Top Attractions 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 page Sightseeing Tours & Operators
I have discussed several local packaged tours and ways of covering the attractions and activities mentioned below.
Great places to visit
Tsomgo 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.
Tsomgo Lake, Sikkim
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.
Ropeway (cable car), Gangtok
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.
(Also known as Lingdum Monastery)
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.
Ranka Monastery, Gangtok
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.
Hanuman Tok, Gangtok
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.
Saramsa Garden, Gangtok
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.
Institute of Tibetology, Gangtok
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.
Red Panda at Gangtok Zoo
Photo: Nanda Ramesh/Wikimedia Commons
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.
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.
Tashi View Point Gangtok
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.
Enchey Monastery Gangtok
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.
Bakthang Waterfall Gangtok
Close to Gangtok Town center is a posh and grand stretch of a road known The Ridge. Alongside that is the beautiful Ridge park full of lovely flower plantations. There is a pathway through the 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.
Fambong Lho WLS is only 20kms from Gangtok and takes only one hour by car. It has exotic wildlife of smaller animals like Red Pandas, Civit Cats, Gorals and even occasional Himalayan Black Bears. This is a fascinating place for the nature lovers.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
There is a 3km jungle trail in the sanctuary which passes through dense forest of oaks, ferns and bamboo, rises from an altitude of 5,000ft to 7,000ft and leads to a wonderful place called Tinjure which offers sweeping views of Himalayan range including Kanchenjunga, the Gangtok township and Teesta Valley. You can also stay overnight at the Golitar Log House located in the buffer zone.
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.
Kanchendzonga Tourist Complex
Photo: Sikkim Tourism Development Corporation
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.
19) Namnang View Point
This view point (locally known as Hur Huray Dara) is located opposite to the Sikkim Legislative Assembly in Namnang. From here you get breathtaking view of the deep valley below and can see the river Roro Chu flowing through. Roro Chu merges with the river Ranikhola at Ranipool, and Ranikhola in turn merges with river Teesta at Singtam.
The view Point is located on View Point Road and the walk along this road is quite scenic. You can also walk from the Ridge Park
to Namnang View Point... it's a wonderful 1.3kms walk.
The Royal Palace was built when the capital of Sikkim was moved from Tumlong to Gangtok in 1898. This is where the Namgyal Royal family lived. In order for the royal family to offer prayers and hold various religious and special occasions, Tsuklakhang Monastery too was built in the premises. The Royal Palace and the monastery is located at one end of The Ridge.
You can go down to Teesta Bazar area and enjoy rafting on river Teesta. There are several operators in Gangtok who can organize river rafting which includes transport, snacks and rafting... this is an enjoyable day trip. You can also do it yourself by visiting Teesta Bazar and doing it through a local operator there. This is a thrilling family adventure and almost anybody can do it - both swimmers as well as non-swimmers.
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.
Vinay (February 2020)
Hi Raj, I really appreciate the blogs which you have written on Sikkim & Darjeeling Tourism. I am sure it is and will be beneficial for many like me, who wish to travel to Sikkim and Darjeeling. Actually I am visiting both Sikkim and Darjeeling and I will be going to Darjeeling after my Gangtok local sightseeing day.... I don't mind reaching Darjeeling late in the night as I want the full next day from morning for Darjeeling.
I have inquired through some tour operators, they are saying that I can cover most of local Gangtok sightseeing if I start early say from 7am to 3pm... after that I can go to Darjeeling. I want to visit Tashi viewpoint, Ganesh Tok, Hanuman Tok, Tibetan Institute, Himalayan zoological park, Rumtek monastery, etc.
Now my concern is whether I can cover all these points and leave for Darjeeling. Please let me know if any share taxis are available for Darjeeling from Gangtok, if yes, then what is the last timing of taxi? Whether we can travel by hiring private taxi late in the evening and reach late in the night around 10 - 11pm. Is travelling late night is safe for Darjeeling??? Thanks.
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) February 2020
Hi, you can do the local sightseeing at Gangtok if you start early but it can get quite hectic along with Darjeeling transfer. You can visit Hanuman Tok on the way to Tsomgo lake/Nathula, it requires a short detour from the road that goes all the way to Tsomgo. The zoo is quite vast and requires time to cover.
You can get shared taxis for Darjeeling at Deorali stand (which is about 2kms below Gangtok town center). They are available till 2pm after which frequency drops and you may not get one. While night transfer from Gangtok to Darjeeling is doable, but private taxis (also available at Deorali) may not agree to go that late because they need to return and it can easily take 4 hours one-way. You need to arrange for a private car through your hotel or operator.
Vinay (February 2020)
Hi... Is it possible to cover some of local sights of Gangtok in the evening starting from 3-4pm... are taxis available at that time... if yes, then please guide which points can be covered nearby in the evening in 2-3 hours around Gangtok...we are four people traveling in mid March 20. Please help.
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) February 2020
Hi, most attractions in Gangtok close by around 4pm, so there are not too many options for sightseeing in the evenings. Taxis are however available. If you can start by 3pm, take a taxi and go down to the Namgyal Institute of Tibetology at Deorali (about 2kms from Gangtok Town Center and open till 4pm). After a quick round here, go to the nearby Ropeway station (at Deorali itself)... you should reach there by 4:30pm. Take a round trip on the cable car to see Gangtok from top (10-minutes each way). Once your 2-way ride is over, you can go down to MG Marg for people watching, some shopping or have a coffee at Baker's Cafe.
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.