How to reach Gangtok and main things to do in Sikkim



After my recent visit to Sikkim, I realized how this state of India has nailed the business the Tourism in India. I looked at various pieces of details separately and tried to create my own hypothesis which is not validated by locals of Sikkim. Before I start sharing about our backpacking trip to Sikkim, I want to highlight the fact that the state is very clean and whole credit goes to people of Sikkim.

After my recent visit to Sikkim, I realized how this state of India has nailed the business the Tourism in India. I looked at various pieces of details separately and tried to create my own hypothesis which is not validated by locals of Sikkim. Before I start sharing about our backpacking trip to Sikkim, I want to highlight the fact that the state is very clean and whole credit goes to people of Sikkim. 



I never saw a person throwing garbage on the road and almost every place has dustbins. Many of the taxi drivers keep plastic-bins to keep the waste. Every village is equipped with dustbins which are most of the times made up of waste. This level of awareness and proactive planning is very much required to encourage tourism in right way. Involving local communities always help in maintaining places well and they start seeing huge value in ensuring that places remain clean and well maintained. Most of the folks we encountered were very humble and cheerful.


I never saw a person throwing garbage on the road and almost every place has dustbins. Many of the taxi drivers keep plastic-bins to keep the waste. Every village is equipped with dustbins which are most of the times made up of waste. This level of awareness and proactive planning is very much required to encourage tourism in right way. Involving local communities always help in maintaining places well and they start seeing huge value in ensuring that places remain clean and well maintained. Most of the folks we encountered were very humble and cheerful. 


This post talks about reaching the main city Gagtok from different parts of the country and what are main things you can do around this place or places to explore on foot & by car.

This post talks about reaching the main city Gagtok from different parts of the country and what are main things you can do around this place or places to explore on foot & by car. 

Lets talk about different transportation options for Sikkim. So there are multiple modes. If you want to go there via flight, Bagdogra is nearest airport to Gangtok/Sikkim. In fact, if you intend to visit Darjeeling, thus airport is well connected with main cities of India and some of the international airports. And after landing at Bagdogra, you have following options - Private Taxi to Gangtok or shared cabs from Siliguri.

Lets talk about different transportation options for Sikkim. So there are multiple modes. If you want to go there via flight, Bagdogra is nearest airport to Gangtok/Sikkim. In fact, if you intend to visit Darjeeling, thus airport is well connected with main cities of India and some of the international airports. And after landing at Bagdogra, you have following options - Private Taxi to Gangtok or shared cabs from Siliguri. 



One needs to take cab/auto to Siliguri from where you can either go in a bus or shared jeeps. Personal taxi would cost you around 2500 rs (as of April'2017). The cheaper option is to take an auto-rickshaw to Siliguri and then board shared cab. Auto would cost you 250 rs and then shared taxi to Gangtok charges 250 rs per head. Seats are allocated on first come first serve basis. Each shared cab takes 10 people and the makes sense from economics point of view. 2 on the front seat and 4 each on middle & last seat. These cabs are either Tata Sumo, Mahindra Xylo or other bigger jeep, preferably a 4*4 vehicle.  Time to time, various startups try to solve thus commute problem from Bagdogra to some of these main cities like Gangtok, Darjeeling, Peeling etc. So it makes sense to just google other convenient options available. I tried a few but failed to get appropriate option available on time.  When we start talking about main places to explore around Gangtok, 2 main names come to our mind - Nathula Pass and Tsongo Lake. Vibha and I skipped both these places - Both of us don't really like the 'touristy' places and if cost of visiting is too much, the decision becomes easier. The permit thing in Sikkim makes things worse, if you don't plan in advance. Most of the folks charge random money and that too for shared cabs. I am always certain that I don't want to waste money on things where I don't even get enough flexibility or comfort. Compromising on comfort & flexibility at higher price makes the decision easy. So sorry that we can't really comment about the experience of Nathula Pass and Tsongo lake.

One needs to take cab/auto to Siliguri from where you can either go in a bus or shared jeeps. Personal taxi would cost you around 2500 rs (as of April'2017). The cheaper option is to take an auto-rickshaw to Siliguri and then board shared cab. Auto would cost you 250 rs and then shared taxi to Gangtok charges 250 rs per head. Seats are allocated on first come first serve basis. Each shared cab takes 10 people and the makes sense from economics point of view. 2 on the front seat and 4 each on middle & last seat. These cabs are either Tata Sumo, Mahindra Xylo or other bigger jeep, preferably a 4*4 vehicle.


