Transport & Fares between Gangtok and
NJP, Siliguri, Bagdogra, Darjeeling, Kalimpong
NJP (New Jalpaiguri) is the major railway junction closest to Gangtok. There are many trains from all over India passing through and some terminating at NJP. Most tourists avail trains and get off at NJP to reach Gangtok. NJP is at a distance of 126kms from Gangtok. At NJP plenty of private taxis and shared Jeeps are available, and it takes about 4.5 hours to reach Gangtok.
Bagdogra is the nearest airport for Gangtok and has frequent daily air connections with several cities of India and even with some neighboring foreign countries like Bhutan. Bagdogra is at a distance of 124kms from Gangtok. Private taxis are available from Bagdogra airport. It takes about 4.5 hours to reach Gangtok from Bagdogra by road. There is also a helicopter service available between Bagdogra and Gangtok (takes 35 minutes one way).
Siliguri is a township close to NJP (8kms) and 114kms from Gangtok. Other than private and shared taxis, public bus service is also available between Siliguri and Gangtok.
The road routes from Bagdogra, NJP and Siliguri all meet the Sevoke Road which leads to the National Highway NH31A. The route passes through the Teesta area and then goes all the way to Gangtok. For a long part of the drive, you will see the beautiful River Teesta flowing alongside. Note that the area along NH31A all the way up to the bordering town of Rangpo is part of the state of West Bengal. Rangpo is from where the East Sikkim starts. Gangtok is about further 25kms from Rangpo. All vehicles that are not registered in Sikkim will need to stop at Rangpo check post and take a permit. Usually it takes only a few minutes.
Darjeeling hill town is 98kms from Gangtok. You will get private taxis as well as shared Jeeps from the taxi stands. It takes about 4 hours to reach Gangtok from Darjeeling. The route is initially through Ghoom & Takdah (along Peshok road), then to Teesta where it meets NH31A. Up to Teesta, the road goes down hill and from there on uphill.
Kalimpong is part of Darjeeling district and 75kms from Gangtok. Private and shared taxis are available from the stand. It takes about 3 hours to reach Gangtok from Kalimpong. The route is via Teesta where it meets NH31A.
Private Taxis to Gangtok
Prepaid taxi counters are available at both Bagdogra airport (next to the arrival hall exit) and NJP station (opposite the station entrance). Prepaid taxis are run by taxi syndicate and have fixed rates. Taxis are either small private cars (that can take up to 4 persons) like Santros, Altos, WagonR etc, or bigger vehicles (for up to 7 persons) like Innova, Scorpio, Xylo etc. Private taxis are also available from Siliguri, Darjeeling and Kalimpong stands.
NOTE: If you take a private or a shared taxi with West Bengal state registration, then they will drop you at the Deorali taxi stand near Gangtok which is about 2kms below the town center. This is due to restrictions in Gangtok for non-state vehicles. From Deorali stand you will need to take a local Sikkim taxi to reach your hotel (they will charge some Rs. 200 - 300 depending on the distance).
So it's always advisable to look for a Sikkim registered vehicle (you can usually get them at NJP or Bagdogra, those who came to drop their clients and wait for return customers). This will help avoid the hassles of transferring your luggage to a local taxi at Deorali stand and also pay an additional amount. The prepaid counters will usually give you a West Bengal state registered taxi because both Bagdogra and NJP are in West Bengal, so West Bengal taxis get the preference. However you can go out and find a Sikkim taxi directly.
Indicative private Taxi fares (Updated December 2013)
Bagdogra to Gangtok prepaid: Rs. 2220 small taxi, Rs. 2410 large taxi.
NJP to Gangtok prepaid: Rs. 2220 small taxi, Rs. 2410 large taxi.
Darjeeling to Gangtok: Rs. 2200 small taxi, Rs. 2500 large taxi.
Kalimpong to Gangtok: Rs. 2200 small taxi, Rs. 2500 large taxi.
NOTE: While returning from Gangtok to NJP, Bagdogra etc, expect the return fare to be quite higher than the forward fare. For example Gangtok to NJP would be around Rs. 2500 by a small taxi and similar for Bagdogra.
Shared Jeeps or Taxis to Gangtok
Shared Jeeps usually take about 10 persons on a per person rate. The luggage is put on the roof. But they usually cover it with a plastic sheet during monsoon. You can reserve more than one seats for yourself if you so wish and make it a more comfortable ride. Note that people will be hopping on and off the shared jeep along the way as many travel for shorter distances.
