Nestled gracefully among the lap of the Himalayas, Darjeeling is a blessing for people who love hill stations. With the crowning glory of the highest mountain in India, Kangchenjunga, this place is truly one of a kind in every way. From the way they live to what they eat and how they communicate is absolutely unique and an experience that you will always cherish. Darjeeling is one of those rare places that carves a place in the corner of your heart and a destination that you would want to keep going back to.
However, this hill town should not be taken lightly. Some precise planning is needed to make your holiday in Darjeeling absolutely memorable. The right planning is the only difference between a successful and an unsuccessful trip. If you are visiting Darjeeling for the first time then it is important, especially for you, to make sure to follow the given tips:
Best Time to Visit
Traveling on the hills is always a tricky business. The same is the situation when it comes to exploring Darjeeling. Chalking out the right time for you to visit will save you from a lot of unnecessary hassle. The best time to visit Darjeeling depends from traveler to traveler. If you like the Himalayas winter then make sure to visit from September to March. In case a summer getaway on the hills is something you are looking forward to with the family then April to June is the perfect time for you. Summer is the peak tourist season in Darjeeling as well.
NOTE – Avoid traveling on the hills during the monsoon months of July, August, and early September.
Carry Travel Documents
In case you are traveling from abroad then documents will be of peak importance to you. To be extra safe you can carry hard copies and soft copies of all the documents that may seem relevant to you. It is also suggested that you always keep a detailed itinerary of your travel plan in Darjeeling. Carry a valid ID proof in the form of a legit Aadhaar Card, driver’s license, voter ID card, or anything else you feel like you may need during your travels.
Check Hotel Reviews
Hotel reviews will tell you more about a place than their own website. The pictures and condition of the rooms can be easily edited and photo-shopped to make them look better than what they actually maybe. Referring to the visitor’s reviews, pictures and what they had to say about the services and stay in the hotel can paint a much clearer picture of the accommodation that you are deciding to choose. The hotel reviews written by the guests are also mostly accompanied with a lot of pictures of the hotel and room that they have taken themselves which are not edited and photoshopped.
The secret to a successful trip on the hills is packing right. Never underestimate the Himalayan winter or even summer nights. Always be sure to pack some good quality woolen clothing and accessories like a muffler, earmuffs, gloves, and woolen socks to be extra warm if it ever becomes unseasonably cold.
Carry an Emergency Medical Box
You never know when you or someone around you may need emergency medical help. A medical kit consisting of pain relievers, ointments, paracetamol, anti-fever, and anti-diarrhea medication along with band-aid, bandages, and Dettol or Savlon is a must. You never know when you will need them and can come in use in case of any emergency.
Do Not Be Reliant On Card for Monetary Transactions
Darjeeling is not like any other big city. It is a small Himalayan town where most transactions in hotels, restaurants, or shopping places don’t have access to card machines. Most of the transactions in the city take place in the form of hard cash. It is always wise to carry cash rather than cards with you. You can keep them safely in your pockets to avoid anyone from stealing them.
Do Not Disrespect the Locals and Their Culture
No matter where you go, respecting the culture and traditions of the locals is a priority. Disrespecting them in any way by wearing inappropriate clothing or not greeting them or making faces when they are talking to you is considered extremely rude not only in Darjeeling but anywhere in India. Try communicating with them in a non-disrespectful manner just like you would to the people living in your region. Also, remember that every place has its own set of rules and culture so keep an open mind before judging them or making fun of them.
Be Ready To Walk
While exploring the nearby places in Darjeeling has cab or shared taxi and bus services, on the other hand, sightseeing or shopping within Darjeeling is done mostly on foot. The reason being not all these places are far off from each other. They are nearby and since the local people prefer walking everywhere, there are next to zero public transportation services connecting these nearby spots.
Avoid Fraud Guides
Tourists mostly complain of getting ripped off by fraudulent guides who overcharge and don’t even show around the place properly. Whenever booking a guide to show you around, ask them for proof, like their official, the government allotted guide license, and don’t be afraid to ask them questions and clarify everything you need to know or may seem doubtful about.
Traveling Within the City
Darjeeling Himalayan railway covers some routes of the city. If not then there are cabs and taxi services also available. Mostly many places are covered by walking around rather than taking any vehicle to go from one place to another. Be sure to pack.
Safety for Women
Darjeeling is an extremely safe place not just for locals there but also for women travelers. If you are a solo traveler then you have nothing to worry about. But you should follow all the precautionary measures you think are right, like not going out late at night or accepting rides or food from strangers. Other than that there is nothing you have to worry about and in fact, Darjeeling is one of the safest hill stations in India for women.