The toy/mountain train from Siliguri to Darjeeling is surely one of the great railway journeys of the world. But, unless you're a real rail enthusiast, nine hours on an uncomfortable train, which travels at less than walking pace, is a little bit too long.
We got a jeep up the mountain from Siliguri to Darjeeling, which cost about 300 Rupees (£4) each. The share jeeps are very regular and, although they're pretty crowded, are way more comfortable than the train.
You can then take the highest altitude part of the great rail journey from Darjeeling to Ghoom, to visit the famous Ghoom monastery. It takes about 45 minutes and is probably more romantic and comfortable than doing the hard 9 hour slog from Siliguri.
Just make sure you book the train on your first day of arrival in Darjeeling. You can't book the train from anywhere else and there is a fair wait for tickets (a few days). There is plenty to do in Darjeeling in the meantime, including the Everest museum, one of the better Indian zoos, Glenary's cafe and lots of trail walking and shopping.
Don't even bother with the tourist ride unless you've money to waste, it's a complete rip-off compared to the Ghoom trip - about 10 times the price.
Nathmulls in Darjeeling has to be the best tea shop in the world. Really helpful staff and a great range of teas to test (local of course!). Well worth a visit when you're up in the mountains.
Get to Siliguri train station, then ask a cycle rickshaw to take you to where the jeeps go from. Then just climb in a jeep and wait for it to fill up.
Nathmulls is in Rink Mall, Darjeeling, next to Cafe Coffee Day.
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