Top Tourist Places & Activities in Gangtok
Gangtok and its surroundings offer numerous attractions and activities. But most tourists plan a stay of 2 to 3 nights in Gangtok. So you can't go through all. But the good news is, you can experience most of the top attractions in 2 to 3 days time.
But just in case you plan to stay longer, there are plenty more to keep you busy. So in my section below, I'll first let you know the very best of all attractions and activities in Gangtok that you should target to cover, and then more if you have more time.
Once you go through the attractions, the next question which will come to your mind is how to get to these places? Any local tours? What's the cost? etc etc. Well you will need a reserved car or a taxi. Some places can also be covered by shared vehicles that operate on a per person rate.
In the section Sightseeing Tours & Operators
I have discussed several local packaged tours and ways of covering the attractions and activities mentioned below.
The Top Attractions in Gangtok
This is a beautiful glacial lake located about 35kms from Gangtok and at an altitude of 12,310ft. It takes about 2 hours to reach by road. This wonderful 1km long lake with an average depth of 50ft is surrounded by hills. It's a stop over grounds for migratory ducks, and has Alpine vegetation and flowering plants surrounding it. Over all a picturesque setting. There are shops and food stalls around.
The day trip takes you to Baba Mandir
as well which is named after the Sentry Harbhajan Singh who died in 1968, but border security personnel here believe that his spirit is still alive. It's a wish fulfilling Temple. Many also combine Nathula Pass
with this day trip which is located at the Indo-Chinese border at an altitude of 14,140 ft. You will need to get permits to visit Tsomgo lake, Baba Mandir and Nathula. However Nathula pass is a restricted area and foreigners are not allowed.
This is an awesome cable car ride which starts from Deorali below the town center and takes you along a 1km ride to the uppermost station at Tashiling. You can see the whole of Gangtok township from the cable car, wonderful views of the valley and the river below and of course the lovely snow peaks of Kanchenjunga on a clear day.
This is a huge lovely monastery located in the opposite mountain at a distance of about 23kms from the Gangtok town. It has been built in grand Tibetan architecture and almost like a replica of the original monastery in Tibet. Apart from the monastery and its rare collections of Tibetan art work, relics etc, other attractions in the complex includes the Golden Stupa of the 16th Karmapa and Nalanda Institute of Higher Buddhist Studies.
Well you won't find much history behind this monastery. But you should visit to experience its vastness, the wonderful settings, lovely natural surroundings and views. No wonder why this monastery has been a site for several bollywood films. Inside the prayer hall you will find many great artwork and paintings, and also low tables where the monks read their religious books. This monastery is also a training ground for many young lamas and you will see them in plenty playing around and willing to take pictures with you. The view of sunset from the terrace is simply awesome.
Close to Ranka Monastery is the well known Ban Jahkri Waterfall. This 100-ft waterfall is located in a 2-acre area in a wonderfully landscaped forested area. It's a great picnic spot and a place to soak in the charm of nature.
While this is a Hanuman Temple complex with a wonderful and vast sacred ambience, the place is also very popular for its view point offering sweeping views of Mt. Kanchenjunga. It is located about 11kms from Gangtok town and at an altitude of 7,200 ft.
Located 14kms from Gangtok town, Saramsa Garden used to be a fruit garden during the Royal dynasty in the state. It's now converted into a vast manicured garden with many flowering trees and plantations with lovely romantic atmosphere and views all around. While it's a popular picnic spot, it's also a great place for romantic couples. Just stroll around through the various sections of the garden, sit and relax under canopy of trees besides mini pools, watch from the viewing area the river Ranikhola flowing through the ravine below ... it'll all be a great experience.
This is a temple of Lord Ganesha located about 6kms from Gangtok town at an altitude of over 6,000 ft. While the Ganesha temple and the idol is small, the circular viewing area is marvelous. You get excellent views of the valley, snow peaks and parts of Gangtok town. There is a gift shop in the building and a cafe nearby.
This is a large stupa or a religious Buddhist monument which was built in 1946 by the Tibetan Lama Trulshig Rinpoche to drive away the evil spirits that once lived here. It is now a major religious Buddhist shrine in Sikkim and also a Buddhism preaching center.
This is a world famous institute that does research in the areas of Tibetan language and culture. The museum and the library are open to public and have some rare collections of art work, statues, coins and Buddhist scriptures.
