Darjeeling Tea Garden Stays & Tours


About Tea Tourism in Darjeeling

Tea Tourism is a relatively new concept in the world and Darjeeling is a taking a lead in this area. And why not? Darjeeling is after all the Mecca of tea and sprawling estates producing what we know as the "Champagne of Teas" to the delight of the world. 
Gopaldhara Tea Garden in Darjeeling 
Gopaldhara Tea Garden 
There are presently 87 operational tea gardens in Darjeeling that span across thousands of acres of land area on open hill slopes. 
High on the hills with cool breeze and misty weather, planters and workers come together to form a wonderland where tea grows in the finest form like no where else in the world. 
So what does tea tourism mean? Imagine you are spending a few days in a sprawling tea garden. You will stay in a Bungalow that was typically the residence of a British tea planter built during the old colonial time. The bungalow retains the antique furnishing &áaura of the colonial days, and setup amidst lush garden setting within the estate. Food served is usually made of fresh organic produce from the backyard garden. 
You wake up and sip a cup of finest aromatic tea that was plucked fresh from the gardens, a tea brand that the world knows. You take a stroll through the garden, talk to the garden workers and see how they deftly pluck the two leaves with a bud, and learn about their lives. 
You are also invited to take a look and learn about the tea processing in the factory where some of the best teas in the world are withered, rolled, dried, sorted and packaged. 
A jeep takes you to the nearby attractions and places of interest for you to soak in the nature. Later you take a walk through the villages and nature trails, and get deeper insight into the lives of the people living in the mountains. In the evening, you are entertained with local cultural dance and music specially performed for you as you drink a glass of wine. Ultimate, isn't it? That's tea tourism. 
And where else will you get best of all the elements of a garden tour other than in Darjeeling? Several tea estates in Darjeeling hills offer vacation packages to tourists to experience life in the gardens along with stays in heritage bungalows along with rustic activities and entertainment with local flavor that are rarely found anywhere else in the world. 
However, except in few cases, tea tourism is not yet meant for the budget travelers. The luxury and special intimate experience in the gardens don't come cheap. Having said that, there are some gardens where tea tourism is affordable even for the mid-budget travelers. 
And in some others like Makaibari Tea Estate, the garden workers and villagers have extended their houses to make home stays for tourists at low budget and offer them homemade food and an excellent glimpse into the tea garden life as well. 
For the luxury class of garden experience, the estates mostly offer all inclusive packages including transfers, meals, sightseeing and garden activities. In few cases though you get options for room only rates and additional charges for food and other activities. 
Taj Chia Kutir View 
Remember, staying in plantation estates is not quite like staying in a five star luxury hotel in a city. Tea garden stays are meant to bring you closer to the nature and the garden life. In several tea gardens, the properties are managed and services are provided by staff who are family members of estate workers and not professionals as in a city five star hotel. 
While some gardens have introduced TVs in the rooms, others have preferred not to, so that you are never detached from the nature and real garden life. Similarly you won't get all amenities of luxury hotels in a tea bungalow such as restaurants, gym, 24-hours room service etc. 

Great tea garden retreats &áhomestays

Below are my favorite tea gardens in Darjeeling hills and the surrounding areas. Check out the links for the complete offerings including information about the tea estate, how to reach, how to book a room and what can you expect during your stay. 
(Location: Darjeeling, Category: Luxury) 
This in my view is the first tea resort which has genuinely come forward to offer luxury tea garden vacation experience in an old colonial planter's bungalow at a reasonable price making it affordable for even middle income groups. Such tea resort stay and garden experience would have otherwise remained a dream for many. 
Singtom Tea Estate  áResort 
And on top of it, it comes with a couple of outstanding features - first it is home to the tea estate called Steinthal which is the very first garden to be planted in Darjeeling hills during the British era way back in 1852. 
And second, this tea resort is quite near Darjeeling town taking only 25 minutes to reach and thus offering best of both the worlds - secluded and sprawling tea gardens on a vast stretch of mountain slopes, as well as a quick access to all town amenities of Darjeeling. 
