Post-Covid Travel Guide

An All-In-One Post-Covid Travel Guide To Sikkim, Gangtok, and Darjeeling!

An All-In-One Post-Covid Travel Guide To Sikkim, Gangtok, and Darjeeling!

India is a vast and diverse country. Because of the frequent change in culture, language, landscape every 100 kilometres, travellers often mark their expeditions based on the region they focus on exploring. While the North has Ladakh and the Golden Temple, the South has Wayanad’s lush-eco charm. The West has the Rann of Kutch. Eastern India is also a marvellous region to absorb history, culture, and breathtaking scenery. In Sikkim, you can feel like you’re visiting blessed alpine meadows. In Darjeeling, you’ll be awed by the art of tea plantations. From dense forests to modern cities, the East-Indian lands are must-experience places. Here are the updated Sikkim travel guidelines

Read below for a detailed Covid-19 travel guide to Sikkim, Gangtok, and Darjeeling for your post-pandemic travel planning.

Sikkim Travel Guidelines

Best place to visit
Post-Covid Travel Guide

Sikkim is waking up to look at the early morning light on snowy mountain peaks, having dumplings for lunch with Temi tea, taking a ride on the Gangtok ropeway and observing Buddhist prayers in monasteries. Sikkim is mountains and rocky terrains and also forest reserves. More than a place, this state is the culmination of feelings and experiences, a cultural delight that attracts travellers worldwide. As it slowly reopens under the new unlock guidelines, travellers are urged to prioritise their safety above all and help the country recover, even if it means postponing your plan a little bit.

Must Read: Top 7 Things To Do In Sikkim In 2021!

Mandatory Travel Advisory

Mandatory Travel Advisory

According to Kapil Meena, the director-cum-additional secretary of Sikkim’s tourism and civil aviation department, domestic travel will resume soon. In the first phase, Indian residents, as well as foreigners who are residing in India at the moment, will be eligible to enter Sikkim if they have a valid permit to stay in the country. Here is a list of the latest travel advisory and Sikkim entry restrictions issued by the state government of Sikkim under the new stage of reopening:

  • Passengers entering the state border of Sikkim must register with the Sikkim tourism department on the web portal.
  • Passengers must carry with them the generated travel card at all times during their
  • Sikkim quarantine rules for tourists: before their departure, travellers must obtain a negative Covid-19 PCR state at least 72 hours before they plan to enter Sikkim.

Best Time To Visit

best time to visit

The best time to visit Sikkim is from March to May or October to Mid-December most tourists prefer to enjoy the mild temperatures and blooming nature. The climate is not too hot or not too cold and is perfect for sightseeing.

How To Reach

reach sikkim

The state of Sikkim has made amendments to all major travel restrictions for domestic travellers. As mentioned above, if you plan to visit some of the breathtaking places in Sikkim post-Covid-19, you can do so, given that you follow the government advisory.

  • The best and the fastest way to reach Sikkim is by taking a flight from any major airport to the Bagdogra Airport in West Bengal. From there, you can use local transport to reach your destination/accommodation.
  • If travelling by train, there is no major railway station in the state. Still, you can get to Jalpaiguri (187 km) and Siliguri (146 km), stations well connected with major cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, and Chennai. From there, you can take local buses that operate daily to reach Sikkim.
  • You can also take a ride on overnight buses from your city/town or hire a car to get to Sikkim.

Getting Around

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There are multiple modes of transportation available for travellers who want to go around Sikkim. The most popular and affordable way to travel within Sikkim is by using the local bus from the city centre or using private jeeps for hire. The Sikkim government has fixed-rate buses; Sikkim Nationalized Transport (SNT) is very comfortable travelling between cities. The most common route that tourists travel on is between Siliguri and Gangtok. But before that, please read about the Gangtok travel guidelines and the listed Gangtok travel instructions.

Places To Visit In Sikkim

Places To Visit In Sikkim

Sikkim is one of those exceptional places that are generally delightful to visit any time of the year. From Tibetan style Buddhist Gompas to the historical influence of ancient kingdoms, there is serenity in the air that helps unwind and disconnect from the daily woes. The tiny Himalayan state is also one of the most tourist-driven destinations in India. Sikkim has recently opened its doors to domestic travellers and focuses on safe travel policies to ensure the well-being of those visiting.
If you plan to travel to Sikkim in the upcoming months, don’t forget to visit the Buddhist temples in Gangtok, hike in Pelling, and enjoy the rejuvenating baths in Yumthang. Also, check out Singalila National Park and Ravangla for more adventure.

