TRANSPORT AND ENTRY FORMALITIES
Foreigners must obtain Inner Line Permit (ILP) to visit Sikkim. This can be obtained from Sikkim Tourism Office at Delhi, Kolkata, Siliguri and Rangpo on the stretch of a valid Indian Visa. The 15 days duration permit is issued on the spot on production of photocopies of the passport and visa details along with two passport photos of the applicants. The permissible duration of the stay to the foreign tourists is 15 days initially.
The State Government is authorized to extend the same twice by a further period of 30 days (15 days each). The extension of the permit can be obtained from Foreigners Registration Office at Gangtok and Office of the Superintendent of Police in the North West and South District. For those interested in going for trekking in the interior region of the state the Department of Tourism issues Protected Area Permit (PAP) at Gangtok which is available for certain specified areas for groups consisting of two or more foreigners subject to the condition that the trekking programme is arranged through a registered travel agency. Transport in Sikkim is comprised of air, Rail and Road.
TRANSPORT AND COMMUNICATION
Sikkim has its own airport recently. Pakyong Airport has been recently operation and is the only airway present in Sikkim. Though there is very few flights available due to the weather condition here, but there is a chance that you may get a hold of it. The flight is usually connected from Guwahati or Kolkata. The nearest most operational airport for Sikkim is Bagdogra in North Bengal in the neighbor State of Sikkim, West Bengal. Bagdogra is around 123 kilometers from Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim. It takes approximately four hours of drive from Bagdogra to Gangtok.
Sikkim Tourism also operates daily, a five seater helicopter service between Gangtok and Bagdogra. Recently the Helicopter fleet has been upgraded to have a 26 seater helicopter. MI 172 Chopper is a robust machine capable of hovering even in moderate climate , terrain up to 13000 to 14000 feet altitude. Russian made machine can lift up to 26 persons.
The two closest railway stations are Siliguri (114 Kms) and New Jalpaiguri (125 Kms) from the Capital of Sikkim, Gangtok. There are agency booking facilities in Gangtok at the Sikkim Nationalized Transport Bus Terminus, Gangtok. Another one is at the Tourist Information Centre Namchi, South Sikkim.
Siliguri Railway station is only 114 Kms away and New Jalpaiguri is 125 Kms away. New Jalpaiguri is the most preferred Railway station due to the maximum availability of trains through this station. Rarely anyone goes to the Siliguri station as it is mainly busy in Local trains. Local commuters usually use this station. Recently the massive railway project is going on to bring railways to Sikkim. That should take another 5 years to complete if not more. The new Railway Station then will be at and Around Rangpo. Once completed it will be around 30+ Kilometers from the State Capital.
The Sikkim Nationalized Transport (SNT) plies regular bus service from Gangtok to Siliguri and Kalimpong and within the state. Booking facilities are available at Siliguri and Gangtok. Private buses and taxis are also available at in plenty between Gangtok, Siliguri, Kalimpong and Darjeeling. You can also book a cab from a private Company. The Buses plying between Siliguri and Gangtok are the most suitable options to choose from. There are private 4 seater cabs and also the 10 seater maxi cabs available for hire.
The taxi can be shared by multiple travelers or it can also be booked solely by one single party or group. However the smaller taxis takes a little less time for the journey as compared to busses, but if we look at the comfort level then buses are the best while travelling in hills. There are luxury tourist vehicles also available but the cost for those are quite huge. Though they are pretty luxurious but the cost is tremendous as compared to it and the return of investment rarely satisfies.
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