West Bengal Tourism and Travel Guide

The famous Bengali poet Jibanananda Das once wrote, "Banglar mukh ami dekhiachi, tai ami prithibir rup khujite jai na ar." It roughly translates to "I have seen the face of Bengal, so I don't seek the beauty of the earth anymore." West Bengal's beauty lies in the moments of serenity that exist amidst the bustle of its cities. The state knows how to serenade you and turn you into a poet. Be it the narrow lanes of Kolkata where artisans are found sculpting the perfect statues of Goddess Durga or the tranquil neighbourhood of Shantiniketan, where art flourishes, West Bengal is a universe of its own, running in a constant ecstatic motion. West Bengal tourism offers streets that carry stories reflected by its age-old monuments and buildings. The lush green hill stations of West Bengal such as Darjeeling and Kalimpong allow you to have a solitary affair with the snow-capped mountains while beaches such as Digha and Mandarmani let you bask in the sun rays as you indulge your senses in West Bengal tourism. When it comes to festivals, the local community celebrates major festivals with unparalleled fervour and joy. During Durga Puja, women can be seen in traditional sarees while men dress up in kurtas. Spiritual songs boom at each nook and corner of West Bengal while lip-smacking dishes are prepared to enjoy Goddess Durga's victory over evil. West Bengal tourism is all about its landscapes, monuments, hill stations and people. It's too easy to lose yourself in the state’s ancient literature, rich history and scrumptious food. Don’t forget to check out our West Bengal travel guide for more details.
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Best Time To Visit West Bengal

October to March is the best time to be a part of West Bengal tourism. October also sees the beginning of autumn in Kolkata, which apart from ushering in the festival season, makes for pleasant weather and is the perfect time for a West Bengal tour. In winters, temperatures drop to as low as 9°C with occasional rainfall. 

June to September are the months when the state ushers in monsoon, transforming its cities into a lush green haven. For travellers who don’t mind the rain, this is the best time to get a taste of West Bengal tourism. 

The off-season in West Bengal begins in April and lasts till May, which is the time when the state is scorching hot, but still bearable after sundown. Hotel prices and airfares drop during these months, and so does the number of tourists.

Top Attractions In West Bengal

From the cities that never seem to sleep to hill stations that can slow down time, West Bengal tourism offers diverse landscapes to visitors. Whether you like to explore the rich past of India through its architectural wonders and age-old buildings or you are a backpacker who enjoys the cold winds of the mountains, West Bengal tourism has something for everyone. Here are some of the best tourist places in West Bengal, included in our West Bengal travel guide:

 

Kolkata
West Bengal is home to some of the most scenic landscapes and monuments of India. Include Kolkata, the capital of West Bengal, while exploring West Bengal tourism and witness the art galleries and historical monuments of this spellbinding city. Visit the lush green Sundarbans that West Bengal tourism offers, and spot the popular Bengal tigers. Spend an afternoon exploring the mangrove forest where you can find approximately 260 species of birds. 

Another popular monument that you should not miss while experiencing West Bengal tourism is the magnificent Victoria Memorial Hall. The white marble gem is inspired by Indo-Saracenic style and has been turned into a museum for visitors. If you are searching for peace in the bustling streets of Kolkata, then you can catch the sunrise at Howrah Bridge, the best of what West Bengal tourism offers. The 20th-century bridge spans over the Hooghly River and links Kolkata with Howrah. West Bengal tourism also allows you a chance to embark on a spiritual excursion. Dakshineswar Kali Temple, St. Paul's Cathedral and Nakhoda Masjid are among the most popular religious destinations in Kolkata that can be included in your West Bengal tourism itinerary. 

The vintage ambience of Kolkata is the perfect retreat for old souls exploring West Bengal tourism. The city might have changed its name from Calcutta to Kolkata, but you can still revel in its past.  To make the most of West Bengal tourism, literature geeks can head to College Street and buy some old books and history lovers can explore Fort William, where no bullet has ever been fired. 

 

Darjeeling
Darjeeling offers you a chance to slow down and revel in nature. While exploring the lanes of this bustling hill station, you will find the soothing aroma of freshly brewed tea. The lush green tea gardens are spanned across acres of land. You can also book a stay at one of the tea estates of Darjeeling such as Makaibari Tea Estate and Singtom Tea Estate Resort. Enjoy a tranquil stay while indulging in West Bengal tourism and witness some mesmerising views of the surrounding hills as you sip on the golden liquid. 

