Gangtok is a bustling, friendly hill station, and the capital of the Himalayan state of Sikkim. The name Gangtok is derived from the Tibetan word for 'hillside,' and the city currently has a population of around 80,000 - a mixture of indigenous Sikkimese and people of Nepalese and Tibetan ancestry.
Gangtok is a popular place with tourists heading on treks, though the facilities do not reflect the number of international visitors. However, efforts are being made by the government to improve the conditions. Gangtok could easily be one of the cleanest cities you've ever come across. Highly organised and beautifully maintained, it used to be the Switzerland of the east, now it looks like it was sold to cement and construction companies, alcohol stores are plentiful with plenty of clientele from the locals. Tourists are of paramount importance, hence rules have been laid in order to prevent tourists from being cheated. Cab fares are mostly fixed for such a reason. Gangtok is a really nice place to unwind. There are quite a few places for vegetarians to eat, since it is mostly dominated by Buddhist culture. The city resembles the Bhutanese capital, Thimphu. Devoid of large stores and book shops, this place is a nice break from typical city lives. The city is a fascinating place to spend a few nights, the winding side alleys hide some unexpected gems, and the main street (MG Marg) is pedestrianized and a pleasant place to take a stroll.
The city sleeps by 9pm mostly, except for a few pubs which are open till 11pm.
Beware that Sikkim has banned all forms of tobacco. It is illegal to smoke anywhere in Sikkim or buy/sell cigarettes. Gangtok also has strictly enforced traffic and littering laws among others.
Inner Line Permit Extension - The location of the office that grants Sikkim ILP extensions has changed and most online information is outdated and incorrect, even on official sites. It is now necessary to visit the Foreigners Registration Office (FRO) located behind the large Department of Tourism building in Tadong, 5kms below Gangtok. The easiest way to arrive here is to descend the steps beside the big tourism office at the start of MG Marg, where shared taxis leave going down the mountain. Ask for M.P. Golai, Tadong, ride is 20rps. Extension is easy, once you find the office. FRO officials can extend Sikkim ILP up to 60 days total stay, though they may or may not grant the maximum in one extension.
The nearest airport is at Bagdogra (IXB)situated about 40 mins drive to Siliguri.Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport, Guwahati is a much better connected airport but it's 550KM from Gangtok. If you are flying to Guwahati you have to take a overnite train to reach New Jalpaiguri and from there you can hire taxis for Gangtok
From Bagdogra Airport vehicles/taxis can be hired from the pre-paid taxi counter to reach Gangtok.
As per March 2014,charges for a reserved Innova/Xylo (Luxury) will cost approx Rs 2500/- -3000/- for drop to Gangtok.Also smaller vehicles can also be hired costing Approx Rs 1800/- - Rs 2200/-.
If one wishes to go via sharing taxis,then outside the airport there are many local taxis plying towards Siliguri.In Siliguri (Junction area)there are many taxi plying towards Sikkim.
The nearest train station to Gangtok is New Jalpaiguri in Siliguri all trains originating from Guwahati to rest of the country passes through New Jalpaiguri and hence has direct connections to New Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Mumbai, Bangalore, Trivandrum, Ahmedabad, Jammu, Secunderabad, Ranchi, Kanniyakumari, Jodhpur, Jodhpur, Puri, Bhubaneswar,Amritsar, Chandigarh, Pune, and other major cities in India. It is a 10-12 hour journey from Kolkata.
Once you arrive in New Jalpaiguri, you can either hire a taxi from the station itself or take an auto-rickshaw to the Siliguri bus stand. From there, you have the option of travelling to Gangtok by state bus or taxis outside, roughly a 4 hour journey. State bus is operated by Sikkim National Transport. The fare on January 2016 for 1 seat was Rs.135. All seats are reserved from the counter. Last bus starts from Siliguri at 11am and reaches in evening in Gangtok. Bus ride is most comfortable but slower compared to faster Sumo/Safari/Jeeps which cost Rs 200 per seat.The Ashok Leyland buses of SNT has larger windows facilitating better views.
