How to reach Gangtok
Routes, Transports & Fares
NJP (New Jalpaiguri) is the major railway junction closest to Gangtok or rest of Sikkim. 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 124kms from Gangtok.
At NJP plenty of private and shared taxis are available, and it takes about 4.5 hours to reach Gangtok. There is a pre-paid taxi counter outside the NJP station (which opens at around 7am and operates during the day time). You can also avail shared taxis from NJP
which are usually available during the day time up to 2pm after which the frequency of their availability comes down. The shared taxis are large vehicles like Sumo or Mahindra Max which take up to 10 persons.
is the nearest major airport for Gangtok and has daily air connections with several cities of India and even with some neighboring foreign countries like Bhutan. Bagdogra is at a distance of 126kms 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. Note that taxis from both Bagdogra and NJP heading for places like Gangtok or other places in Sikkim need to pass through the congested township of Siliguri and there are often huge traffic jams delaying traffic by hours. Siliguri is about 30 minutes from Bagdogra airport by car.
1. Most commercial vehicles from outside the state of Sikkim are not allowed to go beyond Mainline Deorali Taxi Stand which is 2kms below Gangtok town. So if you are coming to Gangtok from NJP or Bagdogra, this is where you need to get off, take a local taxi from this stand and get to your hotel.
The only exceptions are if you avail a Sikkim registered taxi (ex. SK03T...), or a luxury taxi with a special permit (these taxis will have the letter 'Z' on their number plate, ex. SK03Z...) or an SNT (Sikkim Nationalised Transport) bus... they can come right up to the main town. From Deorali Stand, you need to otherwise take a local taxi to your hotel.
Mainline Deorali Taxi Stand
Photo: Shankar S / Flickr
All shared taxis operating to Gangtok can only come up to Deorali. The Sikkim registered shared taxis will have the letter 'J' on their number plate (ex. SK03J...), but they too can not go beyond Deorali.
2. A new small airport at Pakyong (about 30kms from Gangtok) is now operational which has limited domestic flight services from cities like Kolkata. There are private taxis at Pakyong airport offering transfers to Gangtok. Recently AC Bus service has also been introduced.
Gangtok also has a helipad nearby at a place known as Burtuk (which is 4.2kms away from the town). There is a daily helicopter service between Bagdogra and Gangtok
(subject to weather permitting). Up to 5 passengers can travel in a helicopter which takes 35 minutes each way. There are limits to luggage weight per person. The flight is however very scenic.
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.
Routes to Gangtok
The road routes from Bagdogra, NJP and Siliguri all meet the Sevoke Road which leads to the National Highway NH10. 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.
River Teesta - View from NH10
Routes to Gangtok, Sikkim and Kalimpong
(Click the picture to view in full size)
About 27kms from NJP station (35kms from Bagdogra), you will pass by a place known as Sevoke om NH10 where on your right can see the historic Coronation Bridge that was built in 1941. The bridge connects district of Darjeeling with district of Jalpaiguri.
There are few stretches of NH-10 between Corona Bridge and the busy Teesta Bazar (which is further 30kms ahead) that are prone to landslides, particularly during monsoon season. You can see clear marks of such landslides on the cliffs to your left that blocked the road for days and resulted in heavy traffic snarls in the area. This stretch is also home to many monkeys. Locals say that these monkeys go up the cliffs to the top and keep pushing the large boulders that trigger the landslides :D
Monkey on NH10 after Coronation Bridge
Once you reach Teesta Bazaar
area along NH10, you need to cross over the river Teesta using Teesta Bridge
and get to the other side of the river and continue on NH10. Shortly thereafter (about 4kms away) you can see the wonderful confluence of the river Teesta with river Rangeet
Up to this point, the route is common with that of Kalimpong. Shortly after you cross the Teesta Bridge, a road branches off to the right and climbs up all the way to Kalimpong. If you want to know more about this section of the route including the eateries that you find along the way once you start from NJP station or Bagdogra airport, then check out the road route to Kalimpong
The Teesta River and Teesta Bridge
About 6kms from Teesta Bridge is a small settlement called Melli. Here you can see another bridge over river Teesta to your left that connects to south and west Sikkim including Namchi and Pelling. Melli is the main place these days where river rafting at Teesta takes place. There is a Sikkim check post at Melli where foreigners visiting west Sikkim can get their Inner Line Permits (ILP). All along your journey up to Melli, the terrain is flat and there is no uphill drive involved. In fact Melli's altitude is only 330ft.
