Valuable inputs from Travelers to Gangtok-Sikkim

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vishnu.kumar7's picture
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Dear Travelers,
                            I am creating this thread to consolidate all the useful inputs we received from fellow travelers.
                            It will really become a valuable resource for those planning their trip to Sikkim, Darjeeling...

                            I hope you all will enjoy it and participate in it by sharing your travel experience.

                            I have locked this thread to ensure that it only include feedback/experience from the travelers who has been to Sikkim/Darjeeling. Please drop your feedback in any of the link below. I will move that to this thread.

                            If you have any queries regarding your itineraries, please use following threads.

                            http://thinkingparticle.com/forum/help-sought-sikkim-trip

                            http://thinkingparticle.com/forum/tour-programme-sikkim

For Sample itineraries, you can browse following thread which is now closed for posting.

http://thinkingparticle.com/forum/gangtok-sikkim-travel-discussion

Happy Traveling
Vishnu Kumar

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Submitted by: Reena Bhatia on Wed, 12/28/2011 - 15:33

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Hi Friends!

I had a wonderful time in Darjeeling and Sikkim thanks to the valuable inputs from friends on thinking particle

I believe its my turn to share certain ideas with you all for your travel

Certain general points to take care of:
1.If u r traveling from Bagdogra to Darjeeling do not take the Govt approved taxi provider in the airport I had to pay rs 1700 and had I come out and dealt with the taxi driver on my own it wud have cost me sumthin in the range of 1200 to 1500

2.Bargain with the cab drivers.. They charge a bomb for anything and everything.. but also keep in mind that the road conditions are actually pathetic so be reasonable.

3.Before you plan a trip ask the Taxi driver if the road to the destination is open or not.. I experienced this in case of Gangamaya Lake and Tibetean refugee self help centre that after I reached the close by area the driver told me that the road is not motor able and I had to skip those places without any deductions in the price

4.Also ask the driver to tell u more about the destination that forms a part of your plan.. There are certain destinations like museums etc which u can avoid.. they have an entry fee of rupees 10 to 20 that are not worth spending. Unless u are too keen about such places.

DARJEELING:
Padmaja Naidu Himalayan zoological park, Himalayan mountaineering institute – these two destinations are right next to each other the (tour guides cover it as @ separate destinations so b careful) Surely worth a visit.
tensing rock & gombu rock – these are two rocks which you will come across when you are returning from the tea Estates & Tibetan refugee self- help centre. Nothing too great about it

Rock garden – it’s a nicely laid out stretch around a natural waterfall which has been glorified in to a tourist spot. Nice flora and fauna around ahead of it is gangamaya lake which I cud not visit cos of the road conditions.

Tiger Hill – MUST WATCH.. u just cant miss this one we went @ 4 still could not get the rs 20 ticket since they were sold out.. u need to start really early mayb 3:00 am.

Batasia loop, ghoom monastery etc. Awesome places must watch, you may explore the options by taking the Joy ride option in the Toy Train – the train starts from Darjeeling goes to batasia loop (10 Minute Halt), ghoom (30 Minute halt) and then comes back to Darjeeling

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SIKKIM:
Could not do much in Sikkim since when I went to Sikkim it was all foggy because of which dint get to do much of sight seeing

nathula pass, tshangu lake, baba mandir – Must Go – all the three spots are covered in one trip. U begin early in the morning and u are done by 3:30 – 4:00 p.m. there are a lot of tour operators on the M G Road they all vary in their rates so inquire with whomsoever u can for taking this trip which will be the most expensive (I paid rs 4800 in November) there is also another option to enter into a deal with the Driver himself go to the Taxi Stand which is located near Lall Bazaar (u may ask for directions) PLEASE GET IT CLARIFIED IF HE CAN ARRANGE FOR THE PERMITS ETC FOR NATHULA PASS.

do-drul chorten, nam nang view point, flower show, Rope Way, Hanuman tok and ganesh tok – the flower show and ropeway were good. I unfortunately cud not see anything at nam namg view point since it was all foggy. Do drul chorten was a Tibetan monastery

on my return I decided to take the chopper rider from burtuk helipad to bagdogra airport it was truly an experience – the chopper takes 35 minutes to reach bagdogra and costs u Rs. 2200 per person. The catch is that u are not allowed to carry more then 10 kgs of luggage with u. also they weigh ur body weight should not cross 80 kgs so totally u and ur baggage shud not exceed 90 kgs… so be careful.. but the experience is worth every paise of it.