You will find wisps of Buddhist chants booming across the streets and colourful prayer flags adorning the winding trails. You can include a visit to one of the Buddhist monasteries in Darjeeling as part of your West Bengal tourism itinerary and marvel at its intricate Tibetan architecture. Ghum Monastery, Bhutia Busty Monastery and Dali Monastery are amongst the most popular Buddhist shrines where you can find a few moments of peace. 

Other famous destinations of Darjeeling that can be included in your West Bengal tourism itinerary are Tiger Hill, Observatory Hill and Singalila National Park.

 

Siliguri
In the chase after popular hill stations such as Darjeeling and Sikkim, Siliguri often gets overlooked, serving only as a gateway to other towns and countries. But if you are looking for a town where you can relax in a cosy resort surrounded by emerald trees, then Siliguri is the perfect destination. 

You can book a safari at North Bengal Wild Animals Park and spot tigers, Asiatic black bears, rhinoceros and red jungle fowls amongst other wild creatures. Siliguri is also home to other parks such as Sukna Madhuban Park and Surya Sen Park where you can have a relaxing picnic with your loved ones. And if you are in search of spiritual peace, you can include Salugara Monastery in your West Bengal tourism itinerary, that boasts of a 100-foot stupa.

 

Kalimpong
The laid back city of Kalimpong is perched on a ridge and offers mesmerising views of the magnificent Khangchendzonga. The city overlooks the turquoise Teesta river and offers plenty of scenic hiking trails. Horticulture is one of the main activities followed by the local community of Kalimpong, and its flower market exports a wide variety of flowers.  

Kalimpong is largely influenced by Buddhism. You can visit monasteries such as Phodong Monastery, Zang Dhok Palri Phodang, Zang Dhok Palri Phodang and Durpin Monastery as part of West Bengal tourism to get in touch with your roots with a spiritual experience.

West Bengal tourism allows you to visit the untouched Neora Valley National Park, which is home to black bears, wild boars and leopards. You can even spot the rare red panda here. 

Sundarbans
A UNESCO world heritage site, Sundarbans National Park is a mangrove forest area located in the delta formed by the convergence of three rivers - Ganges, Meghna and Brahmaputra. Sundarbans is shared by India and Bangladesh as it spans over Hooghly river of West Bengal and Baleswar river of Bangladesh. It is an emerald wonderland and the entire area is dotted with Sundari trees with crystal-clear streams flowing through the entire forest. 

Sundarbans is among the most popular tourist places in West Bengal and is home to the endangered Royal Bengal Tiger. Other animals that can be found roaming freely across the Sundarbans include wild boars, mongooses, flying foxes and fishing cats. You can also spot marine creatures in Sundarbans such as sawfish, electric ray and Gangetic dolphins. 

 

Shantiniketan
A progressive neighbourhood located in Bolpur city, Shantiniketan was founded by the Tagore family and expanded by the Nobel laureate, Rabindranath Tagore. He set up Visva-Bharati University and transformed Shantiniketan into a cultural hub. The education institutes of Shantiniketan are constantly breaking barriers and establishing an artistic environment where pursuing dance, music, arts and language is encouraged.

Besides enjoying some solitary time and gaining creative inspiration, you can attend the famous Poush Mela of Shantiniketan where artists from various fields gather for three days. You can also include Uttarayan Complex located on the aesthetic campus of Visva-Bharati in your West Bengal tourism itinerary, where you can find a museum dedicated to Rabindranath Tagore. 

Almost every tourist spot in Shantiniketan is carrying imprints of history. You can include ChhatimTala in your West Bengal tourism itinerary, which used to be the meditation site of Rabindranath Tagore's father, Maharishi Devendranath Tagore. This lush green site offers a perfect retreat, tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the city. You can also head to Ballabhpur Wildlife Sanctuary on your West Bengal tourism trip and enjoy spotting wild animals such as jackals and blackbucks.