19kms further ahead from Melli along NH10 is Rangpo located at an altitude of 1,093ft. So, between Melli and Rangpo you can, for the first time, feel that you have started driving up the mountains.
Rangpo is a small bordering village where there is a Sikkim check post. This is the entry point to east Sikkim. Until 1975, this used to be the international border between India and Sikkim. With inclusion of Sikkim as part of Indian territory, it now serves as the state border between West Bengal and Sikkim.
Rangpo Check Post, Sikkim
All commercial 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. Foreigners visiting Gangtok can get their ILP (Inner Line Permit) at Rangpo Check Post. The permit is issued between 8am to 8pm.
Rangpo Settlement, Sikkim
At Rangpo you will cross over a small bridge over a stream. The stream is known as Rangpo-Chu (Chu in Nepali means river). Rangpo-chu is one of the main rivers of south-Sikkim and originates near the well known Jelepla Pass, and demarcates the boundary between south Sikkim and West Bengal over a long stretch. Gangtok is further 39kms from Rangpo.
On the way to Gangtok and with river Teesta alongside, you will eventually come to a bridge over river Teesta and get to the other side of the river and enter a fairly congested settlement known as Singtam (11kms from Rangpo). Once you cross over, there is a route to the left through Singatm township that goes all the way to places like Tarku, Temi Tea Gardens etc, however you will take the road straight ahead.
Further up and driving alongside a stream known as Ranikhola you will come across another settlement called Ranipool
(16kms from Singtam), and then a steep uphill journey would finally take you to Gangtok Town
(12kms from Ranipool). Note that up to Ranipool the altitude remains within 3,000ft, but in the next 12kms to Gangtok the altitude changes to 5,500ft.
MG Marg, The heart of Gangtok
A Pedestrian-only zone
Darjeeling hill town is 98kms from Gangtok. While coming to Gangtok from Darjeeling, you will get private taxis as well as shared Jeeps from the taxi stands at Chowk Bazaar and Gandhi Road.. It takes about 4 hours to reach Gangtok from Darjeeling.
The route from Darjeeling is initially via Ghoom/Jore Bunglow, then along Peshok road down to Teesta Bazaar area where it meets NH10. The road goes downhill up to Teesta, crosses over the river on Teesta bridge and then uphill via Melli and Rangpo following the earlier route.
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 have fixed rates. Private taxis are also available at Pakyong airport. 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 (also known as Mainline 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 would be ideal if you get a Sikkim registered vehicle (you can at times get them at NJP or Bagdogra... the ones that come to drop passengers and wait for return customers). This would help avoid the hassles of transferring your luggage to a local taxi at Deorali stand and also paying 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 try to find a Sikkim taxi directly, but there is no assurance that you will get one.
NOTE: If you also plan to visit Darjeeling along with Sikkim, then look into Darjeeling Tourism Card
that can get you great discounts with several transporters and tour operators who offer point to point transfers as well as local sightseeing tours. The card also fetches great discounts with many hotels, restaurants and shops.
Indicative private Taxi fares (Fare updated: January 2020)
Bagdogra to Gangtok: Rs. 3000 small taxi, Rs. 3500 large taxi.
NJP to Gangtok: Rs. 2800 small taxi, Rs. 3300 large taxi.
