Cuisine has been a very attractive thing for travellers to go and explore a new destination. In fact, some people travel to taste the different tastes of different types of special dishes in each of the places they visit. Sikkim too has uniqueness in its food that differentiates its cuisine from others. Mutton, pork, beef or vegetables cooked in a doughy wrapping served with a watery vegetable soup and spicy tomato sauce/chutney.
Another very popular Tibetan food is Thukpa. It is essentially a hot noodle soup mixed with meat, eggs, vegetables etc and served in a large bowl.
Gangtok is not directly connected by air. The closest airport is at Bagdogra, West Bengal which is served by regular flights from Kolkata, Guwahati and Delhi operated by Indian Airlines and Jet Airways. The 124 km drive to Gangtok takes 5 hours and is facilitated by numerous taxis, shared jeeps and hired cars with chauffeurs. Helicopter services are also available from Bagdogra to reach Gangtok and vice-versa.
Nearest railhead is at New Jalpaiguri, which is about 125 kms from Gangtok (about 4 hrs). You can also take a train to Siliguri, which is 114 kms away from Gangtok. Siliguri and New Jalpaiguri are well connected with all the cities in India. Once here, from the station itself, tourists can get on to the tourists buses, coaches, taxis and jeeps to reach their final destination.
The drive to Gangtok from Siliguri (West Bengal), 114 km away, is the shortest. Darjeeling is also connected by road to Gangtok. Taxis, buses and hired cars with drivers ply regularly on these routes as they inch past the narrow but well maintained mountain roads. There are regular Sikkim state transport buses between Gangtok and Siliguri. The drive is very scenic with the Teesta River flowing on the left hand side and the green hills on the right.
Note : Roads can get block due to landslides during the rainy season (June to September) and you can get stuck in Sikkim but not for more than 2 or 3 days.
For sightseeing in Gangtok you can hire a private jeep or taxi, which are available at nominal rates.
Gangtok has variety of accommodation ranging from premium to budget hotels. The premium hotels are luxurious and offer well-furnished rooms with all modern facilities.You can choose to stay in MayFair Hotel & Resort,Suhim Portico , Elgin Nor-Khill, Hotel, Orange Village Resort, Club Mahindra, Heritage Royal Denzong Regency, Royal Plaza or The Delisso Abode Hotel.
The standard hotels in Gangtok cost a little less than the premium ones and features good service. You can try Tashi Delek, Hidden Forest Retreat, Mintokling Guest House, Golden Heights, Hotel Chumbi Residency, Rendezvous Hotel and Ttakshang Residency.
Budget traveller can opt for Superview Himalchuli, Sai Kripa, Sagorika Hotel, Golden Pagoda, Hotel Anola,Hotel Berries,Hotel Changlo Chen, Hotel Sonam Delek or Little Wing Hotel. These hotels will offer you simple accommodation equipped with basic amenities. Most hotels in Gangtok have their own in-house restaurant serving local cuisine.
The best time to visit Gangtok is between October and mid-December in winters when clear views of the Himalayan peaks are guaranteed or again between March and May in summers when the flowers are in bloom.
The rainy season begins in June and stretches till early September marked by heavy downpour causing landslides that often disrupt communication.
Gangtok is one of the very few hill stations in India that is not crowded and you can enjoy moments of pure bliss. Sightseeing in Gangtok offers panoramic view of Kanchenjunga from Tashi Viewpoint and Ganesh Tok.
Though you will be charmed by Gangtok's serenity, there are plenty of places to go to if sightseeing is your interest. You can Start with making a trip to the famous Enchey Monastery that is built on the site blessed by Lama Druptok Korpo, a tantric "Master known for his power of flying". This 200-year-old monastery has in its premises images of gods, goddesses and other religious objects. You can also visit Pemayangtse Monastery to see its priceless antiques and idols, and to the nearby ruins of Rabdantse, the 17th century capital of Sikkim.
If you want to see the Chogyal’s Palace, visit Gangtok in the last week of December when the palace is open to the public for the Pong Labsal festival and see the masked dancers perform to the mighty Kanchenjunga. The masks depict various Gods, demons and dragons and if you want to decorate your room with some of these brightly coloured masks, you can buy them from the souvenir shops.
Enhance your knowledge on Tibet with a visit to the Namgyal Institute of Tibetology. The institute houses some rare manuscripts, books as well as priceless artifacts of rare Lepcha. You can also visit some of the other monasteries and stupas in the city itself. The Do-Drul Chorten is one of the most important stupas in Sikkim and is encircled by 108 prayer wheels. Rotate the wheels and ask for a wish and maybe the Enlightened One will fulfill your prayer.
Like most hill stations, Gangtok also has its share of some rare orchids that bloom all through the year. The Orchid Sanctuary houses over 200 species of rare orchids and is a treat.
Yumthang Valley: Located at a distance of 126 kms from Gangtok in North Sikkim , is the place of hot springs that have healing properties. The valley is covered with beautiful and colorful flowers, most of them are endangered and rare specially Rhododendron and Primula. The best time to visit here is during February/March, when the valley seems to be a flowerbed, although till June first travelers use to come over here to fill up their travel thirst.