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Submitted by Saumyadut Sarkar on Wed, 03/07/2012 - 09:50

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Hi Suresh,

SIKKIM is not so costly , you will find lots of good hotels in M.G Murg in Gangtok with best facilities within Rs 1500/- to Rs 2000/- per day, but if you want a 3 star accommodation then it will charge you some thing around Rs 3000/- to Rs 3500/- per day. 

You will reach NJP at night so suggested to stay overnight in NJP . From NJP if you book a full cab it will cost you approx 1500/- to 1800/- . The cab will drop you in Gangtok Taxi Stand then you have to book a taxi for M.G Marg which charges Rs 60/- full taxi.  NJP to Gangtok Cabs are not allowed in the city. 

You need Permit to visit NATHULA which will be arranged by the travel agents. If you book full cab it will cost you Rs 4500/- to Rs 5000/- but on sharing basis they charge Rs 650/- per head. Nathula package includes Chamgu lake , Baba Mandir , and also Banker of Harbajan Singh which usually travel agents dont say  to travelers.It is always suggested not to book full tour package from travel agents if you want to save money. 

For any other query pleae inform us.

 

Saumyadut .
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nitaGuest (not verified)
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i and my husband with our 8 years old daughter are planning to visit sikkim n darjeeling from 13 to 18 july 2012.can u pls suggest hotels in the main area of gangtok n also a convinent way to travel from gangtok to darjeeling. my daughter will enjoy the toy train .any suggestions? also if we will come across snow in nathula

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Hi Nita,
            There are plenty of accommodation options in the main road at Gangtok... You can contact one of those recommended by our travelers... The best way to travel from Gangtok to Darjeeling would be by taxi... you can get shared taxis as well... not bright chance to see snow at Nathula in the month of July.... Toy train can be taken while coming to Siliguri from Darjeeling..

Regards
Vishnu Kumar

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Posted by Barri Mon, 03/26/2012 - 10:47

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Hi Vishnu,

Hope all is well at ur end. We are at Gangtok now and liking it pretty much but wish the weather was a lil better...Its definitely getting better...

Just wanted to share couple of information on travel Agent and costs here in Gangtok which could be of help.

We tried enquiring most agents and found that Altitude travels on MG Marg (below Rasoi Restaurant and next to tourism Dept) to be very good and friendly. Baichung Bhutia who is a hiker, runs this travels and owns a hotel. He is quite straight forward and suggests practical and a good itinerary. He is the only guy who told us the truth about Gurudongmar lake which is currently not open for tourists...Please note that any tour operator will not give u best of the prices until you confirm that you'll be sticking to him and it will work better if you meet in person..

Anyway, he charged us 600 per person (on sharing basis) for Natula, Changu & Baba mandir please note that though this was on sharing basis he confirmed front seats for my wife and myself in a Tata Sumo. For gifting/shopping the souvenir shop at Baba Mandir  is a fantastic place as their pricing is unbelievable...

For a 1 night 2 days package to Yumthang, he is charging us 6300 in an exclusive car (reserved :)) which is a pretty good price when compared to others. If we choose to go to Gurudongmar (if permitted, depending on roads) the price would be 11k which would be a 2 nights 3 days package.

This would be in a medium range accommodation (Lachung and Lachen) in a Tata Sumo with all meals and permit charges.

Info on Hotels on MG Marg:

Karma hotel which 100 mtrs from Tourism Dept has decent rooms with clean bedding, 24hrs hot water, good service and a veg restaurant. Since this is the beginning of the season, they quoted Rs 1300 after all the discounts but we negotiated to Rs 800 :) per night. All the hotels with similar rooms are charging not less than Rs 1250 + tax.

