Hello everybody. 1st post here so I seek your indulgence.
In next 2 or 3 days, I should be starting off for a driving vacation towards Sikkim and Bhutan. I will give Darjeeling a miss and drive to Gangtok via Siliguri. From Gangtok I would like to drive to Thimpu before heading back home. The touring party will comprise my wife, daughter and I. We will be driving our trusted Mahindra Scorpio 2005 with approx 30,000km in the odo and in immaculate condition. The vehicle is fully kitted out for long distance touring. Refrigerator, tea maker, pneumatic jack, assorted 12volts gadgets, GPS, Inverter, air pump, HID lights, etc.
Request some info:
- Siliguri to Gangtok route: How is the road condition? I drove thro that region last in 1990 and it was a mixed bag.
- Recommended place to stay/eat/do/buy in Gangtok.
- How about a visit to Mangan? Does it require a permit?
- Gangtok to Jaigaon/Phuntsholing: The suggested routing by mapmyindia.com forces one to retrace the track back to almost Siliguri. I am sure there must be a route that branches off immediately after leaving Gangtok to Phuntsholing. Is it?
- Bhutanese Visa: Thanks to the excellent info in this forum, I know that Visa on arrival is a not a problem for Indians. While my wife and I have passports, our daughter has no such photo identification. Would a school Identity Card (with a pic) suffice? I have emailed to the Bhutanese tourism department but yet to receive a reply.
- Vehicle permit: Would my Scorpio have an easy permit to cross the border into Bhutan? I will carry all original papers.
- How is the local scene at Thimpu regarding accommodation, attraction etc? I will be driving on to Paro or any other place that the forum recommends.
I have other issues too. It seems the best way to reach Siliguri is to avoid Kolkata and rather drive via Durgapur >. Siuri > Moregram > Maldah.. Has anyone recently done this route? I am reading mixed reports on the conditions between Siuri and Maldah. Does the situation improve thereafter? During my last drive (in 1990) I remember there were some terrible stretches after a point in Maldah. Bad roads continued almost upto Siliguri. I don’t remember complete details.
Thanks and appreciate all help.