Gangtok Sightseeing Tours & Operators
You will need to take a local taxi or a reserved car (small taxis/cars take 4 persons and larger vehicles like Scorpio, Sumo take 7 persons) for local sightseeing tours. Taxis are available at the stand near MG Marg. Tour operators can also offer reserved cars. An advantage with a tour operator is you can book a tour in advance before reaching Gangtok. However the charges are likely to be a bit more than taxis.
The most popular are the standard sightseeing tours (3-point, 7-point or 10-point) offered by all local taxi drivers. Here are the places you will visit in such tours (note that you can have a chat with the driver and fine tune the visits, i.e. visit one point instead of another if the driver agrees, sometimes you may need to pay a bit more for him to agree).
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.
1. Tashi View point
- A great view point for watching the Kanchenjunga Snow Peaks on a clear day. Also an excellent place for sunrise view.
2. Hanuman Tok
- A Hanuman temple with a wonderful viewing area.
3. Ganesh Tok
- A Ganesh Temple with viewing lounge and open balcony.
Reserved small taxi rate for 3-pont tour:
Rs. 1,000/- (in high season), Rs. 800/- (in low season) Fare updated: February 2019
You will visit all the points in 3-point tour (as mentioned above) and additionally the following:
1. Bakthang Waterfall
- Excellent wide water streams falling on a canopy of trees. The fall is located close to Tashi View point by the roadside and also offers great views all around.
2. Enchey Monastery
- Located on a hilltop, it's one of the oldest monasteries around.
3. Flower Exhibition Center
- Located near Gangtok town and at one end of The Ridge park, the center has great collection of flowering plants including Orchids (in season though).
4. Handicraft Center
- This is the building of Directorate of Handicraft & Handloom including a Sales emporium and a Museum showcasing many different handicraft items and artwork created by the local artists and craftsmen.
Reserved small taxi fare for 7-point tour:
Rs. 1500/- (in high season), Rs. 1200/- (in low season) Fare updated: February 2019
Apart from the 7-point attractions above, you will additionally visit the following:
1. Chorten Stupa
- A famous Buddhist religious monument with a golden dome top which is visible from many places around Gangtok.
2. Institute of Tibetology
- A world famous institute doing research on Tibetan language and culture, also has a great museum and library with rare and huge collections. It's located within a short walk from Chorten Stupa.
3. Ropeway (Cable Car)
- Great ride to view the whole of Gangtok, the valley and the peaks from far above.
Reserved small taxi rate for 10-point tour:
Rs. 1800/- (in high season), Rs. 1500/- (in low season) Fare updated: February 2019
This full day tour covers several attractions outside Gangtok but within about 25kms radius. You will need a larger taxi vehicle like a Scorpio, Innova etc for Ranka and Banjhakri waterfall since the road condition is bad. Taxi drivers with smaller cars are likely to refuse. There are quite a few points and good distances to cover in the hills, so start early (by 8am). You can take your lunch at the cafe at Ganesh Tok area or at the Ropeway point.
1. Ranka or Lingdum Monastery
: About 45 minutes drive from Gangtok, set up on a hill and one of the most wonderful monasteries in east Sikkim.
2. Ban Jhakri Waterfall
: A great waterfall in a landscaped forest garden. The place is an excellent picnic spot for families.
3. Rumtek Monastery
: The most famous monastery with grand Tibetan architecture. It was designed after the original one in Tibet. An additional attraction here is the Golden Stupa.
4. Nehru Botanical Garden: This is near Rumtek. There is a concrete pathway to take a stroll through the garden with many subtropical trees & plantations. There is a large nursery here for growing Orchids of many types. It also has a children's playground, swings etc. Overall a nice picnic spot. But for the purpose of this tour, you should not spend much time here as time will otherwise run out for the other sights.
5. Shanti View Point: A viewing area near Rumtek. Spend a few minutes to watch the great views of Gangtok township at the opposite mountain.
7. Ganesh Tok
: The Ganesh temple about 6kms away from Gantok with a nice viewing area.
