Good things come in small packages.’ No other place in India, but Sikkim, can prove this. This place, enveloped by the Himalayas, is an ideal dream destination for all kinds of people. Nature lovers, religious buffs, adventure enthusiasts or simple family tour lovers, everyone can relish this mesmerizing valley hill station where mountains touch the heavens.
How to reach Sikkim: The northeast Indian state has a fair amount of transportation facilities. Many travelers, especially the youngsters prefer to reach there by road. Various road trips and bike rallies are that is why becoming famous in this region.
The helicopter way: If you are planning to make your Sikkim your dream destination this year, then add some thrill to it. Explore visiting the state through a helicopter ride. You can actually avoid the long and tiring tour and the road journey along the meandering and uphill road from Bagdogra to Gangtok or the other way.
The copter comes to your rescue. If you are thinking that the helicopter will only ferry you to the mesmerizing hill city, then you are totally wrong. Sikkim is the place for blue hills and verdant forest, rich heritage and flock of unknown birds. If you want to enjoy the panoramic beauty of all these at a glance, then the chopper is the ultimate one. The helicopter service is the best for aerial sightseeing tours. There thrill of watching the mind-blowing Himalayan terrain along with the majestic snow-capped mountain range from the sky at a close distance is simply unmatchable. It is a unique and rare experience that travel freaks often arrange for themselves or gift to their special ones. Now one might wonder that all of these adventures might cost a hefty amount of bucks. But it is not. Let’s get into the service and pricing details of chopper facilities in Sikkim.
Pawan Hans service and its features: The helicopter service is known as Pawan Hans. It is provided by the Sikkim Tourism Development Corporation. The tourism corporation wing is a part of the Sikkim government. The capacity of each helicopter under this service is five persons. If a child requires a seat during the journey, then he or she will be considered as a person.
The services are extremely popular because of its safety and reliability. But as a traveler, you should consider the weather conditions as the schedule and frequency of the chopper service is subject to change based on climate situations. Sikkim is a hill state, and sudden weather change or cloud formation resulting in heavy rain affect the chopper service’s timing.
The timing: Generally, it takes around 35 to 40 minutes to reach Gangtok from Bagdogra and vice versa. The service is daily, and you can arrange the booking from your home city much ahead of your journey. The helicopter that starts from Bagdogra and takes you to Gangtok sets out at 2.30pm. So, it is advisable that to opt for this service, one should book a morning flight to reach Bagdogra comfortably and avail the chopper facility for the next half of the journey. Likewise, another chopper leaves Gangtok at 11 am to land you to Bagdogra from where you get direct or connecting flights to your home. Both the up and down journey chopper facilities are available on a daily basis.
VIP criteria: If you or any of your co-traveler belongs to the VIP category, then service timings can be altered in consultation with the authorities concerned. Also, timings change as per weather and other situational factors such as pick up season among others.
Rate: According to the revised rate of February 2019, the present rate of the chopper service stands at Rs 3500 per person. But before making your final estimate or budget for the Sikkim trip, you should check the latest price details to stay updated.
Luggage limit: Here comes one of the most important and tricky aspects of the helicopter service in Sikkim. The simple thing to remember is you must travel light to avail of the chopper facility. Here only ten kg of luggage is allowed per traveler. But if you think that additional luggage can be accommodated with some added cash like you do in terms of regular flight journey, then you are wrong because here, there no such option. In case you are having extra luggage, you can send them to your hotel through dedicated taxi or other porter services while you and your family reach there by helicopter.
Many travelers plan their journey this way. Therefore, from the taxi and luggage bearing services are also contacted by the helicopter providers.
How to book: Booking in advance is the best option. To avoid the rush, last minute tension and other complexities book the seats in much ahead of your date of journey. Calling the Sikkim tourism corporation’s office or ticket booking counter to check the availability of seats should be your first step. Ask for the timing etc. and decide whether they suit your criteria. Then make the complete plan. Here are a couple of important phone numbers to book the helicopter service.
Contact – 03592-203960. 9475011220. You can call any of these numbers and look for seat availability. Once the authorities confirm you about the availability, then you can make the payment through account transfer.
After landing at Bagdogra airport also you can book the chopper seats. But again that is subject to availability. There is a booking counter out the departure hall from where you can book the entire chopper or required number of seats, though this is not the best option during the high season.
In case, the service is canceled for any unavoidable circumstances; you will get the refund.
Sightseeing through copter: Now let’s see what major tourist attractions you can cover while enjoying a joyride on the chopper. There are set tours for which they have specific costs. Also, special mountain flights are there, and for these, there are no set costs. If there are other passengers on the chopper with you and your family, then the cost or fare get divided. But usually one gets enough fellow travelers during the peak season, and the package costs are quite reasonable.
Regular tour of Sikkim: Within 10 minutes after flying from Bagdogra over Gangtok, you will see a mesmerizing combination of azure sky and beautiful landscape. The winding roads, alleyways, houses will all seem like a dream from the top. Among the popular places, you will see Rumtek Monastery, Gangtok ridge among others. If it is a regular flight, then per person charge would be around Rs 2500. You can book a charter flight for Rs 10,000.
