|Waking up at HIdden Forest Retreat in Gangtok|
1- All foreigners require a permit, easily available at any Indian mission abroad and/or on arrival at Bagdogra airport, Siliguri town, at the border crossing at Rongpa and in Gangtok. Indians are exempt for most parts, but if going closer to any national borders, Get it for sure, it's mandatory and polite as heck!
2- Siliguri, New Jalpaiguri, Bagdogra are your road, rail and air transit points respectively. All three of them are connected to each other by buses, rickshaws, share jeeps and taxis. From all three places i.e Bagdogra airport , NJP rail station and Siliguri bus stand you will find ample transport to Gangtok and depending on number of passengers and status of permits to any place in Sikkim.
3- For ideal weather conditions, the periods of March to May and October to mid-December are usually recommended. These ideals are now shattered due to climate change, so come prepared always for a shower ,a hail storm or a sudden dip in temperature. Remember Spring here is a veritable feast of Rhododendrons and Autumn is best time to trek and the whole year is sprinkled with festivals.
4 - Last time I stayed at Hidden Forest Retreat in Gangtok and now can't imagine staying anywhere else. 30 minutes brisk walking distance away from the city centre, the recently pimped up M.G. road and hub of hotels. It's a garden of delightful orchids, rhododendrons and vegetable patches with comfortable rooms, great kitchen and gracious management. You can book online at www.hiddenforestretreat.com.
5 - Sikkim, A traveller's Guide by Sujoy Das and Arundhati Ray is a delightful guidebook with super pictures, great information and very useful insights into the Sikkimese culture. You can order it online at..trust me it's everything a good travel guide should be.
Have a nice trio and remember to be nice!