Darjeeling to Gangtok: Rs. 3000 small taxi, Rs. 3500 large taxi.
Kalimpong to Gangtok: Rs. 2700 small taxi, Rs. 3200 large taxi.
Pakyong Airport to Gangtok: Rs. 1200 - 1500 for small taxi.
NOTE: While returning from Gangtok to NJP, Bagdogra etc, expect the return fare to be higher than the forward fare as the taxi has to often go back empty.
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 locals travel for shorter distances.
Shared Jeeps are available from NJP station, Siliguri stand, Darjeeling and Kalimpong to reach Gangtok. You won't get them at Bagdogra airport.
Indicative shared taxi fares (Fare updated: January 2020)
NJP to Gangtok: Rs. 200 per person
Siliguri to Gangtok: Rs. 200 per person
Darjeeling to Gangtok: Rs. 200 per person
Kalimpong to Gangtok: Rs. 175 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.
From Siligufri SNT bus terminal, there are daily bus services to Gangtok at an interval of 1 hour starting at 8:30am until 1:30pm. The last bus leaves for Gangtok at 3:30pm. There are additionally several privately operated buses that operate from SNT bus terminal to Gangtok, but all start by 2pm. There are also daily bus services between Kalimpong and Gangtok.
There is an SNT Bus Stand at Deorali which is about 2kms below the Gangtok town center. The main SNT bus station in Gangtok is located at Paljor Stadium Road which is close to MG Marg (a few minutes walking distance).
Contact info for bus schedule:
Sikkim Nationalised Transport: (0353) 2517528, 2511496, 2432751
Indicative bus fare (Fare updated: January 2020)
Siliguri to Gangtok: Rs. 150 per person (non-AC). There are few AC bus services as well.
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.
Anu K (March 2020)
I want to know the time taken by bus from Siliguri to Gangtok . If I take the bus from SNT Terminal at 11 am when will I reach Gangtok.
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) March 2020
The bus would take around 4.5 hours from Siliguri to Gangtok in normal traffic conditions.
Piyush Verma (February 2020)
Hi Raj, We will reach Bagdogra on Sunday Evening, what could be the best mode of transport from Bagdogra airport to Gangtok. Also we need to leave from Gangtok to Bagdogra on Saturday. Please suggest me as per your experience.
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) February 2020
You can take a taxi from the pre-paid taxi counter at Bagdogra airport. You can also book online through Wizzride.com (here you will get choices of vehicles at reasonable rates). Avoid taking a stray taxi from outside the airport. While returning, the easiest is to book a taxi through your hotel or book online. Alternatively, you can go down to Deorali taxi stand (about 2kms from Gangtok town centre) and get a taxi for the airport.
Aparajita Singh (August 2019)
Hello Raj, I read your comments on the page, they are very helpful. I would need your suggestion about transportation service around Darjeeling and Gangtok. We are a family of five people in total. We want to travel from NJP to Darjeeling, one day stay and in the evening we would like to continue to Gangtok, where we will stay for two nights and then the fourth-day drive back to NJP. What will be your suggestion for transportation around? I want to make it economical and time saving with my parents. I am looking forward to hearing from you.
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) August 2019
You can get shared taxis between all these places (approx fare would be Rs. 200 per person between any two points you mentioned). However shared taxis are usually available in the stands between 7am till 2pm (at some places till 3pm). You may need a local taxi (depending on your hotel location) to get to the shared taxi stands at Darjeeling and Gangtok.
Raman Gulati (April 2019)
We had pre-booked a taxi from Bagdogra to Gangtok... an Innova, for Rs 4K. It took us 4 hours to reach. Which is pretty quick. We are told that on Mondays it can take between 8 - 9 hours to reach owing to a 'market' in Silliguri. If you can, avoid travel to and from Gangtok on Mondays. The road is ok, but there are patches which are quite bumpy.
