Local Package Tours In Darjeeling
Here you will know about the most popular local sightseeing tours of Darjeeling that cover some of the best tourist attractions in and around the hill town. You will also know about how best to take such tours, cost, timings etc. These tours are usually completed in half a day and therefore for some of them you have an option of taking it in the first half or in the second half. Remember these local tours cover preset sightseeing points within a fixed time.
Rates vary depending on the package that you choose and also on the season. There are usually no guides available for these tours unless you use a Tour Operator
and ask for one.
The local taxi drivers at the stands offer these tours on reserved cabs and drop you at the sightseeing points. They will wait outside while you take your time to enjoy the tourist places. But note that you must complete all the points within the overall stipulated time, otherwise the drivers could ask for more money at an hourly rate. It is also possible to take these local Darjeeling tours on shared taxis. Go through the section How to take local tours
for details about various options for taking such tours including prices.
The eBook on Darjeeling & Sikkim
is a great resource to plan your tour and get deep insights into various attractions of Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Sikkim including trips, tours and rides.
Following are the most popular local tour packages or set local tours of Darjeeling. Indicative cost of each tour is given separately in a section below. Go through the links of the sites for details:
3-Point Tour of Darjeeling
Usual timing: 4am-7:30am
This is probably one of the most popular tours among those who are visiting Darjeeling for the first time. The following three destinations are covered:
Who doesn't know about the magnificent view of sunrise from Tiger Hill. You will need to wake up by 3:30am and take a vehicle. But the rewards are awesome. You can see the changing colors of the Kanchenjunga snow peaks as the light strikes. On a clear day you can also get a glimpse of Mount Everest, Mount Makalu and one of the most beautiful peaks of the world, Tibet's Chomol Hari. Tiger Hill is 11kms away and at an altitude of more than 8,400ft. It takes about 40 minutes to reach the top where there is a view tower for watching sunrise. There is an entry fee.
Kanchenjunga as the sun rises, Tiger Hill Darjeeling
Photo: Meenakshi Jha
On the way back from Tiger Hill, you will visit one of the oldest Buddhist monasteries of Darjeeling located at a scenic location in Ghoom area. It houses a 12-foot tall statue of Mayetriya Buddha which represents the Buddha of the future. No entry fee but donation required for taking photos inside.
Batasia Loop is an engineering marvel located in Ghoom area. This is where the toy train makes a double spiral loop to negotiate a drop of 140 ft as it moves towards Darjeeling town. Amidst the beautiful garden around which the railway track forms a loop, there is also a War Memorial. It was constructed in honor of the Gorkha soldiers who sacrificed their lives in service of the nation. There is a nominal entry fee. Don't miss the Samosas (fried vegetable pastries) that are sold near the entrance of Batasia Loop in the morning.
Photo: Ankur P, cc by 2.0
5-Point Tour of Darjeeling
Usual timing: Half Day, 9am-12noon / 2pm-5pm
There are five points or sightseeing attractions covered in about three hours. All the sites are within short driving distance. If you are taking a shared vehicle or a taxi, you can choose to go either in the first half or in the second half.
Close to the Darjeeling town and in a scenic setting there is a temple built in a traditional Japanese style. The original founder of the temple was Fujii Guruji. It follows a Buddhist religious order. The prayer room is upstairs and all are welcome to join the prayers. There is no entry fee but donations are accepted.
Japanese Temple Darjeeling
About 100 yards away from Japanese Temple and in the same complex, there is large Peace Pagoda that showcases four avatars of Buddha. The view of the mountain range and Darjeeling town from the top of the pagoda is spectacular. There is no entry fee to get to the Peace Pagoda.
Peace Pagoda, Darjeeling
Popularly known as Dali Monastery, this imposing structure is perched on a cliff and overlooks the Hill Cart Road. It is located about 3kms from Darjeeling Town. The monastery was constructed in 1971. The vehicle will be parked on the roadside and you will then need to climb up a stairway to get to a large open terrace of the monastery at an elevation. From here, there are steps to the various sections of the monastery including the prayer room where that lamas offers their prayers and you can hear the chants if you are there in time.
