Gangtok is truly a destination that promises breathtaking natural beauty, cultural richness, and a peaceful atmosphere. Nestled in the lap of the Himalayas, the city offers something for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers alike. With only 3 days to soak in all that it boasts, you'll need a comprehensive itinerary. In this blog, we'll guide you through planning the perfect Gangtok itinerary for 3 days.
Day 1: Ranka Monastery, Banjhakri Falls Park, Enchey Monastery, Hanuman Tok
Day 2: Himalayan Zoological Park, Ridge Park (Flower Exhibition Centre), Mahatma Gandhi Marg, Namgyal Institute of Tibetology, Sikkim Paragliding
Day 3: Black Cat Institute, Tsomgo Lake Ice Playground, Nathu La Pass
Upon your arrival at the Bagdogra Airport or New Jalpaiguri Railway Station, you'll find the nearest entry points to the city. From there, you can take a scenic drive through lush greenery to reach Gangtok.
Get ready to embark on your adventure in Gangtok - a city that's got a little something for everyone. With its monasteries, hill stations, and enchanting waterfalls, Gangtok is all set to give you the best vacation you've ever had.
The Ranka or Lingdum Monastery undoubtedly claims the title of the most picturesque Buddhist monastery. Its construction was initiated in 1992 but the completed structure was officially inaugurated in 1999. In any case, it's a relatively recent addition to Sikkim's extensive collection of monasteries. Located on a mountain range, the monastery was established by Zurmang Gharwang Rinpoche (the 12th incarnation of Zurmang Gharwang from the Kagyu Sect of Tibetan Buddhism).
This splendid monastery complex spans an expansive 21 acres of densely forested mountainside. Visitors are welcomed by a series of exquisitely carved prayer wheels upon entering. A spacious courtyard with a captivating central temple is positioned in the heart of the complex.
Entry is permitted throughout the entire premises, which sets it apart from other monasteries. It's essential, although, to be respectful of the monks and seek permission before capturing any photographs.
Timings: 8 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Fees: Free entry
Discover the beauty of Banjhakri Waterfalls, located approximately 7 km away from the Gangtok SNT Bus Station. It's a natural wonder tucked within a landscaped park in Gangtok. This site ranks among Gangtok's top tourist attractions and stands as one of the most exquisite waterfalls in the region.
Boasting a descent from a towering height of around 70 ft., it offers a glimpse into the rich cultural heritage of Sikkim. The term "Banjhakri" can be interpreted as "woodland shaman", and Sikkim's native communities have a rich tradition that greatly respects these individuals. These communities are renowned for their native healers, referred to as "Jhakris," who are believed to possess mystical abilities according to local legends.
Spanning an area of 2 acres, the Banjhakri Energy Park (also known as the Energy Park), has been established in the vicinity of these waterfalls. For those seeking an optimal experience, plan your visit between October and February - the best time to visit the falls.
Timings: 9 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Fees: INR 50/person (approx.)
Distance (from Ranka Monastery): 23 mins (8.1 km)
Also known as the 'Solitary Monastery' in its literal translation, Enchey Monastery is of great significance. It's a prominent seat of the Nyingma sect within Tibetan Buddhism. Over two centuries ago, it served as the spiritual abode of Lama Dhrupthob Karpo. He was a tantric master who is said to have had remarkable flying abilities. The monastery is sacred, and known to be the dwelling place of the protective deities Khangchendzonga and Yabdean.
Visitors have the opportunity to witness a traditional performance - the renowned 'Chaam' dance. It's held on the 18th and 19th days of the 12th lunar month in the Tibetan calendar. Adjacent to the monastery is the Namgyal Institute of Tibetology. It's a prestigious institution dedicated to the study of Buddhist philosophy and religion.
If you wish to immerse yourself in the tapestry of Buddhist culture, September and October are the best times to visit. It allows you to experience the annual 'Detor Chaam' Festival, and rejoice in the famous Monk Chaam dance.
Timings: 9 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Fees: Free entry
Distance (from Banjhakri Falls Park): 35 mins (10.5 km)
Situated 11 km from Gangtok in Sikkim, Hanuman Tok (or Temple) is a revered temple complex dedicated to Lord Hanuman. A visit to this sacred site is a spiritual experience, attracting devotees from all corners of the country. As you ascend the stairs, the distant echoes of prayers and the soothing strains of religious music greet you.
This holy sanctuary is really special, offering breathtaking views of lush greenery. One can also encounter a glimpse of Mount Kanchenjunga, the third tallest peak in the world. You can get a panoramic view of nearby hills and valleys, as well as Gangtok Town. While at Hanuman Tok, you'll also encounter numerous stupas and chortens.
