Foreigners must obtain Inner Line Permit (ILP) to visit Sikkim. These can be obtained from all Indian Missions, Sikkim Tourism Offices at New Delhi, Kolkata, District Magistrates Office of Darjeeling, Siliguri, and Rangpo on the strength of an Indian Visa. The 30 days duration Permit is issued on the spot without any delay provided photocopies of the passport and visa along with two pass port photos of the applicants are made available. The permissible duration of the stay for foreign tourists is 30 days initially.
The State Government is authorized to extend the same by a further period of 30 days. The extension of the permit can be obtained from FRO at Gangtok and office of Superintendent of Police of the North, West and South Districts.
For those interested in going for trekking in the interior region of the state, the Tourism and Civil Aviation issues Protected Area Permit (PAP) at Gangtok which is available for certain specified area for groups consisting of two or more foreigners subject to condition that the trekking programme is arranged through a registered travel agency.
Restricted Area Permit and Protected Area Permit Regime in Sikkim
Nearest airport is Bagdogra (124 km). To Gangtok: taxi 1500, 4-5 hrs; or get bus/ shared taxi to Siliguri from where buses/taxis to Gangtok are available.
A daily government 5-seater helicopter runs between Bagdogra and Gangtok; unreliable since heavy cloud or rain prevents flights, but is an excellent option (2000/- each way, 45 mins, 10kg luggage) with mesmerizing views.
SNT (Sikkim Nationalized Transport) Bus Stand, NH31A, 0900-1300,1400-1600, Private buses from West Point Taxi Stand, NH31A. Some only operate in high season. Buy tickets 24hrs in advance. Long-distance journeys about 60.
To Rumtek, 1 hr, Namchi (4½ hrs);
Namok, Phodong, Chungthang, Mangan; Gezing (5 hrs);
Jorethang (then Pelling).
For North Bengal: Bagdogra (about 6 hrs);
Darjeeling 94km, (6-7hrs);
From Darjeeling to Kalimpong, 7km, (4-5hrs),
From Kalimpong to NJP/Siliguri (5 hrs),
From Siliguri to Kolkata a/c bus 380.
The two closest railway stations are Siliguri (114 kms) and New Jalpaiguri (125 kms) connecting Kolkata, Delhi, Guwahati, Lucknow, Patna, Ranchi, Bhubaneswar, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Chennai and other important cities of India. Computerised Bookings, SNT Bus Terminus and at Tourist Information Centre, Namchi.
Shared taxis (10) run along NH31A, stopping at marked taxi stops.
Charter taxis charge fixed, relatively high rates around town. Rates for sightseeing negotiable; around 1500 per day for travel outside Sikkim, 1200 within Sikkim; plus night halt 200. Tourist office has a list of official rates.
For sharing: Stands (i) Lal Bazar, (ii) Private Bus Stand (for North Bengal) and (iii) Nam Nang (West Sikkim). Rumtek, from Kanchenjunga Bazar, 25; Mangan, 80; Ravangla, around 80; Pelling, 150. Share jeeps leave on a fixed schedule, most departing early morning; much quicker and more frequent than buses to most destinations.
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Sikkim Tourist Information Centre's