Bagdogra Airport is 12km west of Siliguri. There are daily flights to Delhi, Kolkata and Guwahati, plus seasonal international connections on Druk Air to Bangkok and Paro.
Five-seater helicopters (₹3500, 30 minutes, 10kg luggage limit) travel daily from Bagdogra to Gangtok at 2.30pm in good weather. You need to book in advance through Sikkim Tourism Development Corporation in Gangtok; or book at the airport.
A prepaid taxi stand at Bagdogra Airport offers fixed fares to Darjeeling (₹1800), Kalimpong (₹1410), Gangtok (₹2200) and Kakarbhitta (₹500) on the Nepal border, allowing you to bypass Siliguri completely. It’s not difficult to hook up with other airline passengers to share the cost. Prices indicated are to the local jeep stand; a hotel drop will cost a little more.
Most North Bengal State Transport Corporation (NBSTC) buses leave from Tenzing Norgay central bus terminal, as do many private buses plying the same routes. Private long-distance bus companies line the entrance.
NBSTC buses include frequent buses to Malda (₹175, 6½ hours), plus six daily services to Kolkata (₹390 to ₹420). Assam State Transportation Corporation runs a daily 4pm bus to Guwahati (₹550, 15 hours). The Hill Region Minibus Owners Association booth has minibuses to Kalimpong (₹200, 2½ hours) every 30 minutes.
For a 6pm Patna departure (seat/sleeper ₹350/400, 12 hours) try Gupta Travels, just outside the bus station. Deluxe air-con Volvo buses for Kolkata (₹1200, 11 hours) leave around 7pm from this company and many other agencies. Non-air-con coaches cost around ₹400.
Sikkim Nationalised Transport (SNT) buses to Gangtok (₹150, 4½ hours) leave every 40 minutes between 6am and 3pm from the SNT terminal, 250m southeast of the bus terminal. Arrange your permit in advance at the Sikkim Tourist Office next door.
An efficient if somewhat cramped way of getting around the hills is by shared jeep. There are a number of jeep stands lining Hill Cart Rd: for Darjeeling (₹130, three hours) and Kurseong (₹70, 1½ hours) look around opposite the bus terminal or outside the Conclave Hotel until late afternoon; for Kalimpong (₹130, 2½ hours) head to the Panitanki Mall stand on Sevoke Rd (take an autorickshaw for ₹20); and for Gangtok (₹200, four hours) jeeps leave from next to the SNT terminal until around 4pm. Shared and chartered jeeps for all these destinations also leave from NJP train station. Mirik-bound jeeps (₹100, 2½ hours) leave most frequently from Siliguri train station, 200m southwest of Tenzing Norgay central bus terminal.
Chartering a jeep privately costs roughly 15 times that of a shared ticket. A recommended option for XL-sized travellers is to pay for and occupy the front two or three seats next to the driver.
When booking tickets to/from Siligrui be sure to confirm whether your ticket is from central Siliguri Junction or New Jalpaiguri (NJP) train stations, 6km to the southeast.
Buy tickets at Siliguri junction train station or at the train booking office, 1.5km southeast of the Hotel Conclave.
The 8pm 12344 Darjeeling Mail is the fastest of the many daily services to Kolkata (sleeper/3AC ₹350/915, 10 hours), via Malda.
For Delhi, the 1.15pm 12423 Rajdhani Express is your best and quickest bet (3AC/2AC ₹2200/3020, 21 hours). Alternatively, board the 5.15pm 12505 North East Express (sleeper/3AC ₹625/1630, 26 hours).
The easiest train to get tickets for to head to Patna (sleeper/3AC/2AC ₹280/750/1490, 13 hours) is the Capital Express, though it arrives at an unsociable 3.20am. For Guwahati, board the 8.35am 12506 North East Express going in the other direction (sleeper/3AC ₹275/710, eight hours).
Toy Train Woes
The toy train to Darjeeling continues to remain suspended from Siliguri, due to damaged tracks near Tindharia. Until it's repaired, the only option will be to drive to Kurseong and then catch the toy train on to Darjeeling. Even when it's open, the daily 9.30am departure for Darjeeling (seat ₹350) is for die-hards only, since it takes seven hours to cover 88km, well over twice as long as by road!
Crossing to Bangladesh, Bhutan & Nepal
Crossing to Bangladesh: Siliguri to Chengrabandha
A number of private agencies in Siliguri, including Shyamoli, run daily air-con buses direct to Dhaka (₹1200, 18 hours), departing at 1.30pm. You’ll need to complete border formalities at Chengrabandha. Book a day or two in advance.
Buses also run every 45 minutes from the Tenzing Norgay central bus terminal to Chengrabandha (₹60, 2½ hours) between 7am and 5pm. The border post is open from 8am to 6pm daily. From near the border post you can catch buses on to Rangpur, Bogra and Dhaka. Visas for Bangladesh can be obtained in Kolkata and New Delhi.
Crossing to Bhutan: Siliguri to Phuentsholing
Bhutan Transport Services runs two daily buses from Sevoke Rd to Phuentsholing inside Bhutan (₹100, departs 7.15am and noon), but it makes more sense to take one of the more frequent local buses to Jaigaon (₹106, four hours) on the Indian side of the border, where you clear Indian immigration. The gate between Phuentsholing and Jaigaon opens at 6am and closes at 9pm for vehicles, but people can cross on foot until 10pm.
A chartered jeep from Bagdogra Airport to Jaigaon costs ₹2510. Non-Indian nationals need visa clearance from a Bhutanese tour operator to enter Bhutan.
Crossing to Nepal: Siliguri to Kakarbhitta
For Nepal, local buses pass the Tenzing Norgay central bus terminal on Hill Cart Rd every 30 minutes for the border town of Panitanki (₹25, one hour). Nearby shared jeeps to Kakarbhitta (₹125) are faster but only leave when full. The Indian border post in Panitanki is officially open 24 hours but the Nepali post in Kakarbhitta is open from 7am to 7pm.
Onward from Kakarbhitta there are numerous buses to Kathmandu (17 hours) and other destinations. Bhadrapur Airport, 23km southwest of Kakarbhitta, has regular flights to Kathmandu (US$185) on Buddha Air (www.buddhaair.com). Visas for Nepal can be obtained at the border (bring two passport photos).