Shared Jeeps are available from NJP station, Siliguri stand, Darjeeling and Kalimpong. You won't usually get them at Bagdogra airport.
Indicative shared jeep fares (Updated December 2013)
NJP to Gangtok: Rs. 200 per person
Siliguri to Gangtok: Rs. 200 per person
Darjeeling to Gangtok: Rs. 175 per person
Kalimpong to Gangtok: Rs. 150 per person
Bus services to Gangtok
Bus service is available between Siliguri and Gangtok. Sikkim Nationalized Transport (SNT) operates Sikkim state run buses from its bus terminal at Siliguri (close to the Tenzing Norgay Central Bus Terminal on Hill Cart Road). From NJP you can take an Auto Rickshaw and reach the bus terminus in about 10-15 minutes. Note that the buses will also drop you at the Deorali stand near Gangtok which is about 2kms from the town center. From there you will need to take a local taxi to reach your hotel.
Contact info for bus schedule:
Sikkim Nationalised Transport: (0353) 2517528, 2511496, 2432751
Indicative bus fare (Updated December 2013)
Siliguri to Gangtok: Rs. 150 per person.
Helicopter Service between Bagdogra and Gangtok
If you want to avoid the 4.5 hours drive through the winding mountain road and like to reach Gangtok without wasting much time, you can take the daily Helicopter Service
between Bagdogra airport and Gangtok. There are two daily trips (subject to weather condition) which take about 35 minutes one way.
The helicopter has a capacity of 5 persons, but one seat is kept blocked for VIP/Emergency until 24 hours prior to the flight and then released if there is no such demand. So if your booking happens to include the emergency seat, they will keep you waitlisted, won't take any booking charge and call you back to confirm or reject the booking a day before your departure. If rejected your only option would be to take a taxi.
One restriction in helicopter ride is you can not carry more than 10kgs luggage per person and there is no hand baggage allowed (other than laptop and purse). The two services (one in the morning and the other in the afternoon) ensure that you won't have much wait time when you arrive at the Bagdogra airport. Once you reach the helipad in Gangtok, you will need to take a taxi to reach your hotel.
R. Singh (March 2014)
Hi Raj, Great thanks for the good work you are doing. Your blogs are extremely informative, covering a great range of detail and hence probably the best blog available on the web for the region.
I am planning to travel to Gangtok as well as Darjeeling in a friend's car (as he has a 7 seater) from Bagdogra. I read somewhere that only the vehicles having Sikkim Number plates are allowed for local sightseeing as well as traveling across the state of Sikkim. My car will be a West Bengal registered vehicle. As I am staying for 2 nights in Gangtok, am I allowed to bring this car into the city, park at the hotel (probably on Tibet Road) and use this for local sightseeing? I have the same query for Darjeeling as well. Also, how is the weather generally during mid March there? Kind regards,
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) March 2014
Hi, In Gangtok the vehicle restriction applies only to commercial vehicles like a taxi. The issue is with the local taxi association in Gangtok who claim that tourists bring taxis from Darjeeling, do local sightseeing in Gangtok and depart. Therefore the local taxi drivers in Gangtok get deprived. Darjeeling also allows only drop from Sikkim and not local sightseeing by Sikkim taxi. But if you have a private car, there is no problem in any of these two places. You can take it to your hotel in Gangtok and park there (at the hotel's parking), and also use it for local sightseeing. You can do the same in Darjeeling. Weather is quite pleasant now during the day time. You will need a jacket in the evenings. Regards,
Rajesh Gupta (December 2013)
Hi Raj, How is the road condition from Bagdogra/NJP to Gangtok? Is it bearable?
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) December 2013
Unfortunately, much part of the road is quite bad at present. From Bagdogra or NJP, initially the road is good up to Teesta. However from there about 40% of the road is quite bad and bumpy, and full of potholes. About 2 hours before Gangtok, there is road widening and constructions taking place. As a result they often block one side of the motor traffic while allowing the other. This sometimes results in massive traffic jam. If one is unlucky, one may get stuck there for an hour. So while returning from Gangtok, keep at least 2-3 hours of cushion. From Rangpo onwards (i.e. after you enter Sikkim), the road is better, although patchy at places.