If you are planning a trip to Darjeeling, the Queen of Hills, then you must tick off the following top ten activities during your visit. Experience the true magic of Darjeeling with these must do activities. Whether you are visiting with friends, family, or someone special, Darjeeling and its quaint colonial charm has something to offer to everyone.
From leisurely strolls along verdant hillside roads to exploring the laidback local life at one of the many cafes and pubs, or simply soaking in the fresh air and gorgeous surroundings in the Mall Road.
Here are the top ten must do things for your next trip to Darjeeling.
Take a ride on the Heritage Darjeeling Himalayan Railway Toy Train
One of the best ways to experience the charm of this north Bengal hill station is on board the spectacular Toy Train by Darjeeling Himalayan Railway. The rhythmic chugging of the toy train through the city, crossing the key sights of Darjeeling, on its way to Ghoom station is surely going to be a memory to cherish for a lifetime.
Just remember that the tickets for the toy train rides get sold out very quickly, so make sure to book well in advance. Also, it is best to keep updated on any schedule changes or operational notices from the DHR website.
Witness the sunrise at Tiger Hill
Watching the rays of the rising sun paint the snowclad peaks of the Kanchenjunga, and other surrounding mountains, is a sight that you will never forget. That is why this is one of the most popular experiences among visitors to Darjeeling. Wake up well before dawn and head out to Tiger Hill viewpoint.
From here you can hope to catch a glimpse of the spectacular show of light and colors at sunrise. The area can get very crowded on any given day, so make sure you arrive as early as possible to get the best vantage point. Pray to the weather Gods for clear skies, as many times the sunrise is not visible due to mist and clouds.
Bargain for souvenirs at the local markets
The areas surrounding the Mall Road are full of markets with stalls of Tibetan refugees selling a plethora of great items including winter wear, shawls, souvenirs, and accessories. From colorful prayer flags to backpacks and decorative items, these shops are a treasure trove for shopaholics.
So, browse through the colorful shops and pick up whatever catches your fancy. Make sure to bargain well as the sellers can hike up the prices during peak season. Buy a bright and colorful umbrella, or a warm shawl to wrap around your neck, the choices here are endless.
Catch a glimpse of the adorable Red Panda
The Darjeeling Zoo, or the Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park, is definitely one attraction that should be on your must do list on your next trip to Darjeeling. This is because of the most popular residents of this zoological park, the Red Pandas!
These curious and simply delightful creatures are the star attraction of the zoological garden, and thousands of visitors come every day to see them. The zoo is unlike other caged zoo and has a more natural appeal to itself. Walk around the huge lush green compound as you check out the different types of flora, fauna, and birds and reptiles.
Visit a tea garden and taste authentic Darjeeling Tea
No visit to Darjeeling is complete without visiting a tea garden and learning about the process of how real Darjeeling tea is grown, picked and manufactured. There are numerous tea gardens scattered all around Darjeeling, the most famous being the Happy Valley Tea Estate.
You can choose any of the different tea gardens and pay a nominal entrance fee to explore the beauty of a tea estate. The bushes planted on the hill slope in the form of terrace gardening are a picturesque sight and makes for great Instagram photos. Learn about the process of picking the leaves and later you can sit at one of the many cafes and sip on hot cup of real Darjeeling tea.
Breakfast at the iconic Keventer’s Café
Gear up for all the excitement and adventures in Darjeeling by indulging in a sumptuous full English breakfast at the famous Keventer’s Café. With an open terrace that lets you take in the bustling MG Road below; this café is a must visit during your stay in Darjeeling. It is always packed with tourists from around the world trying out the delicious sandwiches, hot chocolates, and other snacks.
The most famous item on the menu is their full English breakfast that you must try at least once. This is an extravaganza of flavors that you are sure to remember for a lifetime. If you prefer vegetarian option, there are plenty of sandwiches, burgers and other items available as well.
Experience the local nightlife at Joey’s pub
The nightlife of Darjeeling is as exciting as the daytime. The people here are a lively bunch who love to play music and relax in quaint pubs and bars with friends and drink the local beer “Chang”. There is no better place to experience the laidback nightlife of Darjeeling than at the famous Joey’s pub.
Located a little away from the Mall Road, this pub is one of the favorite haunts of the locals. There are usually live performances by local rock bands which lend an atmosphere of festiveness to the evenings. Taste the local beer or simply enjoy the music and witness a different side of this hill station. Do not forget to try the local food here as well like momos, thukpas and others.
Take a walk through nature
Darjeeling offers abundant greenery which is a treat for the sore eyes of the city traveler. Refresh your senses and rejuvenate your soul by taking a long and leisurely walk along the tree-lined hillside roads of Darjeeling. One of the best ways to explore the hill station, especially along the Mall Road, is on foot. This also gives you the perfect opportunity to come closer to nature.
Walk your way to the Darjeeling Zoo and back and feel yourself get revitalized and reenergized for your upcoming adventures. Take a panoramic walk around the Mall Road and admire the spectacular views of the Himalayas from the different viewpoints. Or simply breathe in the cool fresh pine-scented air and feel your worries melt away.
Visit the Japanese Peace Pagoda
This is the tallest structure in Darjeeling and is a splendidly beautiful and serene place in the otherwise bustling hill station. The Japanese built this pagoda in 1972 and it is maintained in pristine condition even today. The large structure is a great vantage point to see the city of Darjeeling and surrounding areas sprawled out below.
The perfectly manicured gardens surrounding the pagoda are a great place to stand and reflect and even meditate for a while. As this is one of the seven popular sightseeing points in Darjeeling, it gets pretty crowded during peak season. However, in all the chaos it still manages to exude a sense of peace and tranquility to the visitors.
Visit the Tibetan Refugee Center
The Tibetan refugees of Darjeeling form an integral part of its heritage and culture, and thus no tour of Darjeeling is complete without witnessing the handicrafts of Tibetan refugees. Across Darjeeling you will find many shops and boutiques selling beautiful creations of Tibetan handicrafts and handloom textiles.
The most famous of these are the Thangkas or the Buddhist scroll paintings. You can see these being created, and other handicrafts by talented artists at the Tibetan Refugee Center which is located a little below the Mall Road. These also make for great gifts and souvenirs to remember your Darjeeling trip.
So, keep these ten must do things in Darjeeling in mind when you are planning your next trip. There is a lot to discover and explore in this busy and popular hill station, and this list will definitely help you to make the best of your time in Darjeeling.
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