Incredibly charming, pleasantly bustling, and cloud-shrouded, Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim, is one of India’s most popular hill stations. The city sits at an altitude of 1650 meters above sea level and offers spectacular views of Mount Kanchenjunga on clear days. Gangtok is a hub for adventure enthusiasts, including hikers and campers traveling through the Himalayas. Dzongli trek, Vasi/Balsi trek, and Salt trek are one of the most popular treks from Gangtok.
Paragliding and hang gliding opportunities are also not far from Gangtok. The capital is a great starting point for mountain bike tours. From March to mid-May, wild rhododendrons bloom, transforming the surrounding area into vast fields of colorful carpets.
Gangtok also has a diverse nightlife. Popular MG Road is lined with trendy restaurants and pubs open until 11 pm. It’s also an ideal place for shoppers, as the shops are open late, giving tourists more time to shop for Tibetan handicrafts, woolen fabrics, and tea products. Find out more about shopping in Gangtok here. Gangtok and its surrounding areas are rich in natural beauty, with various natural attractions such as Tsomgo Lake, Ban Jakri Waterfall, and Tasi Lookout. Other attractions include many famous religious sites such as Enchey Monastery, Ganesh Tok, and Do Dorul Chorten Rumtek Monastery. Also, the Teesta River is one of the best whitewater rafting spots in Northeast India.
Gangtok means ‘on the hill’ and can be said to be one of the most beautiful hill stations in the country. Balanced in everything from an amalgamation of cultural identities to urbanization, Gangtok is a breathtaking and dynamic facet of a northeast paradise. Whether you are looking for a family vacation, romantic getaway, adventure tourism, or just a quiet place to relax and unwind surrounded by nature, Gangtok, Sikkim has it all.
When is the best time to visit Gangtok?
The best times to visit Gangtok are late September to mid-December and March to May. The climate is pleasant from autumn to spring and summer, making it ideal for sightseeing. From late September to mid-December, the weather is clear and offers unobstructed views of the Himalayas. From March to May, the sight of the rhododendrons in full bloom is a real gold value. It is best to avoid visiting Gangtok and Sikkim during the monsoon period from July to early September as heavy rains can cause landslides and cause many inconveniences.
How to get to Gangtok?
The nearest airport with good access to Gangtok is Bagdogra Airport in West Bengal, 126 km away. From there you can catch a taxi to Gangtok. Gangtok’s nearest train station is in Siliguri, with direct connections to major cities in the country. Taxis and government buses are available from Siliguri to Gangtok.
How to get to Gangtok by plane?
Bagdogra Airport in West Bengal is the nearest airport at 126 km. Taxis to Gangtok can be booked in advance. Shared taxis are also available from Bagdogra to Gangtok for a cheaper rate. It takes about 4 hours by taxi from Bagdogra Airport to Gangtok.
For those short on time and willing to spend more money to save time, a helicopter flight from Bagdogra Airport to Gangtok is also available.
Nearest airport: BAGDOGRA – 77 km from Gantho
How to get to Gangtok by car?
National Highway 10 or NH10 connects Gangtok with the rest of India. The nearest major city is Siliguri in West Bengal, from which taxis and buses run regularly.
How to get to Gangtok by train
The nearest train station is New Jalpaiguri Railway Station in Siliguri, about 117 km from Gangtok. You can rent or book a taxi to Gangtok from here. New Jalpaiguri has good access to major cities in India. It takes about 4 hours from New Jalpaiguri Station to Gangtok.
Places To Visit In Gangtok
1. Tsomgo Lake, Gangtok
If you have enough time, if you visit only one place in Gangtok, it is Lake Tsomgo. This highland lake sits in the mountains at 12,400 feet above sea level and is fed by melted snow. Its incomparable beauty is truly mesmerizing. A major feature of the lake is that it changes color with each season. It remains frozen in the winter, but in the summer flowers bloom to replace the surrounding snow. Legend has it that in ancient times, Buddhist monks studied the color of the lake to predict the future.
Distance from Gangtok: 40km
Interesting Fact: Tsomgo Lake or Changu Lake is considered sacred to the Sikkim people. Travel Tip: Both Indian and foreign tourists need a valid permit to visit the lake.
2. Gangtok, Nathula Pass
Part of the ancient Silk Road between India and Tibet, the Nathula Pass is blessed with natural beauty and breathtaking scenery. Driving up to 14,140 feet of elevation on steep, slippery roads is an adventure. Nathula Pass is visited by many tourists in summer and autumn. Winter may not be the best time to travel as temperatures are very cold and routes are often closed due to heavy snowfall. This road is closed to general traffic on Mondays and Tuesdays. So plan your itinerary accordingly.
Distance from Gangtok: 56 km
Travel Tip: Only Indian tourists with a valid permit can visit the pass.