If you are planning to visit Darjeeling is your first or only destination, you must visit Tsomgo Lake, Nathula Pass, and MG Marg.

Suggested Read: Mountaineering In Sikkim: A Handbook To Give You An Insight Into It For 2020

Things To Do In Sikkim

riding on yak

If you are visiting Sikkim for a short getaway or maybe a long staycation, there are abundant adventures that you can participate in to make your trip memorable. As the tourism industry is slowly reponing, most of the places operating these adventures are open, some remain partially operational, and a handful is indefinitely closed. Due to the ongoing pandemic, it is strongly advised that travellers must check with their agent/planner to book in advance and follow the Covid-19 guidelines implemented by the state.

When in Sikkim, you can enjoy: River Rafting, Paragliding, Cable Car Ride, Trekking, Yak Ride, Visiting Rumtek Monastery, Mountain Biking, and much more.

Accommodation

this is the best place to stay

If you are looking to book a hotel or Airbnb during your travels in the state of Sikkim, make sure you get your room in advance and fill out the mandatory documentation like any contact tracing forms or checks you may require. All hotels are now following the government advisory for reopening, which includes a deep sanitization process during and after every guest, limited beds, closure of community areas like pools and gyms, and contact tracing.

Here is a list of measures that the state of Sikkim has implemented on the hotel industry for safe and secure travel:

  • Temperature screening at the time of check-in and sometimes also during check-out
  • Sanitiser availability at the hotel and inside all the rooms
  • Disposable gloves mandatory for hotel staff at bar and restaurant
  • Contact tracing forms at every hotel
  • Tourists/travellers who are not registered on the Sikkim travel portal won’t be able to book rooms.
  • Hotels located in containment zones would not be allowed to operate.
  • Accommodation units permitted to operate would have to prepare at least one room for emergency isolation purposes in case of any suspected cases.

Suggested Read: Guide To 2021 Dzongri Trek In Sikkim – A Glimpse Into The Heaven

Restaurants

delicious food

The restaurants in Sikkim are reopening, but the safety of the travellers and staff remains a key priority. While some of the big-league restaurants are back to normal functioning with a limited capacity, many food outlets have moved to delivery-only or takeaway facilities. Food franchises are also operational and open for customers with social distance seating and disposable cutlery to avoid transmission.

West Bengal

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You’ll want to head to West Bengal after waiting for months on end to walk on the busy streets of Kolkata, escape for a little while in Darjeeling or maybe talk a walk on the wide side in Sundarban. This state has some of the most enchanting destinations. At this moment, we cannot wait to get back to normal but to get there. We must remember how important it is to abide by the Covid-19 guidelines, take care of the people around us and contribute to slowing down the spread by ensuring safe travel.

Mandatory Travel Advisory

best place to visit

The state of West Bengal is prioritizing the health and safety of all the passengers and residents who are planning to travel amidst the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Besides reopening the state borders to domestic travellers, the government is also aiming to reopen its tourism sector and revive its popular hotspots gradually. Here are the latest guidelines:

  • For all passengers, 14-days of monitoring is advised for asymptomatic travellers entering the state.
  • On arrival, health screening shall be done for all the passengers.
  • Asymptomatic passengers will be permitted to go with the advice that they shall self monitor their health for 14 days. They shall inform the local medical officer or state call centre 1800 313 444 222/033-23412600,2357 3636/1083/1085 for medical interventions in case they develop any symptoms.
  • If you are travelling by train, make sure that you carry sanitiser and gloves in your backpack.
  • Wear your mask at all times when you are at the station. All domestic travellers and incoming passengers at the airport, railway station, and state highways must undergo thermal screening.
  • Symptomatic passengers will be taken to the nearest Covid-19 facility to follow further instructions.
  • All SpiceJet passengers arriving in West Bengal from Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Kerala, Maharashtra and Karnataka need to carry negative RT-PCR test with effect from April 26, 2021, and the report needs to be from an ICMR-approved lab issued within 72 hours from swab collection.
  • All passengers are mandatorily required to submit a filled up self-declaration form at the time of arrival to the state health officials.
  • The Government of Odisha announced mandatory 14-day institutional or paid quarantine for people coming to the coastal state from West Bengal.
  • The full lockdown has been extended till 16th June with no restriction on interstate transmission.
  • All intra-state transportation will remain closed till the 16th of June except for the movement of emergency and essential purposes.