The tea resort blends the old colonial charm with modern amenities. There are only four spacious suites in this resort. It used to be a British Tea Planter's bungalow once. 
The tea estate offers breathtaking views of the Himalayan Peaks, lush tea gardens and offers a serene ambience in a picturesque settings. You can hike through the gardens, see tea plucking, make a factory visit and indulge into many other activities and tours. 
Singtom is owned by the Chirimars or Kolkata. The resort serves only authentic vegetarian food. They also have a bar with nice collection of spirits. 
(Location: Kurseong, Category: Luxury) 
Located amidst the serene hills of Kurseong in Darjeeling district and enveloped by vast tea gardens, Taj Chia Kutir Resort &áSpa offers a tranquil retreat in the lap of the Himalayas. With a seamless blend of traditional and contemporary decor, the resort provides a welcoming ambiance for a rejuvenating stay. 
Taj Chia Kutir Resort   Spa 
Accommodations range from cozy deluxe rooms to spacious suites, each offering breathtaking views of either the lush gardens or the majestic Himalayan peaks. Thoughtfully equipped with modern amenities, the rooms ensure a comfortable and luxurious experience for every guest. 
The resort's facilities include an indoor heated pool, a fitness center, a walking track, and a luxury spa with a Jacuzzi, providing ample opportunities for relaxation and recreation. You can also explore the Makaibari Tea Estate for a firsthand experience of tea cultivation and processing. 
Culinary delights await at the resort's dining venues, where you can savor international cuisine at Chia Verandah or indulge in Indian specialties at Sonargaon. The Glass Bar and Chia Lounge offer sophisticated settings to unwind with signature cocktails and premium teas, respectively. 
When arriving from Bagdogra Airport or NJP Station or any other nearby place such as Darjeeling town, the resort offers convenient car pickup and drop services, ensuring a smooth and enjoyable journey to and from Taj Chia Kutir. 
Whether seeking a peaceful getaway amidst nature or a cultural immersion in the art of tea-making, Taj Chia Kutir promises an unforgettable experience of luxury and serenity in the heart of the Himalayas. 
(Location: Darjeeling outskirts, Category: Upscale) 
A 1,600 acres of sprawling tea estate perched on a hill slope with elevation ranging from 3,200ft down to 800ft where there are two rivers flowing through the estate. 
Burra Bungalow Glenburn 
There is also a forest along the river side which is part of the estate. There are two plush bungalows with 4 suites each and having stunning views of the valleys and mountains, and a campsite lodge by the river side.Glenburn is about 1 hour 15 minutes from Darjeeling town and 3 hours from Bagdogra Airport or Siliguri. 
(Location: Kurseong, Category: Budget) 
This is one of the old and the most talked about tea estates in Darjeeling district. The Banerjee family were the original founders of the estate. However, it has been now taken over by the Luxmi Group. 
Located in Kurseong and covering a gross area of 750 hectars, Makaibari has gone on to win many accolades in the world tea platform. It has always been one of the top tea producing gardens in the world. 
Makaibari is located at Kurseong, 45kms from Siliguri/Bagdogra and 37kms from Darjeeling. While the estate offers luxury accommodations in its Stone House building and cottages, the garden workers also offer nice &áclean home stays at a low budget price in their village homes along with food. 
(Location: Darjeeling, Category: Upscale) 
Located about 30-minute drive from the lower town of Darjeeling, Ging is a sprawling tea estate spread over 600 hectares of lush tea gardens. It is part of the Chamong Group. The Tea House is a restored planter's bungalow which was built in 1864 during the colonial days. The antique furniture, all-wooden floors and high ceiling with rafts are all reflective of grand aura of the period. 
There are six well appointed suites. You get wonderful views of Kanchenjunga from the Tea House as well as from the viewing deck in front. Other than witnessing tea plucking (in season) and factory visit, you will also experience tea tasting as well as walks along the trails through the gardens. 
