Need help on Darjeeling Trip Planning

#1 Nov 14th, 2011, 14:27
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  • AZTECH is offline
#1
Hi

We are family of 4 (two kids aged 4 & 11) planning to visit Darjeeling in Dec. As I have kids so I would like to know which are the places suitable to visit. We will be in Darjeeling for 4 full days and as I understand it is sufficient to visit 1 day locally in darjeeling & 1 day for Tiger Hill. Can you suggest where can we go on other two days.

Also want suggestion on the hotel stay. My budget is around Rs. 2500/- to Rs. 3000/- per day. But room heater & hot water is essential. Please suggest. Thanks in advance.

Regards.
#2 Nov 14th, 2011, 18:23
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  • Dave W is offline
#2
Most kids would love a trip on the Joy Train, steam hauled from Darjeeling to Ghum and back again. Even if you don't take the trip go down to the station in the morning to see the wonderful old loco being prepared and then pulling the train up the gradient out of the station.
#3 Nov 15th, 2011, 06:16
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Thanks for the info. Do I need to book the toy train ticket in advance ? How can buy the ticket online ?
#4 Nov 15th, 2011, 06:26
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#4
<cross-posted. I don't know about how to pre-book the Darjeeling toy train when it's running; some of these toy trains just can't be booked online I think, you just need to rock up for them. You could of course then try on the spot to see if you can get a ticket a few days in advance.

When it is running, it's said to be very scenic but to take forever. 12 Hours or so for the full stretch I think and off the top of my head, as opposed to a jeep or bus ride of just a few hours between New Jalpaiguri/Siliguri, the connection point in the plains below, and Darjeeling. So few people seem to opt to take it both ways. So say you arrive, now move up to Darjeeling to stay for a few days, you could then make your enquiries there about taking it on the way back down.>

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave W View Post Most kids would love a trip on the Joy Train
Except the toy train is said to be currently out of order, due to landslides along the way, owing to the significant earthquake in Sikkim and that wider region (that part of Nepal, Bhutan) some two months ago.

It is often out of order anyway, or for parts of the way, owing again to landslides typically during and after the monsoon season. Can take quite some time to fix whenever it happens, so let's say well into winter.

One can try this site on current details: http://www.dhrs.org/; I'm sure it must always be a struggle for them to be fully on top of it, as well.
Last edited by machadinha; Nov 15th, 2011 at 07:40..
#5 Nov 15th, 2011, 10:47
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#5
Many thanks for your reply.

Another question is I am going by Kanchanjangha express to NJP and it will reach in the evening. Can I get car to go to Darjeeling that time say around 6.30 - 7 PM ? Or should I book taxt in advance online?

I will be there for 5 days. So I am trying to plan my trip as follow: Appreciate if the expert can comment on my tour plan.

19th Dec - Arriving to NJP in the evening & then take car to reach Darjeeling by night.
20th Dec - Day 1: Darjeeling local sightseeing
21st Dec - Day 2: Tiger Hill & rest of the local places
22nd Dec - Day 3: Visit Kalimpong & come back to Darjeeling
23rd Dec - Day 4: Visit Mirik & come back to Darjeeling
24th Dec - Day 5: Leave Darjeeling to Kurseong after whole day's tour back to NJP stay overnight to catch the train on 25th morning.
#6 Nov 15th, 2011, 11:16
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#6

