Darjeeling in Winter

 
Winter in Darjeeling actually sets in from the month of December and lasts until end February and sometimes extends to mid March. Although it can be biting cold during the peak winter in Darjeeling (which is between January to February), Diwali, Christmas and New Year celebrations are quite special. The shops and the stores are decorated with colorful and glittering lights. 
 
Some restaurants offer special Christmas menu and even small gifts. Hotels like Windamere celebrate Christmas traditionally with special meals, events, homemade cookies and in old colonial aura. 
 
 
 
Many returning tourists prefer the winter time for visiting Darjeeling. It however does not usually snow in Darjeeling town even in winter. Well there are exceptions when some lucky tourists do witness and enjoy snowing. Tiger Hill being the highest point in Darjeeling, this is where possibility of snowing is highest in winter, but even here snowing is very occasional. 
 
But if you can't compromise with experience of snow, you will need to go towards higher altitude like Tumling and Sadakphu (both in Darjeeling district). You will surely see a lot of snow there in winter and enjoy to your heart's content. You can take a jeep from Darjeeling and reach Tumling in about 3.5 hours and Sandakphu in about 5 hours. 
 
During the winter, the temperature usually ranges between 1.5°C during night time to 9°C during mid day. The early mornings are also very cold. Sometimes it can get foggy during January and February, and that's when the dampness also sets in. Fog blocks the views and you can not see the mountain snow peaks through the while blankets of mist. This is not a good time for those who do not enjoy extreme chill. But December in winter is usually a great time for views when the sky remains mostly clear. 
 
While most hotels provide room heaters, they are mostly small blowers or coil heaters, and are inadequate to counter the extreme chill. However the larger luxury hotels have better heating systems. You must come with heavy woolens and take full protection against winter. 
 
Carry warm jackets, gloves, mufflers, caps, socks etc. Woolen thermal inner wear and monkey caps are very effective. Also choose a hotel which has relatively better heating system and preferably electrical bed warmers. But note that no hotels (even of luxury class) has central heating in Darjeeling. 
 
One of the most notable things in winter is lack of tourist rush (except for the celebration times like Diwali, Christmas, New Year etc). While this is an opportunity of enjoying tourist-free Darjeeling, the service at the hotels (particularly at budget hotels) usually degrade in winter. Because this is the time when most workers take leave and go home, and the hotels operate with skeleton services and staff. 
 
In most budget and mid range hotels, the in-house restaurants are likely to be closed, and your only option would be to eat out. 
 
 
 
Christmas & New Year celebrations in Darjeeling 
Starting from 23rd of December up to 1st week January is known as the mini-peak tourist season in Darjeeling. Traditionally tourists flock to Darjeeling in volumes during this time to celebrate Christmas and New Year. You will find stores flooded with items like north stars, Santa dresses, Christmas trees etc, and all stores and restaurants are brightly lit up with colorful lights to attract customers. 
 
Bakeries like Glenary's and others make special Christmas items like plum cakes, puddings, pies and many delicacies. The restaurants offer special menus during Christmas and New Year. 
 
Hotels like the Elgin organize Carol singing, cultural dances, special dinner, bonfire etc for its guests. Windamere Hotel brings in internationally acclaimed foreign vocalists, Jazz musicians and even entertainers to celebrate Christmas. They too of course offer special meals, homemade goodies, Christmas & New Year gift to its guests. 
 
Most hotels go full during this 10-12 days or so (i.e. from December 23rd up to first week of January). Why? Nobody can say for sure. Perhaps it's the good old tradition since the British days, the chill and the fir trees that lure tourists. 
 
 
 
Related Articles 
 
1) Check out Darjeeling Weather to know more about the weather conditions in Darjeeling and neighboring areas during the various months including winter. 
 
Visitors' Stories/Comments 
 
Manoj Tiwari (December 2016) 
Loved your honest to the point blog and website. Filled with relevant information without much of forced sales pitches. Thank you. what would you recommend for good high end hotels for winter month of February. We live in those kind of temperatures in winter so temperature is not the problem but no central heating and hot water can be a problem. Any recommendation will be helpful. Thanks 
 
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) December 2016 
You won't get central heating at any hotel in Darjeeling as it's not economically viable. But most upscale hotels like Mayfair, Windamere, Viceroy etc do have good room heating systems and even fireplaces. Hot water is not a problem in any of these hotels. 
 