Green Hotel which is supposedly a budget accommodation charges Rs 500-600 per night is way below average and I personally wouldn't suggest unless u have your own sleeping bags. They do not have a restaurant...

There are plenty of vegetarian restaurants around which are quite good...There is a Subway too  :)....

There is no Govt public transport for local travel and so its dominated by Taxi associations. There is no fixed price and all depends on negotiation skills. If you are coming from New jalpaiguri (180rs PP) or Siliguri (150 PP) to Gangtok by a shared taxi, you will be dropped off at Deorali taxi stand from where you should take another local taxi to MG marg area. This would cost Rs 60-100. A local full day tour which covers 10 sightseeing points would cost Rs 1100-1300. This is from 8 am to 5 pm and is sufficient to cover all sightseeing points in Gangtok.

If anyone needs any suggestion on Meghalaya, please let us know we will be happy to share info...

Thanks,

Barry
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Posted by Rohit on Fri, 04/13/2012 - 17:11

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Hi guys,

This is an informative update on the holiday I had on the 23rd of March.

I stayed at my Ofice Guest House at Cherry Banks which is around 2 miles from MG Marg. It was a beautiful place to stay and my Tsongmo Lake, Nathula Pass and Baba Mandir tour was arranged by the caretaker.
I reserved a Bolero entirely for my wife and me and it costed me 4000 bucks. It was expensive as the shared options available are much cheaper. It will cost you from 600 - 800 per head. Please carry valid id proofs (PAN cards are not always considered valid proofs)

You can get share cabs from NJP to Gangtok. The cost per head would be 200-250. I booked an extra seat for the ease of travel.
(Try to get the seats in the middle, if with family)

On the way to gangtok from NJP I got a few blockades as roads are being made, so you have to wait at some points enroute. It will take approximately 5-6 hours.

On the way to Nathula, there had been land slides and the debris needed to be cleared. It took around an hour to clear the road, many tourists turned back, but we went on after the wait (advantage of having the entire car to yourself Wink ).

Nathula was amazing and was very windy, the army guy instructed us not to take a long time, I guess that was just a warning as many tourists tend to spend a long time at Nathula. You can shake hands with the Chinese soldiers. Our flag at Nathula looks so great and the pride of being an Indian gives you a high.

Baba mandir was alos a nice place, our driver told us that this was not the original Baba Mandir. Its situated some more kilometres ahead. We did not go for it as Changu was still left to be covered.

We got good amount of snow and also played for some time in the snow. You can boots and gloves for hire at a small market near Changu lake. It will cost you 50 bucks per item. You get Wai wai noodles at this shops. So food options are limited.

Changu (Tsongmo) was amazing too. It was frozen at parts.
The Yak ride was also great. You have to bargain with the YAK guys as they would quote high prices.
For only taking a picture atop an Yak - 50 bucks
For a ride around the lake - 150 -250 (bargaining required)

The second day I went for the local sight-seeing.
It costed me 1300/- for a full day sigt seeing in a Wagon R car.
The driver was helpful and showed up some great view points.
He also showed us some examples of fraud tour operators who dupes tourists with spots which are not the correct ones.
For example, they stop by any spot where some water is flowing from crevices and claim it to be the Ban-Jhakri falls.

He suggested that we visited Lingdum monastry instead of Rumtek. I have previously visited Rumtek, so went for Lingdum instead. He was right, this was a beautiful monastry. Very peaceful and picturesque. The tourist rush was also less as this is not known to all. You can have it all to yorself.

We visited the following places:
Lingdum Monastry
Tashi view Point
Ganesh Tok
Hanuman Tok
Flower show (amazing flowers)
Ban-Jhakri falls
Paragliding is also available if you are game for it.
Handloom and handicrafts centre

For food lovers, there is a restarant called 9'ine Native Cuisine.
http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurant_Review-g659796-d1774707-Reviews-...
Authentik Sikkimise cuisine, I'm a pork lover and the chilly pork was really delicious.
The local food - gundrek, daichi was also good. Give it a try.
The local rum - Aarak is quite strong.

