Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim, is one of the most visited places in the Northeast region. It is a city of breathtaking natural beauty with high religious importance.
Additionally, Gangtok is one of the significant places for sacred Buddhist pilgrimages. Every year on several occasions, Buddhists, as well as non-Buddhist travelers, from around the globe visit Gangtok in thousands!
However, apart from the spiritual reasons, the alpine and subtropical climate of the region with its rich biodiversity and quiet surrounding makes Gangtok a perfect place for a cozy vacation and the perfect pictures!
In this guide, let’s check out some of the best Instagrammable spots in Gangtok.
Surrounded by neighboring countries like China, Bhutan, and Nepal from three sides, Sikkim has some regulations concerning trekking and traveling in some places for security reasons. These are different for Indians and foreigners.
For an Indian traveler who wishes to trek or travel within Sikkim, they have to obtain Protected Area Permit (PAP). This permit is for certain areas such as Singalila pass, Dhafeybir trek, Goecha la, etc. in the western districts of Sikkim.
For Northern Sikkim, the entire region is covered under PAP.
Protected Area Permit is also known as Trekking Permit. A foreigner or OCI who has ILP needs to get PAP for trekking too.
For an Indian tourist obtaining PAP is quite simple. They can register for PAP with the help of a proper tour operator.
For foreigners and Overseas Citizens of India (OCI), the permit is known as Restricted Area Permit (RAP) or Inner Line Permit (ILP).
The permit is given with certain relaxation depending on the country to belong to.
- Nepal, Bhutan, And Bangladesh
Nepalese and Bhutanese enjoy a certain amount of relaxation when it comes to obtaining ILP. The permit can be applied for at any Sikkim Check Post office and is free of cost.
- China, Pakistan, Myanmar, and Nigeria
Nationals of the above-mentioned countries can apply only through the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, New Delhi.
- Other Foreign Nationals
For other foreign nationals, the criteria to obtain a Restricted Area Permit is the same as that of Nepal, Bangladesh, and Bhutan. It is free of cost and can be registered from any Sikkim Check Post Office.
They should bring along their original Passport, Indian Visa/ e-visa with its photocopies, and some recent passport-sized photographs.
The two ILP issuing officers that you need to meet in the Sikkim Check Post Office are:
- Assistant Director of the Tourism Department of Sikkim. He will be found near Melli Police Check Post in South Sikkim.
- Assistant Director of the Tourism Department, Sikkim Tourism Office in Rangpo region of East Sikkim.
Inner Line Permit issuing starts from 8 am to 8 pm, all days of the week.
Gangtok sightseeing is all about spirituality and natural beauty. The city is located at a high altitude and surrounded by green mountains. It is a great tourist site for people who want quiet time in the hills but with a tinge of the modern world.
In the summer, the green mountains stroke you with a fresh morning breeze. Whereas, in winter, the snow-clad mountains create a perfect space for a romantic and cozy vacation.
Gangtok is also most people’s favorite spot when it comes to social media. Major parts of India have tropical climatic conditions. Hence, the lookout for snowy winters is consistent for many.
With the popularity of Instagram, people are always looking for a breathtaking place to post to garner more likes and followers. What better way to post places that is still largely unexplored?
Here are some of the places in Gangtok that are totally Instagram-worthy!
1. Tashi Viewpoint, Gangtok
This is the highest point in Gangtok town. If you are visiting Gangtok you should keep this place at the top of the list of your itinerary.
Tashi Viewpoint can be a great site to start your day with a beautiful sunrise. Or if you want to end your day calmly, this can again be a great place for a beautiful sunset.
Its high location allows visitors to overlook the entire Gangtok and you can see Mt. Kangchenjunga too from this viewpoint.
Also, Tashi Viewpoint has always been a favorite amongst shutterbugs. It is always good to capture the places you have visited. After all, we all need a brush of memory at times in our life! The place is apt for a picturesque background. So, grab your camera and go to Tashi Viewpoint.
How to Reach: Book a taxi from MG Marg to reach Tashi Viewpoint in 30 minutes.