Dozens of Vehicles travel to Gangtok daily from Siliguri.Be it Luxury (Innova/Xylo) or Sumos/Maxx.
Fare of the shared cabs is generally fixed, it is around Rs. 200 - 250 to Gangtok from NJP station. Drivers might try to charge high so check for the fare with other cabs before taking one. Distance gets covered between 3-4 hours.
Reserved vehicles are available from Bagdogra Airport (IXB) at the prepaid counter.From NJP one you step outside there are many taxis available either on sharing/Reserved basis .The cost of reserving a vehicle varies from 2200 to 2700 based on number of persons. Prices can be bargained.
Avoid any tour packages at NJP railway station. They will provide you lowest standard hotel.
Taxis play routes around the city, and there are standard charges within the main areas: For a private service/drops will cost according to the distance and Rs 150 for a shared taxi(Per Seat) from Point A - B. Share taxis are available within the city and costs 15-20 INR per person
NB: Taxis can only be hailed from designated taxi stands which are generally after each km within city limits.
Sightseeing places in and around Gangtok.
There are a number of beautiful views of the surrounding hills from Gangtok itself, but the best views of Mt Kanchenjunga " the world's third-highest mountain can be viewed from Tashi View point on a clear day.
In and around Gangtok
State Handicrafts & Handlooms (Govt Run )Open 10Am - 4Pm /
Tashi View Point for Khanchendzonga view /
Ganesh tok for Gangtok View /
Enchay Monastery /
Flower Show /Ticket Rs. 10/
Ridge Park /
Ropeway / Cost Rs. 80 round trip./
Tibetology Museum (Open 10am - 4pm) /
Dro-Drul Chorten /
Himalayan zoological park (Open 10am - 4pm) /
Ex Gangtok /
Rumtek Monastery / Rs. 10/
Shanti View point (View of Gangtok from Opposite hill) /
Lingdum Monastery /
1 Day Tour /
Tsomgo Lake/Baba Mandir/Nathula pass (2 Passport size photographs and Xerox of valid Photo id necessary)
Cost is around Rs. 4000 to 6500. No small vehicles are allowed. Cars like Sumo, Max, Innova, Bolero available.
Permit needed to visit these places can be obtained from travel operators one day in advance. Nathu La Is closed for tourists on Mondays and Tuesdays.
- Take a walk along the road to Raj Bhavan with a view of the Gangtok City.
- Walk to Hanuman tok from Ganesh tok.
- Take the ropeway (cable car) for a bird's eye view of the city. The ropeway line runs from Tashiling Secratariat near Ridge Park down to Deorali and vice versa, but as of April 2017 the top station is closed and the ropeway currently only runs between the middle station at Bidhan Sabha and Deorali. Fare is 110 rps round-trip.
- Near the lower ropeway station you can visit the Namgyal Institute of Tibetology and Do Drul Chorten stupa.
Sikkim is famous for its fruit processing and tea aside from the local handicraft.Passion fruit Squash, Alpine Cheese, Temi Tea & Maha Gurudev Tea are some of the local products.
- Rachna, Development Area. Tel: 91 3592 204-336 (www.rachnabooks.com). Also organises events and exhibitions on The First Floor upstairs. By far the best bookstore in town. A wide selection of titles and knowledgable owner. Rachna is located about a ten minute walk from the main bazaar.
- Curio Craft Gallery Curio City, below Hotel Mayur, PS Road (just above the main hospital). Tel: 91 3592 220-551. One of the better quality handicraft stores in town. Excellent selection of Buddhist artwork.