Lalkuthi or Lal Kothi
This site is used by some operators as an alternative to Druk Choeling Monastery. It's a plush bungalow style building locate close to the Japanese Temple and has a beautiful garden, manmade waterfalls, ponds and having an amazing view of Kanchenjunga. It was once the site of several films including the Bengali movie Lal Kuthi. It was later converted into the Darjeeling Gorkhaland Hill Council Secretariat. It has now become the main office of GTA (Gorkha Territorial Administration)... a governing body that runs the administration of Darjeeling district. Since entry inside is no longer allowed, you can only see it from outside.
This is a Hindu temple of Lord Shiva located close to the Darjeeling Toy Train Railway station. It's a close lookalike of the Pashupatinath temple of Katmandu, Nepal. There is no entry fee. Donations accepted.
This art gallery has exquisite artwork of late Ava Devi who was a specialist in embroidery art. It's located on Hill Cart Road and about 4km from the town center. No entry fee.
This is an alternative site used by some operators. This museum is located on Gandhi road and quite close to the town center. It showcases the history, heritage and culture of Tibetans. Note that there are many Tibetans in Darjeeling most of who immigrated from Tibet after the Chinese invasion. Starting from exhibits explaining ancient civilization in Tibet to a replica of Potala Palace of Lhasa and startling articles donated by Dalai Lama including a striking statue of Buddha, are all showcased here. There is an admission fee.
7-Point Tour of Darjeeling
Usual timing: Half Day, 9am-12:30pm / 2pm-5:30pm
Below are the most common points covered under this tour. Sometimes variations are made if a site is closed or inaccessible.
The cab will wait at Lebong Cart Road below. You will need to climb a stairway across the road and then walk uphill for 4-5 minutes to reach the main entry gate. Here, you will need to buy combined entry tickets to visit the Zoo as well as Himalayan Mountaineering Institute (HMI). Note that both the Zoo and HMI are co-located in the same large compound. In fact, a third attraction Bengal Natural History Museum
has also been added in the same compound. HMI is usually considered as a separate point in the 7-point tour and is described later.
Darjeeling Zoo has many high altitude Himalayan animals including Snow Leopard, Clouded Leopard, Tibetan Wolf, Himalayan Black Bear, Red Panda, Yaks, Barking Deers, etc. This zoo has been ranked by Central Zoo Authority (CZA) in September 2022 as the best zoo in India. It also has longstanding conservation programs for rare and endangered species of animals including Red Pandas and Snow Leopards.
Clouded Leopard at Darjeeling Zoo
Photo: elkhiki, flickr, cc by 2.0
The Himalayan Mountaineering Institute was built to honor Tenzing Norgay's triumph to the Everest and is dedicated to provide mountaineering and rock climbing lessons to students from all over the world.
There is a mountaineering museum as well. The highlights of this museum include the artifacts from various Himalayan expeditions, the Everest section showcasing Tenzing's personal belongings, an eagle found dead at 26,000 feet during 1960 Everest expedition, a high power telescope that once belonged to Hitler and was used by the Institute, and a lot more.
And the Bengal Natural History Museum is great to know about flora and fauna of Bengal including high altitude animals of Himalayan region as well as of Darjeeling district. You will find stuffed and preserved bodies of many real animals and even birds that are found in Bengal including that of high altitude Himalayan animals.
You will board the cable car from Singamari located 3kms away from the town center along Lebong Cart Road. The 40-minute round trip ride takes you from an altitude of 7,000ft down to 6000ft with wonderful vista of a valley around Rangeet river, tea estates and sweeping views of the snow peaks of Himalayan range including Kanchenjunga. Ticket needs to be purchased. During high season, there are long queues at the ticket counter.