Best Time To Visit

Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit Darjeeling is between March and July, as the summer season is why you can enjoy the step-farming activities in tea plantations, hiking, and camping. The temperature can reach up to 25-degree celsius, which is great for sightseeing.

How To Reach

you can travel by road

The state of West Bengal has removed all major travel restrictions for domestic travellers. If you plan to travel to Darjeeling or any other destination in the upcoming weeks or months, please check the latest travel advisory above to ensure that you enjoy a seamless vacation. Here are some of the best ways to reach Darjeeling and other places in West Bengal.

  • Travellers can take a flight to Kolkata, Bagdogra, Siliguri, or Durgapur airport, which are operational and catering to the guidelines issued by the state at full capacity. If possible, carry a negative Covid-19 test report for hassle-free boarding or undergo the airport’s mandatory temperature check.
  • There are also a limited number of trains operating in West Bengal, and you must check the availability on the IRCTC website before booking.
  • If you plan to travel by road, you can hire a car or drive yourself from the state border to your accommodation. There will be temperature screenings at certain checkpoints, and you must wear your mask at all times until you reach your destination.

Suggested Read: 10 Best Adventure Sports In Darjeeling For The Thrill Seekers In 2021

Getting Around

this is amazing place

There are multiple modes of transportation available for travellers who want to go around Darjeeling and in West Bengal. The most popular mode of transportation here is the private and local bus service that offers an intense network of routes and can take you to almost any destination.

If you want to visit Darjeeling specifically, the best and fastest route is to take the local train to Siliguri or New Jalpaiguri and then get a private taxi or bus that will take you to Darjeeling in almost 3 hours. These stations are also well-connected with major cities and can be accessed easily from Kolkata too.

Places To Visit In West Bengal

Places To Visit In West Bengal

The state of West Bengal is a cross-section of green-filled landscapes and age-old cultural festivities, a place that is as loud as its Durga Puja in Kolkata and as pacific as the hill-top tea estates in Darjeeling. You can stare at temples for hours and art galleries that will remind you of the British colonial era. Untouched valleys, mouth-watering cuisines, and incredibly fascinating local market scene—what’s not to love about West Bengal?

If you plan to visit the state in the upcoming days or weeks, don’t miss out on Howrah Bridge, Sundarban National, and a day trip to Kalimpong.

If you plan to visit Darjeeling is your first or only destination, you must visit the Batasia Loop, Darjeeling ropeway, and Nightingale Park.

Suggested Read: 15 Places Near Darjeeling 2020: Your Next Stop For A Supreme Holiday Experience

Things To Do In West Bengal

paragliding is the best

Darjeeling or you also say that most of West Bengal is not just a stop-over location. It is much more than that in many aspects. The capital city of Kolkata brimming with groundbreaking historical and culinary experiences, but the much-loved hill station of Darjeeling also unpacks a different era that leaves visitors with a comprehensive knowledge of plantation, British-Tibetian influence, and Himalayan lifestyle.

If you are planning a trip in the upcoming months or maybe in the next year, here’s a list of some of the best things to do in West Bengal:

  • Wake up to a view of the Tiger Hill
  • Go on a street-food adventure in Kolkata
  • Explore the art scene in Kolkata
  • Learn about tea-plantation in Darjeeling
  • Try river-rafting in the Teesta river
  • Experience one of the longest cable rides in Asia at Darjeeling-Rangeet Valley Cable Car

Accommodation

best place to visit

If you are looking to book a hotel or Airbnb during your travels in the state of West Bengal, make sure you get your room in advance and fill out the mandatory documentation like any contact tracing forms or checks you may require. All hotels are now following the government advisory for reopening, which includes a deep sanitization process during and after every guest, limited beds, closure of community areas like pools and gyms, and contact tracing.

Here is a list of measures that the state of West Bengal has implemented on the hotel industry for safe and secure travel:

  • Temperature screening at the time of check-in and sometimes also during check-out
  • Sanitiser availability at the hotel and inside all the rooms
  • Disposable gloves mandatory for hotel staff at bar and restaurant
  • Contact tracing forms at every hotel

Restaurants

big-league restaurants

The hospitality industry in West Bengal is reopening, but the safety of the travellers and staff remains a key priority. While some of the big-league restaurants are back to normal functioning with a limited capacity, many food outlets have moved to delivery-only or takeaway facilities. Some of the most popular restaurants in Kolkata are also back to being fully operational after months of lockdown. Food franchises are also operational and open for customers with social distance seating and disposable cutlery to avoid transmission.