Fees: Free. But to use binoculars and telescopes available on the site, you have to pay INR 10/-.
Best Time to Vist: March to June
2. MG Marg, Gangtok
There’s just something beautiful and homely about markets in hill stations.
MG Marg is the main market area of the city. If you want to chill in the evening after a long day of trekking, MG Marg is the place you should go to. Most of the hotels you stay at will be in this area. Spare a couple of hours and just walk around the market.
The best part is that MG Marg is a vehicle-free zone and is the easiest place to reach. Step out of your hotel and explore the richness of this buzzing market.
Also, there are no fees needed and no restrictions on photography and timings. MG Marg is open and free for you to capture the hustling-bustling streets of Gangtok!
3. Flower Exhibition Center, Gangtok
This place is located within walking distance of MG Marg. The center gives you a quick tour of the exotic flora of the state. It exhibits a variety of flowers found all over Sikkim, such as orchids, Gladioli, Rhododendrons, etc.
Moreover, the Flower Center Exhibition also holds an annual flower show from April to May. So, if you are a nature lover, you know now how to plan your itinerary for Gangtok.
How to Reach: Near MG Marg
Fee: INR 10/-
Timings: Open from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm, every day
4. Tsuklakhang Palace And Monastery, Gangtok
This is one of the most interesting monasteries to visit in Gangtok. Unlike other monasteries, Tsuklakhang Monastery is accompanied by Tsuklakhang Palace.
The monastery and the palace were built in 1898 for the royal family of Sikkim. The monastery was used only by the royal family for occasions such as coronations, births, deaths, marriages, victory ceremonies, prayers, etc.
There is another monastery established nearby the palace. This monastery is called Enchey Monastery and is used by the commons. Hence, visitors coming to these monasteries can figure out the notable differences in the detailing of the monasteries.
Both Enchey and Tsuklakhang monasteries contain a lot of Buddhist scriptures, books, and paintings. They can be a perfect place if you are looking for peace of mind.
Today Tsuklakkhang Palace is the official residence of Sikkim’s Chief Minister.
How to Reach: You can either walk or take a taxi. If you are walking it takes 20 to 25 minutes from the town center. By taxi, it takes 10 to 12 minutes from the town center.
Timings: Open from 6:00 am to 4:00 pm, Every day
5. Rumtek Monastery
One of the largest monasteries in Sikkim. Established in the backdrop of magnificent mountains and waterfalls, Rumtek Monastery is located on a hilltop near Gangtok.
Also, if you’re seeking a calm and peaceful time, then visit this monastery. The architecture of this grand monastery is a thing to marvel at. Built in the traditional Tibetan style, this monastery was known as Dharma Chakra Centre before.
Do not forget to go through the stunning statutes and murals displayed in the prayer halls of the monastery. The Golden Stupa of 16th Karmapa is another attraction of this place.
The monastery comes under the aegis of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police. Therefore, remember to carry your identity cards and Protected Area Permit.
How to Reach: It is a bit far from the main town but by taxi you can reach it in 2 hours if there is no traffic.
Fee: INR 10/-
Timings: Open from 6:00 am to 6:00 pm
6. Ganesh Tok, Gangtok
This is a Hindu temple devoted to Lord Ganesh. It is situated at a high altitude and hence gives the visitors a wonderful view of the Kanchenjunga range. Grab a cup of tea or coffee and sit in the Ganesh Tok for a relaxing evening.
The shrine is unique in the aspect that it allows a lot of Hindu visitors in a land of Buddhist monasteries. It is a small establishment but garners a lot of visitors throughout the year. Moreover, its spiritual beauty is worth capturing for the ‘gram!
How to Reach: It takes only 15 to 20 minutes to reach Ganesh Tok by taxi from MG Marg.
Timings: It is open every day from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm
7. Seven Sisters Waterfalls, Gangtok
If you have visited Sikkim and haven’t enjoyed a day in the natural waterfalls then your vacation is unfulfilled. Sikkim is blessed with a lot of waterfalls.