(Location: Kurseong, Category: Mid-scale) 
Located near Kurseong, Goomtee Tea Estate is an organic tea garden producing some of the finest orthodox Darjeeling tea. The Bungalow located within the estate has sweeping views of the mountains, valleys and gardens. It has four double rooms and used to be the residence of a British planter and his family. Goomtee is located 48kms from Darjeeling (2hrs) and 40kms from Siliguri/Bagdogra. 
(Location: Darjeeling, Category: Upscale) 
Located in Ghoom area of Darjeeling, Tumsong has a rolling tea garden on an estate that spreads over 186 hectares of land area and on an open hill slope with elevations varying between 5,500 ft to 2,700 ft. The Manager's Bunglow retains the old colonial aura and offers four large suites. Tumsong is about 3 hours from Bagdogra airport / Siliguri, and about 35 minutes from Darjeeling town center. 
Tumsong Tea Retreat 
(Location: Mirik Valley, Category: Upscale) 
This tea estate is located 7kms before Mirik and on Siliguri-Mirik-Darjeeling route. The resort is a 3-storied luxury bungalow with modern amenities yet offering old world charm, and surrounded by lush tea bushes all around. You can get wonderful views of tea gardens, Mirik valley and even Nepal from the rooms. 
(Location: Darjeeling) 
Well, if you are looking for a day trip to visit a lovely tea garden which is located close to Darjeeling town, sea tea plucking, watch and understand tea processing in the factory, buy some premium packaged tea leaves that are freshly plucked from the gardens, then Happy Valley Tea Estate would be a great choice. 
It's located only few minutes from the lower town (Chowk Bazaar) area of Darjeeling. A narrow steep lane from Lebong Cart Road leads down to the factory and the gardens next to it. However there is no arrange ment for overnight stay at this estate. It's good for a half day tour. 
(Location: Kurseong, Category: Mid-scale) 
NOTE: Although the tea garden is still operational, the bungalow is no longer available for booking. 
Setup in 1870 by a British planter, Selim Hill has a 170 hectare tea plantation area located 50kms from Darjeeling with sweeping views of the mountains. The tea garden employs over 200 workers who come from four different villages that are part of the estate. The old Planter's Bungalow has four luxurious double rooms, a living room, dining room, a large veranda and a wonderful garden with many different flowers and magnificent views. 

A Comparative Analysis of Tea Resorts

While all the tea estate resorts discussed above have their own charm and unique offerings, some do exceed the others when it comes to getting views of Kanchenjunga snow peaks, while some excel is quality of food served and the level of personalized services offered, and several have done a great job of retaining the authentic aura of the British days by restoring the original British planters' bungalows where the guests are accommodated in lavish suites. 
So which tea resort in Darjeeling hills should you choose to stay during your vacation? While price is definitely a big factor as none of them come cheap, but it is actually the combination of various other factors such as the landscape, views, heritage, experience of tea garden life, factory visit, tea tasting opportunity etc along with the rates which should decide the one offering the best value for money. 
Go through the forum discussion The best value-for-money tea resort to know what real visitors have to say on choosing the top tea garden stay in Darjeeling. 

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Visitors' Reviews/Comments

Adway Biniwale (January 2023) 
Hello Raj-Your website is fantastic and has a lot of useful information! I wanted to reach out to you and request recommendations on tea estate/tea factory tours on the road connecting Bagdogra Airport and Darjeeling. Could you please advise? Thanks! 
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) January 2023 
Hi, There are several routes to get to Darjeeling... the usual route from Bagdogra is via Rohini road. If you can pursue the driver to take the Pankhabari road to approach Darjeeling, then you can take a tour of the Makaibari Tea factory which is located by the roadside in Kurseong area. Inside the entry gate, there is a factory tea outlet where you can ask for a factory tour... they organize factory tours on a payment basis. You can also proceed further up (by another 1.5 km along Pankhabari Road) and visit the Castleton Tea Factory and the tea gardens that belong to the Goodricke Group. 
