How To Reach Darjeeling
Darjeeling does not have its own airport. The nearest airport to Darjeeling is Bagdogra, close to Siliguri. Bagdogra is approximately two and a half hours by road from Darjeeling. A flight from Delhi is two hours and around fifty minutes from Kolkata. Air India, Vistara, Indigo, Air Asia, Spice Jet and Go Air have daily flights from New Delhi. Spice Jet and Go Air have daily flights from Mumbai to Bagdogra. There also regular flights from Guwahati and Kolkata.
If you are flying from outside India, it is advisable to take a flight to one of the major cities in the country and then get a connecting flight to Bagdogra. There are international flights from Bangkok, Paro and most of the major cities in India.
It is possible to access Nepal through Darjeeling. One can get a shared jeep from Siliguri and then a bus to the Nepalese border changing buses at Nepal. Alternatively, there are services available next to the clock tower in Darjeeling where the driver can take you across the border and drop you at the Bhadrapur airport in Nepal for your connecting flight to Kathmandu.
The nearest railway station to Darjeeling is New Jalpaiguri, which connects the city with all the major parts of the country. There are a number of trains from cities like Kolkata, Delhi, Guwahati, Chennai, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Bhubaneshwar and Kochi.
There are direct trains to New Jalpaiguri, which run from Delhi several times a day. If you are travelling from Kolkata (Sealdah Station) the best train for you will be Darjeeling Mail (12 hours) running nightly at 10:05 PM.
New Jalpaiguri, connects Darjeeling by the famous ‘Toy Train’ – Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR). This train is outstanding and listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. If you plan to take the toy train to Darjeeling, be sure to book ahead in the summer months as it tends to get fully booked by Indian tourists. This route is very popular and has been featured in many books and films, in India and internationally.
You can take a 'Joyride' from Darjeeling to Ghoom round the famous Batasia Loop. Joyrides take two hours with 30 minutes stop at Ghoom and 10 minutes at Batasia Loop.
A steam train also operates from Siliguri to 'Agony Point' above Tindharia on most Saturdays and Sundays. Enquire at Siliguri station. There is also a daily 'School Train' that leaves Kurseong arriving and departing to and from Darjeeling. This is still hauled by a steam engine and is one of the last ordinary steam trains running anywhere in the world.
Bus - There is a regular bus service from Siliguri to Darjeeling. However, they are quite slow due to the steep, twisty climb up to Darjeeling. The Tenzing Norgay Central Bus Terminus at Siliguri located on Hill Cart Road has many buses plying to Darjeeling. It is 8 km from New Jalpaiguri. You can take a taxi or auto-rickshaw or cycle rickshaw to reach there from the station. From there, there are many state-run and private buses for Darjeeling that leave frequently.
Shared jeeps are faster, but cost double. The only drawback is that the jeeps wait for a full load of passengers before departing. Consider hiring a taxi, Jeep or Sumo with the overhead carrier. This will be cheaper if the vehicle goes directly from New Jalpaiguri to Darjeeling.
Taxi/Shared Jeeps - Siliguri is the nearest town connected to the mainline rail network. Ample transport is available to Darjeeling from here. The most popular modes of transport are taxis and shared jeeps.
Shared jeeps depart regularly, from several locations around town. They are probably cheapest at the main bus stand. They are efficient and cheap but a little uncomfortable as the roads bumpy.
There are pre-paid taxis in front of the train stations at New Jalpaiguri and at Bagdogra. You can also take shared jeeps to reach Darjeeling from the booking counter at the taxi stand in front of the station. Most often tourists buy an extra seat or two to have more space for the three-hour journey up to Darjeeling. Luggage is carried for free on the roof. Jeeps may stop for a snack and toilet break on the way up (normally a few km short of Kurseong).
While going to Darjeeling from New Jalpaiguri, try to hire a Taxi/Jeep/Sumo with an overhead carrier, which has just arrived from Darjeeling, as this will be much cheaper than if you hire a vehicle which is going directly from New Jalpaiguri to Darjeeling.
Local Transport - Taxis sell packaged tours based on the number of attractions or points covered. A 7-point package includes Himalayan Mountaineering Institute/Zoo, Cable Car, Peace Pagoda, etc. and takes about 5 hours to complete with the driver waiting at each attraction. Many taxis sell shared sightseeing trips in a Tata Sumo, or a Bolero SUV. Minimum taxi rides cost Rs 150/- for even short distances. The most cost-effective way to travel is to flag a shared Taxi. This will cost Rs 10/- for short distances and Rs 20/- for longer distances. You will find traffic around the mall and bus stations areas.
Darjeeling is a very small town and walking short distances is a pleasant way of getting around. The climate is perfect for strolls along the tea estates. For longer trips, taxis are available near the entrance of the supermarket.
It is easy to walk to the botanical garden and rock garden and can also walk to the zoo and the ropeway to North point. A walk down mall road is a classic way to spend an evening in Darjeeling.