- Souveneir, MG Marg. Good place to buy prayer wheels, flags and other handicraft. edit
- The Wayside Gardens & Nurseries Pvt. Ltd. (1060 mtr), Sixth Mile, Tadong (Near Sikkim University), ☎ 9832060555. 9am to 4pm. Well known House of exotic plants including Orchids. Azaleas and Cattleya hybrid orchids, besides range of Citrus, are their specialities. A must visit place for any plant lover. Run by illustrious Pradhan family. Visit stricty by prior appointment. Conducted tour in the well spread out Garden for groups conducted by Travel Agents and interactions about Himalayan flora with Sr. Pradhan, authority on Himalayan flora and environment, over cup of tea on payment of nominal fee, possible. Contact person: Sailesh Pradhan. Mobile: 98320 60555. Entry Free. edit
There are many great and cheap places to eat in Gangtok.
- Thalung (Mahatma Gandhi Marg, about 3/4 of the walk away from the Tourist Information Center to the far end of the central pedestrian promenade, on the right side). A cultural relic not to be missed, this fast food outlet located in a wooden hut (perhaps the last traditional building surviving in the remodelled central area) serves a rigorous menu consisting of 2 items: beef momos (Tibetan dumplings) and beef noodle soup. The food is completely devoid of spices and salt. Chili paste, soy sauce and salt are provided as side condiments. The building is somewhat skewed and may present safety hazards, but it appears to have survived generations of customers, and the upper floor offers an agreeable view. An antique portrait of Dalai Lama XIV around the age of 30 graces the front counter. Visit this one before it has been replaced by another McDonald's, or (better still) try to do something to save it from impending destruction.
- 9'INE Native Cuisine, New Market | M G Marg, Gangtok 737101, ☎ +91-3592-205061. Awesome Local Sikkimese food. A must visit place in Gangtok. edit
- Snow Lion Restaurant, Paljor Stadium Road, Gangtok 737101, ☎ 03592-202523. Great Tibetan Food, fresh ingredients. edit
- Parivar's, on MG Marg down a short flight of stairs, serves some of the best food in town, and is very popular with locals.
- The Roll House, tucked on the side of a stairway between MG Marg and the main market, serves up Veg Momos & hot chapatis (Roll)with various fillings (paneer, egg, veggies). This place is always packed with both tourists and locals and deservedly so.
- Quick Bite, and numerous other sweet shops up and down MG Marg, serve up everything from samosas to momos
- Tangerine Restaurant, Chumbi Residency, Tibet Road, Gangtok-737101, Sikkim., ☎ +91(0)3592-226618/226619/226620 ([email protected], fax: +91(0)3592-222707), . Stunning food, some unusual options and far cheaper than it ought to be. edit
- Agarwal's, MG Marg. Serves south indian and north indian snacks n sweets. Good place to have break fast. There are two outlets, one on MG Marg and other on the way near Taxi stand. Dosas are not so good edit
- Porky's, Deorali (10 mins from downtown gangtok). Amazing Sizzlers and Momos. edit
- House of Bamboo, MG Marg. Authentic Tibetan and Indo-Chinese fusion cuisine. The Beef/ Pork chilli , the momos and the tea momos are recommended. edit
- dynasty, ropeway building nam-nang (5-10 mins from M G road). Amazing prawns and Momos. edit
- Pub 25, MG Road, Gangtok. Till 11PM. An upscale pub right in the heart of MG Road. Great drinks, tasty food (especially the Malai Tikka and Sauted Mushrooms), and an amazing ambience. The price is higher than other pubs on the street, but its definitely worth it. High. edit
- Taste of tibet, MG Marg. Serves tibetan food, thupkas, gyathuk and thentuk. It includes a bar too edit
- Cafe Tibet. On the way up towards the Zero point, left side. Run by a tibetan, serves very good coffee. Eatables are just decent. edit
