Are you making an itinerary for an upcoming trip to Gangtok? If yes, then ensure a long leave as there are 15 things to do in Gangtok. This capital of Sikkim is one of the most visited tourist spots in the North East, mainly due to the numerous places to visit and activities to do.
Whether you’re on an adventure trip with your friends or are coming here with family, you’ll equally be able to enjoy this place. This is because everything from the food to the sight-seeing spots is simply amazing here. Moreover, when you’re flying in the air, does it matter who you’re with as far as they’re close to you? No!
So, go ahead and take inspiration from this Gangtok travel guide to plan out your itinerary perfectly. The 15 things on this list are activities you cannot miss out on.
Adventurous Things to do in Gangtok
If a young heart and body are what you have, then Gangtok is full of thrilling activities for you. whether you like air, water or land, there are adventurous sports for all kinds of people.
Here’s a list of what you can do there, provided you’re fit:
Gone are the days when only creatures with wings had the possibility to fly. Go to Baliman Dara or Reshithang village in Gangtok and you’ll obtain your wings to fly. In a beautiful hill station, paragliding is more than just flying in the air – because the view you get to see below you is mesmerizing.
The snow-capped mountains, lush green trees, and the clear waters that you’ve been able to see from specific sight-seeing spots are now all below your feet. You can go up to 2,000 meters high to feel on top of the world. Since the sun sets early in the East, the timings are between 9 am to 4 pm.
The best season to enjoy paragliding is from May to October.
When you’re paragliding, you’re flying as you stand. However, if you truly want to feel like a bird with actual wings, then hang gliding will make you feel like one. You can go to Yumthang or Jorethang in order to get this amazing experience.
The plus point of taking this up is that you get away better aerial view of the mountains, valleys, and rivers as you can conveniently look down and fly straight. The best time to enjoy this is between May and October.
Gushing through the waves of river Teesta, scream to the top of your voice in a boat with a group of people. If you’re a water lover, this is the one and only water activity in Gangtok that you shouldn’t miss out on anything in the world.
The currents of Teesta are really strong, which keeps the river always turbulent and swirly. Being a young, mountain river, it is long and less wide. You can choose the route through which you want to do rafting, depending on your energy levels and the amount of time you’ve got. They’ll provide you with 4 options, the longest one being from Bordang to Melli, lasting for 5 hours.
For those who choose longer routes, you can camp overnight with a bonfire near the bank of the river. Rafting takes place between 9 am to 4 pm.
The best season for rafting is between December and June.
At a height of 4,572 meters above sea level in Mt Katao, wear your warmest sweater, gloves, and cap to stand the cold wind with snow. This place is known for 4 things that you can only do in the snow – skiing, snowboarding, stone grinding, and snow tubing.
In order to enjoy these chilly and thrilling adventures, you need to go between December and February.
You can trek throughout North as well as East Sikkim. From Gangtok, the most famous trek is the Goecha La trek. It is a long, 10-day trek and if this is what you’re really interested in it is going to be your trip. You start from Yuksom, pass the Teesta, Legship, Sachen, Tshoka, Phedang, Dzongri, and Thangshing till you finally reach the Samiti Lake and the Zemathang Plateau.
The numerous views that await your way are that of the Rathong river, Paha Khola bridge, Prek Chu river, viburnum plantations, Mt Kanchenjunga, Mt Koktang, Mt Kabru, Mt Rathong, Pandim Peak and rhododendron forests.
It is a total 90-km trek where you’ll be going till a height of 4,938 meters. In order to get clear views, the best time to go for the trek in October and November.
If you relate to cycling as one of your childhood hobbies, believe me when you do it on a rugged slope, it’s no more a child’s play. The popular route for cycling in Sikkim is on the Silk Route, which stretches from Lhasa to Tamluk.
When it comes to cycling, you start from Sillery Gaon and go till Reshi Khola, Zuluk, Thambi View Point, and the Nathang Valley. It takes 7 days to travel through the complete Silk Route on cycle. The best time to cycle is when the roads are smooth from April to June.
Riding a bike could be a regular thing for you. However, when you’re at a rugged slope at a great altitude, believe me it is nothing less than an adventure. It has got the name mountain biking because of the danger and thrill the slope brings with it as well as the beautiful view beyond the mountains.
From Gangtok, you can go to Temi, Melli, or Rangpo. You can do it at any time you want, as far as the sun is out.
Other Things You Can’t-Miss Out On Gangtok
When it comes to Gangtok, people don’t just come here for the adventure. Neither is it a regular hill station where greenery, mountains, and sunsets are all you come here for. You have nightlife in Gangtok, some delicious North-Eastern delights, lots of stuff to shop and some light, fun rides to enjoy.
Let’s take a look at the lot that family trips have got in their itineraries:
About 40 km from Gangtok, there is a serene lake at a height of 3,753 meters above sea level called the Tsomgo or Changu Lake. While the blue water surrounded by snow-capped mountains and colorful flowers is a breath-taking view to enjoy, there something here that not many places have.
Just as you get camel rides in deserts and horse rides in Kolkata, on the mountains you get to ride on a yak. They may be huge with horns, but are very quiet and tamed animals who will walk slowly by the lake as you sit on their hairy back covered in colorful cloth.
The best time to enjoy it would be in summer when the lake is blue and reflecting the rhododendrons and poppies. That would be between March to June. The lake is open for visitors between 10 am to 6 pm.
While paragliding and hang gliding give you the experience of flying, a cable car travels a much longer distance to show you the entire city from the top. It starts at Deorali and goes till Tashling via Namnang. You’ll enjoy the most when you take a 2-way ride from Deorali to Tashling.
Since the 1 km ride is enjoyed inside, you can do it in any season as each one has its own beauty. It starts at 9:30 in the morning and ends by 4:30 PM, every day.
