If you are a traveler, I bet you don’t need alcohol or weed to stay high. There are places on Earth that drug you enough to leave you stoned for a long time. Gangtok, Sikkim is one such place that sits pretty in the lap of the Himalayas and offers surreal sceneries that you can’t refuse. Besides sceneries, there is a wide range of things to do in Gangtok.
From chilling at gorgeous hilltop hotels to sitting by the serene lakes and gushing waterfalls, there are ample things to enjoy during your trip to Gangtok that will catch your fancy instantaneously. Though the city doesn’t belong to the group of happening cities in India, these tourist attractions in Gangtok make it one of the most sought after cities of Eastern India.
Checkout the 10 essential activities that must be on top of your list while planning your itinerary to the capital city of Sikkim.
1. Go for a crazy cable ride over Gangtok city
This is a kilometer of zig-zag thrill that starts from Deorali and takes the visitors to Tashiling. Offering a bird’s eye view of Gangtok, it is one of the most exciting things to do in Gangtok and top rated among Gangtok tourist attractions.
It is a double-cable zig back ropeway, in which each cable car can carry up to 24 passengers only. There are no seats in the cable car, so you need to stand. The 1 km long ride (2 km to and fro) has three stations – the first station is at Deorali near Institute of Tibetology; the next station is Namnang; and the top most station is in Tashiling, close to the Secretariat.
You can disembark anywhere but a 2-way ride is highly recommended. The ticket price includes two-way ride and awesome views, both ways, are guaranteed. Further, this 7-minute ride is not limited to the complete city view only; if the weather is good, brace yourself for a glorious view of Khangchendzonga.
Timings: 9:30 am to 4:30 pm
Ticket price: INR 110 per adult and INR 70 for child below 6 years (free below 3)
Video camera charges: INR 100 (additional)
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Sikkim-Gangtok-Darjeeling Holiday Packages On TravelTriangle
Visit Sikkim and explore Yumthang valley, Tsomgo Lake, Gangtok, Nathula Pass, and Pelling. Experience peace and tranquility while exploring Buddhist monasteries, snow-capped mountains, and wildlife sanctuaries. Book packages inclusive of airport transfers, cab, resort, sightseeing, and meals.
2. Enjoy a Yak Safari
Yak Safari makes for a unique experience among all the things to do in Gangtok. A ride that slowly and steadily takes you to places in and around Gangtok while you firmly hold on to the hump of this huge mountain animal. As you move through the craggy terrain, amid the angelic beauty of Sikkim, the joyride gets into you completely.
Organised in different parts of Sikkim, Yak Safari is an unforgettable and one of its kind experience. The popular trails are Dzongri area and Tsomgo lake. Go up the mountain for a ride around the Tsomgo Lake and don’t miss a photo session atop the Yak!
You can plan your safari as per the duration of stay there. Usually the yak safari comes in a 3 to 5 day itinerary which can be planned according to your availability.
3. Try Trekking & Mountain Biking
Gangtok has been a treat to mountain bikers, thanks to the gruelling tracks that have turned into a biker’s delight. One of the best things to in Gangtok for adventure lovers, mountain biking in Gangtok boasts of routes that trigger adrenaline and offer a lot of thrill.
The complete activity ranges from a period as short as four days to a full-fledged 15-day trekking as well as biking expedition. Most trails are carved out to help you experience the best of forests, villages, monasteries, rivers, waterfalls and biodiversity in Gangtok.
Some of the existing popular routes for Trekking & Mountain Biking are:
- Gangtok- Phodong- Rangrang- Dikchu Makha- Sirwani- Temi
- Gangtok- Rumtek- Sang- Sirwani- Temi- Namchi- Jorethang- Melli
- Gangtok- Rumtek- Sang- Sirwani- Temi- Namchi- Namthang- Rangpo
Charges: Depending on the operator and the route, the charges can vary a lot. Starting cost is INR 8,000 per person, and can also go up to INR 15,000.