Emily (November 2016) 
Hello Raj, I am visiting Darjeeling this December and have been scrawling through every one of your articles for some ideas on what to do when I get there. So far I've planned to visit Tiger Hill, Batasia Loop, Darjeeling Ropeway and Rock Garden & Ganga Maya Park. 
 
From reading your blog I understand that there is hardly ever any snow in Darjeeling during the winter months but I was wondering if there are any tourist attractions or sights that may be out of bounds during winter. Maybe the paths are too slippery or they just aren't accessible. Any information you can provide would be a massive help. 
 
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) November 2016 
Hi, all tourist attractions in Darjeeling are usually open in winter. One exception is the tea garden factories because tea plucking or processing doesn't take place in winter months. Timings (open hours) of some attractions may get shortened in winter due to low demand and short day time. 
 
Suman Mallik (December 2015) 
Hi Raj, Thanks for this wonderful informative site of yours. I am planning to visit Darjeeling along with my wife from 24-29 Jan 2016. Since, it will be off season during this period, can you please suggest about the cab rates from NJP to Darjeeling and also about the local sightseeing tours in Darjeeling ? Also you mentioned that during this period the restaurants generally close down by around 7pm in the evening. So, is it advisable to book hotel rooms with dinner package since we generally take our dinner quite late ? 
 
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) December 2015 
The restaurants & shops close early in winter, however few restaurants (mainly larger ones like Glenary's)  would remain open until about 8:30pm if there are customers. Most budget hotels close down their kitchen in winter due to lack of customers. So if you are booking a budget hotel, check if the kitchen would be open for dinner, and if yes, ask them if they can serve dinner in hot case in the rooms which you can have later. Several hotels do that. Otherwise prepare to have early dinner. 
 
Koel Chaudhuri (July 2015) 
Dear Mr. Bhattarcharya, Greetings. Your site is 'the most' informative website on Darjeeling that is available and thank you so much for the good work. Me and my husband would be visiting Darjeeling in the year end and I want to stay in a place that should have great Kanchenjunga views and as close to mall as possible. Since it is end of December, sufficient heating arrangement, keeping in mind the power situation in Darjeeling, is an important requirement. In light of that, between Darjeeling Tourist Lodge, Shangri La, Classic Guesthouse, Central Nirvana and Central Heritage, and Retreat....which one would you recommend? I know they are all different price range, but I am willing to pay Central Nirvana/Heritage prices if the heating arrangements are insufficient elsewhere...but at the same time not the kind of tourist who want to stay in fancy places for the heck of it when perfectly nice places with good view are available. Waiting to hear your opinion before doing the booking. 
 
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) July 2015 
All the hotels you mentioned will provide blowers or heater coils, and some even hot water bags. But it may not still be sufficient. So choose one with a fireplace. Shangri La has few rooms with fireplace, so does Central Heritage (the heritage wing). 
 
Namratha Chandra (January 2015) 
Hi. Thank you for all the information provided, it is very useful. A few family members and I are planning to visit darjeeling and gangtok in January and I know January is peak winter and you have advised heavy winter clothing, but i was wondering if there is a place where we can hire the winter clothing from? We are from bangalore and we won't be using the heavy winter clothes much if we do buy it. 
 
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) January 2015 
Hi, You won't get winter clothes on rentals in Darjeeling. You need to buy them. There are many Bhutia shops (local temporary stalls lined up along a narrow lane off the Mall) where you can get plenty of winter clothes at attractive prices (you can bargain). Some trek operators offer high altitude gears on rentals like sleeping bags, heavy jackets, gloves, boots etc, but they are meant for trekking in winter and not vacationing. 
 
Shelley Kundu (December 2014) 
Hi Raj, Thank you for taking the time to read my question. I would like to visit Darjeeling early February ~ 4th Feb. However my mom says it will be too cold and the tourist places will be closed. I am used to ski resort weather and cold weather so that does not bother me. However I would like to be able to see mountains and sunrise and do the other tourist things. Do you think it is wise to visit at this time of year? 
 