Kanchenjunga tour: Another famous chopper tour would of Kanchenjunga, the world’s third highest peak. For this tour, if you start from Gangtok, you will ride over the places like Mangan, Chungthang, Lachen, Zemu, Green Lake and then get back to Gangtok from where you started. As you fly, you will be awestruck with the view of the beautiful and thrilling Kanchenjunga. You will get a panoramic view of the entire mountain range. The serene Teesta valley is also located here. Places like Mangan, Lachen, and Zemu if you cover, then the entire journey will be of around complete one hour. Sixty minutes of pure thrill and excitement. The tour can be conducted on request. This is not a regular tourist tour. Rather it is conducted by special arrangements and taken mostly by a handful of industrial and VIP families and those from the foreign countries. A charter flight of this tour will cost around Rs 96,000.
Tsomgo Lake tour: Now if you are in Sikkim and have not visited the Tsomgo Lake, then it is totally incomplete. You can take the copter tour or regular small airbus tour to the beautiful lake here. This is the best option for a group of four or five friends or families where you can book an entire flight for just Rs 19000. This is an affordable trip to a beautiful lakeside.
Mount Siniolchu and Namchi tour: If you like watching the best peaks of the Himalayas, then this is the tour you must book. There is no better experience in Sikkim than watching Mount Siniolchu and similar other peaks from the sky. Best time to see them is in the morning when the sunshine flashes on to their snowcapped crowns.
Namchi tour is for those who want to witness a religious place in Sikkim. This is a pilgrimage tour. It covers places like Sai temple, Tathagata sal among other important religious destinations. This tour is popularly called as the char dham tour of Sikkim.
Pakyong airport and its features: Sikkim’s one and only airport, Pakyong was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently. The airport is located just around 33km from Gangtok. It is the pure engineering marvel that has been constructed at the height of around 4500 above the sea level.
The airport has been built by the Airports Authority of India. The distance of Pakyong airport from Bagdogra, which is located in Bengal, is just 124 km. So, travelers coming from the east and northeast India can easily reach Sikkim via this route. Also, people from the rest of the country and abroad can land at Pakyong via Delhi or Calcutta. Pakyong airport is just 60 km from the international India China border.
Features: The airport has been given a look and infrastructure of an international standard facility. It has been built at Rs 605 crore, and it is equipped with all the modern facilities. The reinforcement wall here is almost 80-metre-high, one of the highest in the world. It has got a 1.75km runway and reflects the famous Buddhist culture of Sikkim through these interiors.
The airport has it dedicated 116metre long taxiway. Its terminal is around 1300 square km where with a capacity of handling 50 in bound passengers.
A budget carrier like SpiceJet operates in Pakyong, and since the airport has just been operational in last year October, you can easily get the flights touching in and out of Pakyong. This means the usual rush that you witness in other regular airports in metro cities are yet to catch Pakyong.
Transport from Pakyong: Several government and private transportation facilities are available from the airport. You don’t need to panic that as it is a new facility, you will not get any proper taxi or private vehicle to reach your hotel in Sikkim. Sikkim government has initiated various plans and issued licenses to many private transport provider agencies to streamline the movement of tourists across the state if they visit this part of the country through Pakyong airport.
The essence of Sikkim: Sikkim is the least populous state in the country. It is serene and peaceful. This is the place you would want to visit after having months of a hectic life and work pressure. This is where you get solitude in its abundance. Scenic beauty, fresh food, warm and friendly people with all the amenities extended to a traveler, Sikkim is increasingly becoming popular for world voyagers.
Gone are the days when you had to book your train ticket and dial several times your private booking agent for a car ride to the hotel from the airport. Things have been eased out in Sikkim. With the launch of the new airport and streamlined connectivity through the Bengal, the channel has made things easier like never before. Now you can plan a trip to Sikkim through any route of the country at any time.
Bagdogra airport: Bagdogra airport is another way through which you can easily land in Sikkim. It is an international facility that is located 45km west of Siliguri. Bagdogra is a major air transport hub in the northeast region as it connects all the flights from various metro cities across the country such as Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Hyderabad, and Guwahati. Also, if you are an international tourist, from Bagdogra, you can board flights to Bhutan and Bangkok. The distance to Sikkim from Bagdogra is around 80km. Plenty of private car and taxis are available from the airport premises to reach you to the Sikkim capital in just 5 and a half hours. You can pre-book your journey from Bagdogra to Bangkok or hire the running transportation.
Both expensive and economy packages are there for the flight services in Sikkim. For special mountain flights journey, you will have to spend some extra bucks, but the investment is worth because you get to see the enthralling place from the lap of luxury. This is a lifetime experience.
On the other hand, if you want to go for a regular ride and share your journey with other travelers then also it is fine as long as you cover various beautiful locations of the Himalayan range.