- Baker's Cafe, MG Marg. The only place in town to sell cappuccino, latte and offer a wide selection of Western-style pastries. Check out the pizzas. edit
- Cafe Culture, Ground Floor, Hotel Pandim, Secretariat Road (Below Royal Palace), ☎ 9832615236. Located at the ridge which is an ideal location for walk and best view of the mountain, the cafe offers fresh himalayan cuisine like phale( local bread), shiafale ( local bread filled with meat and deep fried), momos and grilled sandwiches. edit
- Le Primula, Church Road (Near Police HQ), ☎ +91-3592-206044, . checkin: 1200; checkout: 1200. Centrally located three star property offering all modern amenities and spacious rooms. Clean and well maintained rooms with courteous staff edit
- Club Mahindra Gangtok Resort (Club Mahindra Gangtok Resort), GRBA Road, Chongeyk, P.O. Raj Bhawan, Gangtok, Sikkim, ☎ +91-3592-649040, . Situated on an area, facing the legendary Chola range and surrounded by lush green valleys with amazing views from every room of the majestic mountains. At Club Mahindra Gangtok, the traditional charms of Sikkimese hospitality blend exquisitely with modern amenities. (27.33894,88.60650) edit
- Modern Central Lodge, Tibet Road. Helpful owners, free wifi in the downstairs restaurant. Private rooms, single rooms and dorms available. Dorms - 120; Singles from 250. (27.329742,88.612823) edit
- The shire, Tshugshing House,Arithang Road,Below All India Radio Qtrs,Arithang,Gangtok, ☎ 9647872371, . checkin: 12:00; checkout: 12:00. Within a five-minute drive from the hustle and bustle of Gangtok town, the quiet stillness and tranquility pervades the idyllic location of The Shire, where you can sip tea in the garden amidst flowers blooming, and with the quiet companionship of the flutter of butterfly wings. flowers The mighty Khangchendzonga, the guardian deity of Sikkim lies resplendent in all its glory showering munificence on all who gaze at her. The tradition of Sikkimese hospitality is evident from the fact that The Shire is a home away from home. INR 1500/-. edit
- Hotel Chalet Orchid - Gangtok, link title, Email - [email protected] Contact - Phone - +91 - 9330965839 Mobile - +91 - 9330965839. The Chalet Orchid Hotel At Rongyek is ideally located in the east of the Capital City Gangtok, 3 Kms From M.G.Marg.One Can Enjoy the Breath Taking View of the snow capped lushed green forest Kyongnosla Alpine Sanctuary Tourist view Points like Gnor Gumpha , Chamkhang Meditation center , Enchey Monastrey, Ganesh Top, Changu Nathula Road & Pick up & dropping point of Changu , Baba Mandir Nathula , Zuluk , Kupp all are nearby from the Hotel Price - Rs 1500 - 2000 per night. $ 25 approx
- Sri Mangalam Residency, link title, Email - [email protected] Contact - Phone - +91 - 03592 - 208090 Mobile - +91 - 94340 33301. Located in the heart of the city MG Marg, Gangtok. 24x7 Hot Water supply, Laundry on call, travel desk, doctor on call, great food available, LCD TV in all rooms, All hill view rooms face MT. KANCHENDZONGA. Price - Rs 1800 - 2000 per night. $ 40 approx
- Hotel Pandim , Phone: (03592) 207540 (Cell: +91 98320 80172, E-mail: [email protected]), . A family run guest house with the best location, just above the Mall Road and below the Royal Palace offering the best mountain view. Also has a nice cafe called Cafe Culture offering fresh Himalayan cuisine
- Hotel Sonali International, Phone: (033) 2552 3432 / 2584 0080 (Cell: +91 98302 87429, E-mail: [email protected]), . A nice place for budget tourists and a good base to meet other travellers - recently relocated to the main town near the Tourist Information Centre. It also organizes tours throughout Sikkim.
- Hotel Palbheu, (Cell: +91 98323 48837), A nice place for budget tourists and just above the popular MG Marg. Fair rooms and nice good food. Wise to book in per person per day format inclusive of fooding & loadging. It also organizes tours throughout Sikkim.