 
 
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) December 2014 
In Feb, other than being cold it remains foggy at times which makes it unsuitable for views. But you do get views on other days. Most tourist places usually remain open. But do plan to stay in a decent hotel with good heating system. In most budget hotels, the service reduces and in-house dining closes as staff go on leave during this time. 
 
Dipankar Mondal (December 2014) 
Dear Sir, We are planning to visit Darjeeling on 1st week of February with 3 yrs old son. Please suggest: 
1. Advance booking of hotel required? 
2. Sightseeing and mirik trip by car possible? 
3. Hotels and restaurant s will operate normally? 
4. Any other suggestion from you which will be helpful 
 
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) December 2014 
Advance booking is not required. Mirik visit and Sightseeing possible. Most small and budget hotel won't have their in-house dining operating and will have reduced staff. Otherwise okay. Outside restaurants and shops will close early (mostly by 7pm). It'll be very cold so go with heavy woolens and full winter protection. 
 
Suraj Desai (December 2014) 
Hi Raj, Please guide me whether first week of January 2015 will be ok to visit Darjeeling. 
 
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) December 2014 
Will be very cold but otherwise good for tours and sightseeing. Services in smaller hotels get reduced ... in many such hotels even the in-house dining closes down due to lack of tourists. Most staff go on leave. So choose a good hotel. Winter rates will be lower and local tours will be cheaper. Shops and many eateries close down by 7pm, some even earlier. 
 
Swanima Rajhans (November 2014) 
Dear Raj, We are planning to reach Darjeeling on 14th Jan and stay till 19th Jan,2015. We also, have a daughter (5Yrs ) old with us, we need to know the following: 
1. What Adventure sports are available in Jan 
2. Is the Toy Train Running 
3. Is it okay for a child that small 
4. Should we book in advance or do our bookings for stay / sports / activities before hand or explore after we reach as it is off season. We found your website very informative and request you to help us in our queries. 
 
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) November 2014 
It will be very cold so take heavy woolens and all winter protections. Joy ride will operate. All adventure sports may not operate. No need to book in advance. 
 
Arun Sharma (October 2014) 
Hi Raj, Hope you are doing good. Darjeeling is the place I really wanted to be there once in my life and now it has given me the chance. After spending 20-30mins of internet search I found this portal which is written incredibly. At-least someone is proud of his native place. 
 
Raj, I have couple of questions listed below: 
 
1. Is December is the right time to come over? 2. Please tell me Do's and Don't? 3. Will I see green tea garden and rain as well as I like rain and greenery? 4. Which key places to visit? 
 
Please let me know above. Hoping for a quick and positive reply as I need to book it asap Thanks, 
 
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) October 2014 
December is a good time and high season, but it'll be very cold. Go through the 'Weather' menu option in my site. No rains in December. You can sea tea gardens but no tea plucking takes place around that time and factories remain closed. You can try Viceroy Hotel. Take a 7-point tour or a mixed point tour (described in my site under local package tours). Also try to make a day trip to Kalimpong (particularly Graham's Home and Dello Hills). 
 
Rajesh Sharma (December 2013) 
Hi Raj, First of all, this is a fantastic site and service you are providing and I have spent already one hour on your site with improved information than I have seen in other places on the net. We are planning a 4 or 5 day trip to Darjeeling in Winter months of January. It is our only free time and coming from Delhi. We know scenery will be our main focus since tea plantation visits and long hikes will be too cold. What do you suggest during this time of the year so my wife and I have as many unique views of the area. We are considering staying in Darjeeling as our home base. Your advice to maximize our very short period of time for most unique scenic views of this beautiful region of our country. 
 
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) December 2013 
Hi, for scenic views take a few day trips (particularly to Mirik, the route passes through lovely tea gardens on mountain slopes). I have discussed those Day trips here: Also take the ropeway (cable car) ride, toy train ride, visit the HMI & Zoo. The zoo here is special with lots of high altitude Himalayan animals like Tibetan wolf, snow leopards, Red Panda, Yaks and more. You can't see such animals in other places. 
 
