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Essence of Sikkim and Darjeeling


9 days 8 nights

Code SCT96

Category Sikkim Classic Tours

  • Difficulty Level 1
  • Rating Popular
  • Highest Altitude 2,550 m( 8,364 ft.)
  • Trip Starts From Bagdogra
  • Trip Ends At Bagdogra
  • Type Tours
  • Destination Darjeeling Pelling Yuksom Excursion Martam Gangtok Kalimpong Bagdogra
Dates & Prices

Overview

Sikkim and Darjeeling lie in the foothills of the East Himalayas and attract a large number of travelers every year that includes trekkers, adventure enthusiasts, honeymooners and simply just the people who love to be in the tranquil and serene beauty of the nature.

Mount Kanchenjunga is the third highest mountain in the world and is the glory of the Eastern Himalayas and is venerated by the Sikkim people as their guardian deity. In this trip, you will visit the ancient monasteries dedicated to different sects of Tibetan Buddhism, drive through the tea and cardamom plantations, experience the British introduced Toy Train Ride, take some village hikes, and meet the friendly locals. The culture and lifestyle of both Sikkim and Darjeeling reflect strong influences from the neighboring countries of Bhutan, Nepal and Tibet.

The trip can also be taken as a post or pre-trip of your Bhutan or Nepal trip. Bagdogra airport connects this region with Kolkata, Delhi, and Guwahati. If you are traveling to or from Nepal, Bhadrapur airport is about one-hour drive from Bagdogra and serves as your gateway.

Detailed Itinerary

Day 01~Arrive in Darjeeling

Upon arrival at Bagdogra Airport, you are met by your guide and driven to Darjeeling (100km/65 miles, 3 ½ hrs). It’s a scenic drive through the coniferous forests and terraced tea gardens. Darjeeling, situated at an altitude of 2,134m has soothing temperature and was developed by British as Hill Resort in order to avoid the heat of summer. On a clear weather day, we can enjoy spectacular views of Himalayas that includes the third highest mountain on earth- Kanchenjunga- which the Sikkim people regard as their guardian deity. Upon arrival, check in hotel and after some rest, take a stroll in Chowrasta.

Meals : Dinner
Day 02~Darjeeling

You are awakened early in the morning and driven to Tiger Hill (11km/7 miles) for sunrise and mountain panorama view. Tiger hill (2590 m.) is the highest point in this area and famous for breath-taking sunrise view on Mount Kanchenjunga. Mount Everest (8,848)- the highest mountain in the world is also visible on a clear day. Return to the hotel and after breakfast; embark on sightseeing of the highlights of Darjeeling. We visit the Mountaineering Institute, Himalayan Zoo etc. We will also experience the Toy Train ride and on return, visit the Ghoom Monastery.

 

Overnight: Hotel New Elgin
Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 03~Drive from Darjeeling to Pelling (132km/83 miles, 5 hrs)

Today we drive in the morning to Pelling, a fascinating journey that winds through steep climb down through tea estates across river Teesta. We enter into west Sikkim winding along the river Rangit where panoramic view of the Kanchenjunga and the entire row of peaks are awaited. Check in hotel and after some rest, we pay a visit to the Pemayangtse monastery- one of the finest Monastery of Sikkim and the second oldest, built in 1716. It is an impressive and beautiful building which houses the unusual Sangdok Palri "Temple of Heaven" which contains a wooden figure that took 7 years to carve single-handedly by the late Dugzom. The monastery preserves the priceless Rinpoche.

 

Overnight: Hotel Norbughang
Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 04~Yuksom Excursion (44 km/28 miles round trip, 3 hrs one way)

Early in the morning we trek to Sangacholing monastery where sunrise over Kanchenjunga and the adjoining peaks can be seen on a clear day (optional).
Late morning, we leave for Yuksom- the first capital of Sikkim where the first Chogyal (king) of Sikkim was crowned on a stone throne, close to Norbugang Monastery. Close to the throne, we can see the footprint of the Lama Latsum Chenbo who consecrated the king. On the way to Yuksom, we visit Khecheopari Lake- the sacred Buddhist Mountain Lake with a crystal-clear water. It has a myth that when a leaf falls on the placid crystal water of the lake, it’s picked up by a bird and leave the waters clean. The lake is also famous as “wish fulfilling lake”. If you wish something with good heart by this lake, you will get it. We return to our hotel in Pelling.