: Great 1km cable car ride across three stations from Deorali to Tashiling
Taxi rate for full day sightseeing (Fare updated: February 2019):
Rs. 2800/- for small taxi (in high season), Rs. 2000/- (in low season)
A popular and probably the best day tour from Gangtok is a trip to Tsomgo Lake
- a glacial lake about 35kms from Gantok and at an altitude of about 12,310 ft. The same day trip also covers the fabled Baba Mandir
. You can additionally cover Nathula Pass
which is further up and about 52kms from Gangtok and see the Indo Chinese border and the Chumbi valley through which the old Silk Route (i.e. the trade route between India and Tibbet) passes.
Tsomgo lake and Baba Mandir combination takes about 5-6 hours round trip (including the time it takes to see the places). With Nathula it becomes a full day trip.
Note that you should take a large vehicle like Scorpio, Jeep etc for these places due to the road condition and steep gradient. All these places (Tsomgo, Baba Mandir and Nathula) are restricted areas and only Indians are allowed to visit with necessary permits. You will need to carry valid Photo Id card (PAN cards not accepted) and two passport size photos each to get the permits.
If you are taking a taxi from the stand, you will need to get your own permit from Sikkim Tourism Office at MG Marg or through a travel agent. I won't suggest you hand over your ID cards to an unknown taxi driver to organize the permit. Otherwise go through a reputed tour operator or your hotel who will take care of the permits. It needs to be done at least one day in advance.
Fare updated: February 2019
Tsomgo and Baba Mandir: Rs. 4000/- in reserved Sumo/Max
Tsomgo, Baba Mandir and Nathula: Rs. 5,500 in reserved Sumo/Max
Tsomgo, Baba Mandir and Nathula: Rs. 7,000 in reserved Innova/Scorpio
Shared Jeep for Tsomgo (from Gangtok stand): Rs. 400/- per person including permit.
Shared Jeep for Tsomgo, Baba Mandir, Nathula (from Gangtok stand): Rs. 700/- per person including permit.
1) The above reserved vehicle rates includes permit fees for up to two persons.
2) During low season you are unlikely to get shared vehicles.
There are several other attractions in and around Gangtok which are not covered under any standard set tours. Saramsa Garden
and Himalayan Zoological Park
are two such great attractions which are my favorites. So what do you do? You can always take a taxi for a point to point travel and negotiate the rate with the driver. But getting a taxi on your return may not be always easy. The best is to hire a taxi for half a day or full day and go around as you like.
Actually the taxi drivers won't mind driving around if you pay them the day or half day rate. However you need to ensure that you are covering the places logically in a correct sequence to avoid redundant travel. If you plan to do that, some of the attractions that you may plan to cover in a day at your own leisure pace (usual time is from 9:30am to 4:30pm):
Day Tour - 1
Institute of Tibetology & Museum
Day Tour - 2
Flower Exhibition Center
Hanuman Tok & Viewing area
Ganesh Tok & Viewing area
Himalayan Zoological Park (will easily take about 2 hours as animals are kept in large open enclosures like in their natural habitats)
Tashi View Point
Day rate for taxis (Fare updated: February 2019): Rs. 4500/- for Innova/Scorpio
There are literally hundreds of tour operators in Gangtok. While most of the Sikkim Government recognized agencies do a good job, there are several who are only mediators to the main operators camouflaging their real identities, and can easily land you into a mess. You should avoid walking into an unknown street-side agency to work out your trips, particularly if that requires permits to protected areas and use of authorized vehicles.
Here are several well-known operators (all are registered under Sikkim Tourism Department and members of Travels Agents Association of Sikkim):
Blue Sky Tours & Travels, Sikkim Tourism Building, M.G.Marg, Gangtok
Phone: +91-3592-205113; Mobile: +91-8798304933
Khangri Tours & Treks, opp. Sonam Delek Hotel, Tibet Road, Gangtok
Marcopolo World Travels Agent, P.S. Road, Gangtok.
Potala Tours & Travels, Paljor Stadium Road, opposite Hotel Tibet.
