Hidden Gems Around Darjeeling: Budget, Stay, Food, Places19 min read

Darjeeling

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Expenditure: INR 9000/- for 2 people (Excluding flights)

Duration: 5 days

One of the most underrated states in East India, West Bengal consists of many beautiful hill stations and cities which most people don’t even give a second glance. You wouldn’t even know about these places until you explicitly search for them because let’s face it, the only thing we remember from West Bengal is Kolkata and Darjeeling. I have been to West Bengal twice now but I still have so much left to see and tell you about.
 
I went to West Bengal in March and I am truly glad that I didn’t just visit Darjeeling and came back because I would have missed out on a lot then. I still have to revisit this state because I am not done exploring it but in the meanwhile, why don’t you check out some of these places which I visited during my recent trip?

 

Siliguri

The starting point to your trip, if you are planning to skip Kolkata and the nearby places, is Siliguri which offers you an airport to enter the state of Sikkim or make your way to Darjeeling but it’s famous Bagdogra airport is not what makes this place interesting.
 
Siliguri, West Bengal
Siliguri
A small town in Kolkata, this place is full of tea farms which provide your sore eyes with the much-needed relief by providing you a green landscape to observe and fresh, clean air to breathe in. You might not find a lot of tourist spots here which is just fine because this place certainly doesn’t need them. It is a great place to get away from the city hustle bustle and spend some peaceful, quality time without having to withdraw yourself into a cocoon. The temperature remains cool most of the time, it is a little hot in the afternoon but as the evening approaches, the air becomes crispy cold, beckoning you to adorn a sweatshirt or pullover to protect yourself from the cold.
 
Siliguri is also the main hub for traveling to Darjeeling and other places in Sikkim. You will find both buses and shared sumos from here which will take you to these places at a reasonable cost.

Darjeeling

Well, this place needs no introduction as 99℅ of you all must have surely heard about this famous tea-generating place once in your life. Famous for its tea, Darjeeling is on the most beautiful hill stations of West Bengal and can now also be remembered as the place where film ‘Barfi’ was shot. This place would get the Bollywood streak out of you as the streets blare out various Shahrukh’s songs while you are strolling around this place.


There are many old stone buildings pit here and various places that you could visit on your trip. Some of the places worth visiting are the Tiger hill, Ghum monastery, Batasia loop and the famous Darjeeling station.
 
If you do end up in Darjeeling make sure that you do not miss out on the Tiger Hill. It offers you an amazing sunrise and you can see the Kanchenjunga mountains being bathed in the early morning red rays of the sun. Trust me, it is one of the most beautiful scenes you could have ever witness. Beware though because this place is jam-packed on a weekend so, make sure you turn up really early if you want the front row seats. Also, it is always cold at this place and the chilly winds could really freeze you if you don’t cover yourself adequately. Make sure you wear a warm jacket, a pair of gloves and a woolen cap to avoid getting frozen to death.
Darjeeling, West Bengal
Sunrise at Tiger Hill
Another must-do activity in Darjeeling is the famous steam engine toy train which takes you around through the city of Darjeeling, Ghoom and brings you back to Darjeeling. Batasia loop is another great place in Darjeeling where you can just stay and look at the view around. It is quite peaceful and offers you a panoramic view of Darjeeling. You will also find that the Darjeeling you train makes a stop here so you can easily stop here and then carry on with your train journey.
 
Apart from these three main activities, you will also find other places to visit in Darjeeling and Ghoom like the Ghoom monastery, Pagoda temple, mall road and the list goes on.

 

Mirik

 
Another charming place to visit which is just 60kms from Darjeeling is the enchanting Mirik Lake. The interesting thing about this place is that is lies near the Nepal border and on the way to Mirik, you actually drive along the Nepal border and can even enter Nepal from the Pashupati market, which again lies on the way to Mirik. While you don’t need to spend a full day in Mirik, unless you have a lot of days, Mirik does provide you a mesmerizing escape for at least 4-5 hours. On the way, you will fall in love with the road, the scenery and the trees that line up the road to Mirik. You will feel like you are in some magical land and that any moment now, you will see a magical creature coming along from behind a tree.
Mirik, West Bengal
Mirik Forest
On the way to Mirik, you will come across that Indo-Nepal border which is situated 20-25kms from Darjeeling and from here, you can view the Kanchenjunga mountains and the Nepal valleys. You can stop here for some time and enjoy the hot Maggi/Wai Wai with an enjoyable cup of tea/coffee. Trust me, this place offers you the best of both the world’s with the food and the view together.
 