Darjeeling Ropeway over Tukvar Tea Garden
Photo: JyotiPN, cc by sa 4.0
Note that the taxi drivers and tour operators will apply waiting charge if it takes longer than the stipulated time to complete the ropeway ride, even if that is due to the long queue at the ticket counter.
These huge rocks are located on Lebong Cart Road where rock climbing is practiced. At the Tenzing Rock, Tenzing Norgay used to practice rock climbing. Look at it from the left side where you can see the bottom of this gigantic rock. During a visit of former Prime Minister Late Jawaharlal Nehru, Tenzing demonstrated a climb on this rock without any safety equipment. Gombu Rock is located at the same place but on the opposite side of the road. There is no entry fee to see the rocks. However, there is a practice surface of the rock for the amateurs and tourists which is quite easy. There is a fee if you want to climb Tenzing Rock on this surface.
5) Lebong Tea Garden
Further 2kms ahead on Lebong Cart Road is the viewing area of Lebong Tea Garden (about 5.5 kms from Chowk Bazaar area in lower Darjeeling town). The tea garden is also known as Rangeet Valley Tea Garden. Along the way you will pass by the famous St. Joseph's College at Singamari which will be on your left. The vehicle will stop by the roadside where there are a number of stalls lined up selling Darjeeling tea packets... avoid these because these are of inferior quality and some quite dubious.
The tea garden is right behind the stalls. In between the stalls, there are narrow passages that you can walk through and get to the Tea Garden. It's a sprawling tea estate. Walk through the bushes and enjoy the lovely view of the valley. There are ample photo opportunities here. You can also dress up in traditional Nepali attire (for a fee) posing as if you are plucking tea leaves and get your photographs taken by a the cameraman. However, note that plucking tea leaves is prohibited.
The entire tea estate and the village spans across an area of 454 hectares. The total population in Lebong Tea Garden Village is nearly 2,300 many of who are garden workers. There is no entry fee to watch the tea garden.
Nearby on a hill is the center and a factory established by the Tibetan refugees who once fled Tibet and took refuge in Darjeeling. They and their next generations not only live here, but also produce varieties of exquisite handicraft items to make their livings. The handcrafted items include jackets, carpets, gloves, aprons, bags, curios, cards, pouches, carved wooden items, Tibetan paintings etc.
While you can see them making the handcrafted items right in front of you, there is a sales outlet as well. This is a great place to buy a gift or a souvenir for your friends and relatives. There is no entry fee.
7) Lebong Race Course
8km away from Darjeeling Town Center, this was the smallest race course in the world (a full lap is 480 yards) and the one located at the highest altitude (5935 ft). It was created in the 1800s during the British colonial days when horse betting was very popular. However, it is no longer used as a race course and has been converted into a parade ground. You can see the ground from Darjeeling Mall road.
Lebong Race Course, Darjeeling
Gorkha Football Stadium: This is an alternative to the race course. The stadium is also located in Lebong. Youngsters play soccer here. The ground is also used for many soccer tournaments as well as for local festivals. The ground looks wonderful with Kanchenjunga and the other snow peaks forming the backdrop.
2-Point: Rock Garden & Gangamaya Park
Usual timing: Half Day, 9am-12noon / 2pm-5pm
Rock Garden, also known as Barbotey Rock Garden is a lovely picnic area located some 10kms from Darjeeling Town. The road is steep and winding and descends by several thousand feet. However the garden with natural water streams flowing through it over the rocks and seating areas with flower gardens at different levels, is great place to picnic and spend few hours.
A short distance from here and further down is the Gangamaya park which too has water streams, parks and fountains. There is a cultural dance program held here during the high season. Many locals walk down to these places. I won't recommend that for visiting tourists who are not used to hill walking.
Mixed Points Tour of Darjeeling
Full Day: 9am - 4pm
If you are one of those who doesn't exactly like any of the above set tours, then there is one more option - Mixed point tour which tries to maximize between all the other options.