3. Hanuman Tok (Gangtok)
Perched at an altitude of 7,200 feet, this decades-old Hanuman temple is one of Gangtok’s most popular spots. The shrine overlooks the Kanchenjunga Mountains and attracts tourists year-round for its tranquil atmosphere and stunning views. Climb the cobblestone steps leading up to this very quiet and sacred place to enjoy the lush greenery, the beauty of the scenic hills and valleys, and a little townscape.
Distance from Gangtok: 11km
Interesting Fact: Lord Hanuman is believed to have rested here while carrying the mountain of medicinal herbs called Sanjeevani from the Himalayas to Lanka.
4. Himalayan Zoo, Gangtok
The Himalayan Zoo, Sikkim’s first zoo, allows visitors to explore the region’s fauna. Home to snow leopards, Himalayan palm civets, red pandas, and Himalayan black bears, this place is unlike most zoos in the country. The animals are kept in open enclosures that mimic their natural habitats, rather than in cages, making the whole experience a little more enjoyable. The zoo sits at an altitude of 1,780 meters and offers spectacular views of Mount Kanchenjunga. Allow at least 3-4 hours at the zoo, especially if you are traveling with children.
Distance from Gangtok: 7km
Entrance fee: ₹25 for adults, ₹10 for children
Business hours: 9:00 am to 4:00 pm (closed on Thursdays)
Travel Tip: The park covers a large area, so it’s best to explore the area by car, but you can also explore it on foot.
5. Ranka Kloster, Gangtok
The beautiful Lanka Monastery should be part of your itinerary for the amazing views it offers and of course, the opportunity to interact with the Buddhist monks. You can take pictures with the monks during the break, but you must respect their beliefs and way of life when interacting with them. Surrounded by dense forest on all sides, the monastery is a sight to behold. The calmness and tranquility here offer a glimpse into life quite different from city life.
Distance from Gangtok: 20km
Business hours: 6:00 am to 6:00 pm
Worth knowing: This monastery is descended from the Zurman Kagyu school of Buddhism
Travel Tip: Allow a few hours for Banjakli Waterfall when visiting the monastery. Try paragliding here for an unforgettable experience.
6. Namgyal Institute of Tibetan Studies, Gangtok
The Namgyal Institute of Tibetan Studies offers a fascinating glimpse into the cultural past and is a must-see for history buffs and those wanting to learn more about Buddhism. With an extensive collection of works of art, artifacts, manuscripts, and memorabilia, and the world’s largest collection of Tibetan documents and literature, the Institute is the custodian of all that is important to Tibetan culture. The cornerstone of this institute was laid by the 14th Dalai Lama.
Distance from Gangtok: 5km
Business hours: 10:00 am to 4:00 pm (closed on Sundays)
Participation fee: ₹ 10
Travel Tip: No photography is allowed on the premises.
7. Flower Exhibition Center, Gangtok
The Flower Exhibition Center is a few minutes walk from MG Road and showcases a wide variety of flowers from all over Sikkim. This exhibition center is a nature lover’s paradise and is bustling year-round, especially during the annual flower show that takes place from April to May. The exhibition center is home to a large number of different and rare species of plants, offering a refreshing break from your endless journey. You can relax in a pleasant atmosphere, admire colorful flowers, and click amazing photos.
Business hours: 8:30 am to 5:00 pm
Participation fee: ₹ 10
8. MG Marg (Gangtok)
MG Marg is the center of all activities in Gangtok and the standard for itineraries. However, if you have an extra day or hours to spare, be sure to spend some time in this car-free zone to experience and explore the Gangtok way of life. This bustling market is lined with restaurants, cafes, souvenir shops, and even decades-old shops. Try Hungry Heads for delicious cold coffee and sandwiches.
9. Gangtok, Ganesh Tok
Stunning views of the Kanchenjunga range, peaceful atmosphere, and the blessings of Lord Ganesh, that’s what Ganesh his Tok is all about. One of the most visited places in Gangtok, this shrine is quite small, but you can enjoy beautiful views of the city, rolling hills, and snow-capped mountains from the enclosed observation lounge. people come here This Ganesh temple sits at an altitude of 6,500 feet and attracts many visitors throughout the year.
Distance from Gangtok: 8km
Business hours: 6:00 am to 7:00 pm.
10. Rumtek Monastery, Gangtok
Perched on a hill near Gangtok, Rumtek Monastery is one of the largest monasteries in Sikkim. Formerly known as the Dharma Chakra Center, this magnificent monastery is built in the traditional Tibetan style. The three-story building contains thangkas, statues, a magnificent chapel with stunning murals, a golden stupa of the 16th Karmapa, and many other unique items and religious documents. This ancient monastery belongs to the Kargyu Buddhist sect and is known as one of the most beautiful structures in the world. Beautifully set against a backdrop of majestic hills and waterfalls.
Distance from Gangtok: 35km
Business hours: 6:00 am to 6:00 pm
Participation fee: ₹ 10
Travel Tip: Remember to bring your ID as the monastery is under the control of the Indo-Tibet Border Police.