Best Places To Visit In Darjeeling To Enjoy A Perfect Vacation
The mountains are calling, and we must go, so here are the best places to visit in Darjeeling for a perfect holiday. No matter how many malls, buildings, cars, and hotels have continuously cropped up over the years, Darjeeling still retains an unbeatable old-world charm that you’d be hard-pressed to find anywhere else. From the regular tourist places to offbeat places near Darjeeling, LMZ’s list of the best places to visit in Darjeeling.
Tip: If you are looking for a one-stop solution to all your travel woes, check out Travel Now by digibank .
1. Darjeeling Toy Train
Probably one of the most popular tourist places in Darjeeling, the UNESCO Heritage toy train has been featured in countless films and pop culture references. (Who can forget Sharmila Tagore in ‘Mere Sapno Ki Rani’ sitting on the train with Rajesh Khanna following in his Jeep? Iconic!). You may be surprised at how slow the toy train is when you sit on it, but that only makes the experience that much more worthwhile.
Covering about 88 kilometres, the toy train is the best way to enjoy a slow, languorous view of the entire valley. Stop at India’s highest train station (Ghum; there’s also a little train museum here) and appreciate nature in all its glory as the little steam engine zig-zags its way through the mist. It also meanders its way through Batasia Loop, one of the iconic tourist places in Darjeeling, from where you’ll see an unmissable view of Mt Kanchendzonga.
It’ll cost you about INR 600 each for a diesel engine ride and INR 1,000 each for steam engine rides. Catch the train at 8 AM from New Jalpaiguri.
2. Darjeeling Zoo
Officially called the Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park, for regular city folk like us used to see animals caged in the heat, this is one of the top places to visit in Darjeeling, only because of what a refreshing change it is to see happy animals.
Well-known for its Red Panda and Snow Leopard breeding program, the zoo is spread across 65 acres and offers home and safe space to these endangered species and others like Himalayan Salamanders. The massive bear enclosure, with the waterfall and cave, is especially awe-inspiring.
Located on the Darjeeling – Jorethang Rd, near Birch Hill Resort, it will cost only INR 20 for entry (INR 50 for foreigners) plus INR 10 for carrying a camera.
The Darjeeling Zoo is open from 8.30 AM to 4.30 PM during summers and is closed on Thursdays, so plan!
3. Joey’s Pub
A small pub opposite the Rink Mall this should be on everyone’s list of places to visit in Darjeeling. Almost just a (watering) hole in the wall, stepping into Joey’s Pub will instantly transport you back to the ‘70s. Expect music from The Doors, The Scorpions and Pink Floyd, a roaring fire, a couple of bar stools, cheap food, affordable drinks and very friendly people. It’s also one of the few tourist places in Darjeeling open past 9 PM.
The service is quick, and the drinks are good; plus, the ambience is a perfect 10. Relax and unwind here after a long day of sightseeing, and you’ll feel the tiredness just melting away.
4. Mall Road
Any trip to Darjeeling would be incomplete without a visit to Mall Road. Once a popular walking destination for the British, there are now many things to see and do along Observatory Hill’s entire circular road. Almost all of the great eateries and tourist places in Darjeeling are situated around here.
Don’t forget to stop in for chocolates, cake, and coffee at Glennarys, eat sandwiches and drink milkshakes at the OG Keventers that overlooks the entire valley (remember the movie Barfi?), and if you can wrangle it, grab a seat at the colonial Planter’s Club for lunch. Once you’re full of good food and ready to start walking again, hit up Golden Tips for tea (make sure to buy some to take home). Don’t miss meandering and browsing through the centuries-old, famous Oxford Bookstore and don’t leave without buying some jewellery or curios from Habeeb Mullick & Sons. Some horses will take you around the entire mall road for a nominal price, allowing you to admire the fantastic scenery and valley spread out beside the mountain.
5. Tea Gardens In Darjeeling
An unbeatable, immersive experience is a visit to the tea gardens and surrounding places near Darjeeling. Stay in an old British colonial bungalow, live like the tea planters of old used to, learn how some of the best tea in the world is grown, wake up to absolutely beautiful settings just outside your window, stroll through the tea gardens, see how tea is plucked and gain insight into the tea worker’s everyday lives. This is something that few people get to experience but you definitely should if you get the chance.
There are several places near Darjeeling, ranging from some very fancy tea gardens to some slightly more affordable options that you can choose from. Our vote goes to Glenburn Tea Estate, Happy Valley Tea Estate, or Makaibari in Kurseong.
Of course, there are many other places to visit in Darjeeling, like Tiger Hill (absolutely worth waking up before sunrise for this), the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, riding the Darjeeling Ropeway and visiting the many monasteries and churches that dot the hills around.