Jai Chhabra (April 2019)
I am reaching New Jalpaiguri railway station at 3:00 Am. I have to go to Gangtok. Will taxi be available at that time? thanks in advance.
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) April 2019
There could be a few stray taxis available around that time and it is not advisable to avail those (many such taxi drivers remain drunk). Driving in the hills here at such odd hour in any case should be avoided. I would suggest that you wait at the station until 7am when the pre-paid taxi counter opens.
Raman Gulati (January 2019)
Dear Mr Raj, A small query. I am confused a little bit. I have read the details of hiring a private taxi for Gangtok from Bagdogra. 1. there is a pre-paid taxi counter for booking. This will be WB registered taxi and thus there will be change of cars before reaching Gangtok. 2. I want to avoid this hassle. 3. Should I therefore, step out of the airport and find a taxi with a Sikkim registration? Please advise, how I should go about this. Thank you. Best regards
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) January 2019
There is no assurance that you can find a Sikkim registered taxi outside the airport. The small taxis are usually allowed to go up to Deorali where you need to change to a local taxi up to your hotel in Gangtok. There are several ways you can avoid this change. You can ask your hotel to arrange for a pickup. Alternatively you can book seats online in a shared luxury cab like Innova (Wizzride.com is a good option)... you can book multiple seats if you are traveling with your family and it can be an economical yet a comfortable transfer. Although they have several drop points within Gangtok, you need to check out with them which would be nearest to your hotel. As a third option, you can book a pick up through a travel agency in Gangtok.
Shiladitya Senbarat (December 2018)
Dear Sir, We are planning to visit Pelling in the second half of Jan '19. Though the climate is expected to be freezing cold, our objective is to see the snow-capped peaks in their full glory, as we have been told the skies generally remain clear in winter. (Last summer we visited Kalimpong and Darjeeling, but the skies remained clouded for all the 4 days, and the mountains, elusive!).
Given that we have a 8 year old daughter, would it be advisable to stay over at Namchi enroute from Bagdogra, as the distance and time is too long for a direct drive to Pelling? Besides, we have been informed that the road from Melli to Jorethang is under repairs currently. So, we may have to take the Ravangla-Namchi-Jorethang route. Please advise.
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) December 2018
You can stay overnight at Namchi and proceed to Pelling next day via Ravangla. That way you can avoid Melli-Jorthang route and instead take the route to Namchi via Melli.
Sujoy Kumar Batabyal (July 2018)
Hi Raj, We will visit to Gangtok on 20th October 2018. we are six adults, one ten years and two Four Years child from NJP to Gangtok. So we are planing to hire a Innova 7+1 seater from Gantok only. Some tour operators are telling that for 7 person will not be allowed by police in Innova/Xylo. Can I know the reason behind this rule. What other options are left for us. Thanks.
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) July 2018
Hi, there are six adults and three children in your group plus the driver plus luggage. That would clearly overload a vehicle of that type and jeopardize safety. I would be surprised if any tour operator agrees to such load. Police too may not allow. You should take two smaller vehicles instead of trying to save money in that manner.
Sunil (April 2018)
Hi Raj, your information about Sikkim is valuable. Can you help me in deciding what route shall I take from NJP to visit places at Namchi and Gangtok, in such a way to take a circular route?
