These are the 12 best places to see in Gangtok city and within its 30 km radius.
Gangtok is one of the prettiest, quaint and laid back hill stations nestled between Nepal and Bhutan in the Indian state of Sikkim serving as its capital. It’s an excellent Himalayan spot for backpackers, honeymooners, couples, families and solo travelers alike. You can also mix pleasure with business – we spent a week in this magical place on a workation trip and were amused by the office-friendly facilities available in hotels and homestays, including a high-speed and stable internet connection.
Gangtok is reachable only by road. The nearest railway station is that of New Jalpaiguri (NJP) situated 115km away. For a very long time, the nearest airport used to be that of Bagdogra (IXB), 125km from Gangtok. The travel time from either starting point is anywhere between 4.5 – 5 hours. Although with limited connectivity, the opening of Pakyong airport (PYG) located at a distance of 30km from Gangtok has shrunk the travel time by road to just 35-40 minutes.
There are numerous options when it comes to places to see in and around Gangtok – from monasteries and viewpoints to lakes and waterfalls. If you’re lucky enough to get a room with a view, you might not even wish to step out! The best part about this list is that it can all be covered within a day trip. It also serves as an itinerary which can be used to cover the places in the same sequence as presented here.
Let’s get started with the list of 12 best places to see in Gangtok!
Table of Contents
1. Gangtok Ropeway
Gangtok Ropeway, maintained and operated by Damodar Ropeway and Infra Limited (DRIL), connects Deorali Bazar next to Namgyal Institute of Tibetology with Tashiling Secretariat. With a capacity of 25 standing people (including a DRIL staff), this 940 meter ropeway travels through a panoramic view of Gangtok in its 15-20 minutes of to-and-fro journey. It also serves as a mode of daily commute for many locals. The round trip price for adults currently is INR130 and the updated timings and price can be found on DRIL’s official website.
2. Do-drul Chorten
Located near Namgyal Institute of Tibetology a few meters away from Gangtok Ropeway, this pearl white stupa embellished with a golden top is surrounded by 108 prayer wheels with religious chants inscribed in Tibetan language. Inside the campus you’ll also find multiple smaller stupas, prayer rooms full of deeyas (small oil lamps) and a Buddha statue at the back of the main office. It is a must visit place for its tranquility and purity.
3. Ranka Monastery
Located at a distance of 20km from the city, Ranka Monastery is perched in the middle of lush green hills in the village of Ranka. At this secluded spot for peace lovers, you are welcomed by a row of prayer wheels. As you enter the main complex, you arrive at the assembly and play area for the young Lamas surrounded by their dorm rooms on three sides. A flight of stairs takes you to the inner sanctum where you can find a big golden statue of Buddha. Near the parking, you’ll find a few souvenir shops and you can also indulge in a sumptuous lunch at the cafe serving meals, snacks and drinks.
4. Paruhang Sapten Mangkhim – The newest among the best places to see in Gangtok
It’s the newest place on this list of the 12 best places to see in Gangtok. Inaugurated in May 2022, this place is developed to act as an institute for the Rai community to learn, preserve and promote their culture and traditions. Although still in the process of being developed, this place would also act as a resource center with a library having more than 3,000 books. The process of installing a digital library is also being worked out as well. Apart from being a cultural center, this place offers charming views of another side of Gangtok town which is usually hidden from most of the hotels. Entry fees for adults is INR20 per person.
5. Banjhakri Falls
Banjhakri Falls is a natural waterfall encircled with theme park-like experiences such as gazebos, boating points, kids play area and wooden footbridges. In addition, you can also indulge in adrenaline-tickling activities such as plank bridge crossing. It houses several eateries and restaurants. At every few meters, you’ll find statues of jhakris which means ‘shamans’. Ban translates to forest and hence, Banjhakri means ‘shamans of the forest’ in local language. At an entry fees of INR70 per adult, it’s a good pitstop in your return trip to Ranka Monastery.