Darjeeling tour

Hi U can GET toy train from darjeeling to kurseong....
IF u reachd NJP by Evening its better to stayed in Siliguri or u may go forwards ....
U Can get the car/Taxi From NJP.
You Reserve ur tour 2night for Darjeeling and then proced to Kalimpong/lolegaon/lava.
I Give u some idea:- (hope u already booked hotel if u dont pls booked it 2 night for darjeeling and 2 night for lava/lolegaon.
DAY 1:- RCHD NJP STAYED IN SILIGURI / GO AHED FOR DARJEELING IF UR TRAIN IN ON TIME....
DAY 2:- DARJEELING SIGHT SEEING.. NIGHT AT HOTEL
DAY 3:- TIGER HILL TOUR AND TOY TRAIN TO KURSEONG.. NIGHT HOTEL
DAY 4:- DEPERTURE FOR LAVA/LOLEGAON... NIGHT STAY.
DAY 5:- SIGHT SEEING arround lava and lolegaon/kalimpont .. night stay
DAY 6: DEPART NJP.
#7 Nov 15th, 2011, 11:25
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#7
7 pm is very late for gettinga vehicle to go up to the hills but yes, its possible. There will be a few drivers who will agree. You will have to hire a car all the way (usually fare for both ways, but haggle as much as u can) - the last share jeep probably leaves around 5-6 pm (not sure of the exact time)

The Toy Train tickets can be booked at any railway station along the routte. TThe diesel engine tickets will be available but the steam engine/first class ones usually get sold out a day in advance. In the first class, they provide you with tea/snacks as well... so maybe it would be pretty cool to take the journey. Also, I do not really see much point in going all the way - you should just go from darjeeling to Kurseong by the train since that passes through most of the scenic points (Batasia Loop , Ghoom)

For your itinerary I owuld suggest -

19th Dec - Arriving to NJP in the evening & then take car to reach Darjeeling by night.
20th Dec - Day 1: Tiger Hill & Darjeeling local sightseeing (Tiger Hill is best enjoyed at sunrise, and to get a good location and be on time, vehicles pick you up from your hotel by 3-4am, so by 8-9am you are already done with it and back to the hotel)
21st Dec - Day 2: Early morning, leave for Kalimpong and look around the town till 2 pm (visit Delo, the monastery and the wholesale markets) Catch a jeep around 2pm to Koffer (will take 2 hours approx) Enjoy Koffer with its awesome canopy walk and then stay the night in the WB tourism guest house. (try to get it booked in advance if you can) The rooms are lovely, have some beautiful lawns and flower beds and look straight out at Kanchenjunga. (pretty cheap too - i think about 1500-200)
22nd Dec - Day 3: Leave for Gangtok (Sikkim) after enjoying the sunrise... reach there by 3 pm and then spend the rest of the day checking it out. Also make sure to carry a couple of photos each if you intend to visit Changu Lake (I would HIGHLY recommend it) since the lake requires a permit which needs to be applied for a day before. If you do intend to go to Changu the next day, hand ove rthe photos to your hotel guy who will get the permit made and arrange a jeep for the next day.
23rd Dec - Day 4: Jeep for Changu leaves in the morning (around 8-9 am) Changu is at approx 11,000 feet (please check online... not sure of exact height) and is awesome... and of course very very cold. You can also move on further to Nathula Pass if its possible. Jeep will bring you back by 1 pm I reckon.
24th Dec - Day 5 : Check out 'Char-dham' and generally laze around... visit the Rumtek monastery. Late rin the evening, drive back down and stay over in Siliguri, so that you ensure you don't miss the train the next day!

The itinerary I listed above is pretty hectic but covers the best places around the area...kind of a crash course in darjeeling/Sikkkim I did not include Mirik, cos I personally felt that Sikkim/kalimpong are better value for money The choice of course is personal! Do note though that Darjeeling and Sikkim/Kalimpong are essentially 2 ranges divided by the Teesta, so once you have come over to the Kalimpong side, it will take too long to get to Mirik and will not be possible. Mirik is at the opposite end from Gangtok. (west vs east)

cheers and all the best!
Some of my ramblings!

http://windowtoindia.wordpress.com/
#8 Nov 15th, 2011, 11:31
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#8
I'd personally not be that keen to take a cab up the mountains by night I think, it's a little hairy enough by day as it is. Then again you are pressed for time... Your call.

Time aside, I'd agree to rather spend the night in New Jalpaiguri/Siliguri, you could seek to proceed early in the morning, little time lost, and now hopefully you and the kids rested and your nerves intact

Your overall plan seems fine to me btw, Aztech. Should be enjoyable, and not too hectic, also with the kids. Some sightseeing and excursions daily, back to a familiar hotel by night... sounds good, no.

