Sikkim: an ultimate guide, places to visit in Sikkim, things to eat and locations to stay

Last updated on October 26th, 2019 at 07:11 pm

Sikkim Travel Guide: Places to visit in Sikkim, locations to stay

Best time to visit Sikkim

April-May is a good time to visit Lachen-Lachung, because of clear sky and flower bloom in Yumthang Valley. Avoid traveling during monsoon (July-September). Sikkim routes are very prone to landslides and few routes can be closed because of heavy rain.

Travel Tips for Sikkim Tour

Sikkim is the first state to ban plastic and also the first to become fully organic. Maintain the serenity of the place, do not litter or smoke in public.

      • Carry enough cash as there is a scarcity of ATM machine in Pelling/Lachen/Lachung
      • During the off-season, the restaurant close by 7 pm in small towns so eat early or pack your food
      • To avoid altitude sickness, carry medicine, eat light and drink plenty of water
      • Carry your Id (Passport, Aadhar, PAN, Voter Id) and two photographs for the permit
      • Strictly no picture at Nathula border or you may be highly penalized
      • The shared taxi will have 1/2+4+4 person excluding the driver. Sometimes they give seat number so book early or for more comfort pay for 2 seats and sit in the front with the driver.

Itinerary for Sikkim Trip

Day 1: Bagdogra to Gangtok

Day 2: Exploring Gangtok

Day 3: Gangtok to Nathula Pass, Tsogmo Lake and Baba Mandir

Day 4-6: Gangtok Gurudongmar Lake, Lachen, Lachung, Yumthang Valley

Day 7-8: Gangtok to Pelling

Day 9: Pelling to Bagdogra

Travel expenses 

      • Bagdogra to Gangtok: Private (3000 INR), Shared (300 INR/person)
      • Sightseeing Gangtok: 1500 INR
      • Nathula Pass Tour: Private (4000 INR), Shared (700 INR/person)
      • Lachen, Lachung Tour: 5000 INR/person (Includes 2-night stay)
      • Pelling Tour: Private (3500 INR), Shared (300 INR/person)
      • Pelling to Bagdogra: Private (4000 INR), Shared (400 INR/person)
      • Hotels in Gangtok and Pelling: It depends on your preference and the tourist season. You can get a decent hotel for 1000-2000 INR per day (depending on low/high tourist season)
      • Food and other expenses: 5000 INR

Day 1: Arriving Gangtok

Sikkim Nearest Airport: Bagdogra (IXB)

 

Sikkim Nearest Railway station: New Jalpaiguri (NJP)

Bagdogra to Gangtok/NJP to Gangtok

Bagdogra to SNT bus stand (15 km, 30 mins) – Private taxi (400 INR), shared taxi (150 INR, conditional)

SNT bus stand, Siliguri to Gangtok (115 Km, 4-5 hours) – Private taxi (3500 INR)

Tips: It’s not easy to get a shared taxi in the evening and I would not advise taking the mountain route in night 

Recommended places to eat in Gangtok

Baker’s cafe, MG Marg

Roll house, MG Marg

Taste of Tibet, MG Marg

      • In the evening around 4, the Buddhist monasteries gather for chanting, you can join them and let their melodic chants and music move something inside you 
      • If you are into adventure sports then you can try Paragliding in Sikkim. There are many companies that offer. Adventure Zone (Mob: 9547116119 / 9800555859) is one of them. You can also consult your hotel and they will help you with another option.
      • If you like b trying new beer then try the Sikkim “Hit” beer          

What to shop from Sikkim

Gangtok would be the best place for you to do some shopping during your trip to Sikkim. You can get a variety of things and they are easily accessible. If you are new to India then gear up and enhance your bargaining skill. You can bargain 20-50%, depending on the shop and the item you buy.

What to buy from Sikkim

Prayer flags

Singing bowls

Prayer wheel

Temi Sikkim tea (Photo source: sikkimnow)

Sikkim Shangri-la whiskey (source: visualbest)

If Darjeeling is in your mind, then visit this page

 

Day 2: Sightseeing in Gangtok

There are no city buses so you will have to hire a taxi for sightseeing. The local taxi tours are offered below. You can choose any of them. I would advise choosing a 7-point tour and then spending time around MG Marg, Gangtok Ropeway on your own.

 

3-point tour (20Km, Half day)

        • Tashi View Point
        • Hanuman Tok
        • Ganesh Tok

7-point tour (60 Km, Full day)

        • Bakthang Waterfall
        • Emchey Monastery
        • Flower Exhibition Centre
        • Handicraft centre

10-point tour (80 Km, Full day)

        • Chorten Stupa
        • Institute of Tibetology
        • Sikkim Ropeway

These tours will not include one of the most important point “Rumtek Monastery”. It is also called as Dharmachakra Centre and is the largest monastery in Sikkim. It is around 24 km from Gangtok. If you do not have time then you can also skip this, as you will be seeing many more monasteries in Sikkim.

Rumtek Monastery

View from Sikkim Ropeway

Emchey Monastery

 

Day 3: Nathula Pass, Tsomgo lake, and Baba Mandir

Nathula is part of “old silk route”, an ancient hilly-road that used to connect Lhasa in Tibet via the Jelep La Pass to India. It was closed for almost four decades and was opened in 2006 after request from former Prime Minister Atal Bihari’s visit to China (2003).

  • Important: Nathula is open only five days a week from Tuesday to Sunday

Best time to visit Nathula: March to May

Monthwise weather of Nathula

Personal or own driven cars are not allowed in this region hence you will have to go through a registered travel agent. You can get a permit for Nathula Pass from a travel agent (ask your hotel, there are plenty of them in Gangtok/Sikkim). It is priced around 800 INR per person (shared) and around 5000 INR (private).