After the Indo-Nepal border comes the Pashupati market which is your entry to Nepal. Don’t expect too much from this place, it is a normal market and to be honest, you won’t see anything different here but just the knowing feeling that you are in Nepal somehow is exciting enough.
Finally, after going through a path which is filled with many trees and tea farms, you will finally enter Mirik. You will find that this place is more like a picnic spot. You have your enchanting and sparkling lake here, a bridge to cross over to the forest side and a mini scale forest. There is also a temple here which is pretty famous that you can visit. So, you can spend a few hours here before heading back to Darjeeling. You might be wondering if it would be better to stay at Mirik or just come here from Darjeeling. I would suggest that you take a one-day trip from Darjeeling to here because it isn’t far and it would give you adequate time to roam around.
 

Teesta Valley

 
The next amazing place to visit would be the Teesta valley. Although it is not much of a tourist spot and is just a small village on your way to Kalimpong, I cannot describe to you how beautiful and peaceful it looks. You will find that there are many small houses here and a clear water river flowing by its side which flows between the mountains and is one of the most famous rivers of both West Bengal and Sikkim. I would have loved to stay at this place for a couple of hours or maybe a day or two too and just enjoy the serenity and calmness which you will experience alongside this beautiful river.
Teesta, West Bengal
Teesta Valley
So, if you are going for a long time or if you are going by your own vehicle, do stay at this place for a few hours. It is too beautiful to miss out on, I definitely have to go again to experience it.
 

Kalimpong

 
Our last stop in West Bengal was Kalimpong. The route from Darjeeling to Kalimpong was quite scenic too and there were many small and beautiful villages on the way which made me wish that I could stay here forever. You will come across a lot of places with Buddhist flags flying around which adds a more colorful touch to these villages.
 
In Kalimpong, there are a few places that you need to definitely visit. There is the Deolo hills, Mangal Dham, Durpin monastery, Golf course, cactus farm, and the list goes on.
Kalimpong, West Bengal
Deolo Hills
I would personally suggest you do not miss out on the Deolo park and viewpoint as it is considered the highest point in Kalimpong and provides you with an amazing view of the mountains and the valleys. You can also do paragliding from here and you can just chill and enjoy the view from here for some time.
The next place I would suggest you go is the Mangal Dham which is quite beautifully constructed and is an ode to Lord Krishna. So, if you like going to temples or just want to observe the architecture, then this place is a must visit.
 
Another important place to visit is the Golf course. Now, you might wonder why should we visit a golf course, there are so many on plain land too. Well, this one is certainly more interesting because it lies on the hillside and you can see the mountain ranges and the valleys from here. Just remember, this place is closed on Mondays so plan your trip accordingly.
 
The last, but not the least, you should definitely visit the cactus farm. This farm has numerous cactus growing in its nursery and you will just marvel at the type of cactus which actually exist. I had no idea that there were so many types of cactus out there. Another great thing about this nursery is that you can buy a small plant from here for just which won’t require you to water them a lot. There are several plants which require watering only once every week. Doesn’t that sound like a dream come true now?
 

Things You Need To Try in West Bengal

 
1. Well, I would definitely advise you to try the steam engine toy train which runs from Darjeeling to Ghoom. This round-trip journey would cost you somewhere around 1700 rupees per person but if you aren’t on a tight budget, then this is a train you need to travel on. It would take around 3-4 hours and you will get to see the streets and the mesmerizing views from this train.
2. If you have always wanted to do paragliding once, then Deolo hills are definitely the place for you. You will find numerous Paragliding companies here who would take you for a 15 minutes experience at the cost of 2500-3500. Trust me, the view from this hills would be purely amazing.
 
3. Buy a small plant from the cactus farm as it not only cheap but will also offer you a variety of plants which are easy to maintain. You can gift these plants to other people or just keep them at your house. They don’t cost more than 150 rupees and you just need to water them once or twice in a week.
Kalimpong
Nursery in Kalimpong

What to Eat

Cheese Omelette and Thupka are a must try!

Well, you won’t find a lot of places to eat a good North India or South Indian food here, but you will definitely find lots of momos, snacks, and egg dishes.
Food wouldn’t be too costly here but you would find more of egg-based dishes or Chinese dishes over here. So, let’s start with each place.
 

Siliguri

 
In Siliguri, you might not find a lot of nice places to eat but you can definitely try the street side vendors here. They offer you many egg dishes which are simply delicious and doesn’t cost you more than 50-60 rupees. If you are a vegetarian, then you can definitely consider eating grapes and oranges here. I am not saying that you won’t find food here at all, there are many restaurants and hotels here but if you are looking for delicious food, then you might be out of luck over here.

Darjeeling

Don’t miss out on the Glenary’s Bakery!