Overnight: Hotel Norbughang
Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 05~Drive from Pelling to Martam (5 hrs)

After breakfast we leave Pemayantse and drive towards Gangtok. About 9km/6 miles before Gangtok, the road forks and we take left towards Rumtek and Martam. It is a lovely drive as the road snakes through typical Sikkimese villages and a great many paddy fields. The entire area resembles a green carpet from July to Sep. Later, during Oct-Nov, which is the harvest season, the entire place is a sight to behold with golden paddy swaying in the breeze. From December onwards, the paddy is harvested and the hill takes on a brown hue. We arrive Rumtek, which is about 12 km from the main highway. We stop here to visit the famous Rumtek Monastery which was built by the 16th Karmapa Lama- the supreme head of the Kagyu sect of Tibetan Buddhism. The 16th Karmapa, along with his followers, fled Tibet in 1959 after Chinese takeover of Tibet and built this monastery with the help of Sikkim’s Chogyal (king) Tashi Namgyal to preserve the wealth of his lineage and portable spiritual treasures & relics. Also visit the Karma Nalanda Institute for higher Buddhist studies. After an hour in this monastery, we drive further 5 km to the little village of Martam and check in a beautiful cottage resort. Take a shower and spend leisurely in the library of the resort which is decently stocked and you will find some books on Sikkim as well. If you have still energy left, you can hike 10 minutes up to the hill just above the resort to visit a small monastery called Mani. The view from here is beautiful and you can see the Tinjure Hills looming right behind you and in front is sprawled the charming paddy fields that make up Martam. Return to the cottage.

Overnight: Martham Village Resort
Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 06~Martam Village Walk and drive to Gangtok

There is a small cluster of village near the resort. Walk to the village and chat with the locals and learn more about their lifestyle. Also visit St. Joseph's Convent School, which is quite a decent one and a lot of families have turned their homes into small hostels where the students stay. Return to the resort, bid farewell to the staff of the resort and drive to Gangtok- the capital of Sikkim. We retrace drive and join the main road at Ranikhola. Gangtok- the capital of the lost Himalayan Kingdom lies on a ridge overlooking the Ranipool River. Gangtok which means a High Hill, lies at an altitude of 1760 m. Upon arrival, check in hotel and after some rest; visit Tsuk-la-Khang, the royal chapel which is standing on a high bridge. This is the major place of worship and has a large and impressive collection of scriptures. We also visit the institute of cottage industries which is an attraction as a wide range of local handicrafts in Lepcha style are produced here. We also visit the Enchey monastery which is believed to be 200 years old. The monks of this monastery belong to the Mahayana Buddhism.

Overnight: Dezong Residency
Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 07~Explore Gangtok

Today, we visit the unique Research Institute of Tibetology on a hilltop which was established in 1958 to promote research on Tibet and Mahayana Buddhism. Here, we will see the biggest collection of Tibetan scripts and an excellent collection of rare Thangka, bronze and cult objects. We also visit orchid Sanctuary which is lying south of the institute. This sanctuary contains over 450 indigenous species. Sikkim is considered paradise for orchid lovers. After the visit of sanctuary we walk in the bazaar of Gangtok through the area of old palace. 

Overnight: Dezong Residency
Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 08~Drive from Gangtok to Kalimpong

After breakfast, leave for Kalimpong (2 hrs). The road winds its way through the hillside following the Teesta River and passing through some of the most beautiful villages in the region. Kalimpong is bustling and rapidly growing town, though relatively small and is set amongst the rolling foothills and deep valleys of the Himalayas. The culture and lifestyle of locals reflect the influences of neighbouring Nepal, Bhutan and Tibet. Check in hotel and after some rest, embark on the tour of the highlights of Kalimpong that includes Dr. Graham's Home, started in 1900 by a Scottish missionary, Dr. John Anderson Graham, who along with his wife, dedicated their lives in building up this beautiful complex for the education care of orphans and deprived children. Continue visits of Thapa Choling monastery- which houses a library of Tibetan manuscripts and Thangkas. It belongs to the yellow Hat sect. We will also visit the Thongsa monastery and Durpin Dara which is the highest point in Kalimpong with superb views over the plains rolling down to Siliguri. 

