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).
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) Updated: January 2016
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. 1400/- (in high season), Rs. 1000/- (in low season) Updated: January 2016
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) Updated: January 2016
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 (Updated: January 2016):
Rs. 2500/- (in high season), Rs. 1800/- (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.
Rates/Fares updated: January 2016
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 (Updated: January 2016): Rs. 3800/- for Innova/Scorpio
Gangtok Sightseeing Tour Operators
There are literally hundreds of tour operators in Gangtok and most do a good job. Here are some of them (all are registered under Sikkim Tourism Department and member of Travels Agents Association of Sikkim):
Blue Sky Tours & Travels, Sikkim Tourism Building, M.G.Marg, Gangtok
Yak and Yeti Travels & Expeditions, Zero Point, NH-31A, Gangtok
Khangri Tours & Treks, opp. Sonam Delek Hotel, Tibet Road, Gangtok
Yuksom Tours & Treks, Borong House, Above Telephone Exchange, Gangtok
Sikkim Holidays Tour Trek Expedition, opp. Hotel Blue Sky, Tibet Road, Gangtok
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