Well, you should have no food problem in Darjeeling. There are many amazing shops and restaurants which offer you amazing vegetarian and non-vegetarian food. Just a fair warning though, you would find more Chinese food here. That being said, you need to try the cheese omelet, momos and thupka over here. Your one time meal won’t cost you more than 100-200 rupees. I can definitely suggest you a few amazing places here to eat in.
 
The first place that you definitely need to check out is the Glenary’s bakery. It is on the upper mall road and gives you the best muffins and tarts. You will find here different types of coffee served too and the ambiance is just wow.
 
Hidden Gems Around Darjeeling: Budget, Stay, Food, Places 1
Glenary’s Bakery in Darjeeling

The next place that you should definitely check out in the Kanchan restaurant which is again on the upper mall road but it is a little on the top of the hill and you might need to walk a little. It gives one of the best Cheese Omelets which cost you just 70 rupees and are super yummy.

 

Hidden Gems Around Darjeeling: Budget, Stay, Food, Places 2
Kanchan Restaurant, Darjeeling

Kalimpong

Again you will find more of Chinese at this place and fewer restaurants offering you north Indian or South Indian food but noodles and Manchurian is actually good over here so you can definitely try it.
 
You should also try the famous Bengali sweet over here which is basically Rasgulla made of Chhena but you will find many variations in it.
Hidden Gems Around Darjeeling: Budget, Stay, Food, Places 3
Type of Rasgulla

Where to Stay

Use Goibibo.com for booking hotels.

You will find a lot of hotels in all these places in varying ranges. If you want a decent hotel with a lot of facilities, it would cost you between 750-1500 rupees per room. If you want a cheaper accommodation with minimum facilities, you would get it around 500-700 rupees per room per night.

You can either book the hotel beforehand or you can go there and try finding a place. If you are short on time, then I would recommend you book a place in advance. I used Goibibo.com for booking the hotels and usually, I found great deals which made the hotels cost just 400-500 rupees for me per night.

Best time to visit

Recommendation: January to April

It is important to know when to visit these places, else you might end up in the wrong season or the peak season.
 
If you are looking for slightly cheaper prices, then it would be better to visit during the low season which is December to mid-March. If you want to travel during a good weather when it isn’t raining much and you can enjoy the views properly, then I would advise you to go from Feb end to mid-March. After that, the high season starts and the prices go high.
 
Now, the high season lasts from mid-March to mid-June and is the ideal time to go on treks and other mountain hills as your view won’t be clouded. So, if you don’t mind the increased number of tourists and prices, then you can go during the high season.
 
 
From July, the rainfall starts and the high season comes to an end. You could visit during this time too but you wouldn’t find frequent transportation and you won’t be able to enjoy the view too. The good season starts again from September to November.

 

How to travel around

Recommendation: Shared Sumos

The cheapest mode of traveling around in West Bengal would be by shared jeeps and buses if you are traveling solo or in a group of two. If you are 3-4 people, then you can easily hire a cab for yourself.
 
There aren’t a lot of buses going around too, so you would need to put your faith in shared taxis and private cabs. I have jotted down all the prices and timings that I was quoted by various drivers and hotels.
 

Siliguri

In Siliguri, you will find a lot of buses and shared jeeps, so there is no need for taking a private cab. A bus and a shared Jeep would cost you only 20-30 rupees and you will find them at frequent intervals.
Siliguri
Taxi Stand at Siliguri

 

Darjeeling

There are many sightseeing shared jeeps which take you to the famous places of Darjeeling and Ghoom and don’t take more than 200-300 per person. For a private vehicle, they would ask you 1500-1800 if it is low season and this would include the tiger hills and all the other places like Ghoom monastery, Batasia loop, etc. In high season, the same package would cost you 2500 for the whole vehicle.

Mirik

Since we went for Mirik from Darjeeling itself, we took a one day package which cost us around 1300 as it was the low season. In high season, the Mirik package would cost you something around 2000. It includes the border, Pashupati market, and the Mirik lake. You could also take a shared Jeep for Mirik sightseeing but its frequency isn’t as much. You will also need to leave from Mirik by 2 as that is the last Jeep for the return journey. For the onward journey, you will find jeeps from 7-8 in the morning and it would cost you around 150 rupees per person.


Kalimpong

You will find many shared jeeps here for the sightseeing but you would need to start early for that. I’d you reach Kalimpong by 12, you won’t find any shared cabs for sightseeing. In that case, you can take a private cab which will take around 1100 to show you all the places and will take around 5-6 hours.
Hidden Gems Around Darjeeling: Budget, Stay, Food, Places 4
Kalimpong Taxi Stand
Note: If you have a lot of time then go for shared jeeps but if you are short on time, then I would suggest you stick to private cabs. You will need to bargain a little to get the prices down. You can find the contact number of the cab services which we used for Darjeeling, Mirik, and Kalimpong.
 