Rumtek Tours & Travel, Upper Arithang, Opp. Canara Bank, Gangtok
Galaxy Tour & Treks, National Highway, Metro Point, Gangtok
Tamu Tours & Treks, Church Road (Near Pelling Taxi Stand), Gangtok
Yak and Yeti Travels, Zero Point, NH-31A, Gangtok
Mobile: +91-9933008822/ 9434117418
Soumik Banerjee (July 2018)
Hi, We are visiting Gangtok on 16th Oct 2018 and we would like to go to Tsomgo Lake, Baba Mandir and Nathula Pass as part of full day trip. I saw the rates in your website that it will cost 5,500 for a Sumo. As we are 5 people, Sumo will be great. My Question is, I want to visit Rumtek Monestary too. So will it be possible to include it the same day?? And How should I book the car?? Co-operation from you is highly solicited.
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) Juy 2018
Hi, Rumtek is on a different route. It is not practical to combine that with Nathula on the same day.
Akanksha Saxena (June 2018)
Hi! I traveled to Darjeeling, Gangtok and Kalimpong in June 2018. I found this website very useful and planned most of my days according to suggested plan only. I found Gangtok awesome. But a tour operator named New Days at Tibet road in Gangtok ruined our experience. It also spoiled our day which we wanted to spend at nathula. They took money, other documents & photographs needed to get permit to go to nathula. They showed us a fake permit that is needed to go to Tsomgo lake. We started at 7 in the morning from his office.
The driver stopped at 3-4 places & took a lot of time to reach Tsomgo lake. There he asked us that a DG is there so road is now closed for nathula, so first visit lake and then baba mandir. Then he took us to army museum nearby baba mandir. Around 2pm our driver finally declared that he was not having any permit. His employer would be sending it in another cab. He kept us waiting there for a long time. Then we finally asked him to get back as weather was getting very bad there. We finally came back to Gangtok around 7pm. It was very tiring & hectic day. We could not spend much time at lake & temple also as we were getting late for nathula. There are plenty of such operators in Gangtok. Kindly be aware. Although no doubt that the way from Gangtok to Nathula is really beautiful.
Manish Juneja (February 2018)
Dear Raj ji, We are planning a Gangtok Trip from 22 March to 24 March'18 (2ADT, 2CHD) and then to Darjeeling . Further we are planning to go for 10 point tour including Gangtok Zoo as well. Kindly advice:
1. I have seen a lot reviews of places in Gangtok but no where it is mentioned about logical sequence to visit places. Please advice the logically sequence of gangtok sighseeing places to avoid redundant travel. It will help us to plan and also Taxi operator adhering to it.
2. What would be appoximate cost of of the same in March'18 assuming low rates at this time? Also will Indica will sufficient considering mountain roads or should be go for sedan for better comfort? Any difference in rates for both?
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) February 2018
Hello, once you choose the sightseeing tour and share it with the local taxi driver, you can leave it to him to decide on the sequence. For his own interest of saving fuel and cost, he will eliminate redundant travels. Seasonal rates are already indicated on my site page. Sedan rates will be higher than small cars like Indica. For 10-point sightseeing tour, you can take a small car.
Hrishikesh Krishna (June 2017)
Is there any restrictions that one can't do local sightseeing in Gangtok by personal car? Is it compulsory to hire a car by tour operator even for Gangtok local sightseeing?
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) June 2017
There is no such restriction unless you are using a commercial vehicle from outside the state of Sikkim.
Gaurav (March 2017)
I had booked the tour 2 months in advance (through Yak n Yeti Tours) and paid 50% advance. Since I wanted everything perfect, I even agreed to pay 30% more than market rates. However despite promising me best of the car and driver by Mr. Satish, nothing was planned as per our request. Mr. Satish had out-sourced the trip to other agencies and never bothered to check the car and driver provided. The pick-up car sent at railway station was in a bad condition.
Out of our 5 days trip, we got only one chance to visit Changu lake due to bad weather conditions, however, this solo chance was also lost since the car sent was in a pathetic condition (front wind shield cracked, interiors dirty and broken) and the driver was inexperienced ? as a result we had to cancel the trip mid-way. Even the permit he took was in fake names as he lost our photographs which I had myself delivered to his designated place at MG Road.
Don't go by his nice words and promises - he is a greedy person who takes more clients than he can order. For just 2 days I paid him Rs 12K which he didn't even think of returning once! I hope this review does good to future travelers - I would highly suggest that don't pre-book cars/ tours and you can easily do it once you are in Gangtok. Though Gangtok is a beautiful place, Yak n Yeti ruined our experience!!