What To Pack

All things pack

If you plan a trip to Sikkim, Gangtok, and Darjeeling, you will need to pack a few extra items in your backpack, considering the ongoing pandemic. The most important thing during your travel is to minimize the risk of becoming unwell and keeping others around you safe. Here’s Travel Triangle’s comprehensive list of things to pack:

  • Comfortable cotton clothing to travel in high-humidity areas, which are common in the Eastern zone.
  • A pack of disposable face masks or 2-3 reusable face masks.
  • Sanitiser for personal use.
  • Sanitizing solution for outdoor/surface use.
  • A personal PPE kit will include a face shield, sanitiser sachets, and a pair of disposable gloves for flight, train, or any commute.

Suggested Read: 6 Resorts Near Darjeeling That Will Fill Your Soul With Tranquility And Peace!

Travel Checklist

Check all list
  • Book your travel and accommodation in advance.
  • Please talk with your hotel/Airbnb about their sanitizing facilities and the Covid-19 related precautions.
  • Download the Arogya Setu app on your mobile phone.
  • Try to get tested before your travel and keep the Covid-19 negative certificate handy during your commute.
  • Find the latest information about containment zones in the area and avoid places with many cases.

Covid-19 Prerequisites And Consequences In Sikkim And West Bengal

All passengers traveling domestically to West Bengal
  • All passengers travelling domestically to West Bengal must undergo thermal screening before they can enter the border.
  • If the temperature recorded is higher than the required number, you will be asked to take a Covid-19 RT-PCR test, for which you will bear the cost of the test and any commute you may have to undertake. If negative, you will be allowed to travel to your destination. If the result shows positive, the state protocol for Covid-19 will be followed.
  • Everyone must wear a mask in public, and you may incur a fine or penalty.

Further Travel Tips

make sure you wear mask in the public place
  • If you plan to explore the tea gardens in Darjeeling, make sure you have a word with the owner/guide and understand if they are comfortable with your visit.
  • If you plan to visit a monastery in Sikkim or undertake sporting activities like paragliding, make sure you check with the respective organization before, as sometimes they might be closed.
  • People over the age of 65 or children under the age of 10 are advised not to undertake non-essential travel.

Further, Read: According To This Couple, This Is The Best Time To Visit Darjeeling And Sikkim

The Eastern regions of Sikkim, Gangtok, and Darjeeling are majestic. Many regions in them remain untouched, hidden gems scattered across plains that nobody has discovered yet. It is also another reason why many trekking enthusiasts, campers, and nature lovers come to this part of India to find new vistas. In unprecedented circumstances like this, the first and foremost concern is for the health and safety of the people, and we hope this pocket-friendly guide will become your most up-to-date companion for travel planning. Looking for something more? Let us help you explore more with our customized itineraries for a trip to Sikkim, Gangtok, and Darjeeling.

Disclaimer: TTH claims no credit for images featured on our blog site unless otherwise noted. All visual content is copyrighted to its respectful owners. We try to link back to sources whenever possible. If you own the rights to any of the images and do not wish them to appear on TTH, please contact us, and they will be promptly removed. We believe in providing proper attribution to the original author, artist, or photographer.

Please Note: Any information published by TTH in any form of content is not intended to substitute for any medical advice. One must not take any action before consulting a professional medical expert of their own choice.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Is it safe to visit the Eastern states in the upcoming months for travel?

Yes, it is safe to travel to the Northeastern states like Meghalaya, Sikkim, West Bengal, and more as the number of Covid-19 cases is relatively low compared to other regions of India. If travelling in a small group while following the health and safety guidelines provided by the health department, you are welcome to travel within the Eastern zone.

Is it mandatory to have a negative Covid-19 test report while entering the state of West Bengal?

No, it is not mandatory to carry a Covid-19 test report, but any passenger entering the border of West Bengal must pass through temperature check-points during their arrival. If the temperature detected is higher than the standard deviation, passengers will have to take the test and will only be allowed to travel further if the result is negative. If the report is positive, the state protocol for quarantine will be followed.

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