Must Read: 10 Beautiful Resorts In Gangtok
4. Go for River Rafting in Teesta
River rafting in Teesta river is one of the many adventurous things to do in Gangtok. The fact that the rapids of Rangit and the Teesta rivers are graded in the international level at I to IV, makes the rafting one of the finest rafting stretches in the world. The turbulent water of Rangit with its multidimensional rapids provide the rafters enough challenge and adventure. The river courses through gorges and valleys that offer picturesque spectacles and make rafting truly a memorable experience.
Over the years, many campsites have sprung up along the banks of River Rangeet, a tributary of River Teesta. They offer overnight stays with camping, bonfires and a full day of rafting. Some of the popular routes you can opt from are:
- Makha-Rongpo (Shortest Route)
- Dikchu-Teesta Bridge (Intermediately Long)
- Dikchu-Kali Johra (Almost five hours long)
- Bordang-Melli (More than five hours)
Charges: River rafting in Teesta will cost you anything between INR 500 – 1000 per person. Charges vary according to the route and the operator.
5. Go paragliding and enjoy breathtaking views of the Himalayas
We were not born with wings but the desire to fly never really left our conscious. It made made us reach out for a substitute and we fondly called it a paraglider. Paragliding, being another popular tourist attraction in Gangtok, has become immensely popular given that it boasts of breathtaking views of the Himalayas and the vivid nature in its backdrop.
To go paragliding in Gangtok you really don’t need to be a pro. There are plenty of operators, and all of them offer complete safety. A certified pilot accompanies all enthusiasts, thus taking care of the entire flight and its navigation.
Starting point for Medium Fly (1400 m altitude, 5-10 mins) is Baliman Dara, and for High Fly (2200 m altitude, 20-30 mins) is Reshithang village.
Charges: Between INR 2000 and 5000, varies from operator to operator
6. Gorge on lip smacking delicacies at popular restaurants & cafes
M.G Marg in Gangtok is considered the town centre of Gangtok that houses some spectacular restaurants, food joints and cafes. The two of the most popular ones are 9’INE Native Cuisine and Baker’s Cafe on MG Marg, and trying their lip-smacking food is one of the most indulgent things to do in Gangtok.
9’INE Native Cuisine is widely popular for its Tibetan cuisine. You can feast on delicacies like Momos, Sikkimese Set Meal with Chicken, Fermented Soybean, Dim sums and Mushroom Kachi. It primarily serves Asian, Tibetan and Nepalese cuisines and is a must visit restaurant in Gangtok.
Timing: 9 am to 10 pm, all days of a week
At Baker’s cafe, you can sip on your favorite beverage, while sitting on the window-side table and gazing at the picturesque valley from the glass window. This cozy Western-style cafe is known for its strong espresso, refreshing lemon iced tea, croissants, baguettes, paninis, pizzas, hot dogs and pastries.
Timing: 9 am to 8 pm, all days of a week
7. Enjoy a spell-binding sunset at Tashi View Point
Relish the snow-capped mountains from close quarters amid floating clouds from Tashi View Point. It is located in Tashi, about 8 km from Gangtok. The point is one of the tourist attractions in Gangtok and offers an exceptional view of Kanchenjunga snow peaks on a clear day. Tashi View Point is known for its gorgeous sunrise as well as the mild sunset. As the day progresses you will find the peaks illuminated by changing color of sun rays. To savor the alluring beauty of the place you must reach the point before 5 am.
On mountains on the opposite side, you can see the Phodong and Labrang monasteries. From road level, you need to climb steep stairs to reach up to the circular viewing area. It can easily accommodate about 15-20 people at a time. There is no entry fee, however, you’ll have to pay Rs. 10 extra to get a closer view of the peaks with binoculars and telescopes already placed there.
If you love mountains, capturing this sunset in your camera is certainly one of the best things to do in Gangtok!