Are you one of those who have seen helicopters only in films? If you’ve ever dreamt of sitting on one of those, then coming to Gangtok will fulfill it for you. A vehicle that is mostly only used by the military is available for tourists here – only to give you a splendid aerial view of the mountains, valleys, and rivers.
Hill stations are filled with spots from where you can get views of fascinating high peaks of the Himalayas, sunsets, forests, and several forms of nature. Some of the sight-seeing spots that are popular here in Gangtok are as follows:
Tashi View Point
This place is known for giving the closest view of the Kanchenjunga range and a splendid sunset. In fact, you’ll enjoy sunrise even more here as you watch snow-covered mountains glowing du to the golden rays of the sun.
Nathu La Pass
This is a long route located at a height of 4,300 meters from where you can see the Indo-China border. You are so close to the border that you can see both Indian and Chinese soldiers from here. The scenic view is also very beautiful.
Seven Sisters Waterfall
This mesmerizing waterfall obtains its name from having 7 different streams close to one another falling in one place. These streams come from 7 different sources. It is located in such an area, that apart from Gangtok it is visible from several other hill stations in the North East.
Shingba Rhododendron Sanctuary
Rhododendrons are beautiful pink flowers that are abundantly found in Sikkim and other mountains. Located near the Yumthang valley, this sanctuary is home to almost every species of this flower along with alpines and hot springs.
Khangchendzonga Biosphere Reserve
This UNESCO World Heritage site has natural forests as well as agriculture, surrounded by mountains, caves, hot springs, lakes, and shrines. You can see Nepal in the West and Tibet on the North-West.
This high-altitude crystal-clear lake changes its colors as the sun and clouds keep moving and the surrounding mountains and forests change their views. It is open for visitors between 8 am and 5 pm.
Located only 7 km from Gangtok, these 100 feet long waterfalls are a popular picnic spot providing a breath-taking view and a pleasant sound of the water. You can go there anytime between 8 AM – 6 PM.
Himalayan Zoological Park
If you love animals and wildlife, you’ll find the world’s rarest species in this forest at a height of 1,780 meters. These include the red panda, snow leopard, Himalayan black bear, crimson-horn pheasant, Himalayan monal pheasant, and goral.
North-East has more of a Buddhist culture along with some Hindu temples too. You’ll mostly find monasteries and stupas that have a divine and tranquil atmosphere to imbibe yourself in:
About 23 km from Gangtok, this beautiful and ancient Buddhist pilgrimage has been maintained for centuries. Also known as the Dharmachakra Centre, this is one of the few places in the hills where you’ll find paddy fields.
Tsuk La Khang Monastery
This monastery too is thousands of years old and has a wide collection of Buddhist scriptures. The wooden sculptures, murals, and altars enhance the architecture of this historic destination.
About 11 km from Gangtok and at a height of 2,195 meters, this spot offers a spectacular view of the Kanchenjunga range. The place is considered holy as Lord Hanuman rested here while going to Lanka from the Himalayas.
This monastery belongs to the Nyingma sect of Tibetan Buddhism and is home to over 100 monks. You can go between 9 am to 6 pm to view the mesmerizing view of the mountains behind it and the beautiful paintings and sculptures inside.
Take a look at the beautiful courtyard, architecture, and pagoda top as you spin the prayer wheels here. You can even go to the terrace to take a splendid view of the mountains and valleys beyond.
Do Drul Chorten
This holy stupa has a very interesting story. From being a haunted place for several years, a follower of Nyingma Buddhism converted this place into a stupa and drove away from the evil spirits.
Considered to be the holiest monastery in Sikkim, this divine structure was built in the 17th century. If you go on the 14th and 15th day of the 1st month of the Tibetan calendar, you can enjoy the Bhumchhu festival here.
No matter what kind of a trip you go to, you cannot return without a souvenir, right? When you go to Gangtok, you obtain them from Lal Bazaar at Vishal Gaon. Now known as the Kanchenjunga shopping complex, you can buy vegetables, cheese made from Yak’s milk, pottery, flags, knives, and many handicrafts.
If you go there on a Sunday, the view will be colorful and entertaining with several ethnic groups of various villages.
Eating at MG Marg, Gangtok
The food of Gangtok tastes best when you go to MG Marg. This area has the most famous cafes and restaurants including 9’INE Native Cuisine and Bakers Café.
At 9’INE Native Cuisine, you should try Mushroom Kachi, Sikkimese set meal with chicken, momos, dim sums, and fermented soybean. On the other hand, Bakers Café is known for pizzas, hotdogs, croissants, paninis, baguettes, pastries, espresso, and lemon iced tea.
Visit Nearby Places in Sikkim
Sikkim is a small state and nearly all nearby hill stations can be included in your itinerary. Yet, the place is huge and you cannot finish everything in a week. From Gangtok, the following places are close to it in East Sikkim:
- Jelep La
- Tukla Valley
- Jawaharlal Nehru Botanical Garden
- Yakten Village
The following places are in the North of Sikkim that is close to Gangtok:
- Yumthang Valley
- Yume Samdong
- Chopta Valley
- Thangu Valley
- Zemu Glacier
- Rong Lungten Lee
- Kabi Lungchok
- Sirijonga Yuma Mangheem
Best Time to Visit Gangtok
Gangtok is a place you can actually visit any time of the year, except in the monsoon may be. Going in the summer lets you do most of the activities like river rafting, yak safari, cycling, and mountain biking. Between March and June, you get the best views of the colorful flowers, greenery, and animals in the forests.
On the other hand, winter provides you with frozen views of lakes, snow activities, and tough treks on slippery slopes. Between December to February, the beauty of Gangtok is different completely.
So, depending on the things you want to do in Gangtok, you pick your vacation period – summer or winter.