Rumtek Monastery: Rumtek Monastery is the largest monastery in Sikkim. It is located in Eastern Sikkim at a distance of 22 kms from Gangtok. It is a holy pilgrimage site for the Buddhists, which is also known as the Dharma Chakra Centre in History and people's mind. It remained an important seat of the Karma Kagyu lineage for several years.
Tsongmo Lake: Also known as Changu Lake located at a distance of 43 kms from Gangtok. It is a place of worship for the Sikkimese with a landmark of a historic Shiva temple located close to the lake. It's water's colour was used to predict future in earlier times, by the Buddhist saints. The Lake and its nearby areas offering a quiet pleasant and eye cashing sight for the travelers spending their evening.
Pelling: For an awesome sightseeing of the tallest Kanchenjunga peak, Pelling is the perfect choice which is situated at a distance of 131 kms from Gangtok. Just peep from the luxury and comfortable resorts and hotels here, you can have a glimpse of the great Himalayan peak. Apart from the mountain peaks, other attractions of the place are Pemayangtse Monastery, Kechepalri Lake and Sangay Waterfall.
Tedong Hill: Tedong Hill is another famous attraction of Sikkim , known for its picturesque views of the greenery, green hills, vast valleys and tranquil atmosphere. It's located in South Sikkim . Tedong Hill is mostly visited by Buddhist monks and pilgrims. Although thousands of travelers used to come over here round the year to meditate in the peaceful ambiance.
Besides above there are various options available for adventure sports and activities in Sikkim throughout. It would definitely be a thrilling experience to try out mountaineering here on the Kanchenjunga Peak of great Himalaya , strictly for the trained climbers. For Rock Climbing, one can explore Kabru and Sinolchu. One can also try out other sports and adventurous activities like mountain biking, river rafting, hang gliding, kayaking and other less dangerous and fun activities like fishing, yak safari etc. All the above mentioned enthralling sports and adventure activities will definitely slake your thirst for unforgettable adventure.
Nightlife in Gangtok
If you like to party hard while on vacation, then there are a few options for nightlife in Gangtok. Even though Gangtok might not offer much, but it does have a few bars and nightclubs. They have emerged recently due to the emergence of traveling opportunities in Sikkim.
X'cape is the face of nightlife in Gangtok, playing its beats from 4pm till midnight. Here you will come across a young and enthusiastic crowd grooving their away on the dance floor. The club offers exotic cocktails and fine spirits along with delicious food. The entry fee is INR 400 per person. The club is open from 7.30pm to 11.30pm from Thursday to Sunday.
Lounge 31a is a stylish and trendy place which offers a great ambience. Located four storeys high, the majestic glass architecture offers Zen aesthetics and beautiful sunset views. Being one of the famed night club, it offers everything from Hookahs to alcoholic drinks, from Cocktails to Mocktails and from Indian to International cuisines. Situated near the city's main highway, this place is known for its warm and cozy ambience. It features an intimate sitting area on the first floor and a lounge on the mezzanine floor.
Unlike its name, Orthodox Bar & Lounge offers a wide range of beers and cuisine selection at pretty low prices. Even though tables are squeezed together, couples can enjoy cozy evenings without any problem. It is open from morning seven to ten at night.
Pub 25 is located right in the heart of MG road, this upscale pub offers great drinks, tasty food and an amazing ambience. Food lovers should definitely try the Malai Tikka and Sauteed Mushrooms. Even though the price is higher as compared to the other pubs, it's definitely worth a visit. A very classic British ambiance, this place offers a variety of cocktails and liquors that is well complimented with an equally impressive food menu. Open till 11pm, it is best suited for anyone who wants to enjoy a hearty meal and a drink.
Indulge Karaoke Restaurant has huge windows overlooking MG road which add to the openness of this place with its white decor and curvy designs. Serving some of the most popular and reasonably priced alcohol along with live entertainment, this place boasts an assorted ambience and a karaoke bar and is ideal to spend an evening sipping on your favorite cocktail and gorging on continental and Italian delicacies.
Gangtok is soon turning to be a gambling hot-spot. Presently there are only two casinos in Gangtok, one is Casino “Mahjong” in Mayfair Resort. It is a full fledged onshore live casino, the first of its kind in India.Mahjong is a name of a game which was played in China and this game originally got its name after a sparrow which is still called by this name most commonly in some southern Chinese languages. Mahjong captures the real spirit of a casino.The other casino in Gangtok is “Casino Sikkim” in Hotel Royal Plaza.
The casinos offer all kinds of games including slots, card games, roulette, poker, baccarat etc. and provide the ambiance of a world-class casino. They also offer free drinks for the punters providing plenty of action.
You can let loose your hair in one of the many discos operating in Gangtok. The various discos running are "Code Orange", "Morph" and "Xcape". You can also enjoy live band and good cuisine at Café Live-n-Loud or "Little Italy"