That's not to say none of the other suggestions can't be good, just I thought what you had there looks alright to me in itself.
#9 Nov 15th, 2011, 12:13
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#9
Thanks "sidch" & "thakur009" for your suggestion.

Thanks "machadinha" you got my point. Actualy I am looking for a trip which will not be too hectic as my son is only 4.5 yrs. I am bit scared to go to Gangtok as it is too high altitude and my son got bit of asthma problem. For LAVA/LOLEGAON I heard those places are too quite may be very good for us but for the kids will not be very attractive.

Appreciate if you can take some time to answer my below questions:

1. Kalimpong cannot be covered by a day tour ?

2. If I book a car in advance from NJP to Darjeeling on 19th evening still do you see any problem ? I mean any risk on the road ?

3. Also can you suggest any hotel in NJP to stay at night ?

4. Which hotel you suggest in Mid range to stay in Darjeeling with hot water & room heating facility ?

Thanks again to all of you.

Regards,
#10 Nov 15th, 2011, 12:30
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#10
Sorry, not much use here.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AZTECH View Post 1. Kalimpong cannot be covered by a day tour ?
Don't know, I've not been there.

Quote:
2. If I book a car in advance from NJP to Darjeeling on 19th evening still do you see any problem ? I mean any risk on the road ?
Yes, booked or not, the road traffic issue and then on them winding mountain slopes will remain the same. It wouldn't necessarily stop me from doing it, mind; but, well. And then often I'll have only myself to feel (immediately) responsible for.

It's also indeed a scenic ride btw, why not have a rest and do it in the morning. It is indeed what I did arriving there by night, though may have been quite late in the evening, there was probably little else for it. And I did have time on my hands, though my time on that particular trip was in fact running out. (Also causing me to overexert myself and wanting to zip around and do too much in the end. Not a good combination with altitude and cold, no.)

Quote:
3. Also can you suggest any hotel in NJP to stay at night ?

4. Which hotel you suggest in Mid range to stay in Darjeeling with hot water & room heating facility ?
Nope, sorry; I was there in early 1994 or so, and as a rock-bottom budget traveler. (I hear my popular friendly budget hotel in Darjeeling is still running, but I just don't think it will be what you're looking for. Siliguri we just crashed somewhere, I don't even remember the name of the place.) It does get cold up there btw; at the time, hotels with heating and constant hot water didn't seem to be that thick on the ground. I sometimes hear here they still aren't. They surely must be there though, in a mid- to higher-end league indeed; you can expect to pay some for it, of course. But how much for a reasonable place today, I can't say.

NJP/Siliguri is no place to write home about btw, I in fact found it fairly grotty and depressing (constant drizzle when I was there won't have helped); but I'd just find me a hotel around the railway station area, or of course look up something on the web before, and settle in for the night. You know, have a bite, in-house or otherwise, and a good sleep.

On that note btw, arriving at NJP late, I thought we should move on to Siliguri for some budget deals. At that hour however, the rickshaw drivers know you have no option, the buses have stopped running and so on, and so back then at least, they were really rapacious about it, and wouldn't accept any haggling. Rather obnoxious all of it, and being tired after another long train ride and all. One of the few instances where I really blew my top, in fact; which then counter-productively doesn't earn you much sympathy from any potentially helpful bystanders, either. Also and as usual, your little guidebook map may make that look like walkable, but of course it's always just a little further than you might think and carrying your luggage and not knowing where you're going, and such. Now with kids in tow, no, you don't want that.

Which is again why I'd suggest why not settle in somewhere around the station if you can (and of course if to stay for the night is what you opt for), I don't know about here, but it would be pretty unique for there not to be hotels and in several leagues ranging to the at least passable in the vicinity of any railway or bus station.
#11 Nov 15th, 2011, 12:49
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#11
1. Kalimpong cannot be covered by a day tour ?

Yep it can easily be covered in a day tour.