 

Overnight: New Elgin Hotel
Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 09~Transfer to Bagdogra Airport (about 80 km/50 miles, 4 hours)

In the morning, we drive through the wild Teesta valley to Bagdogra airport near Siliguri for your flight to New Delhi or Kolkata. If you are going to Kathmandu, you will be transferred to Bhadrapur Airport, which is further one hour drive from Siliguri. 

Meals : Breakfast

Trip Map

Trip Info

Cost Includes

  • Accommodation in moderate standard hotel on twin sharing.
  • 3 meals a day
  • All transfers and sightseeing by private vehicle
  • English speaking local guide.
  • Sightseeing admission fees
  • Necessary inner line permits.

Cost Does Not Include

  • Expenses of personal nature such as drink, optional tipping, laundry, phone etc.
  • Airfares to and out of Bagdogra.
  • Extra expenses caused due to nature and unforeseen events
  • Travel Insurance

Indian Visa and Sikkim Permits

Except Nepali and Bhutanese nationals, travelers from foreign countries require passport and visa to travel to India. Please, make sure that the remaining validity of your passport is at least 6 months at the time of travel. As India does not grant visa upon arrival, you need to obtain visa in advance. Beside Indian visa, you will require inner line permit (ILP) to enter Sikkim which you can request in advance along with visa application or we can locally obtain it from Sikkim Tourist offices in India. Foreigners are issued a permit for initial period of 15 days duration on the spot without any delay provided photocopies of Passport and Visa details along with two passport photos of applicants are made available then and there. It can be extended for further 30 days of 15 days each. The extension of permits can be obtained from Foreigners Registration Office (FRO), Gangtok and Superintendent of Police of North, South and West Districts. If we are trekking and traveling to remote restricted areas of Sikkim, we will require additional permits that we will take care of for you.

Getting into Sikkim and Darjeeling

From New Delhi, Kolkatta and Guwahati, you can fly into Bagdogra Airport in West Bengal from where both Gangtok and Darjeeling are 4-5 hrs drive by jeep. If you are traveling from Nepal, you can fly from Kathmandu to Bhadrapur airport in eastern Nepal where we can arrange you pick up and transfer to Gangtok. If you are traveling from Bhutan, we will arrange you pick up (on additional payment) at Phuentsoling-the Bhutanese border town from where Darjeeling or Gangtok is 6-8 hrs drive. You can also take train from major cities of India to New Jalpaigurhi train station where you will be received and transferred to Gangtok.

Best time for this trip.

Eastern Himalayan areas experiences cold winters between November to February and monsoon affects Darjeeling from the end of May/June to the middle of September. The best season to take this trip is between mid March through to mid June and this is also the time, the rhododendron and orchids come in bloom. October and November are also good months for this trip. March to early May is when sunshine is quite abundant.

Accommodation

There are limited choices for accommodation in Darjeeling and Sikkim area. The top end properties in Darjeeling and Sikkim are 3 star equivalent hotels with private bathroom with running hot and cold water. In Darjeeling, our choice of hotels is May Fair or New Elgin and Netuk House or Norkhill in Gangtok. They are locally managed properties, built in local style architecture and staffed with friendly locals. We will pick the best available properties in the rest of the places. In the remote areas, the accommodations are simple, wooden bungalows and run by the families and we do not expect full-fledged services and facilities. In the remote areas, there may be power outage at times and hot water supply may be disrupted.

Food

This trip features 3 meals a day. We will eat our breakfast and dinner at our hotels where as for the day meal, we are provided with cold lunch box. Hotels in the cities offer varieties that include Indian, Nepali and western style dishes but as we travel in the Western and North Sikkim, we may have limited choices. You may want to bring with you some energy bars, dry fruits and vitamin systems to maintain calorie level and keep the body system ticking.

Transportation

We provide you with SUVs or Jeeps for entire transfers and tours which are in good conditioned and well maintained. Being the mountainous road, the road condition may not be in the best form due to monsoon rain and landslides and mechanical breakdowns and flat tires are unpredictable but our drivers are experienced; prepared for all kinds of challenge. Rerouting of the itinerary due to landslides or road blockade is not an uncommon if you are traveling during summer and early autumn.