6. Bakthang Falls
Another waterfall on your way to Gonjang Monastery and Tashi View Point – Bakthang Falls presents a pitstop right on the main road against the green backdrop of thick forest. While there’s nothing much to do around, you can certainly get some photos clicked wearing the local traditional dresses. There’s also a small rock climbing-like experience on offer for the adrenaline junkies. On the opposite side of the road, you’ll find several snack vendors and golgappe walaas. There’s no entrance fees to this waterfall.
7. Gonjang Monastery
Gonjang Monastery is another popular Buddhist monastery in Gangtok. Located close to Tashi View Point at a height of 6000 plus feet, it overlooks the panorama of majestic hills which makes it an excellent spot for photography and meditation. Apart from the main sanctum which houses a Buddha statue, there are two other chambers. One of them houses a large prayer wheel (next to the steel chairs shown in the image). It is said that all your wishes come true if you turn the wheel as directed. There’s a small entry fees of INR10 per adult collected at the main entrance.
8. Tashi View Point
Perhaps the most popular on this list of 12 best places to see in Gangtok, Tashi view point is a must-visit spot during your trip here. On a clear day, you can see the majestic Himalayan mountain peaks of Kanchenjunga and Sinioluchu from here. It has a plenty of benches and seating areas to help you relax and admire the view. Several local vendors and a snack shop at the top help you with satiating your 4:00PM hunger. While entry is free, beware of exorbitantly high premium levied by the local vendors on your purchases!
9. Lhasa Falls
This is the third waterfall on our list of the best places to see in Gangtok. Similar to Bakthang Falls, it’s located right at the main road and can serve as a stop to enjoy your tea with a beautiful view. Apart from the seasonal ziplining, there’s no other experience you can indulge in. However, you can definitely get closer to the falls via the natural rocky staircases and get photographed with your loved ones in a ‘Titanic’ pose. There’s no entrance fees for this one too.
10. Ganesh Tok
Ganesh Tok is a brightly colored temple dedicated to Hindu God Ganesha on your way back to Gangtok. Our homestay was at a walking distance and we had covered it during one of the evening strolls post our working hours. Located opposite to the thick misty forests of Kanchenjunga National Park, this small temple also serves as an excellent view point of Gangtok city and occasionally – the mighty Kanchenjunga peak. The observatory has a seating area too. Near the parking, there are several snack vendors and a cafe. There’s also a horror house (similar to what we see in shopping malls these days) behind the cafe which is completely passable.
11. Hanuman Tok
Constructed and maintained by 101 Engineer Regiment of the Indian Army, this is a temple dedicated to Hindu God Hanumana. This place gained significance from a legend that Lord Hanumana took a brief rest at this spot while carrying Dunagiri mountain with Sanjeevani Herbs to cure injured Laxmana.
Isolated at a height of 7000 plus feet, it is only accessible by a vehicle through a twisted but well-paved hilly road. Mostly covered in behind thick clouds, there’s a long flight of stairs that takes you to the main temple rooms. The serenity of the temple complex is unmatched and visitors are mesmerized by the amazing views in the backdrop. Similar to Ganesh Tok, there’s no entrance fees
12. MG Marg
Here comes the terminal of the trip and the last of the best places to see in Gangtok – Mahatma Gandhi Marg. Your taxi will drop you here after a day long memorable tour. It’s Gangtok’s answer to Shimla’s Mall Road. This is the liveliest and the busiest road in Gangtok full of shopping centers, cafes, restaurants, hotels, souvenir shops, ATMs, ice-cream parlors, paan shops and much more. No vehicles are allowed beyond the area designated and you can take a walk down the street while deciding upon the place to have your dinner at. There are benches all around to help you take some breaks. Post having dinner, head to the nearby taxi stand and get back to your hotel and take a good night sleep!
- Book a room with a private balcony and good views to make the best of your trip
- Prefer homestays over hotels to have a personalized service and hospitality
- Look for hotels away from the city center; preferably towards the fag end of the town to avoid the hustle
- Be careful while booking your day trips with taxi drivers or tour companies – instead of going by the count of places, ask for the exact names of the places that they are going to take to. Most of the places with suffix ‘view point’ are passable
- Visit during off seasons (Aug-Oct) to skip the crowd. Do carry waterproof and warm clothing.
Looking for more itineraries for places to travel in India? Check our posts here.