Time to time, various startups try to solve thus commute problem from Bagdogra to some of these main cities like Gangtok, Darjeeling, Peeling etc. So it makes sense to just google other convenient options available. I tried a few but failed to get appropriate option available on time.


When we start talking about main places to explore around Gangtok, 2 main names come to our mind - Nathula Pass and Tsongo Lake. Vibha and I skipped both these places - Both of us don't really like the 'touristy' places and if cost of visiting is too much, the decision becomes easier. The permit thing in Sikkim makes things worse, if you don't plan in advance. Most of the folks charge random money and that too for shared cabs. I am always certain that I don't want to waste money on things where I don't even get enough flexibility or comfort. Compromising on comfort & flexibility at higher price makes the decision easy. So sorry that we can't really comment about the experience of Nathula Pass and Tsongo lake. 

Initially we thought that we will walk around the town to explore some of it's much known places, but when looked at the map, these things were spread across the region and looking at the time in hand, we planned to hire a cab for whole day rather than walking. We didn't want to miss Rumtek Monastery, which is little far from the town. We got the cab for whole day and paid 2200 Rs. Apart from me and Vibha, there was another traveller whom we met on mall road. He was from Russia but has been working in India for last few years. If you don't intend to visit Rumtek Monastery, it's better to walk around and explore places within the town.   Rumtek Monastery :   Rumket Monastery is one of the biggest monastery in this region and located in a peaceful setting around Gangtok. Gangtok town is visible on the other hill from this monastery. There is an entry ticket of 10 rs per person and one needs to take off the shoes at the gate before entering the compound.   Apart from the monastery compound there is a huge building on the backside, where monks stay and study. We took a quick tour of the place and talked to few of the monks.

Initially we thought that we will walk around the town to explore some of it's much known places, but when looked at the map, these things were spread across the region and looking at the time in hand, we planned to hire a cab for whole day rather than walking. We didn't want to miss Rumtek Monastery, which is little far from the town. We got the cab for whole day and paid 2200 Rs. Apart from me and Vibha, there was another traveller whom we met on mall road. He was from Russia but has been working in India for last few years. If you don't intend to visit Rumtek Monastery, it's better to walk around and explore places within the town. 

Rumtek Monastery : 

Rumket Monastery is one of the biggest monastery in this region and located in a peaceful setting around Gangtok. Gangtok town is visible on the other hill from this monastery. There is an entry ticket of 10 rs per person and one needs to take off the shoes at the gate before entering the compound. 



Apart from the monastery compound there is a huge building on the backside, where monks stay and study. We took a quick tour of the place and talked to few of the monks. 

MG Road :  MG road is like mall roads of Shimla & Mussourie, but much better in terms of maintenance and cleanness. This is traffic free area and there are 2 very well maintained roads for people walking in both the directions. All of the main restaurants, showrooms and shopping options are available around the MG road. That's the happening place in the town. We spent every evening in Gangtok at Mg road and on the last day, we sat their for good 2 hours observing interesting fashion of Sikkim.
MG Road :

MG road is like mall roads of Shimla & Mussourie, but much better in terms of maintenance and cleanness. This is traffic free area and there are 2 very well maintained roads for people walking in both the directions. All of the main restaurants, showrooms and shopping options are available around the MG road. That's the happening place in the town. We spent every evening in Gangtok at Mg road and on the last day, we sat their for good 2 hours observing interesting fashion of Sikkim

MG Road :  MG road is like mall roads of Shimla & Mussourie, but much better in terms of maintenance and cleanness. This is traffic free area and there are 2 very well maintained roads for people walking in both the directions. All of the main restaurants, showrooms and shopping options are available around the MG road. That's the happening place in the town. We spent every evening in Gangtok at Mg road and on the last day, we sat their for good 2 hours observing interesting fashion of Sikkim.
Banjhakari Waterfalls and Park :

Banjhakari falls come of the way, when you come back from Rumtek Monsatery to Gangtok city. There is a right cut on the way and hardly 5-6 kms of detour. If you are planning to visit West Sikkim or have seen good waterfalls, it's a skippable option. More than a waterfall, it's converted into a theme park which is always crowded. We went inside, spent around 5 minutes near the waterfall and came out. Kids will certainly love this place.   Namgyal Institute of Tibetology :  Namgyal Institute of Tibetology, Do Drul Chroten Stupa and Ropeway are nearby. If you plan to visit these, you don't even need to book a cab. Either walk to ropeway station to take bus, cab. All these 3 places can be explored on foot.