Subhamoy Das (October 2022) 
Dear Sir, We want to visit Tea Estate Bunglow for 1 night in the hills. I found some Tea Estate names in your webpage. Can you suggest and guide us for budget friendly Tea bungalow. We want to visit on the 3rd week of October. Please guide. 
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) October 2022 
Hello, Tea Estate Bungalows are typically meant for luxury travellers and you won't find a budget-friendly one in Darjeeling Hills. For budget stays, you can choose one of the several tea garden homestays that are run by the villagers/ garden workers... they are usually quite okay for budget travellers. 
Another option is to try out Swaraswatipur Tea Resort located in Jalpaiguri (not in Darjeeling hills)... it is not a bungalow, but more like a small boutique hotel on the tea garden but has nice rooms with tea garden views. It's about a 50-minute drive from NJP station. The room rate is around Rs. 4,000 for two with breakfast + 12% GST. Each additional meal will cost around Rs. 1,000 for two. If your budget doesn't permit this, then you should look out for a tea garden homestay instead... I have discussed several of them on my website. 
Sriya Sarkar (May 2022) 
Hi Raj, I am a big fan of your blog and every time I plan for Darjeeling/Kalimpong, I scan through Darjeeling-Tourisom.com first. This time we wanted to go for a quick trip to Kurseong with a tea garden experience. We have selected Birdsong Home at Mirik for our stay (not booked yet though). However I wonder if I do not stay in a tea estate resort will they allow external guests to visit the factory or experience a tea plucking tour ? I remember when I was a little kid , we could see the ladies in action, but now I believe the tourist access has been much restricted. I checked the Singtom tea estate activities , are those allowed if we do not stay at Singtom ? 
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) May 2022 
Hi, most tea gardens restrict the activities like factory tours, tea tasting sessions etc only for their guests who stay at their tea resorts. However, some of them particularly those that do not run tea resorts such as Happy Valley Tea Estate in Darjeeling, allow general tourists to take a guided factory tour, buy packaged tea from their factory outlet, see tea plucking etc. 
You can also see tea plucking during the season at one of the several publicly exposed tea gardens such as Long View, Simulbari etc on the way from Bagdogra airport towards Rohini/Kurseong. In Mirik, you can visit the Tingling Viewpoint (8kms away) and enjoy lovely views of Tea Gardens such as Sourenee, or alternatively, go down to Thurbo Tea Estate (2kms from Mirik), take permission from the manager and visit the factory. As of now, the activities at Singtom are meant for their guests only. 
Gauri (March 2022) 
Hi RAJ... Can you suggest a high end tea estate. We are looking for a place that has good walks and homemade /local food available. We are open to looking for a place in Assam or Darjeeling. 
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) March 2022 
Hi, you can look into Glenburn Tea Estate, Darjeeling. 
Raja (April 2021) 
Hi Raj, Really love the effort you've put into your website.. found it extremely useful... I needed to ask you something.. I'm planning a vacation in September with a few friends (all adults, no kids).. wanted to know which of the tea estates you would recommend for a 3 night stay.. the budget would be in the range of 10k/ room/ night...and we would need at least 5-6 rooms. 
We are really looking for something that's very scenic and also possibly close enough to Darjeeling in case we want to make a day trip... Also this is planned for 1st week September.. what will the weather be like then? Please let me know if you need any other information. Thanks so much!! 
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) April 2021 
Hi, One of the best tea estates near Darjeeling town and yet conveniently located is Singtom Tea Estate. It is also the oldest in Darjeeling. It offers wonderful views of Kanchenjunga right from its bungalow and the estate itself is quite scenic. You can get good discounts if you use Darjeeling Tourism Card (one each per room). Note that the food here is pure vegetarian but excellent with many varieties. Since Darjeeling town is only 20 minutes away by car, you have easy access to all other dining venues as well. 
The official monsoon season in Darjeeling is up to September 15 but monsoon usually extends beyond that. So, expect some showers in 1st week of September... you should get some sunny times as well and some nice views unless you are unlucky. One plus point is... there will be hardly any tourists around this time in Darjeeling, so you get so much more elbow space wherever you go. The high season starts in September-end/ October. 