2. If I book a car in advance from NJP to Darjeeling on 19th evening still do you see any problem ? I mean any risk on the road ?

If by risk you mean any unsocial elements, then no, there is no risk. The risk lies in the fact that the route up, snakes through the hills without any streetlamps or road-side barricades. Whilst the drivers are experienced and know the road like the back of their hand, why add risk if it can be avoided. Instead stay in Siliguri for the night and leave early morning.

3. Also can you suggest any hotel in NJP to stay at night ?

Outside NJP station, along the lane, there are quite a few hotels but they are pretty grubby. I would recommend you to take a rickshaw and come to Siliguri bus stand (Tenzing Norgay bus stand) Hotel Heritage is located close to the bus stand (5 minutes walk across the road to the left) This is a decent hotel with reasonably priced rooms and decent service/cleanliness. (at least it was when I had visited it!) This isn't top of the line but is close to the market and the bus stand which is quite an advantage. There are other higher range hotels available in Siliguri of course which you can check on tripadvisor and go by the reviews.

4. Which hotel you suggest in Mid range to stay in Darjeeling with hot water & room heating facility ?

A good mid range hotel I reckon would be Hotel Sinclairs. Though there are quite a few decent new hotels that have come up along Gandhi Road where you will find reasonably priced accomodation easily.
#12 Nov 15th, 2011, 13:05
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#12
Quote:
Originally Posted by machadinha View Post

Except the toy train is said to be currently out of order, due to landslides along the way, owing to the significant earthquake in Sikkim and that wider region (that part of Nepal, Bhutan) some two months ago.


One can try this site on current details: http://www.dhrs.org/; I'm sure it must always be a struggle for them to be fully on top of it, as well.
The DHR is running steam hauled Joy Trains between Darjeeling and Ghum on a daily basis. The landslide , which occurred in June 2010 long before the earthquake, is much lower down between Tindharia and Kurseong.

The trip I suggested is quite short and would take about 2 hours return. Tickets can be prebooked on Cleartrip.

I would agree with the advice about not taking the road trip up into the mountains in darkness. The roads are in a very poor state and you would miss some magnificent scenery.
#13 Nov 15th, 2011, 13:18
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#13
Aye, thanks Dave; I had been thinking there could be shorter stretches that are operational, or so that line to Ghum then (maybe I got my joy and toy trains mixed up ). I'd just enquire about it in NJP and/or Darjeeling, and then besides who knows what it will look like by late Dec.

Going by that DHRS site btw (check their "news from the line" section), repair works on the 2010 landslides were largely undone by this year's monsoon rains, then the earthquake came on top of that, then a more recent landslide occurred, cutting off those repair workshops from both sides. Apart from the earthquake, it's really prettty much a yearly monsoon phenomenon (why they even keep repairing it, I don't know, when effectively it rarely seems to be running for more than half the year, if at all).

They do however suggest Darjeeling-Kurseong is still running, as would be the joy train Darjeeling-Ghum (Ghoom). They further mention one still operating between Siliguri-Rangtong.

I guess indeed just ask around on the ground.

It must be noted here btw that it was recently reported here to have also affected road traffic, so that apparently currently road traffic NJP-Darjeeling also takes a longer route than normal. (That the toy train would be fully out of order after the earthquake had also been reported on here.)

And btw thanks Sidch for those hotel comments above in both places, that certainly looks more pertinent than what I had to offer.
#14 Nov 15th, 2011, 15:18
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#14
Thanks so much for your wonderful help. Just bit confused with the toy train. If I understand correctly the journey between Darjeeling & Ghum station is called "Joyride" and it can be booked via cleartrip (thanks so much for the website).

One question is in the cleartrip only the "First Class" option is available. I just want to know is it only one class available or what? Also my 4 years old son need a ticket ? Usually for any indian railway he doesn't need any ticket.

Regards,
#15 Nov 15th, 2011, 15:31
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#15
and also I assume this route Darjeeling - ghum route is not disrupted by earthquake.

This train first class server the snacks?
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