A typical mixed point tour includes the following sights/visits:
Japanese Temple & Peace Pagoda
Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, Darjeeling Zoo and Bengal Natural History Museum
Tenzing & Gombu Rock
Tibetan Refugee Self Help Center
Rangeet Valley Tea Garden
Happy Valley Tea Estate
Rock Garden & Ganga Maya Park can also be combined at an additional charge. Tour timings would change accordingly.
How to take the local tours
There are several options in taking any of the set tours that I have described above. I have given indicative cost or fares of each option separately in the section below.
Option-1: Use a private taxi
You will find plenty of private taxis at the stands offering local sightseeing tours. The taxi stands are located at Upper Club Side and Lower Club Side (both near Gandhi Road Traffic Police Post) and also in the lower town in Chowk Bazaar area.
Once you approach a taxi driver, many others will also swoop in. Depending on the prevailing demand, they will offer varying rates and eventually you will get dragged into haggling and bargaining. And often their cars are not in good conditions. Most taxi drivers have no background knowledge about the tourist places and are poor guides themselves. Talk to a few drivers before you finalize. Also keep in mind that most taxi drivers are inflexible and tend to rush you through the points.
If you want to take a taxi from a stand, a good option is to approach the Upper Clubside Vehicle Owners' Association. This is a small office run by the Taxi Association who also offer these local tours in reserved taxis and have fixed rates. So, there is no bargaining involved here. Their office is located on Gandhi Road near the Upper Clubside Taxi Stand and next to Hotel Ramada. Once you pay up the amount, they will allocate a taxi from the stand.
Option-2: Use a Tour Operator
A better option is to go through one of the Well known Local Tour Operators who may charge you a little more than usual taxi rate, but will provide a good private car and a friendly driver. A good driver in my view is vital for such tours. They are not only more professional and friendly, they also keep track of the time and will advise you about how much time to spend at each site. Go through Local Tour Operators
to get details.
Option-3: Use a Hotel Car
Almost all hotels offer these tours as well. The smaller hotels often engage a local tour operator and take a commission at your cost. The luxury hotels usually have their own vehicles but will obviously charge a hefty premium. However, like tour operators, most hotels usually provide cars in good condition.
Option-4: Use a Shared Vehicle (Cheapest Option)
For cheapest possible option in local tours, you can get shared vehicles that operate on a per person rate which is far more affordable than a reserved taxi. These are usually large vehicles like Tata Sumo and take up to 7-8 persons on a sharing basis. If you are alone, you can reach early and get the front seat next to the driver.
So how can you get a shared taxi or a vehicle for local sightseeing tours in Darjeeling?
One way is to approach the Upper Clubside Vehicle Owners' Association which is located on Gandhi Road near the Upper Clubside Taxi Stand and next to Hotel Ramada. While they offer these local tours mainly on private taxis, they also sometimes offer these tours on shared vehicles during the high tourist seasons. While the 3-point tour on shared vehicle is usually available in high season, other sightseeing tours on shared taxis are available only when there are enough tourists seeking such tours and their timings match.
If you are unable to get a shared taxi from the taxi association, then there is another way, which should work out nicely. The tour operator Om Shri Ganeshaya Tour & Travels located below Hotel Milkyway on Ladenla Road (Address: 37 Laden La Road, Darjeeling) offers all these local tours on shared vehicles. If you are coming from Darjeeling Railway Station shortly after which Laden La road veers up right opposite to a petrol pump, you will need to walk only for about 2-3 minutes and you will see this Tour & Travel Agency on your right.
They are one of the only few agencies offering local sightseeing tours of Darjeeling in shared vehicles like Tata Sumo. They have the boards put up in front of their outlet as well as on the exterior walls listing all the shared taxi tours of Darjeeling, and that covers all the local tours I have described above plus more. The vehicles used for these shared tours are lined up on the road in front of the agency outlet. You can go there and even book a shared taxi tour of your choice in advance for the next day (rates are mentioned in the section below).
Rates/Fares for Darjeeling local tours
Fare updated: March 2022
The rates given below are indicative and can vary depending on demand.