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8. Discover the hidden treasures at Lal Bazaar
Lal Bazaar is a congregation of local artisans and farmers of Sikkim where they assemble to bargain, gossip or sell their commodities. The Bazaar makes for an ideal spot for shopping in Gangtok. On Sundays, Gangtok’s Lal Bazaar is a melody of colours where ethnic groups from different villages gather. Lal Bazaar is located just below the M.G Marg and is at a walking distance from most of the hotels in Gangtok.
You can easily find various utility things in the marketplace. The smell of dried fish, vegetables and cheese permeates the air as you venture along the bylanes of the market. The bustling bazaar makes for an ideal place for taking photographs of the local vendors selling their commodities.
9. Take a tour of the famous monasteries in Gangtok
Of all the places of importance, Gangtok is well known for its monasteries. They are thousands of years old and house some of the oldest living disciples of lord Buddha. A day tour covering the famous monasteries is among the best things to do in Gangtok for architecture and history lovers. Some of the famous monasteries that will be covered in the tour are:
- Tsuk La Khang Monastery – Overlooking the colossal mountain range, the Tsuk La Khang Monastery is located in the complex of Royal Palace. One of the major places of worship and assembly for the Buddhists, this monastery is a two storey edifice that houses a wide collection of works of Buddhist scriptures. Every corner of this monastery is adorned with the wooden sculptures which are crafted in the form of Snow Lion’s Head. Murals and altars decorate the walls of the monastery.
- Pemayangtse Monastery – Located at a distance of about 2 km from Pelling is Pemayangtse Monastery – the principal monastery belonging to Nyingma sect (one of the four sects of Tibetan Buddhism). This monastery is thinly populated with a headcount of little over a hundred monks.The monastery boasts of snow-capped mountains in its backdrop and serene valley dotted with fluffy clouds. Also, it features exquisite paintings, sculptures and statues of different deities in the main building which remains a major source of attraction for the onlookers.
- Rumtek Monastery – Located in Rumtek, 23 km away from Gangtok town, Rumtek monastery is one of the largest in Sikkim and belongs to the Kargyu sect of Buddhists which originated in the 12th century in Tibet. The architecture of the monastery is one of the finest in the world and resembles the original one in Tsurphu, Tibet. From the gate at the base, it requires an uphill walk (about half a kilometre) to reach up to the main monastery which boasts of a picturesque surrounding.
10. Go for sightseeing day tours
Sitting pretty at an altitude of almost 5500 feet, Gangtok offers some of the most surreal and out of the world places which are indeed a treat to the eyes. Though the complete city is extraordinary in its own way, there are places that stand out of the league. Plan a day tour dedicated to sightseeing, covering tourist attractions, such as:
- Hanuman Tok – At an altitude of 7,200 ft and at a distance of 11 km from Gangtok town, Hanuman Tok offers a breathtaking view of Kanchenjunga range. The legend says that Lord Hanuman took rest for a moment at this place when he was on his way to Lanka from the Himalayas.
- Tsomgo (Changu) Lake – Tsomgo Lake or Changu Lake, is a glacial lake in the East Sikkim region, some 40 km from Gangtok. The fact, that the elevation of the lake rises from 5000 (Gangtok) feet to 10,000 feet in a span of 15 km, makes it one of the most exciting rides ever. It is enveloped by majestic mountains from all sides and offers unmatched serenity to travelers.
- Nathu La Pass – At an altitude of 4300 m, Nathu La Pass acts as one of the 3 links between India and China. The place also has historical relevance because it was the place through which the ancient silk route used to operate till 1962.You can also catch a glimpse of the fenced Indo-China border few meters away and you can spot both Indian and Chinese soldiers guarding the border. It requires a full day trip from Gangtok to visit Nathula. The trip is usually combined with visits to Tsomgo Lake and Baba Mandir.
For a detailed list of Gangtok tourist attractions, check the blog Top 20 Places To Visit In Gangtok.
With this ready reckoner of best things to do in Gangtok, there is enough fodder for tourists and adventure enthusiasts to plan an unforgettable trip this north eastern beauty!
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