The trip starts early in the morning around 7-8 am but sometimes for the permit, you may have to wait for 1-2 hours. The trip also includes Tsomgo Lake or Changu Lake (altitude 12,400 ft) and Baba Mandir. Baba Mandir is built in memory of Baba Harbhajan Singh, an Indian army soldier, who was drowned in a stream near the spot.

Some facts about Baba Mandir: It is believed that Baba Harbhajan has defeated death and still guards the Indo-China border. Many locals claim that they have seen him riding a horse in the night protecting the border area. It is interesting to note that the Nathula border are in high alert when Baba goes on annual leave (September 15-November)

Yak Ride at Tsomgo Lake

On way to Tsomgo Lake

Nathula Pass

View on way to Nathula

Baba Mandir

 

Day 4-6: Lachen, Lachung, Gurudongmar Lake, Yumthang Valley

The mesmerize beauty, stunning view and the snow-capped mountain makes Lachen and Lachung, a must see place in Sikkim. Lachen and Lachung means ‘big pass’ and ‘small pass’ respectively.

Monthwise weather in Lachen

Monthwise weather in Lachung

Gurudongmar Lake is claimed to be one of the sacred and highest Lake situated at altitude (above 17,000 ft) in Sikkim. Yumthang valley is surrounded by lush green trees covered in snow have a panoramic view. You can also visit Zero point by paying an additional 500 INR (per person).

Foreigners need an Inner Line Permit (ILP) to visit zero point. Details can be found

Rules for Sikkim Permit for foreigners

Some viewpoints on the way to Lachen includes

      • Tashi View Point
      • Naga Waterfall
      • Seven Sisters Waterfall (not to be confused with the one in Shillong)

Day 7-8: Gangtok to Pelling

The word “Pelling” itself brings joy to me, stimulating my mind to recall the imprinted spectacular view of Kanchanjunga when I opened my hotel window (that morning) a few years back in the small town located in West Sikkim. Pelling was not known to me until I started searching for places in Sikkim and now I will not forget my amazing days spent in that exquisite town. You can spend some calm and restful days here looking at the breath-taking view of Kanchanjunga with coffee in your hand.

How to reach

From Gangtok (117 Km, 5 hours): You can hire a private taxi (3500 INR). Shared taxis are few and available from Deorali Bus stand (6:30-9:00 am). It is advisable to confirm the timing of the taxi and book in advance. Another option is Gangtok-Ravangla-Pelling or Gangtok-Jorethang-Pelling.

From NJP (120 Km, 5.5 hours): You can hire a private taxi (4000 INR) from NJP. If you are looking for a shared taxi (400 INR) then you will have to go to Sikkim National Transport (SNT, 10 km from NJP) bus stand. Shared taxis are not available usually after 2 pm, so plan accordingly.

From Bagdogra: You will have to come to SNT bus stand and then take a shared or private taxi.

Monthwise weather in Pelling

You can opt for a full day sightseeing (3000 INR, 10 points) or a half day (2000 INR, 5 points) sightseeing package from the hotel you are staying.

Places to see in Pelling

      • Pelling Skywalk
      • Kanchendzonga Falls
      • Rimbi Waterfall
      • Khecheopalri Lake & Fall
      • Pemayangtse Monastery
      • Sanga Choeling Monastery
      • Rabdentse Ruins
      • Singshore Bridge

 

Singshore Bridge

Pelling Skywalk

 

Kanchendzonga Falls

Rimbi Waterfall

Pemayangtse Monastery

Day 9:  Pelling to Bagdogra

I would advise leaving early in the morning from Pelling to Bagdogra. The distance to cover is around 140 km and the taxi usually takes 5-6 hours. But the roads are not very good and so keep an hour or two in your hand.

If you reach early, you can have time to explore Siliguri for a few hours or take rest at the airport or railway station.

Food to try in Sikkim

Momo (Dumplings)

Thukpa

Sha Phaley (Pic. source: ScoopWhoop)

Gundruk

Where to Stay in Gangtok

I would advise staying as close to MG Road as possible.

Muscatel Hotels & Resorts, Gangtok (3 Star)

It is around 350 meters from MG Road and one of the nicest property around that area. The price range is around 2000 INR per day. They have parking, restaurant, and bar inside the hotel. Rooms have flat TV, electric kettle, attached bathroom and you can also get an electric heater at request.

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If you are looking for something upper class then you can go for the Lemon Tree Hotel. I truly enjoyed my stay at this hotel. The view from the Balcony is amazing and they also have a swimming pool and spa. The room tariff is around 4000-7000 INR depending on low/high season.

Lemon Tree Hotel, Gangtok (4 Star)

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Where to stay in Pelling

If you are looking for a pocket-friendly and decent hotel then go for Delight The Touristo. I stayed here for as cheap as 350INR per night and believe me I had no complaints. The hotel manager was very very very helpful and he gave us the best room with mesmerizing Kanchenjunga view. During peak season, you can get a room here for 1000-1500 INR ($15-20) per night.

Delight The Touristo

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If you are seeking luxurious options, then opt for “Sikkim Tourist Center” or “The Elgin Mount Pandim”.

Sikkim Tourist Center, Pelling (3 Star)

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2 thoughts on “Sikkim: an ultimate guide, places to visit in Sikkim, things to eat and locations to stay

  • Hi, Thanks for your blog. Very comprehensive information.
    I heard they are two type of permit. How much the cost & How to apply ?

  • Very well defined blog ! Sikkim is a state in East India in the Himalayan foot hills also bordering China (Tibet), Nepal and Bhutan. The name has been coined from the words su him, which mean “beautiful home”, reflecting the beauty of its snow-covered mountains and lush green valleys. We are providing car rental services as Bharat Taxi in Sikkim. For more information call on- 9696000999.

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