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 & Spa, 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 & garden 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 & village hikes, eco adventure activities, experiencing tea garden life & local 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.