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How to access the Eastern Himalayas

Golden sunrise over Himalayas

Traveling to the Himalayas needs careful planning and execution. If you don't know how to get there it can be quite taxing on you both emotionally and financially. Nowadays you will literally find hundreds of travel agencies and their agents roaming around.

Let's talk about the main access points of the Eastern Himalayas.

The nearest major airport is Bagdogra. There are frequent flights from most of the major cities like Kolkata, Delhi. The flight time from Kolkata is about an hour and from Delhi it's about a couple of hours. There are frequent flights of Air India which operate between these cities. Nowadays there are other airlines also which operate in Bagdogra. When you are there in Bagdogra, don't forget to taste the Darjeeling tea in the local airport canteen. It's literally drinking the best tea in the world and it's awesome!

You will get a lot of taxis and other kinds of transportation from outside the airport.

But the trick here is prearranging the transportation. Unless you are a regular, chances are you will lose the haggling war with the agents.

Bridge at Singshore in Sikkim

Bridge at Singshore Sikkim

Generally most of the standard resorts in the Himalayas have complimentary transportation to and from the airport or the station. Check with them. They will definitely arrange something. If you are feeling adventurous there are shared cabs that can take you to your destination. Keep plenty of time in your hands. The distance might seem less when just looking at the numbers but when it comes to the actual travel it takes a lot more time. The roads are narrow and precarious. The vehicle speeds are really slow. And the scenery is freakin awesome. You will want to get down at every turn and take photos!

And if you are feeling more adventurous take the bus. Literally. This is the cheapest mode of transportation and the most uncomfortable. There are many government buses as well as private buses. I would take the govt buses. The drivers are more experienced.

The next major access is the Twin Cities of New Jalpaiguri and Siliguri. New Jalpaiguri is the only major railway station nearby. The haggling here is worse than that of the airport. As usual, prearrange the transportation. There are also shared taxis and buses that you can avail. One pointer about the shared taxis and buses. They operate only on some of the major routes. You have to change vehicles in transit. So you might consider a dedicated cab for you.

If your destination is towards Darjeeling and beyond your road will diverge from the road to Gangtok and beyond in Sikkim. Darjeeling and Gangtok together form the two most important travel centers in this whole area with a wealth of famous and not so well known tourist destinations sprinkled all over the area.

With Kanchenjunga and other Eastern Himalayan breathtaking snow peak view as well as old world quaint green covered charming little places, you need to return again to visit Eastern Himalayas because of its unforgettable charm.

The notable among the rich variety of destinations are Darjeeling, Sandakphu, Phalut, Kalimpong, Kurseong, Jorethang, Lava, Loleygaon, Gangtok, Kaluk, Rinchenpong, Pelling, Ravangla, Singhik, Lachen, Lachung, Chungthang, Gurudongmar, Yumthang, Zero point and so on.

Sunrise over Himalayas

Sunrise over Himalayas

All in all, if you plan the trip in advance, you will have peace of mind and save a lot of money. For the more impromptu folks out there, go ahead and go for it. Everything will fall in place once you start your journey! The end result is worth everything!

 

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Trip time: 
October 2009
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Siliguri WB
India
26° 43' 37.5636" N, 88° 23' 43.0296" E
West Bengal IN