Banjhakari falls come of the way, when you come back from Rumtek Monsatery to Gangtok city. There is a right cut on the way and hardly 5-6 kms of detour. If you are planning to visit West Sikkim or have seen good waterfalls, it's a skippable option. More than a waterfall, it's converted into a theme park which is always crowded. We went inside, spent around 5 minutes near the waterfall and came out. Kids will certainly love this place. 

Namgyal Institute of Tibetology :

Namgyal Institute of Tibetology, Do Drul Chroten Stupa and Ropeway are nearby. If you plan to visit these, you don't even need to book a cab. Either walk to ropeway station to take bus, cab. All these 3 places can be explored on foot. 

It's a Tibet museum in Gangtok, which is surrounded by trees and prayer flags. Located at a very peaceful place. Foundation of Namgyal Institute of Tibetology was set by 14th Dalai Lama in 1957 and then it was inaugurated by first prime minster of independent India in 1958. Photography is not allowed inside the museum and if you really want to explore this place well, keep at least 2 hrs for this place. Vibha really enjoyed going through some of the stuff showcased here.   Do Drul Chroten Stupa :  This stupa is near Namgyal museum only and at a walkable distance.

It's a Tibet museum in Gangtok, which is surrounded by trees and prayer flags. Located at a very peaceful place. Foundation of Namgyal Institute of Tibetology was set by 14th Dalai Lama in 1957 and then it was inaugurated by first prime minster of independent India in 1958. Photography is not allowed inside the museum and if you really want to explore this place well, keep at least 2 hrs for this place. Vibha really enjoyed going through some of the stuff showcased here. 


This stupa is near Namgyal museum only and at a walkable distance. 

Gangtok Ropeway :  Gangtok ropeway is rated quite high by lot of the folks who visit Gangtok, but when we were visiting the town the weather was not favorable. I couldn't have clicked photographs in the gloomy weather and the ride would have taken at least 1.5 hrs, including waiting time in queues. Photograph you see below is clicked from restaurant at Ropeway station. Food here was good and reasonably priced. We had our lunch here.
Gangtok Ropeway :

Gangtok ropeway is rated quite high by lot of the folks who visit Gangtok, but when we were visiting the town the weather was not favorable. I couldn't have clicked photographs in the gloomy weather and the ride would have taken at least 1.5 hrs, including waiting time in queues. Photograph you see below is clicked from restaurant at Ropeway station. Food here was good and reasonably priced. We had our lunch here. 



Ganesh Tok :  When I heard about Ganesh Tok, I was not very interested but since we had booked the car for whole day, it made sense to take a look at places on the other hill of Gangtok ;) . And after reaching the place, I loved it. It offers great views of Gangtok town and other hills around the place.
Ganesh Tok :

When I heard about Ganesh Tok, I was not very interested but since we had booked the car for whole day, it made sense to take a look at places on the other hill of Gangtok ;) . And after reaching the place, I loved it. It offers great views of Gangtok town and other hills around the place. 

Tashi View Point :  By the time we reached Tashi view point, it started raining and there was fog all around. All these places like Ganesh Tok, Tashi View Point, waterfalls and Enche Monastery are on one road which is towards north of the Gangtok town. It seems mountains look beautiful from Tashi View point but because of fog it was disappointing for us.    Flower Exhibition Centre (we skipped it) :  When you move towards Ganesh Tok from MG road, there is a road which goes up from the back side and you see one flower exhibition centre on your right. It's also considered as one of the popular tourist places in Gangtok. We skipped it because of time constraint.
Tashi View Point :

By the time we reached Tashi view point, it started raining and there was fog all around. All these places like Ganesh Tok, Tashi View Point, waterfalls and Enche Monastery are on one road which is towards north of the Gangtok town. It seems mountains look beautiful from Tashi View point but because of fog it was disappointing for us. 


Flower Exhibition Centre (we skipped it) :

When you move towards Ganesh Tok from MG road, there is a road which goes up from the back side and you see one flower exhibition centre on your right. It's also considered as one of the popular tourist places in Gangtok. We skipped it because of time constraint. 

