“Is Gangtok expensive?” is the first thought that comes to mind for most travellers visiting Sikkim. The question is valid since travelling amidst the mountains is usually more exorbitant than plains.
Gangtok is a small town nestled away in the eastern Himalayas. An important pilgrimage place, Gangtok also happens to be a major centre for tourism in the state. Owing to the lack of budget transport options, mountainous terrain and several other factors, a visit to Gangtok can turn out to be expensive for budget travellers. Therefore, it is important to plan your visit beforehand.
My husband and I take a trip each year to re-connect with each other as a couple. I usually pick the location since I’m more of a traveller than he is, for sure. The planning had started and I was thinking hard to choose a destination that is both beautiful and calm.
Finally, Gangtok came to mind and that is how I started preparations for our long due trip. The pertinent question, ” Is Gangtok expensive?” did cross my mind repeatedly. But I know how to plan a budget trip and so stood by my decision and started thinking of ways to cut down costs a bit.
Is Gangtok Expensive? FAQs
Before I share my travel experience and learning with you in detail, I’d like to address some very frequently asked questions from travelers visiting Gangtok.
|Is Gangtok expensive for couples ?
Gangtok can prove to be nominal for couples if they’re willing to pool cabs, go for budget accommodations and most of all, cut down on flights.
|Is Gangtok expensive for solo travelers ?
Yes. Gangtok can be a tad bit expensive for solo travelers. Therefore, try to connect with fellow travelers before hand so as to minimize internal travel cost.
|Is Gangtok expensive when it comes to transport options ?
Not if you’re willing to share cabs internally and cut down on flights externally. Go for trains instead.
|Is Gangtok expensive when it comes to food ?
No. Food in Gangtok is quite nominal. A lot of good cafes and budget eateries will serve you delicious food at a reasonable price.
|Is Gangtok expensive accommodation wise ?
Not if you do your research and book in advance.
How Did it All Start ?
“Gangtok!”My husband exclaimed out of surprise.
“Yes“, I said with a smile that was broad enough to show all my teeth and eyes sparkling as if the morning sun has just touched the beautiful snow.
My husband couldn’t say no to me. After all, his eighth vow in our wedding (Hindu ceremony) was to take me to any place of my wish each year.
Be it an exotic European destination like Switzerland or just a nearby not-so-famous city but venturing out annually is important. Hence, I too had taken a promise to celebrate our union by exploring not just beautiful places on Earth, but also by exploring the depth and soul of our relationship.
Investing time in each other and falling in love with each other all over again is something we both want to experience year after year.
Taking Annual Vacations by Proper Financial Planning
Travel finances are aspects on which we have worked a lot over the last 3 plus years. We have devised ways to get prepared for our annual holidays without taking any stress over budget. We try to keep it under our thumb. Thankfully, to an extent, we have been successful to take some reasonable trips to some amazing places in East India.
In the beginning, we took trips to places that are near Bhubaneshwar like Daringbadi, Simlipal, and Gopalpur. Out of all, Daringabadi, also known as ‘Kashmir of Odisha’ and Gopalpur- an amazing beach destination are my personal favourites. At Gopalpur, I was mesmerized not just by the beauty of the moon but its reflection over the vast mirror formed by the sea.
The luminescence at Gopalpur sea beach was breathtaking. However, visiting these places did not burden our pocket as most of these places are off-beat destinations, untouched, virgin and yet to get commercialized by tourism. But, it was the trip to Gangtok that taught some brilliant money-saving lessons.
The scenic beauty in and around Gangtok will mesmerize you. Picture credits: Divya
Planning a Budget Trip to Gangtok: Save on External and Internal Transportation
On our second Anniversary, Gangtok was the place which I had picked for our annual celebration. 8th February (our tour date) was just 1.5 months away. Hotel prices were not that much high because February is not a peak season. However, Flight prices were soaring high. Moreover, there wasn’t a direct flight from Bhubaneshwar to Bagdogra.
After a lot of permutations & combinations, we had a feasible plan in front of us that was completely under our budget. We decided to take a direct train from Bhubaneshwar to New Jalpaiguri Railway station- the nearest railway station to Gangtok.
On our return trip, we took a flight from Bagdogra to Kolkata as it was very cheap. Then boarded a train from Kolkata that brought us back to our home -Bhubaneshwar. Not only did we reach on time but are expenses were very well managed.
|A budget saving suggestion from my end would be to save money on transportation. Prioritize trains overflights. In case, you don’t have the time, at least try to board a flight for just one side and not the entire journey.|
This plan further solved our next big concern and made our holidays more enjoyable as we got a chance to sniff through streets of Kolkata and get soaked in the vibes of the ‘City of Joy’ for few hours.
Gangtok is around 119.2 km from Jalpaiguri and 123.2 km from Bagdogra and hence taxis are the best way to reach there. Secondly, we had also planned to visit Nathula Pass, Tsomgo Lake, Lachung and other places. So conveyance was required to explore the mountainous regions. To visit these places, there is no other way but hired Taxis.
Public conveyance in the form of buses is also available, but you may not find it very much comfortable especially if you fall prey to altitude sickness. Also, the frequency of buses in the region is less. So in case you miss one, you might end up waiting for hours and hours till you hop on the next one.
Beautiful orange-brown mountains on the way to Nathu La. Picture credits: Akansha Vashisht
Share Cabs to Reduce Cost of Traveling in and around Gangtok
If you’re one of those people who would prefer cabs over public transport options like state buses but still wants to maintain the budget status of the trip, go for shared taxis. Either tie up beforehand with families (like we did) or find people there itself. This latter proves helpful for solo travelers in this region.
Keeping up with our budget travel plan, we had pre-decided to share our cab with a newlywed couple – Sajid-Reshma and a middle-aged couple – Rajesh-Pratima, whom we met on a train.
It didn’t take much time for us to become travel buddies. Soon, all six of us were sharing foods, chats, and jokes. We even got a few insights into certain offbeat destinations near Gangtok. As the journey progressed, it felt like we were traveling with our family.
Our Cost-Effective Travel Mantra
The key takeaways from this trip that helped us to keep our travel budget reasonable and thus became our mantra for all the next trips are as follows –
Create a monthly budget and save a certain amount throughout the year. This way you don’t have to empty your savings at the end moment and neither you are short on your budget.
Check with your friends and office colleagues, and other known people if they too are planning to visit the same destination. You can divide conveyance-fares and reduce them to half.
We were lucky to get in touch with good people when we were traveling, but relying on strangers is not advisable. So, it is useful to check with known people beforehand.
Avoid peak seasons if possible. It’ll help you book your accommodation at quite reasonable prices.
Do thorough research before jumping to the ‘book’ button. You can always find a number of ways of cutting down your journey expense if you read blogs by other passionate travelers.
Till date, Gangtok trip remains etched in my heart as a snow-flake from the valley; beautiful, rejuvenating, melting into my soul each time I remember the region.
Happy wayfaring 🙂
About the Author
|Riya Gaur is a freelance writer who is currently on her way to launch ‘Mayriya’ – her online venture. However, it is the dream of becoming a known name in the world of Literature that keeps her thoughts flow freely through the nib of her pen. Out of all the nicknames that she has been crowned with, ‘Spinner of Yarns’ and ‘Asabikeshiinh’ are closest to Riya’s heart and life.|
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