Raja (April 2021) 
Thanks Raj.. much appreciated.. the Veg part may actually be a bit of a problem, but will check with the group... Do you have any views on Tumsong Tea Estate... they seem decent but one can't always tell from their website, thanks again 
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) April 2021 
Hi, Tumsong Chiabari is also a nice tea estate and offers a bungalow (with only 4 rooms). It's a good value for money option, but when you compare the quality of accommodation and service levels, it's not quite in the same category as few others like Glenburn, Ging, Singtom etc. In fact, Chamong... the group owning this garden/resort also has another upscale tea resort (called Chamong Chiabari) which compares well with the other top category tea resorts. You can read my findings in Tumson here. Suggest you also go through the best value for money tea estate stays in Darjeeling. Good luck! 
Alok Bhattachaya (March 2021) 
Is any of the tea resorts disabled friendly? I know it is not possible to have a complete tea estate wheelchair accessible, if stay and the surrounding area accessible that will give some unfortunate people some joy. 
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) March 2021 
The traditional tea bungalows are unfortunately not disabled friendly as they have mostly retained the old British aura. There is a new tea resort at Makaibari Tea Estate in Kurseong... Taj Chia Kutir Resort &áSpa, which is disabled friendly... parking, lounge, restaurant and washrooms are accessible and the in-house elevator too is wheelchair accessible. 
The resort also provides a wheelchair on request. The surrounding pathway is also wheelchair accessible. If you decide on this, I suggest you call up the resort and check out any specific requirements that you may have on accessibility. Good luck! 
Shutapa Paul (January 2021) 
Hi Raj...Your website has a wonderful repository of information on Darjeeling. Would you have any information on off-beat stays that are pet-friendly? I'm ideally looking to stay at a budget to mid-range tea garden. Thanks. 
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) January 2021 
Hi, budget options in tea gardens would be the homestays run by the tea garden workers and villagers, but most won't allow pets. The tea resorts and bungalows in Darjeeling hills are certainly far from a budget option... but some are more reasonably priced than the others. 
If you are open, you can look into Tumsong Chiabari Retreat located near Ghoom and owned by the Chamong group. The retreat is generally pet-friendly, but if you decide to book, you should call up the property to know about any pet restrictions that might be currently in place. You can find details on my review of the retreat
Amitava Dasgupta (April 2016) 
Hi Raj, Last week I visited Happy Valley with high hopes reading the reviews but to my utter disappointment it turned to be a nothing kind of place. I am not sure whether our driver took us to the proper place or not. We took a cab from Clubside, it dropped us to a place after crossing Tenzing Rock but there way no signage or display board. Only a few tea/momo shacks. A small opening beside those shacks offer a view of the tea garden that too marred by transmission wires. The road which could have lead into the tea garden was blocked with a message "Entry is Prohibited". It was the utter mood dampener. Would like your views on this, as I am sure something is wrong, after so many people giving good reviews, how can it be otherwise. 
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) April 2016 
Hi, you seem to had gone to Rangeet Valley Tea Estate - the wrong place. Earlier when those roadside stalls were not there, we used to walk down to the tea gardens for taking pictures. Happy valley comes much before as you go down Lebong Cart Road and a narrow steep lane leads down to the estate below. Looks like the taxi driver tricked you for a longer ride. 
Nikhil Gupta (April 2015) 
Raj, at the onset, thanks for answering the mail if you do:). Great website, great info. Quick question. Can you give me a tentative idea about how much it will cost in staying at tea estates. I know from your article that upscale are in range of 20,000+, I was talking more from a budget standpoint specifically budget or mid range. Do not want to go for home stays but at the tea estate for 2 nights. thanks. 
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) April 2015 
Hi, you can look into Goomtee Tea Estate for a mid range stay. They charge about Rs. 9,000 for two including meals (vegetarians). 