 

How to reach
 

Flight tickets cost: 8300 /- INR(Return included)
Train Tickets: 5300/- INR(2nd A.C)(Return Included)

Now you must be wondering how can you reach these places. I’ll first start with reaching West Bengal.

Air

The nearest airport to all these places is the Bagdogra airport which is accessible from many other airports. You will find many connecting and direct flights to this place but they would have a fixed timing. If you book early, you can book your flight tickets for 8300 for a round trip.
Hidden Gems Around Darjeeling: Budget, Stay, Food, Places 5
Flight to Kolkata

Train

The nearest station is the New Jalpaiguri station or the Siliguri station. You will find a lot of trains from the north side but very few from the south side.

Local Traveling

 

Bagdogra to Siliguri

 

To reach the main Siliguri city, you can take a bus, a cab or a shared taxi from the airport. A bus will cost you just 30 rupees and will take around 45 minutes to reach. You will find a bus leaving in every 1 hour.
 
If you are in a hurry, then you can take a shared taxi which will cost you 300 rupees per person. A private cab will cost you somewhere around 800 rupees for dropping you off at the Siliguri main junction.

Bagdogra to Darjeeling

If you plan to go directly to Darjeeling, then you can take a private cab which would cost you 2000-2200 rupees.
 
You will mostly not find any shared jeeps because usually flights land in the second half of the day and most shared jeeps leave by then. In this case, you can take a bus to Siliguri bus stand and take a shared Jeep from there which would cost you 200 rupees per person.
 

Siliguri to Darjeeling

If you leave early morning from Siliguri, then you can catch a bus from the Tenzing Norway bust stand which would take around 4-5 hours to reach and 150 rupees per person. The first bus leaves at 6 in the morning and the last one leaves at 2 p.m. in the afternoon.
You can also take shared taxis which will take 3-3.5 hours to reach Darjeeling and will cost you 160 rupees per person. The amount of time you would need to wait for the taxi to start depends on how soon it gets filled. Usually, it gets filled in half an hour so it shouldn’t be a problem. Go for front row seats or the middle row seats, back row seats are quite uncomfortable.
 
A private taxi would cost you INR 2500/- from Siliguri to Darjeeling.

Darjeeling to Kalimpong

You will find many shared jeeps starting early in the morning and it will cost you INR 200/- per person. It takes 2.5-3 hours to reach Kalimpong. The last shared Jeep to Kalimpong will be around 2-3 p.m. You can also opt for a private cab which will cost you around 1800 and will take roughly the same time to reach Kalimpong.

Kalimpong to Siliguri/Bagdogra

You will find many shared jeeps and a few buses from Kalimpong in West Bengal to return back and all these will start at 6 a.m. A bus would cost you 150 rupees and a shared Jeep would cost you 200 rupees. You can also take a private cab which will cost you 1800 for dropping you off.

Darjeeling to Siliguri/Bagdogra

Again, you would find a lot of transport options from Darjeeling to Siliguri or Bagdogra. A private cab will cost 2200 for Bagdogra and 2500 for Siliguri junction. A shared Jeep will take 200 rupees for Siliguri and around 250 for Bagdogra and will take 4 hours to reach both the places.
 
You will also find early morning buses to Siliguri which will take 4-5 hours. There won’t be any direct buses from Darjeeling to Bagdogra. You would need to take a bus from Siliguri to Bagdogra.

Comments

  1. Akshay Singavi

    The pictures are mesmerizing! Its the pictures that make me leave whatever I’m doing and just wish I could go to the place immediately!
    Pretty detailed also. I just feel, you should connect the transport details in a chain.
    Start from one point and then how to go to next and then back to start. That’ll make it more convinient to understand.

  2. Post
    Author
    RACHITA SAXENA

    Hi Akshay
    I am glad you liked the post so much. This place is truly enchanting and you should visit it once. 🙂
    Thank you for your feedback. I will definitely try to address this in our next post.
    Till then, happy traveling! 😀

  3. Aditya

    Amazing post! Came from one of your Youtube videos.
    Loved the way of you both sharing your experiences. The pictures are really stunning.
    I wonder do you guys keep traveling all the time? 🙂
    Looking forward to more posts and videos.

    1. nomllers

      Hi Aditya,

      Thank you so much. Really means a lot. We shall keep posting. 🙂

      Also, it really breaks my heart to say that we both do not travel all the time, yet. We soon will though 😀

  4. sahitya

    Fabulous pictures!! And i have ever seen a post which is well written. You just gave a great info by guiding what to see and where to stay. Thank you for sharing such information with us.

    1. Post
      Author
  5. vinit yadav

    The picture are amazing and you did a great job for writing this guide for people like us who want to travel new places. Thanks so much

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