Just before reaching the stairway entrance, there is a cremation ground belonging to the Namgyal Royal family of Sikkim. Explore the temple between March and June, which is the optimal time period.
Timings: 7 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Fees: Free entry
Distance (from Enchey Monastery): 16 mins (4.7 km)
Once you've soaked in the spiritual essence of various monasteries and temples, it's time to gear up. From this point on, you'll be embarking on an adventure across the enchanting landscapes of Sikkim. From national park hikes and market exploration, to thrilling paragliding experiences - the fun has just begun!
Not just a haven for beautiful wildlife - the Himalayan Zoological Park is an enclosure. There are trees on both sides of the path that leads you inside. This park is perched at an elevation of 1,780 m, covering about 230 hectares of forested terrain. It further offers a gorgeous view of Mt. Kanchenjunga. This distinctive park ranks among the finest destinations to observe exotic wildlife thriving in their natural habitats.
The star attraction of the park is undeniably the endangered red pandas. One can encounter these precious creatures playfully navigating the treetops. Apart from the treasured red pandas, it is also home to a diverse range of wildlife native to the Himalayas.
The list includes the Himalayan black bear, Himalayan monal pheasant, Himalayan palm civet, snow leopard, goral, and crimson-horned pheasant. Visit between February and May, or from September to December, for the best experience.
Timings: 8 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Fees: INR 25/adult, INR 10/child (approx.)
Distance (from Hanuman Tok): 17 mins (6.2 km)
Sikkim boasts an impressive array of over 4,000 different types of flowering plants. With over 600 distinct orchid species, and a delightful assortment of unique rhododendron varieties, you’re sure to be in awe. It’s a paradise for all nature lovers - this site should definitely be on your bucket list.
A visit to both the Ridge Park and the Flower Exhibition Centre is highly recommended if you wish to become one with the botanical diversity. Adjacent to the Chief Minister's residence, the Ridge Park unfolds as a landscaped garden adorned with fountains and a traditional gazebo.
Descending slightly below the Ridge Park, you'll encounter the Flower Exhibition Centre. It's essentially a treasure trove of Sikkim's exquisite flowers sourced from every corner of the region. The prime time to visit would be between March and June. This is when the orchids are in full bloom, captivating the senses of all who drop by.
Timings: 9 a.m. - 5:15 p.m.
Fees: INR 10-20/person (approx.)
Distance (from Himalayan Zoological Park): 18 mins (6.1 km)
As a tourist visiting Gangtok for the first time, strolling down MG Marg is sure to be a quintessential experience. This pedestrian-only zone is the city's main esplanade that stands out for its modern design. It’s striking amidst the typical bustling streets you might find in other popular hill stations across India. You'll come across several high-end restaurants, bakeries, lively bars, well-stocked bookshops, retail stores, souvenir boutiques, and inviting benches scattered throughout.
Make your way to Lal Bazaar if you're seeking a more authentic and local vibe away from the cosmopolitan atmosphere. Here, you'll encounter a different kind of commotion, with indigenous shopkeepers, skilled artisans, vegetable vendors, and local eateries.
To truly immerse yourself in Gangtok's culture, we recommend striking up a friendly conversation with the vendors lining the streets. It's a fantastic way to connect with the heart and soul of the city.
Timings: 8 a.m. - 7 p.m.
Distance (from Himalayan Zoological Park): 9 mins (1.9 km)
The Namgyal Institute of Tibetology is a significant institution dedicated to the study and research of the Tibetan language, art, religion, and culture. Its architectural wonder showcases the beauty of traditional Tibetan design, with golden-lined towers, frescoes, murals, and a multitude of windows.
You can fill your bag with unique gifts and souvenirs, including exquisite German silverware and authentic Sikkimese clothing at Asta Mangala Art. It's conveniently located just across from the institute. Within a short stroll, you'll discover the Do-Drul Chorten Stupa, a top-rated attraction in Gangtok that's not to be missed. The institute warmly welcomes visitors year-round, making it a must-visit destination at any time.
Timings: 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Fees: INR 10/person (approx.)
Distance (from MG Marg): 8 mins (1.7 km)
There's nothing quite like the thrill of taking to the skies with a session or two of paragliding in and around Gangtok. You'll be treated to mesmerizing views of the majestic Himalayas as you soar high above the stunning valleys. Plus, you'll get a bird's-eye view of the charming city of Gangtok itself.
Thanks to the lush forests that blanket most of the region, you'll enjoy a pristine, pollution-free route, all under the guidance of skilled professionals. You have options when it comes to paragliding in Gangtok, with three popular sites. Ani Gompa offers a quick paragliding experience, whereas Baliman Dara is perfect for a medium-length flight.