This nature’s delight is a set of seven waterfalls. Hence, the name Seven Sisters Waterfalls. The giant waterfall is at its best during monsoons or after heavy rainfall. The waterfall gushed with full force from the cliff, drenching the lush greenery nearby make everything seem so fresh.
You can enjoy the magnificent Seven Sisters Waterfalls, or take pictures from a tourist shed nearby or ropeways near the cascade.
How to Reach: It is located on Gangtok-Lachung Highway which is 32 km away from the main town.
Timings: 8:00 am to 5:00 pm
Best Time to Visit: During Monsoons
8. Ban Jhakri Falls, Gangtok
Unlike other waterfalls for which you have to travel a lot or even trek in many situations, Ban Jhakri Falls spares you from all those hard work. This cascade is located within an Energy Park.
The waterfall is not very far from the main market. It is a great hang-out spot for nature lovers. You can even go for a picnic too.
The park has a man-made lake as well. So you can enjoy the serenity of the waterfall as you paddle a boat on the lake. Apart from the natural beauty, the park contains you can also look at the statues of ancestors of different tribes of Sikkim.
How to Reach: Book a rented car from MG Marg and reach the waterfall in 15 minutes. It is advisable to book a bigger vehicle like Scorpio or Bolera since the road condition to the park is not in a good condition.
Fee: INR 50/-, extra fee for car parking and camera
Timings: Open seven days a week from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm
9. Himalayan Zoological Park, Gangtok
This is Sikkim’s first zoo. It is located near the Ganesh Tok. So you can cover both places on the same day.
The Himalayan Zoological Park is home to varied fauna of the state such as Snow Leopards, Red Pandas, Himalayan Black Bears, Himalayan Palm civets, etc.
Moreover, the zoo is situated at a high altitude. Hence, you can also enjoy the scenic beauty of Mount Kanchenjunga, and take its magnificent pictures, from the zoo itself.
How to Reach: Book a taxi from the MG Marg and reach the zoo in 20 minutes.
Fee: INR 25/- for adults and INR 10/- for children. Entry fee for cars depends on the size of your car. For small-sized cars it is INR 40/- and for cars like Scorpio or Bolero, it is 100/-
No extra charges for the camera.
Timings: Open 6 days a week from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm. Closed on Thursday
10. Nathu La Pass, Gangtok
Gifted with natural scenic beauty, Nathu La Pass is one of the highest motorable roads in the world. It is also a part of the ancient silk route between India and Tibet.
Located on the Indo-Tibetan border, Nathu La is not just a great tourist place but also a politically important pass of India. It is one of the three open trading posts situated between India and China.
Today it is an official Border Personnel Meeting Point. Therefore, to visit this pass you have to carry your Protected Area Permit (PAP). You can obtain the permit by applying to the Tourism and Civil Aviation Department. However, we recommend taking help from your registered travel agency.
How to Reach: The Nathu La pass is almost 56 km away from Gangtok. So it is better to rent a car. It will take approximately 3 hours to reach the pass.
Fee: Free. PAP is required. Only Indian visitors are allowed
Timings: It is closed on Monday and Tuesday
The main attraction of Gangtok would be the Buddhist monasteries. It is home to many large and old monasteries which can be a great place to be if you are looking for a peaceful environment. Having said that, Gangtok’s cool and snowy weather along with its bountiful natural scenery can be the perfect place for vacations.
You can either catch a flight or train to reach Gangtok. By air land at Pakyong airport and book a cab to Gangtok. By train, get down at Jalpaiguri Railway station in West Bengal and book a cab to Gangtok.
Gangtok is one of the few regions in India that gives you an experience of Himalayan scenic beauty. On top of that, it is home to many unexplored places and exotic flora and fauna.
It is also one of the few places in India where Buddhism is prevalent. To make things better, it consists of many large and old monasteries, a perfect place for religious pilgrims, scholars, and curious visitors. Gangtok is a region that shows you a different facet of India. Thereby adding more to the essence of diverse India.