Sangita Sanyal (July 2014) 
Hi, I am looking forward to spend around 3days in Darjeeling along with my parents. My purpose is to send some quite time in the tea gardens, take a walk and sit and admire the mountains around. My budget is not more than Rs 2500 per night. Can you suggest the best place to stay? Regards and thanks 
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) July 2014 
Hi, Proper tea garden stays in planters bungalows are expensive. Your options are limited. You can go for Homestays at Makaibari or Singell Tea Estates.  
Paula Aziz (July 2014) 
I loved Glenburn's web site. I am very much interested to visit Glenburn while I stay in Darjeeling. Is it possible to go to Glenburn for lunch or tea even if I am not boarding? do they allow guest for such activities? waiting for your response. Thank you for this site once again. 
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) July 2014 
Usually the tea garden retreats combine the meals and activities with overnight stays and offer packages. One has to pay an advance - usually 50% of the total package price. Since they don't run regular restaurants, the meals are prepared only for guests staying at the estate. I haven't seen any tea garden offering day trips yet other than factory &ágarden visits ... that's probably because all amenities are meant for private use by in-house guests. But you can try to request for a day trip package and see how they respond... spell out your requirement including transfers, meals, activities you want etc so that they can price it. Let me know how it goes. 
Marie-Soleil Desautels (May 2014) 
Dear Raj Bhattacharya, I hope you are doing fine. I am a journalist from Canada and I am writing about tea tourism in Darjeeling district for the French newspaper La Presse published in Quebec province. I visited Glenburn, Goomtee, Singtom and will soon go to Makaibari. Your website is an incredible source of information, and I would have like to ask you few questions. 
You have been working and writing since 2000 now, more than 10 years, on the Darjeeling region. According to you, what are the major changes in the tea tourism in the last 10 years? More and more tea estate offer rooms (either in bungalow, in new building or homestay). Why do you think they are doing it? Do the tea estates need money from tourism because the costs of doing tea business are higher with less income and that tourism becomes a way to support the garden? Do you know exactly how many tea estates offer tourism experience where we can sleep there, etc.? And how many are planing to offer such experience in a near future? 
Thank you very much for your time. Best regards, 
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) May 2014 
Hi, Tea tourism in Darjeeling is still evolving and in its early stages. More and more tea estates are coming forward and opening up their gardens and bungalows to the tourists. There was a time when such tea tourism was limited to the directors of the estates and owners' families. Other than the accommodation, I see lot many activities are now being added including nature &ávillage hikes, eco adventure activities, experiencing tea garden life &álocal culture, sightseeing tours, organic food etc etc. 
While this acts as an additional source of revenue for the management, it also helps creating more jobs for the villagers who work in such tea garden retreats and also in associated activities. The home stays are aimed towards creating alternative income for the garden workers and villagers who extend their houses to accommodate tourists. But to my mind it's still long way off from meeting its objectives where the villagers can see a sustainable alternative income all through the year. Most home stays in Makaibari still go vacant for most part of the year. But they still don't mind because much of the investment has been supported by the estate management which has helped them to own additional assets. 
Over all, tea tourism is still not an organized sector in Darjeeling. You will seldom find tour operators or agencies active in tea tourism, mainly because the tea estate owners still believe to go by word of mouth and tend to be very selective about their guests. Prices in the main retreats are kept far higher than they should be keeping them out of reach from vast majority. Home stays of course are low scale alternatives which tend to be attractive mostly to foreign tourists on low budgets. The sector is far from operating as a well oiled professional industry, which is mainly because of its heritage. I think that mind set will change in future when more and more operators will swing into play to mediate such tours, and that's when I think the sector will realize its full potential. 
Coni (November 2013) 
Hi Raj, I am planing to go to Darjeeling in January and visit the tea plantations. Are the tea plants with leaves at this time of the year? is the landscape of the tea plantations still looking as nice as in the productive season? or they look mainly with brown branches ? I have read on the internet that the tea plants are dormant during winter and the leaves are not growing. Thanks 
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) November 2013 
Hi, While the tea plants remain dormant during the peak winter, the bushes continue to have leaves. So the garden landscape still looks quite beautiful and green. The first tea plucking (known as the first flush) takes place in March/April.