 

Mandarmani
Mandarmani is a seaside resort village, located along the coastline of the Bay of Bengal. The most convenient way to reach Mandarmani is by road. It takes around 4 hours to reach Mandarmani from Kolkata. If you'd like to spend a relaxing break in a cosy resort packed with all the amenities, then you should include Mandarmani in your West Bengal tourism itinerary. 

West Bengal tourism offers one of the luxurious resorts of Mandarmani such as The Candlewood Park Beach Resort, Viceroy Beach and Spa Resort and Victoria Beach Resort. 

Besides strolling along the sandy beaches of Mandarmani, you can try out various adventure activities such as banana boating, jet skiing and beach biking and end your day with a shopping spree. The beach is fringed by little stalls where you can shop for handicrafts and handmade jewellery. 

 

Lava
One of the most underrated destinations in West Bengal, Lolegaon is a tiny hamlet located at a distance of 55 km from Kalimpong. The village is home to the Lepcha community and offers some of the clearest views of the glorious  Kanchenjunga. One of the biggest attractions of Lolegaon is its close proximity to other hill stations such as Rishyap and Lava, that makes it easier for tourists to access three destinations in one trip. 

Lolegaon is covered with lush green forests where you can find hanging bridges and enjoy a canopy walk surrounded by oak and cypress trees. The meandering routes, thick vegetation and pleasant weather makes it the perfect escape from the monotony of skyscrapers and bustling streets. Other tourist destinations in Loleygaon that you can include in your West Bengal tourism itinerary are Jhandi Dara Viewpoint, Lolegaon hilltop and Eco Park.

Activities And Things to Do In West Bengal

West Bengal tourism offers a plethora of breathtaking adventure activities, allowing you to fulfil your desire of embarking on a daring escapade and living life to the fullest. Here are some of the activities included in our West Bengal travel guide:

 

Trekking to Sandakphu
The pristine Sandakphu Peak is located in Singalila National Park on the West Bengal-Nepal border. Include this 7-day trek in your on your West Bengal tourism itinerary, that will take you through some of the most scenic Himalayan villages such as Samaden and Gorkhey. The trekking trail offers the views of some lush green meadows and villages with snow-clad peaks forming the backdrop of the landscape. 

 

This strenuous trek tests your limits, as the steep trail constantly challenges your physical strength. The summit of Sandakphu offers panoramic views of some of the highest Himalayan peaks such as Mount Everest, Mount Kanchenjunga and Mount Lhotse. The best time to undertake this trek on your West Bengal tourism trip is from April to May when the weather is pleasant. It will cost you between Rs 10,000 to Rs 15,0000.  

 

Toy train ride in Darjeeling
There are two things that define Darjeeling - its aromatic tea and its exciting toy train ride which offers panoramic views of lush green hills and misty forests. The journey begins from Darjeeling and takes you to the small hamlet of Ghum. It’s a round trip that covers 14 km of distance in two hours. While you can enjoy diesel engine rides for around Rs 800, you’d have to pay around Rs 1,400 for steam engine rides.

 

Cycling in Kalimpong
Cycling in Kalimpong is a feast for the eyes. Include this in your West Bengal tourism itinerary and enjoy biking on the meandering trails of Kalimpong while the lush green hills form a beautiful backdrop. The cool breeze and smooth ride makes it a must-try activity in Kalimpong. The cycling tour will help you slow down and enjoy the serene surroundings of Kalimpong and notice the Buddhist influence on the region, as the routes are decorated with prayer wheels and you can also try out Tibetan cuisine on the way. If you’d like to challenge yourself further, embark on a cycling tour from Kalimpong to Siliguri which will cost you around Rs 5,000.

Where to Stay In West Bengal

Luxury hotels in West Bengal

On your West Bengal tourism trip, you can choose to stay at luxurious hotels where you can enjoy a unique blend of affluent lifestyle and traditional experience. Some of the best luxury hotels included in our West Bengal travel guide are:

  • Hotel Swissôtel, Kolkata
  • The Oberoi Grand, Kolkata
  • Ging Tea House, Darjeeling
  • MAYFAIR Himalayan Spa Resort, Kalimpong
  • ITC Sonar, Kolkata

 

Mid-budget hotels in West Bengal

You can choose accommodation options on your West Bengal tourism trip which are not only easy on pockets but also offer all the amenities required for a comfortable experience. Some of the best mid-budget hotels included in our West Bengal travel guide are:

  • Park Prime, Kolkata
  • Resort Tree-Fern, Loleygaon
  • Hotel Palbheu, Darjeeling
  • Treebo Trend Hoops, Kolkata
  • Summit Barsana Resort & Spa, Kalimpong

 

Budget hotels in West Bengal

If you want to keep the cost low and travel on a shoestring budget, you can find plenty of accommodation options in our West Bengal travel guide. Here are some of the best budget hotels for your West Bengal tourism trip:

  • Orbit Hotel, Kolkata
  • Mystic Orchid Retreat, Kalimpong
  • Hotel Palbheu, Darjeeling
  • Bubble Beds Hostel, Kolkata
  • Treebo Trip GD Hotel, Siliguri

Cuisine And Best Places To Eat

West Bengal tourism is known for its lip-smacking cuisine with an extensive use of fish, vegetables and spices, meant to offer a wholesome flavour. An extensive variety of dishes is available for both vegetarians and non-vegetarians.

 

Vegetarians can enjoy shukto on your West Bengal tourism trip, which is made up of vegetables such as gourds and potatoes. Baingan bhaja is another popular dish in West Bengal which is cooked by frying brinjals. Other dishes such as aloo posto and labra are among the most popular dishes that you must try out on your West Bengal tourism trip. You can also savour Doi potol which is a gravy item made up of curd. During summers, lau ghonto is a frequently eaten dish, and it is cooked by using gourds and coconut.

 

West Bengal tourism offers non-vegetarians, chicken rezala, a popularly served dishe in the Islamic restaurants of West Bengal. Other dishes that you can try are kochi pathar jhol, which is a kind of mutton, chicken chaap and  dimer dalna, which is made up of boiled eggs. You can find a huge variety of fish items as part of West Bengal tourism such as doi ilish, ilish bhapa, katla kalia and tel koi.

 

West Bengal's desserts are as sweet as their language. One of the most popular sweet dishes that you can try on your West Bengal tourism trip is sandesh, which is made up of milk and paneer. Another sweet dish item that you must try out is mishti doi, prepared with yoghurt and milk. And you can definitely not miss the lip-smacking rasgullas dipped in sugar syrup.

How To Travel In West Bengal

As per our West Bengal travel guide, the quickest way to reach West Bengal is by taking a flight to one of the major airports of West Bengal such as Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport in Kolkata and Bagdogra International Airport in Siliguri. You can also take interstate flights such as from Kolkata to Siliguri or from Kolkata to Darjeeling. The cheapest way to travel in West Bengal is by train. There are 172 railway stations in West Bengal, connecting all the major cities of West Bengal.  You can find cab services within the state, but it is suggested that you should know the rates of taxis beforehand. WBTC bus service is also available in West Bengal to travel from one part of the state to another.

Typical Costs In West Bengal

Regardless of your budget and travel style, West Bengal tourism can prove to be the perfect experience for all kinds of travellers. While luxury travellers can relax in five-star hotels and pamper themselves, backpackers can hike on the winding trails of West Bengal's lush green hill stations and enjoy some solitary moments of peace. You can reduce the cost by choosing cheaper means of transport and accommodation options in West Bengal. Here are the per day costs that you might incur while experiencing West Bengal tourism:

 

As per our West Bengal travel guide, a luxury traveller can expect to spend around Rs 6,000 to Rs 15,000 per day while exploring West Bengal. The cost includes accommodation in five-star hotels, eating at premium restaurants and exploring the museums and hill stations of West Bengal.

 

Mid-budget travellers can expect to spend around Rs 2,000 to Rs 5,000 per day on their West Bengal tourism trip. To keep the cost low, it is suggested that you should stay in a three-star hotel and travel via train from one city to another. 

 

Budget travellers can explore West Bengal in Rs 1,500 to Rs 2,000 per day. It is suggested that budget travellers should stay in hostels and travel in buses to keep the costs low.

FAQs

Which are the best tourist spots in Kolkata that should be included in your West Bengal tourism itinerary?