On the other hand, Bulbuley Dara is where you can go for the ultimate high-flying adventure. The best time to indulge in this exhilarating activity is between March and June or from September to November. During these months, the weather is delightful, and the skies remain clear for the most part.
Timings: 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Fees: Paragliding Charges - INR 2500/person for medium flight, INR 4500/person for high flight (approx.)
Distance (from MG Marg): 35 mins (10.2 km)
Also Read: Adventure Sports In Sikkim
After a fun, adventurous, and exhilarating day, it's time to wind down by touring more renowned cultural sites. Wrap up your trip with a lasting memory of the vibrant culture and heritage of Gangtok.
A military officers' facility in Gangtok, The Black Cat Institute offers fantastic accommodations and dining options exclusively for armed forces members. Its prime location near the bustling MG Road makes it incredibly convenient for visitors. For those interested in exploring the local flora and fauna, the institute's museum is a must-visit.
It's a treasure trove of artifacts and information about the region's wildlife. Plus, the institute hosts educational programs focusing on environmental issues and conservation efforts. During your visit to the Black Cat Institute, opt for these activities:
The best time to experience the Black Cat Institute's charm is during the pleasant months of March to May or September to November.
Timings: 9 a.m. - 7 p.m.
Fees: Free entry
Distance (from Sikkim Paragliding): 33 mins (10.3 km)
Also Read: Best Places To Visit In Gangtok In Summer
Cap off your trip to Gangtok with a long drive to Tsomgo Lake. Also known as Changu Lake, it's a captivating glacier lake that's quite the hotspot for tourists. It sits pretty at a lofty altitude of 3,753 meters (12,313 feet), about 40 kilometers away from the capital, Gangtok.
The lake is an absolute stunner, enveloped by snow-dusted mountains. There are various activities you can partake in while touring Tsomgo Lake. This includes taking a leisurely walk around the lake, taking photographs of the spectacular scenery.
It's recommended to go for a boat cruise across the lake for a thrilling yet peaceful venture. Children can explore the nearby playground, while the adults take in the breathtaking view of the Himalayas. Also, don't forget to visit the Buddhist temple adjacent to the lake.
For those planning a visit, the best time to experience Tsomgo Lake in all its frozen glory is from January to March. For the record, you'll need a permit to access this natural wonder, which you can easily acquire from the Sikkim Tourism Department.
Timings: 7:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Fees: Free entry
Distance (from Sikkim Paragliding): 1 hr. 15 mins (41.5 km)
Nathu La is a high-altitude mountain pass in the Himalayas that connects Sikkim with China. It's one of the highest motorable roads in the world, at 14,450 ft. above sea level. The pass is located on the Old Silk Road, which was once an important trade route between India and China.
You can also check out the border pillars that mark the India-China border, and visit the Baba Harbhajan Singh Mandir, a shrine dedicated to an Indian soldier who was killed in the area. The best time to visit Nathu La is between April & May, or September & October. The weather is mild during these months, and the pass is less crowded.
Here are some tips for your visit to Nathu La:
Timings: 8 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Fees: Nathula Pass Permit - INR 200/person, INR 900-1000/shared vehicle (approx.)
Distance (from Sikkim Paragliding): 32 mins (17.3 km)
Also Read: Gangtok Travel Guide
Gangtok is evidently a place to experience everything all at once. The region offers an adventure outlet for thrill seekers, and tranquil escapes for the wanderlusts. With breathtaking landscapes, warm hospitality, and unforgettable memories, it'll be an experience that'll linger on!
Is 3 Days Enough To Visit Gangtok?
Attractions in Gangtok are easily accessible, even those situated close to the city. In 3 days, you can experience the city's rich culture, exciting adventures, and delicious food.
What Is The Easiest Way To Reach Gangtok?
Gangtok is well-connected to neighboring cities like Darjeeling and Siliguri by a network of well-maintained roads. The nearest airport is Bagdogra Airport, which is only 120 kilometers away.
Is Gangtok Expensive To Visit?
Gangtok is generally more expensive than Darjeeling, due to its high-end hotels and restaurants, and the overall higher cost of living.
Which Month Is The Best To Visit Gangtok, Sikkim?
The best time to visit Sikkim is between March to May, or October to December. The spring season is a great time to see the blooming flowers in Gangtok, while the autumn season offers clear views of the Himalayan mountains.
Which Season Is Not Suitable For A Sikkim Trip?
The monsoon season in the state runs from July to September. During this time, the region experiences average to heavy rainfall, making it not the most ideal time to explore.
Is Gangtok Good For Honeymoon?
Gangtok and Darjeeling, nestled in Northeast India, offer a blend of charming locals and cloud-kissed hills. These enchanting destinations boast tea gardens, toy train rides, gondola experiences, and countless other treasures awaiting your honeymoon adventure.