Guide

You will be accompanied by an experienced and knowledgeable English speaking local Guide throughout the tour. Our guides are college graduate, trained and certified by the local government authorities and most importantly, they are flexible and friendly. They will share their knowledge; guide you on the path and show the wonders of the areas that you would never discover on your own. Your guide will carry all the necessary vouchers and permits and deal with the local bureaucracies for you and coordinate with the local office and crews and make sure that your tour goes smoothly without a hitch.

Health Issues

There is no mandatory vaccination required for travel to India and Sikkim. Yet, you may consider vaccination against rabies and Hep A. Please, consult with your physician before you decide to take any vaccinations. We don’t attain any significant altitude in this trip and so we don’t need to worry about any altitude related illness. This trip requires some soft hikes and so some level of physical fitness is desired. Our hotels do maintain highest level of hygiene standard yet; we need to be cautious when we order food. Refrain from eating raw foods like with green salads which might be washed with untreated water. Avoid buying foods with the street vendors and drink only the bottled water and where bottled water is not available, please make sure that the water supplied is properly boiled and medicated.

International and internal travel, pre trip and post trips

Our land service starts from Bagdogra Airport in West Bengal, India or Bhadrapur Airport in Nepal. So, basically you can buy your international airfare to Delhi or Kolkatta in India or Kathmandu, Nepal.You need to allow a couple of nights in the gateway city before you fly to Bagdogra or Bhadrapur. We can make the arrangement for accommodations and transfers and in the gateway cities and also take care of the internal airfares. After the trekking, you may add a day trip to Taj Mahal for a day or two or visit the pink city of Jaipur for another two days. If you are starting or finishing your trip in Nepal, you should allow 2-3 days in Kathmandu touring the temples and palaces around and consider 2-3 days jungle safari rides in Chitwan National Park and two days in the beautiful Pokhara Valley

Note on Itinerary

Although we will do our very best to adhere to the itinerary schedule as listed; it is subject to change for numerous reasons beyond our control.

Booking and Cancellation

When you are sure you are traveling, please don't delay in booking.Timely made booking helps to secure reservation in preferred hotels and flights. A deposit of US$300 is requested along with complete trip application form and passport copies. Balance payment is due 60 days prior to your departure. Depending on the number of applicants, we may set an early payment date. Credit card payment attracts additional fee.

Cancellation fee

  • 90 days prior departure: Administrative fee US$ 150 per person.
  • 60-89 day's prior departure: US$ 250 or 25% of the land cost whichever is higher.
  • 45 days to 59 days prior departure: US$ 450 or 50% of the land cost whichever is higher.
  • 30 days to 44 days prior departure: US$ 600 or 75% of the land cost whichever is higher.
  • Less than 30 days: 100%

Travel Protection Plan

While we plan do our best to make your trip smooth and seamless, there may be chances of unforeseen events and conditions such as illness, accident, inclement weather, and flight cancellation or missed connection or loss of baggage etc. that may cause interruption or delay or total cancellation of your trip putting your hard earned travel investment in jeopardy. It’s also possible that you may need medical assistance, emergency evacuation or medical transportation when you get ill or involve in an accident when you are traveling in remote areas. Far & High’s Tour cost does not cover any of these expenses or losses and so we strongly recommend you that you should protect yourself and your travel investment against those unfavorable conditions.

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(Formerly Highland Asia Travel)

United States

8030 Old Cedar Ave S, Suite 123
Minneapolis, MN 55425
Tel: 1 612 605 4428
Fax: 612 807 1137

Nepal

Kapoordhara, Samakhusi, Kathmandu
Tel (977 1) 4351780, 4381823
Fax +977-1-4381369

Bhutan

KMT Building, Nordzin Lam, Thimphu
Tel (975-2) -329098 / +975-77204087
Fax (+975) 2 337004

Tibet

B5-1-2, B3 dong, Renchen garden,
No 13 Jiangsu road Lhasa Tibet China.
Tel: +86-(891)-6836609,
Fax: +86-(891)-6836619


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