Budgeting a trip to Darjeeling & Sikkim

This section will guide you to arrive at a budget for a holiday trip to Darjeeling district covering Darjeeling hill town, Kalimpong, Mirik, Kurseong etc which may be combined with places in Sikkim like Gangtok, Pelling, Yumthang, Namchi etc. But note that your budget will vary widely on your expectation and how much you are willing to pamper yourself. 
Darjeeling and both Sikkim offer wide range of hotels and resorts of all categories (low budget to near 5 star range). And there are all types of restaurants, bars, shops and tours available in all these places to make a deep hole in your pocket. 
If you are planning a low budget trip, then few things that you may like to consider in order to keep your budget under control while still enjoying the vacation: 
  • From NJP or Siliguri, take a shared Jeep to Darjeeling or other places instead of a reserved car, and same way back. That will be much cheaper. 
  • Travel in low season (Mid Jan - March, July - Mid September). This is when the rates in hotels, tours and transports come down significantly. 
  • Some local sightseeing tours are available on shared jeeps on per person rates. They are much cheaper that touring on a reserved car. 
  • Transfers between most places (e.g. Darjeeling and Gangtok) can be done on shared jeeps instead of reserved cars. There is also bus service available between few places like Siliguri and Darjeeling. 
  • Book well in advance so that you get room in one of the best budget hotels. There are umpteen number of useless small budget hotels in both Darjeeling and Sikkim areas ... you should avoid them, and book hotels that are in low budget category but good. I have discussed several good budget hotels in Darj here
  • Look for some quality but cheap eateries. Cost of food in Darjeeling can easily tilt the equation wrongly when it comes to budgeting. 
  • Go down to Chowk Bazaar at lower level for shopping. This is a wholesale market selling all kinds of goods including clothes, gift &ásouvenirs, bags &áshoes, woollens etc and the cost is cheaper. Locals mostly go there for their shopping requirements. 
  • Book hotels and all tours directly... you can save a lot. 
    If you are however planning a mid-priced or luxury vacation, I am sure you will still not like to squander your money and would want a value-for-money vacation. Here are some tips to help you do that. 
  • Avoid tour packages which includes stay, tours, transports etc that apparently look lucrative while offering luxury vacation. Most if not all operators take a hefty cut in such packages and you may end up with a raw deal. Research your hotels and tours, and book directly. I have discussed some great midrange hotels as well as luxury stays in this website. There are also some local tour operators who can give you great service and good deals for local sightseeing tours &áadventures. 
  • If you are planning good amount of local sightseeing, always go through a local tour operator who are not only knowledgeable about the places, but will also be reasonable in price. Avoid taking a car from Siliguri or from your hotel who are likely to be much more expensive that local operators. While there are numerous local taxis available for tours, the condition of their vehicles are often not up to the mark. Sometimes you won't who is a broker and who a real driver. 
    Dear Raj 
    Please give me an overview about the approximate budget for a holiday trip to Darjeeling in Feb 2015 for 6 days and 5 nights(Mid Range Stay) with food and transportation cost to Bagdogra Airport to Darjeeling and Darjeeling to Bagdogra Airport for 2 person. 
    Tanmoy Mitra (October 2014) 
    For the purpose of arriving at a budget, you may consider about 3,500 per night for a mid range hotel for a double room. Food for two would cost about Rs. 1,000/- per day inclusive of all meals (in standard restaurants... you can however optimise this depending on eateries you choose). 
    If you take a small reserved car for airport transfers, average one way fare for a small car can be taken as Rs. 2,200/-. For a larger vehicle like Innova etc, one way cost can be taken as Rs. 2,500/-. You will additionally need to budget for local sightseeing tours, shopping etc. Note that you may plan to avail discounts in all the areas I have mentioned above including stay, transfers, food, tours and shopping by using Darjeeling Tourism Card
    Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) October 2014 
    I am a retd. engineer 66 year old. We are in Telangana state in south India. We go on tour to some or other place every year. We did not plan so far to visit Darjeeling thinking that it will be difficult to stay and see places at far off... But after going through your information and replies to the queries of different people we feel that we too can make it. We plan for a visit next year as our plan is already fixed for this year. Can you write us about the rough estimated cost for our stay/visits there for three days. We are vegetarians. Thanks &áWith Regards 
    V. Amarnath (October 2014) 
    The budget will also depend on type of hotel, sightseeing tours etc. Quality budget hotels will cost between Rs. 1,800 - 2,500 per night for a double room. Mid priced hotels have a range up to Rs. 4,000 per night or even more. For vegetarian meals in standard restaurants you can budget some Rs. 250/- for two of you (it can be lesser if you take snack food). Local half day sightseeing tours can cost from Rs. 1,500 to 2,000 in local taxis, higher if you take reserved car through an operator. You can budget Rs. 2,200 - 2,300/- for one way taxi transfer fare from nearest railway station (NJP) or Airport (Bagdogra) to Darjeeling. This can vary widely depending on the season. In high season (like in October to November, or between May to June) the fares can almost double depending on demand. 
    Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) October 2014