There are no rail networks or airports to reach Darjeeling directly. If you are traveling by a flight, the nearest airport is Bagdogra Airport from where you need to hire a cab. The driver might charge you more than Rs 1000 for a drive of more than 70 kilometers. Else you can take a sharing taxi, which charges Rs 120 per person till Darjeeling. But, from the airport, one has to go to Siliguri to take a sharing taxi.
If one is traveling by train, NJP railway station is the closest railway station. You can take a sharing taxi from the station to Darjeeling for Rs 150. One has to remember that the drive till Kurseong, (mid point) is an uphill drive with lots of twist and turns, which are a bit scary for the first timer.
Places to visit
Most of the tourists who come to Darjeeling make it a point to visit Tiger Hill, as it is one of the best locations on the top of a hill to watch the sunrise. People get up around 4:30 in the morning to reach the spot. It is located 13 kms away from the main town at an altitude of 8, 482 ft.
If you are a tea lover and have never seen tea being manufactured you could head to Happy Valley Tea Estate, Darjeeling. If you have some spare time, you could spend the entire day in the tea factory, where the workers and the staff are ready to answer your queries.
Darjeeling Zoo may not be very attractive, but it is home to some of the rarest of the rare animals in the country, like the Red Panda. Apart from this, it is said to be the only Indian zoo, which houses Siberian Tigers.
If you are looking for some recreation, you can definitely visit any of the monasteries or temples or churches. Darjeeling boasts of many religions, though, it is dominated by Hindus, Christians and Buddhists.
In Darjeeling, you would not witness mega engineering works, but one place you might get to see some Engineering is the Batasia Loop, where the Toy train takes a turn.
Darjeeling is known for its Toy Train, which starts its journey from Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, a UNESCO world heritage site. The slow churning coal engine takes its own sweet time to move from one place to another, but it takes you through the thick forests, so it will be an adventure ride, which would be etched in your memories. To add to the flavour, this is the only train in the world, which gets caught in a traffic jam. The train also comes to a halt in the second highest train station of the world, Ghoom railway station.
After you have completed your visit and feel a need to relax, you can travel to Chowrastha, where one can see the youth of today, old age people, children all seated in those lovely green benches sipping a cup of tea for Rs 5. It is at this place where you would see children on pony horses. It is one of the most well known places in Darjeeling.
Food to eat
If you love your food, you will not be disappointed for Darjeeling offers some of the best foods at a reasonable price. There might not be great options for vegetable lovers as people in Darjeeling love non-vegetarian dishes. But still, many vegetarian lovers enjoy the food available at Hasty Tasty, which is a vegetarian restaurant. But, if you are someone who doesn't mind eating on a road side restaurant, you will be surprised to taste some local aloo dum, which would make you come back again and again.
For non-veg lovers, you will be spoilt for choices. If you love Chinese food, there is no better place than a restaurant known as Penang, where you will get the best momos and chowmein in town. Apart from this, if you want to experience Nepali food, you can order a Nepali thali of non veg, (pork/chicken/mutton), which is finger licking delicious. Apart from this, you should also try out a Tibetan dish known as typho, which looks like a huge momo, and has minced meat along with boiled eggs, stuffed inside. It just costs around 15-20 rupees, and it is very filling.
If you are looking for proper dining, then Park restaurant, which serves amazing food, is your place. The restaurant has a good ambience and the waiters are very polite. For people who love pastries and chocolates, one cannot miss out on the local bakery, Glenarys. It serves amazing pastries. Probably, one of the best known bakery in India. They make their products in Darjeeling itself.
Best time to visit
There is no dearth of tourists in Darjeeling anytime of the year. If you are interested in experiencing the cold weather, December to February would be the best time. If you are lucky, you may even experience some snowfall. Else, the best weather for tourists is between March- May and September - November, as the weather would be at its best with maximum temperatures going up to 30 degree celsius.
Places for Shopping
Darjeeling is one of the best places where one can shop around. Some of the best known markets are Mahakal, Dragon and Fancy market, where most of the clothes are brought from Bangkok. Shops at these places offer a good variety of mix for both the genders. But, one has to bargain it accordingly. The prices are reasonable for the quality that would be at the offering, so it will not hit your pockets hard. If you are good at bargaining, you can try it out, but they do not offer huge discounts. T-Shirts, Jeans, trousers, fancy girl dresses, tops, shoes, stilletoes, frocks etc are the most sold items. Apart from such kind of markets, there are huge number of markets on the street heading towards Chowrastha, where you can get some cheaper stuffs. Girls who love accessories would be pleased to take a stroll in these crowded places, where they can get some of the best ear rings, bracelets, necklaces, stylish finger rings, precious stones, and anklets etc.
Darjeeling, for long has been one of the most visited places in the world, not only due to its tourist attractions but also the people, who are very welcoming and nice to talk to. Apart from this, it is not an expensive place, so your bank balance will not be affected badly.
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