Sikkim's state assembly is also located on this road and near to Flower Exhibition centre. Above photograph shows Sikkim Assembly building and was clicking from moving car.   Seven Sisters Waterfall :  As we moved from Tashi view point, our driver told us that Seven Sisters waterfalls have dried so there is no point stopping there. The photograph below shows the waterfalls and it seems in monsoons, these waterfall gets at least 10 times water in comparison to what you see in the photograph below.   And I don't think there is any point mentioning waterfalls as things to explore in Sikkim, as there are plenty of them. And if you plan to visit West Sikkim or North Sikkim, you will get bored of these :). When we drove from Gangtok to Peling, we saw plenty of waterfalls on our way.

Sikkim's state assembly is also located on this road and near to Flower Exhibition centre. Above photograph shows Sikkim Assembly building and was clicking from moving car. 

Seven Sisters Waterfall :

As we moved from Tashi view point, our driver told us that Seven Sisters waterfalls have dried so there is no point stopping there. The photograph below shows the waterfalls and it seems in monsoons, these waterfall gets at least 10 times water in comparison to what you see in the photograph below. 

And I don't think there is any point mentioning waterfalls as things to explore in Sikkim, as there are plenty of them. And if you plan to visit West Sikkim or North Sikkim, you will get bored of these :). When we drove from Gangtok to Peling, we saw plenty of waterfalls on our way. 

Enchey Monastery :  There are plenty of Monasteries in Sikkim and Enchey comes of the way when you want to go down to Gangtok town from Ganesh Tok. Beautifully built but if you have recently seen Rumtek, it may not really enjoy being here. And all that depends what exactly is happening in Monastery at that point. We were lucky to witness prayers at Enchey and that was certainly a good experience.
Enchey Monastery :

There are plenty of Monasteries in Sikkim and Enchey comes of the way when you want to go down to Gangtok town from Ganesh Tok. Beautifully built but if you have recently seen Rumtek, it may not really enjoy being here. And all that depends what exactly is happening in Monastery at that point. We were lucky to witness prayers at Enchey and that was certainly a good experience. 


Enchey Monastery :  There are plenty of Monasteries in Sikkim and Enchey comes of the way when you want to go down to Gangtok town from Ganesh Tok. Beautifully built but if you have recently seen Rumtek, it may not really enjoy being here. And all that depends what exactly is happening in Monastery at that point. We were lucky to witness prayers at Enchey and that was certainly a good experience.

Enchey Monastery :  There are plenty of Monasteries in Sikkim and Enchey comes of the way when you want to go down to Gangtok town from Ganesh Tok. Beautifully built but if you have recently seen Rumtek, it may not really enjoy being here. And all that depends what exactly is happening in Monastery at that point. We were lucky to witness prayers at Enchey and that was certainly a good experience.

Some of the other places to explore around Gangtok can be Bakthang waterfalls, Hanuman Tok, Thakurbari Temple, Sikkim Zoological Park (which is close to Ganesh Tok), Pemayangtse Monastery, Phodong Monastery, Lingdum Monastery, Saramsa Garden etc. 

Some of the other places to explore around Gangtok can be Bakthang waterfalls, Hanuman Tok, Thakurbari Temple, Sikkim Zoological Park (which is close to Ganesh Tok), Pemayangtse Monastery, Phodong Monastery, Lingdum Monastery, Saramsa Garden etc.

While driving around Gangtok, we came across various waterfalls. If you have a week to spend around Gantok, you can easily walk around these places by finding various regions one by one. 

After spending whole day around the town, MG road welcomes you with cheerful environment and plenty of food options. We loved this place called Yummy Tummy restaurant on MG road. They serve amazing sizzlers and some of the local beer brands. We loved Danceberg which is only available in Sikkim.    We stayed in a homestay at Gangtok, although didn't get a chance to try local cuisine there. We tried various Sikkimese food-options in west-sikkim. So watch out this space for more on Sikkim, main places to explore, food options and how to commute.  Do share your inputs, suggestions or questions through comments below. We promise to act fast.

After spending whole day around the town, MG road welcomes you with cheerful environment and plenty of food options. We loved this place called Yummy Tummy restaurant on MG road. They serve amazing sizzlers and some of the local beer brands. We loved Danceberg which is only available in Sikkim.  

We stayed in a homestay at Gangtok, although didn't get a chance to try local cuisine there. We tried various Sikkimese food-options in west-sikkim. So watch out this space for more on Sikkim, main places to explore, food options and how to commute.

Do share your inputs, suggestions or questions through comments below. We promise to act fast.  


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