, also famous for its namesake lake. The shared cabs don’t take this route but you can always pay a little extra and travel through Mirik. Take this route only if you reach NJP by the first half of the day. Both shared and to be hired cabs are easily available outside the NJP railway station.

The Itinerary for Darjeeling and Gangtok

Darjeeling under fog

Darjeeling under fog – Photo from Shutterstock

Day 1: Spend some time at the charming Mirik lake on your way to Darjeeling and reach by late afternoon after a wonderful drive through lush green tea-gardens and jagged roads. The beauty of the green-carpet of tea – plantations are sure to cast a spell on you as you criss-cross them on your way up. Take a walk in the local markets and the mall road once you have freshened – up and the go food-hunting. Whether you eat non-veg or no, the momos in Darjeeling are something you should not miss.

Day 2: Now in the dooars there’s something called the n-point tours. These are nothing fancy but packages that cover number of points of interests. Start your first morning in Darjeeling a bit early and go for the 3-point tour which covers Tiger Hill, the Ghoom Monastary and the Batasia loop. You will need to start the day really early but if the skies are clear, you will see the most magnificent sunrise you would have ever seen. Take it from me, the view of the sun’s golden rays kissing the snow-capped peaks of Kanchenjunga would take your breath away. Totally worth getting-up at 3 AM in the morning. In the second half of the day, go for the toy-train ride. Just make sure to book the tickets in advance. Your hotel should be able to help you for both; vehicle to Tiger hill & Toy-train tickets.

Sunrise at Tiger Hill, Darjeeling

Sunrise at Tiger Hill, Darjeeling

Day 3: Take a stroll around the town. Walk up-to the watch-tower if it is not far from where you are staying, go for local sight-seeing, you have a lot of options. The rock-gardenTenzing Rock, Happy Valley Tea-estate. You might also want to pay a visit to St. Paul’s School. It is arguably the highest public school in the world. It is also the same school from the roof-top of which our very own Shahrukh Khan jumped on the helicopter (Main Hun Na fame) 😉 . Indulge in some shopping in the Bhutia markets in the evening.

Day 4: Leave for Gangtok which would take around 4 hours through some good, some bad and some terrible roads. The first thing you should do once you are at your hotel is to give your photo ID to your hotel and ask them to get your permits done (if you have not already emailed it to them) for visiting Tsomgo lake and Nathu-la the next day. Once freshened – up, walk to the MG Marg and spend some time there. Chances are, you will find this road the most beautiful of all the roads you would have ever walked on. There are some great places to eat here, enough to keep you busy until the lights come-up. And when they do, you will see the place become even more lively. Shop, eat, relax.

Day 5: Start early today and head to the famous Tsomgo lake, New Baba Mandir and to India-China border at the Nathula Pass. This will take the entire day.

The Tsomgo Lake, Gangtok

The Tsomgo Lake, Gangtok

Day 6: Go for a full-day 10 – point tour which covers almost all the places you must visit when in Gangtok. Of the points that this tour covers, the Rumtek monastery and the Tashi view-point are my favorite.

Day 7: Start for NJP/Bagdogra. But wait!! Did you buy enough souvenirs for everyone back home? No? Then get that sorted before you start.

**PS: If you are a foreigner, the permit procedures would be slightly different for you. Read this article (The Sikkim Entry Permit: A Guide For Foreign Nationals) by dear friend and fellow travel-blogger Kathleen for more on the subject.

Got questions about the itinerary? Want to know something else as well? Leave your questions in the comments below and I will get back.

 


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24 thoughts on “A 7 Day Gangtok and Darjeeling Itinerary You Must Do

    • You don’t need anything for Gangtok however you need permits to visit few areas like Baba Mandir, Nathula border and Tsomgo lake. Your hotel should be able to help you with this, may be for a small fee.

  1. I was taken on a college excursion to Calcutta, Darjeeling and Gantock…I remember the heat and vastness of Kolkata… Darjeeling some North East looking people who were not a tall nice with us): they keep shouting… Gangtok… I did do to Nathula Pass my friend with excitement went to China border and posed photos with them… I meanwhile shook hands with Indian army man and it was my birthday so I was very happy… I had to stay with Mizoram girls who smoked I remember was told not to complain to my lecturers… I did remember fun time on Kolkata amusement park especially the mirror maze and then the Victoria Museum… saw some sun still on the Gantock… come to think of it… was pretty nice … my college is pretty conservative and thinking even they would let you explore such places was nice… remember meeting a lady with a little girl selling momoes… seeing a boy Buddist… buying badges on the pavement…checking out shops full sheet was shops and all shopkeepers did not encourage you checking their iteams much… I got Snoopy bag and binoculous… also walked and saw some zoo stuff and in one place you can dress up colourfully… my teacher told us you get cheap underwears for 20 bucks there and recommened to buy them… those underwears were really bad quality… nice trip it was overall… now much older and freer I would enjoy such a trip there again for sure…. I would love stopping by that lake… I think we did that as well… it was awesome… views when you drive on the road…

    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts 🙂

      Gurudonmogar lake is an absolutely beautiful place but for the quintessential ‘tourist’ more often than not, it becomes to much tiring. Given the fact that this itinerary is written keeping in mind the ‘tourists’ who want to ‘see’ Sikkim and Darjeeling.

  2. Nice itinerary… I followed almost the same when I first visited Darjeeling-Gangtok… 🙂

    • Thanks Maniparna, I reckoned this would be a decent itinerary for the quintessential tourust, glad to know you too had follwed something similar in the past.

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    • Hi Praful,

      Glad that you liked the itinerary. I feel it’s rightly paced and covers almost all the must visit places.

      If your friend is not an Indian (Indian passport holder), he will have to obtain the Restricted Area Permit (RAP) in order to head to Sikkim. The permit process is pretty straight forward so that won’t be a problem.

      Feel free to post your questions here in case you have more, I would be glad to answer them.

      Cheers,
      Rajiv

    • Prices generally vary with seasons. But Darjeeling has hotels which suit every budget. I guess you were talking about the accommodation prices, no?

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