Getting to Sikkim, Darjeeling or Duars:
To get to Sikkim ,Darjeeling or Duars, the nearest airport is Bagdogra, near Siliguri in North Bengal, which is 124 km and approximately four hour’s drive from Gangtok,2 ½ Hours to Darjeeling. Indian Airlines, Jet Airways, Spice Jet, Go Air are linked with Bagdogra connecting other major airport in India .Bhadrapur airport in Nepal is about 2hrs west of Bagdogra airport.
For more information on distance and driving time see Distance chart.
Bagdogra Airport (IXB): Bagdogra has also become international airport since 2009, when Druk Air, Bhutan’s National carrier started operating flights from Bagdogra. Twice a week, Druk Air flies from Paro to Bangkok or vice versa, making stop in Bagdogra.
There are several flights from Delhi and Kolkata, some of which also operate via Guwahati, Assam.
The flights are operated by Air India (formerly Indian Airlines), Jet Airways, Spice Jet.
By Train: The nearest rail head for Darjeeling, Sikkim or Kalimpong region is NJP (New Jalpaiguri) or Siliguri Town, both of these have a number of trains connecting them to Kolkata and other major cities of India. However for visiting Dooars area, depending on the area, you plan on visiting, important trains also stop at main station such as New Alipurduar and New Cooch behar.
Visa / Permits: In addition to Indian visa, which you must obtain prior to arriving in India, certain areas require additional permit.
Permit may apply for visiting some restricted areas in Duars, which is often easily obtained with booking and paying entrance fees for instance.
There is no additional permit requirement for touring or trekking in Darjeeling areas such as Kalimpong, Mirik, Kursoeng, Lava, Darjeeling etc of Darjeeling.
Permit for Sikkim: However for Sikkim, in addition to an Indian visa, foreigners must obtain Inner Line Permit (ILP) to visit Sikkim. The permits can be obtained from all Indian missions, Tourism Office, New Delhi, Sikkim Tourism Office, Calcutta and Sikkim Tourism Office, Siliguri.
Permits are issued for initial 15 days period on the spot provided you can submit photocopies of Passport, Indian Visa details and two passport photos for each applicant. If you need to stay longer, the Sikkim extension permits can be obtained from Foreigners Registration Office (FRO), Gangtok and Superintendent of Police of North, South and West Districts.
In addition to the above permit, if you are headed for trek to the interior regions of the state, you will also need Restricted Area Permit (RAP) OR Protected Area Permit(PAP), obtainable in Gangtok from the Police Check Post and Department of Tourism for certain specified area. Some permits require that you travel in groups of at least 4 foreigners (which is flexible at times), but your trekking or trip must be organised by local tour operator.
North Sikkim areas beyond Chungthang towards Lachen and Green Lake are in prohibited area, which require additional permit. Foreign nationals visiting these areas, require a restricted area permit from the Ministry of Home Affairs in Delhi to visit this part of area. However this is also organized by local tour operator, as the responsibility of this arrangement rest with them.
Most travel in Sikkim, Darjeeling & Dooars is done by 4 wheel drive vehicle. Trekking is more popular in Darjeeling and Sikkim although village hike and nature walks are more vibrant in Dooars.