India // Kolkata & West Bengal //

Arrival and information

Bagdogra airport, 12km west of Siliguri, is served by flights from Delhi, Kolkata, Guwahati, Bhutan and Bangkok and soon Kathmandu; there’s also a helicopter service from here to Gangtok in Sikkim. Taxis booked through the pre-paid counter run directly to Siliguri (Rs295), Darjeeling (Rs1185), Kalimpong (Rs1045) and Gangtok (Rs1505), though you can negotiate cheaper fares from the stand outside the gates with returning taxis. Siliguri does have its own railway station, used by the Toy Train, but the New Jalpaiguri (NJP) Station, 4km east, is the main rail junction in the region, with trains to and from Kolkata, Delhi and Assam. Cycle and auto-rickshaws (Rs45 and Rs90) ply the route between NJP and Siliguri, battling through the often-gridlocked market, while shared Vikrams (auto-taxis) charge Rs30 a seat; taxis charge up to Rs300. Use the pre-paid booth outside the main station for local and long-distance journeys in auto-rickshaws as well as taxis. Most buses arriving at Siliguri terminate at the Tenzing Norgay Bus Terminal on Hill Cart Road at Pradhan Nagar, close to most hotels and taxis to Darjeeling.

The Government of West Bengal’s tourist office (Mon–Fri 10.30am–4pm; t 0353/251 1979), opposite the bus station on Pradhan Nagar, can book rooms in tourist lodges in places like Jaldapara Wildlife Sanctuary. There are also tourist office counters at NJP station and the airport. Siliguri’s best private tour operator, Help Tourism, First Floor, Malati Bhavan, 143 Hill Cart Rd (t 0353/253 5892, w http://www.helptourism.com), organizes wildlife tours, village home-stays, and treks and tours off the beaten track.

Opposite the bus stand in the same compound as Sikkim Nationalized Transport, Sikkim Tourism (Mon–Sat 10am–4pm; t 0353/251 2646), provides information and Sikkim permits. To change money, try the bureau at the Delhi Hotel across from the bus terminal on Hill Cart Road, or the State Bank of India, Mangaldeep Building, Hill Cart Road. There are several ATMs including one opposite the Manila Hotel on Hill Cart Road and around Sevoke More. The main post office is on Kacheri Road, with branches near the Central Railway Booking Office and the bus terminal.

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