I will try to post some pictures.

Till then- happy touring.

Cheers,
Rohit

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dk jaiswal (not verified)
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we are going to gangtok on 14 jul12. how to get pass for nathula pass. we will stay there up to 14-17 jul.which day pass is open?

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Only Indian nationals can visit Nathula pass on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays.... you can contact a tour agent at Gangtok for getting a permit...

Regards
Vishnu Kumar

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Reply from Sarla... http://thinkingparticle.com/forum/help-sought-sikkim-trip?page=4#comment-57455

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Hi Vishnu,

Greetings of the DAY!

Just thought of giving you my feedback on the trip to Sikkim.

On 12th November from Bagdogra Airport we reached Gangtok which was our base in Sikkim. On the way to Gangtok at 4.45 pm, to our surprise the sun already set and it was like usual night time atmosphere.

We liked being in Gangtok as we were staying near the bus stand in one of the hotels on the highway and the place was busy all the time.

First day we had local sight seeing, I mean around Gangtok which is similar and common in all the hill stations.

Next day, we proceeded to Gurudongmar. It took more than 6 hours to reach Lachen and the place was very cold, moreover the hotel could not provide us any heaters. Since Lachen itself was on a high altitude, we canceled our trip to Gurudongmar as the driver asked as to get ready early morning 3.30 am to take the trip to Gurudongmar driving further high for 3-4 hrs. Hence our trip to Lachen was a waste as we didnt go to Gurudongmar.

Next day,we drove to Yumthang valley and this made our day. The place is so beautiful. We were advised to visit this place in April to see blooming valley full of colourful flowers.

Overall, we like our trip to Sikkim and planning to visit shortly to visit South Sikkim.

Best regards
Sarla
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http://thinkingparticle.com/forum/help-sought-sikkim-trip?page=4#comment-57456

Hi Vishnu,

Forgot to include information on our visit to Nathula Pass. We enjoyed the place as it was full of ice but too cold for us Mumbaites to bear it. On our way back we went to Changu lake and Baba Mandir. Overall, this trip was good, beautiful mountains around...

Rgds
Sarla

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Reply from Santosh.

http://thinkingparticle.com/forum/help-planning-trip-sikkim#comment-58322

Hi Gita,

Sorry for late reply.

First of all I am very thankful to Vijay and Vishnu who contributed a lot thru this forum and made very easy for first time travellers to sikkim and near by places.

Due to medical emergency at home I canceled my trip 15 days prior to travel but later everything was okay and I decided to go with my own plan without any bookings (for Silk route I booked thru agent 5 days b4). I visited Old Silk route, Gangtok, Darjeeling and Mirik.

Old silk route is best of my tour and we stayed 1 night in Padamchen and 1 night in Nathang. Nathang was cold desert in February which temperatures dropped to sub zero even in day time and we don't know how we survived one day and night :) just counted when it will be next day morning and when we will leave that place but we enjoyed a lot and there are no words to explain about the lakes, valleys in the Silk Route.

In the month of May temperatures will be pleasant. You have not given how many days u r planning for.

East Sikkim for old silk route, Sunrise points, lakes, Nathula, Valleys, Temples and Monastreys.

North Sikkim for nature lovers and very high altitudes.

West Sikkim for closest view of mountain ranges and also char dham.

South Sikkim for panaromic views and Tea gardens.

As you are travelling with you parents I suggest you to visit East Sikkim, North Sikkim till Yumthang and West/South Sikkim of your choices. 

For Sight seeings in Darjeeling and Gangtok you can go for mix point sight seeing as visiting all the points are not worth and you will have less time to enjoy the places which are really worth.

If you have less time you can skip Darjeeling as Gangtok is better place as per my view.

You can hire small vehicle for transfer from one place to other place, sight seeings in Darjeeling and Gangtok. From Gangtok to Nathula / Yumthang transfers and sight seeing you have to hire heavy vehicle.

You need to arrange permits for travelling East Sikkim and North Sikkim.

Let me know if you need any info.

Enjoy the trip :)

Santoshkumar Mondi