Kolkata is a concoction of destinations, festivals and arts. As per our West Bengal travel guide, you can include Victoria Memorial in your West Bengal tourism itinerary, which is among the most famous landmarks of Kolkata and is home to some of the most ancient relics and paintings. You can also visit Howrah Bridge for enjoying a serene sunset. Kolkata is the land of goddesses as is reflected by the magnificent way in which Durga Puja is celebrated here. You can also visit temples such as the 19th-century Dakshineswar Kali Temple and Kalighat Temple dedicated to Goddess Kali during your West Bengal tourism trip. Sports lovers can visit Brigade Parade Ground which is home to the famous Eden Gardens and Kolkata Race Course.

 

Which hill stations should be included in your West Bengal tourism itinerary? 

Tucked away from the bustling cities, hill stations in West Bengal offer the perfect getaway to tourists. You can include Darjeeling in your West Bengal tourism itinerary which is known for its expansive tea estates and incredible tea. You can also catch the spellbinding views of Mount Everest and Mount Kanchenjunga from Darjeeling’s Tiger Hill. Another scenic hamlet in the lap of the Himalayas is Dooars which offers some grand views of the gurgling Teesta river and is also known to be the gateway to Bhutan. You can include Siliguri in your West Bengal tourism itinerary for a short staycation. Other lush green hill stations that can be included in your West Bengal tourism itinerary are Kurseong, Mirik and Kalimpong.

 

Name the national parks that can be included in your West Bengal tourism itinerary. 

You can include some scenic national parks in your West Bengal tourism itinerary where you can spot wild animals, gaze at different species of birds and enjoy seeing a healthy floral life. To make the most of West Bengal tourism, you can visit Sunderbans National Park, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is home to the endangered Bengal tigers. You can visit this mangrove area from September to March. Gorumara National Park is another popular tourist attraction where you can spot Asian elephant, sloth bear and sambar deer. This lush green park is dotted with Sal trees and bamboo groves. Other national parks on offer by West Bengal tourism are Neora Valley National Park and Singalila National Park.

 

Is West Bengal Safe for solo women travellers? 

West bengal is a progressive state with stringent rules to deal with crimes against women. So, women can have a safe time exploring the nooks and corners of West Bengal. In fact, the local community of West Bengal is known to be quite friendly, so you can have a good time under their vigilance. However, it is still suggested that one should be acutely aware of their surroundings, especially while travelling at night. You should also avoid exploring lonely areas especially during wee hours.

 

What should be the duration of an ideal West Bengal tourism experience?

West Bengal tour offers quite diverse landscapes to visitors. A quick trip won’t be enough to take in everything that this gorgeous state has to offer. From national parks and hill stations to historical forts and museums, there is a lot to discover in West Bengal. It is suggested that you should plan a trip of around 7 to 10 days in order to make the most of West Bengal tourism.

 

What is the easiest way to reach West Bengal? 

You can reach West Bengal via airways, roadways and railways. As per West Bengal travel guide, the quickest way to reach West Bengal is by booking a flight to one of the major airports of West Bengal such as Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport in Kolkata and Bagdogra International Airport in Siliguri. Economy flight tickets to West Bengal from major cities such as Delhi and Mumbai can cost you anywhere between  Rs 3,000 to Rs 5,000.

 

West Bengal is connected to all the major states of India via an extensive network of railways. The cheapest way to reach West Bengal is by train with Kolkata Railway station being one of the busiest stations all year round. Another way of reaching West Bengal is via car. The well-maintained national highways form the nexus between West Bengal and other major cities of India. There are 15 state highways in West Bengal, allowing a smooth ride to drivers.

 

Suggest three tips for planning a West Bengal trip. 

While making a West Bengal tourism itinerary, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

1. Although West Bengal witnesses pleasant weather throughout the year, it is suggested that one should pack light cotton clothes while visiting the state in summers.
2. During the peak season, book your hotels beforehand, especially while visiting popular cities such as Kolkata, Darjeeling and Howrah.
3. To avoid getting duped, get some idea about the transportation charges from the internet and other resources to save money.

 

 Are there ATMs all across West Bengal? Do digital payments work?

Yes, ATMs are available in all the major cities of West Bengal such as Kolkata, Howrah and Darjeeling. Although online payments and usage of plastic money has become quite common, it is still suggested that you should carry some cash on your West Bengal tourism trip, especially for transportation purposes.

Written by Shivani Vohra, an in-house writer at Tripoto. She is a storyteller, dreaming of living on the hills someday.