The tour charges do not cover any admission fees or cost of food.
The rates from the Tour Operators would be higher than taxi rates, but you can expect a vehicle in good condition and a driver more professional and friendly in nature.
Larger taxis below means vehicles like Tata Sumo and not Luxury Vehicles like Innova or Scorpio.
PRIVATE TAXI RATES
3-point tour covering Tiger Hill, Ghoom Monastery and Batasia Loop: Costs Rs. 2,000 by small private taxi, Rs. 2,500 by Tata Sumo.
7-Point tour (4 hours): Rs. 2,500 in small taxi, Rs. 3,000 in larger taxi like Tata Sumo.
Mixed Point tour (7 hours): Costs Rs. 3,500 in small taxi, Rs. 4,000 in larger taxi.
5-Point tour (3 hours): Costs Rs. 1,800 in small taxi, Rs. 2,200 in large taxi.
Rock Garden/Ganga Maya (half day) is Rs. 2,500 in small taxi, Rs. 3,000 in large taxi.
SHARED VEHICLE RATES
Most of the above local tours of Darjeeling will cost Rs. 300/- per person in a shared vehicle.
1) Check out Darjeeling Tours
for many other great sightseeing and day tours from Darjeeling.
Raj Kumar (March 2022)
Hi Sir, I am planning for a trip to Darjeeling during the mid of April 2022. I would like to know the exact location where I can get the shared taxi to Tiger Hill (3-point) and 5-point trip. Also, I am planning to go to Mirik from Darjeeling and back to NJP from Mirik. My question is,
1. Exactly where I can find the shared taxi for 3-point and 5-point trips?
2. In Chowk Bazar where is the taxi stand for Mirik shared taxis? Can you please give me some landmarks. When I searched on the internet, the Chowk Bazar looks a large place.
3. After finishing 3-point and 5-point tours in Darjeeling, will I get enough time to travel to Mirik on the same day? Thank You in advance.
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) March 2022
Hi, the availability of shared taxis in Darjeeling for local sightseeing tours depends on prevailing demand, and may not be always available. You should go down to the Taxi Association Kiosk located on Gandhi Road near Upper Clubside Stand (ask anyone) and check out the availability of shared taxis for such tours... if there is enough demand, they take bookings in advance for the next day, otherwise, they will advise if there is any chance for you to avail one by turning up at the spot on the day when you wish to take the tour.
Chowk Bazaar isn't that large area... once you walk down to the lower town (Chowk Bazaar area), ask anybody for the Chowk Bazaar Motor Stand or Taxi Stand... you will see taxis lined up on one side of the main road. You need to talk to the drivers and figure out if there is any shared taxi available for Mirik or when will it be available. There are no fixed schedules for shared taxis.
Doing 3-point, 5-Point tours and visiting Mirik on the same day is not advisable, although doable. Note that shared taxis do not usually operate from the stands after 2:30 pm.
Shiwang Bhushan (February 2022)
Hi Raj, Me and my family are planning for a trip to Darjeeling and would like your help in this regard. Total members: 12 which includes 2 children below 12 years age
In the 3-point tour prices section, it is mentioned that the shared-taxi price would be 175/person for up to 10 people. I would like to know if we can manage those 2 children in our lap. we would pay 175 each for them but I just want to know if the taxi driver would make any issues regarding this saying the taxi is for 10 people and we are 12.
In the Multi-Point Tour package, since we are 12 people, is there any option for a 11 or 12 seater Tempo Traveller? If yes, what would be the cost for it? Also, the price for Large Taxi(Tata Sumo) is mentioned as 3600/- and additional charges for additional charges for Rock garden and Ganga Maya Park. I would like to know the full fare for a Tempo Traveller with and without Rock garden and GangaMaya Park for a Multi-Point Tour. Thanks in advance.
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) February 2022
Hi, with 10 persons on the shared vehicle, there will be hardly any space left to even take kids on the laps unless they are infants, if they are not infants/babies, the taxi driver can object.