A vast expansive zoo which extends from lower to higher elevations in forested land area. A unique feature of the zoo is its collection of rare animals like Red Pandas, Snow Leopards, Tibetan Wolf, Black Bears and lot more that are all kept in large open enclosures almost like in their natural habitats.
Directorate of Handicraft & Handlooms is located in Gangtok (near Zero Point at the end of Tibet road). It has several training rooms where the novice artists learn making artwork, hand crafted items and handloom products. There is also a museum showcasing many rare collections and work by legendary artists & craftsmen. A large Sales Emporium at the backside sells most products that are manufactured at the center at reasonable prices. It's a great place for tourists to pick up local makes that can serve as excellent souvenirs & gifts.
More Great Attractions & Activities
This viewing area is located close to Gangtok and near the Bakthang Waterfall. It's probably the best place in Gangtok to watch the glittering snow peaks of Kanchenjunga when the sun rises. Even otherwise the view of the peaks and the valleys all around is wonderful. There is a gift shop and a small cafe in the venue.
This monastery is located on a hill top and close to Gangtok town. It has a unique architecture and pagoda style look. It was founded in 1840 by a lama who could perform extraordinary acts. The monastery was later rebuilt in 1908.
This in my view is the second best waterfall in Gangtok after Ban Jhakri. It's located just by the roadside, so no walking required. You can enjoy the fall from inside your car, or come out and take a great picture with wide steams of water falling over a canopy of trees.
Close to Gangtok Town center is a posh and grand stretch of a road known The Ridge. Alongside that is the beautiful Ridge park. Walk along and at the end a stairway will lead down to the Flower Exhibition Center. As the name suggests, it's a paradise for flower lovers, and also a great place for photography.
This all inclusive complex is located in Ranka, about 15kms away from Gangtok town. There are nice lodges for overnight accommodations, landscaped parkland, amusement activities for children like rides, indoor & outdoor games, swimming pool, socio cultural activities, restaurant etc. One can also make a day trip from Gangtok, spend a few hours, enjoy the vast stretch of wonderful garden & park, let the children enjoy the amusement activities & games, have lunch and return. It's a great place for families as well as couples to enjoy a small world of their own.
Fly like a bird and get awesome sights of the Himalayan snow peaks from the sky and of course the amazing mountain landscapes and Gangtok town. There is no experience required as Tandem flight is offered which has a certified pilot flying with you. He will take care of the paragliding flight while you enjoy the experience while being harnessed safely and comfortably.
This view point is located close to the Sikkim Legislative Assembly and the Ropeway terminal at Tashiling. From here you get breathtaking view of the deep valley below and can see the river Roro Chu flowing through.
Ben Swanepoel (June 2016)
Dear sir, I am participating in an organised trek, but would like to extend my stay (personally, not part of the trek) for an additional 6 days to cycle alone within the unrestricted areas of Sikkim. 1. Can I cycle alone on the roads that are unrestricted? 2. Can I do this on a standard inner-line permit? Thank you very much
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) June 2016
Yes you can, as long as you do not venture to any protected areas.
Arun sreedhar (August 2014)
Hi, I am planning for a 6 day trip to Darjeeling and Gangtok. In Gangtok I like to see the snow covered places. I think I will be able to see the snow only in Zero Point. Can u suggest how I can plan the trip. What will be the charges.
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) August 2014
To visit Zero Point in Sikkim from Gangtok, take a 4-wheel drive vehicle like a Scorpio. The route is Gangtok to Lachung (125kms ... will take about 5-6 hours), Lachung to Yumthang (25kms ... 1.5 hours) and then further 23 kms to Zero Point (1.5 - 2 hours). Cost depends on season, night stays, places covered enroute etc. A typical package costs Rs. 25,000/- for two persons from Gangtok (all inclusive).
Ronald (May 2014)
Hello, My family is planning a trip to Gangtok and Darjeeling in mid-June. We have been told that we will be there to coincide during the Saga Dawa festival. Can you recommend the best place to see the procession/festival?
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) May 2014
Hi, Saga Dawa procession starts from the Monastery at Royal Place in Gangtok and goes around the town along various roads. Ask your hotel and they can guide you to the nearest place from where you can see the procession, and if you like take blessings by touching your head on the Buddhist scriptures carried by the monks.