As India does not allow the development of towns on international borders, Jaigaon sprang up illegally, and it solely exists as a trading post for cross-border business with Bhutan. Although, the town now has legal status, there has been little or no attempt to smarten it up, and it remains a dusty, litter-strewn place full of companies selling construction material and shops marketing cheap clothes.
While the town has a reputation for crime and drug dealing, as a border town, there are a high number of police patrolling, and so it is perfectly safe to walk around in the day. However, precautions should be taken at night, especially in dark alleys. The lane known as Chinese Line is a particularly unsavoury area. Still, despite its reputation, there have been no reports of foreign tourists being assaulted or robbed in the town and crime is primarily confined to local disputes.
Unless you are planning to enter Bhutan or have an interest in construction material, there is no reason to visit Jaigaon.
There are regular buses from Siliguri, and the journey takes around four hours. The Bhutan buses travelling from Siliguri and Kolkata also make a stop here.
The nearest train station is in Hasimara - a twenty to thirty-minute auto ride.
Phuentsholing is just over the border and only a gate divides the two towns.
The town is small and can be covered on foot, though an autorickshaw is recommended for the journey from the main bus terminal, which is located slightly out of town. Jaigaon lacks quality infrastructure, and during the rainy season the streets are muddy and difficult to negotiate on foot.
The Bhutan gate itself is really the only thing worth taking your camera out for.
- People who are not citizens of Bhutan or India are required to get their passport stamped at the Indian immigration office, which is located next to the cinema hall (there is a fork in the road when entering the town – marked by a statue – immigration is a short way up the road on the left) before entering and after exiting Bhutan. Your passport will not be stamped at the border, which is customary elsewhere. Indians can get a permit to visit Thimphu or other parts of Bhutan by submitting proof of identity, such as an election card or passport, at the Bhutanese immigration office.
Bhutanese religious and cultural items can be bought cheaply at several stores along the main road if you turn right at "Bhutan gate"
Strange artifacts from Bhutan and the nearby villages surface here from time to time, there is nowhere in particular to look but keep your eyes out for antiques!
- Asian Book Distributors, J.P. Centre, N.S. Road., ☏ . As a supplier of book stores in Bhutan, AB Books is an excellent place to pick up titles on subjects related to Bhutan and Buddhism and at much cheaper prices than over the border
- Good Bhutanese food is relatively hard to come by as most people would rather just walk across the border.
- Hotel Satyam, next to Bhutan Gate, has really good and cheap Indian veggie food. Some outdoor seating on the 2nd floor offers interesting views of the chaos below.
- Hotel Devi, N.S Road, (Super market chowpati), ☏ , . Could be a better place to have freshly cooked food,it has a very cozy homely environment.
- Hotel Kasturi, Located near Bhutan Gate. Rooms are clean and moderately well furnished. Rates are moderate.
- Hotel Prasant, Shah Building, N.S. Road, Distt. Jalpaiguri,, ☏ . New hotel with 35 rooms, Mobile: 91-92312-75394,
- Hotel Satyam, Next to Bhutan Gate, ☏ , . One of the better budget hotels in Jaigaon. Pure veg restaurant attached
- Banks in Jaigaon are not authorised to change foreign currency.
- Indian Immigration is located in the centre of town (after leaving the side gate in Phuentsholing, take a right and follow the main road. Immigration is on the right, next to the movie theatre.
- Darjeeling - a classic hill station
- Siliguri - the de-facto capital of North Bengal. Full range of shopping and recreational facilities.