Gangtok is the bustling capital of Sikkim, with administrative buildings, multicuisine restaurants, recreational centres, and key monasteries. Experiencing a pleasant climate most of the year, the valleys are mostly wreathed in clouds and waterfalls flow constantly. It is the only place in Sikkim that resembles urban living. The Khangchendzonga peak is visible from almost anywhere in Gangtok. It is also the only place to get permits for treks throughout Sikkim. Gangtok also has the only land-based casinos in the country.
HOW TO GET THERE
By air: Bagdogra Airport in Siliguri, West Bengal, is the closest airport. From here, you will have to take a reserved or shared cab to Gangtok.
By rail: The nearest railway station to Gangtok is New Jalpaiguri (NJP) in Siliguri, West Bengal. It is around 148 km from Gangtok.
By road: Catch the NH-10. The 4 hr 20 min journey is mostly smooth with a well-pitched road constructed lately. However, monsoons can cause landslides, disrupting journey time by 2-3 hours.
Route from Siliguri to Gangtok
You will be spoilt for choice when it comes to accommodations in Gangtok. From luxurious 4-star hotels to budget stays, hostels, and homestays, there is something for every pocket. MG Marg, the shopping hub, has hotels in plenty but we suggest picking something that’s a few minutes away from the centre for better quality stays and prices.
MAYFAIR Spa resort & casino | Lemon Tree | The Elgin Nor-Khill | The Fern Denzong Hotel & Spa
Pearl Retreat | Summit Namnang Courtyard & Spa | Denzong Regency
Peg’s Homestay | Burpeepal homestay | Mumma’s Homestay | others
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The Elgin Nor-Khill, Gangtok
TOURS AND ATTRACTIONS
Gangtok has many tourist attractions and can take a whole day or two (if done at a leisurely pace) to cover all the points. Buddhist monasteries, waterfalls, and high-altitude lakes encompass most itineraries.
Tourist attractions: Bakthang waterfalls, Do Drul Chorten (stupa) & Namgyal Institute of Tibetology, Tashi View Point, Plant Conservatory, Himalayan Zoological Park, and ropeway ride.
Local markets: MG Marg (good for souvenirs, jewellery, warm clothes, and restaurants), Lal Bazar (clothes and local vegetables), Tharo Line (cheap woolly clothes, toys, and other knick-knacks).
Outdoor activities: Paragliding, helicopter ride, hikes, treks, and yak rides (during winters).
Do Drul Chorten (stupa)
Gangtok has probably the most efficient shared cab system. There are many cab stops along the main road marked by boards. Shared cabs provide an affordable way of transportation within the city.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
The best time to visit Sikkim is in the summer months between April and early June, right before the monsoons hit, and the autumn/winter months from October to mid-December when you can enjoy the warm autumn-coloured landscape and snowfall in December.
Read: Paradise found: The best time to visit Sikkim
FOOD AND DRINKS
The presence of the Nepali, Bhutia, and Lepcha communities has lent an interesting take on the local cuisine. It’s also largely influenced by Tibetan flavours. Soups, dumplings, stews, meats, and a whole lot of vegetables constitute the food of Sikkim.
Local traditional food: Thukpa, phagshapa, kinema, bamboo shoot curry, churpi-ningro curry, nakima, wachipa, thenthuk, and gya kho.
Local drinks: Jaand (tongba), chaang, raksi, bhati jaar (rice wine), and homemade fruit wines.
Where to eat: Nimtho (Newari food), Bhutia Kitchen, Taste of Tibet, Dragon Wok
Gya kho (chimney soup)
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PLACES NEARBY TO GANGTOK
Darjeeling | Kalimpong