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) April 2018
To take a full circular route you need to approach Namchi via Darjeeling, and that will be a long detour. Practically you can take this route: NJP - Sevoke road - Melli - Namchi - Temi Tea Gardens - Singtam - Ranipool - Gangtok - Rangpo - Sevoke - NJP
Karan Raj Singh (May 2016)
Hi Raj, Can I enter Gangtok and Darjeeling in a Bihar registered SUV and use it for local sightseeing please? I'll be landing at Bagdogra from Delhi and my friend who lives near Bengal Bihar border area has a private Inova that he also uses for commercial hire purposes. Our (we are 7 people) plan is to drive from Bagdogra to Gangtok, stay there for 3 days and then come to Darjeeling and stay there for 2 days before coming back to Bagdogra. But reading in your blog that West Bengal registered vehicles are not allowed after Deorali checkpoint in Gangtok, I am concerned that we too may not be able to use our Bihar registered vehicle to reach the hotels (provided there is parking) and use it for local sightseeing? Is there any restrictions on entering Darjeeling in a Bihar registered vehicle too? We are planning to book Darjeeling tourist lodge as it has parking space. It'll be very helpful if you could kindly share any information on this. Also, if we are to face any entry restrictions, is there any secured parking space near Deorali checkpoint or in Darjeeling (if above scenario is true), so we can park our car there and use local taxis for hotel transfers and sightseeing? Regards.
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) May 2016
Hi, if you use a car with Bihar commercial registration (similar to yellow plated car of WB), then you are likely to be intercepted by the taxi association at both places. It won't be allowed. If you use a car with private registration, there is no problem. The idea is simple... they don't want the taxi business to go elsewhere irrespective of where the car is from. And no, there are no such secured parking areas at Deorali or entry to Darjeeling.
Amit Sen (March 2016)
Dear Sir, Me (61yrs) and my wife (57yrs) have planned to visit Darjeeling and Gangtok between 27.03.2016 and 02.04.2016. Darjeeling for 3 days and Gangtok for 4 days. I would request you to kindly advise 1. our return flight is on 03.04.2016 @3pm from Bagdogra, then at what time we should check out from Gangtok. 2. will it be comfortable to travel by Bus from Gangtok to Siliguri.
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) March 2016
It can easily take over 4 hours from Gangtok to Bagdogra, plus often road work goes on along the way near Kalijhora which results in hours of traffic jam. So ask the hotel depending on the situation. You should start early (ideally by 7am and cross the traffic prone zone). Bus won't be right if you have such time constraints. If you came down a day earlier, then bus would be okay.
P Jain (December 2015)
Sir I was planning to visit Gangtok by my friends car. I want to know is it possible to do sightseeing in Gangtok and visit Nathula by my friends car. A driver would drive the car and the owner of the would not be with us. Please tell what all papers is required. And if car is not allowed in the city where i will have to keep the car for 2 days.
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) December 2015
Private (not a commercial) car is allowed in Gangtok, but note that vehicles are not allowed in areas like MG Marg in Gangtok. Also you can not take your own car to Nathula, Tsomgo etc, these are restricted areas and vehicles only from operators registered with Sikkim Tourism are allowed. You should choose a hotel in Gangtok with parking facility.
Paramvir Singh (August 2014)
I'm coming to Bagdogra in September. I am going to Gangtok first. I want to know that can I book the prepaid taxi when I reach there or I have to pre book a cab and should I get the cab of Sikkim number plate from prepaid counter. I want to know the fare from bagdogra to gangtok for a small car
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) August 2014
You can book and avail a pre-paid taxi at Bagdogra airport on arrival. The pre-paid counter usually allocates only a local taxi which can take you up to the Deorali stand (2kms from Gangtok town) where you will need to transfer to a local Sikkim taxi to reach your hotel. Small taxi pre-paid fare from Bagdogra to Gangtok is roughly Rs. 2,500/-
Parmjit Singh (September 2014)
This is in response to Paramvir. Today I reached Bagdogra airport pre paid taxi counter and took a taxi for Kalimpong. Only a small taxi was available for Rs.1563/. I was surprised when my taxi wala asked me to follow him to outside stand & he put my luggage in a Xylo & requested me to go with that driver. 1st driver paid Rs. 1000/ to xylo Driver & made a quick money. This same story one of friends had already mentioned on FB but I couldn't believe that it happens with me . So Mr. Paramvir you can also try this... come out from airport & you will find taxis standing outside parking & you might be lucky to get Sikkim no. taxi at 60-70% price. God bless you and enjoy your trip.
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.