Hemant Minda (December 2013) 
Dear Sir, Thanks for the wonderful website which shows the clear picture of Darjeeling... I could not find is there any party on 31st night 2013. We want some good decent party. Kindly help me to find some good party time. Best Regards 
 
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) December 2013 
New Year's Eve celebration are mainly organized by up-scale hotels like Windamere for their own guests. However many restaurants & bars along Nehru road like Glenarys etc will be in festive mood with lots of lighting and decorations which continue from Christmas.  
 
Prachi P (November 2013) 
Hello Raj, I would first like to thank you for this wonderful website it is very informative. I am planning a visit either in January or February. Could you please let me know which time among these mentioned above is best and what should I expect with regards to the weather conditions and tourist population. Thanks. 
 
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) November 2013 
Prachi, January would be better than Feb considering the overall weather conditions. However usually there are lots of tourists on 1st week of Jan celebrating the new year. But in Feb you get discounts in hotels and there will be virtually no tourists. It can get unpleasantly cold though. So you need to choose a hotel with good room heating systems. Go through this article in details to get a fair understanding of the weather. 
 
L. Baskaran (November 2013) 
Sir namaste! My family (three members) have planned to come to Dargeeling in the month of December(9-12-13). What are the safety clothing for the season? Kindly advice. Thanking you sir! 
 
Raj/darjeeling-tourism.com (November 2013) 
You will need proper winter clothing and woollens like  woollen inners, mufflers, woollen caps, gloves and socks, along with a proper winter jacket. While the day time will be pleasantly cool in the sun, early mornings and night time can be extremely cold. 
 
Rajendra Gajendragadkar (November 2012) 
Dear Sir, I have gone through almost the entire site & find it extremely useful & highly informative. We are a group of 4 adults planning to visit Darjeeling in the last week of Jan. 2013. We are from Mumbai & not so much used to cold weather. Could you please suggest anything specific on clothing & any additional tips to make our stay pleasant & memorable. 
 
Raj/darjeeling-tourism.com (November 2012) 
Hi, It'll be freezing cold around that time. So choose a hotel carefully... the one which would offer proper heating system. Take adequate warm clothing including mufflers or monkey caps, gloves and woolen socks. All restaurants and shops would close by 6:30-7pm .. so plan to take early dinner. Regards, 
 
Santanu Sanyal (January 2012) 
Firstly, congratulations. This site is awesome. 19 of us visited Darjeeling during Christmas / New Year 2011 and thoroughly enjoyed the visit. The crystal clear views of the Kanchenzonga, the familiar taste of Keventer's and the sights and smells of the town linger in our memory... 
 
We stayed at the Sunflower on the Mall... I guess one of the most convenient places to stay in Darjeeling if you are planning to soak in the Darjeeling experience... the Mall, Keventers, Glenary's, Das Studio, Habib Mullick, Mahakal Temple, the fantastic lookout points, Joey's Pub ... everything...  
 
The trip would be incomplete without the early morning walk around the mall and experience the wonder of the fresh sunlight on the snowy peaks of the Kanchenzonga. Strongly recommend the Sunflower Hotel - but avoid some of the rooms down below. Look forward to our next visit to Darjeeling... 
 
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) January 2012 
I agree Santanu that winter in Darjeeling can be special, particularly in the month of December, when the chill is still tolerable and the weather is at its best. You get sweeping view of the Kanchenjunga snow peaks all time of the day as you walk along the Mall Road and from many other places. This is a great time to take a hotel with mountain views.  
 
One of the very special events during December is the Christmas and New Year Eve celebrations that take place at the heritage Hotel Windamere. Many business tycoons from India and abroad pour into this hotel during this time to enjoy the grand celebrations. 
 
The hotel continues to simulate the sentimental 1920s version of the festivals reflecting the old British colonial aura. The turkeys and the geese are usually brought in from Calcutta while the famous plum puddings and many other table trimmings, as well as the attractive hats are all produced by the in-house staff of the hotel. 
 
But expect tourist rush during Christmas and New Year time. Many visitors come here from the lower plains like Siliguri area. However, from January onwards until end of February, Darjeeling remains at its serene best. The hotels are empty and you get rooms at half the rates in most of the budget and mid-scale hotels. 
 
But it can be extremely cold at nights and early mornings when the temperature hovers around 0-degree Celsius. Sometimes it can also get quite foggy and clouded during January & February. But then if you are lucky, you can experience the amazing snow fall during these two months. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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