- Green Hotel, Mahatama Gandhi Road. 5. edit
- Hotel Nirvana, Namang Road, ☎ +91 63914473. checkin: 0504201; checkout: 10042013. Colour TV, carpeted rooms. R 700-1500. edit
- Hotel Susantaawas, (beside mall), ☎ +91 9051 115 228. R 800-1200. edit
- Central Lodge. A nice place for Budget tourists and a good base to meet other travellers - recently relocated to the main town near the Tourist Information Centre. It also organizes tours throughout Sikkim. edit
- Bamboo Grove Retreat Bamboo Grove , Kazi Road. A Boutique 2 star hotel. Theme = Sikkimese design with modern amenities. Available = Car Parking, Peaceful Environment, Internet, Mountain View from Rooms, Mountain Biking,Bar & Restaurant.
- Hotel Tibet, Paljor Stadium Road. Clean and comfortable rooms with an excellent restaurant. Rs.1500-2500.
- Hotel Rigwa International Libing Complex, M.G.Marg & Nam Nam Crossing, above Star Cinema Hall.
- Hotel Delamare, Church Road, . Conveniently located, warm, elegant decor and excellent service. 1,200rs+ per night
- Hotel Golden nest & Hotel Hill View ' Near mall 600 to 1500
- Sonam Delek, Tibet Road. An awesome hotel for the money. The facilities are best of Gangtok. The standard room (Rs 1100) is spartan; the super-deluxe (Rs 2200) is well-furnished and has an excellent view of the hillside. All facilities are very neatly maintained. The staff's knowledge of English is poor, but you can get by. No south-Indian food, though.
- KHANGCHENDZONGA TOURIST COMPLEX cum Entertainment Park in Ranka, East Sikkim (M-9434196805), [email protected] . Website-www.ktcranka.com
- Akshma's Homestay PNGS Road , A Boutique homestay/hotel. Theme = Contemporary design with modern amenities. Available = Peaceful Environment, Mountain View from Rooms,
- Gangtok Tara's Urban Homestay Greendale School Road Tadong Daragaon , Mid Range homestay - Run by family. Available = Far from town , Clean and Comfortable Rooms, Home Food.
- Mayfair Gangtok Spa Resort & Casino, ☎ +91 3592 250 888 / 999 ([email protected]), . Five star deluxe resort, spread over 15 acres of lush forest, some of the villas with temperature controlled dip pools. edit
- Le Primula, ☎ +91 3592 203044/ 6044 ([email protected]), . Three star deluxe hotel, located in the heart of town, offering spacious rooms with all modern amenities. Good rooms available at great deal. Five Star rooms at three star pricing edit
- The Nor-Khill, Gangtok, . Unit of Elgin Hotels and Resorts. Colonial decor and luxury at its best. Rs.6000 +. edit
- Teen Taley Eco Resort, Rumtek, Gangtok, ☎ 7407186207 ([email protected]), . Situated near the Rumtek Monastery about 20 km from the town. Spread over 6 acres with its own garden and organic farming. 12 rooms spread over 5 cottages. 4 Suite Rooms and 8 Deluxe Cottages, with Ethnic Nepali style. edit
Littering and spitting are fineable offenses. Plastic bags are banned here. All public areas are No Smoking zones.
Most Hotels are equipped with Wi-Fi and there are a number of Internet cafes spread around town.
- Softect Enterprises, tucked away just after the first pedestrian bridge up from the old taxi station. This internet cafe offers two rooms filled with computers with fast connections.
- Gangtok serves as an excellent base for visiting places like Chomgo Lake, Lachung, and the Yumthang Valley.
- Rumtek Monastery, located 22 km from the town, . One of the most important Tibetan Buddhist monasteries, and head seat of the Karma Kagyu school in Sikkim. Originally built in 1740, it fell into disrepair. The current structure dates from 1959. Sangye Guest House, (near Rumtek) is a small, friendly, family run hotel. To reach Rumtek one can hire an taxi. There are share taxi's which run from MG Marg taxi stand to Rumtek. One way fare is around Rs. 30 per person.
- Ranka monastery is a newly built monastery and a treat to watch out for