Tempo Travelers are usually available with operators in Siliguri and not in Darjeeling... you may need to take two large (7-seater) vehicles for the sightseeing tours. Suggest you talk to the operators for prices... you can find the list of operators in Darjeeling by visiting this link
Tavisha (September 2019)
Drivers don't show each and everyplace even after opting for a package of specific route. Some Drivers were very rude.
Saravana Kumar (January 2018)
Hi, I am planning to visit Darjeeling by first week of May with family (2 adults and 2 kids). For local sightseeing (covering Tiger Hill after sunrise, Ropeway, Japanese Pagoda and Zoo) would it be possible to cover these in a day's time and whether it would be advisable to take a shared jeep or private taxi to cover these places. Beyond Sunrise would it be worth visiting Tiger Hill for view of Kanchenjunga ? Kindly advise
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) January 2018
It is possible to cover all the four in a day... you must time it correctly. It will also depend on the wait time at Ropeway ticketing queue. You should take a private taxi (there is anyway no shared taxi for Tiger Hill other than for sunrise). If you love nature, you can visit Tiger Hill even after sunrise. However Tiger Hill is mostly known for the sunrise view. Kanchenjunga can be seen equally well from other places like Mall road, Batasia loop etc.
Srinivas (April 2016)
Sir is it necessary to take a package for sightseeing? We want to take a taxi there for a day tour. Can we get any bikes for rent.
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) April 2016
You can negotiate with a taxi driver, tell him the places you want to visit and arrive at a price. The moment you customize, you will end up paying lot more than usual. Motorbikes are available for long self driven tours (several days) and not for local sightseeing for few hours.
Lipika Roy (July 2015)
Hi Raj, Firstly my best wishes on the effort you have poured to have such detailed information about Darjeeling. I am visiting in August end and have been reading your website for the past couple of days. I seek your clarification regarding the duration of the 7 point tour which is mentioned as a 3.5 hours tour. I have my doubts that its nearly impossible to cover all the 7 spots in such a short time since it includes HMI, Zoo, and the Ropeway and tea estate among others.
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) July 2015
That's all the time you get... may be another 30 minutes at the most after which the driver will charge you extra by the hour. In high season, it's quite likely that you may end up standing on the ropeway queue itself for couple of hours. You can't factor such time into these packages, particularly with taxi drivers. Tour Operators would be more flexible. However some points in the package are pass-by places... you will perhaps not spend more than 5 minutes on them.
Jui Naik (February 2015)
Hello Raj, you are doing really a great job by providing detailed information. May I know the rates of local tours by taxis or by the good tour operators for May 2015? As the information on site is for the previous year. We are not able to decide whether to book our tour by some tours & travels much before or go by ourselves and hire local tours on the day itself. But at the same time it sounds risky to hire on the spot tours. please guide.. Much needed reply. And yeah Keep your work going!! Its very helpful :)
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) February 2015
Those are indicative rates and will vary quite widely depending on time of travel. Your time is in peak season and rates will be quite high. It's advisable to go through a reliable operator like Ashmita Trek & Tours who can provide good quality cars. Book in advance. They have published rates on their website. They offer 15% discount to Darjeeling Tourism Card holders on many packaged tours.
Arun Sehgal (September 2014)
Sirji, I am reaching NJP on 22-09-2014 at 22.00hrs night. My hotels are booked at Gangtok(23 to 25), Pelling (25 to27) and Darjeeling (27-29). Since I am alone, can I get shared vehicle from NJP to Gangtok and sharing vehicle at Gangtok for site visits. Similarly from Gangtok to Pelling and site visits at Pelling and finally shared vehicle from Pelling to Darjeeling and site visits, and return from Darjeeling to NJP by a shared vehicle. I will be grateful for the information.
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) September 2014
Hi, for transfers between the places, you will get shared jeeps from the stands. But for local sightseeing you may not always get shared jeeps, it depends on other tourists wanting such sightseeing trips at the same time.