The Ultimate Guide to Sikkim in 10 days

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Ultimate Guide to Sikkim

Photo of The Ultimate Guide to Sikkim in 10 days by Amrita

Sikkim is one of the smallest states in India, but nonetheless one of the most beautiful places nestled in the heart of the majestic Himalayas. The place is simply enchanting with lofty Himalayan peaks, green valleys, mystical lakes, ancient monasteries and a rich variety of flora and fauna. The snow-clad Kanchenjunga peaks dominate the skyline of the region and the Sikkimese consider Kanchenjunga as their guardian deity.

Apart from the natural beauty and biodiversity of the small state, Sikkim is known to preserve and protect its cultural heritage. The only Lepcha Reserve area is at Dzongu in North Sikkim. The people of Sikkim have developed an inimitable lifestyle of their own, all guided and influenced by their ancient faith.

Sikkim is also known as the ‘kingdom of flowers’ with more than 4000 varieties of wild flowers, trees, orchids grown in the state. The place is simply a heaven for botanists and bird watchers. It is a perfect place for a long vacation in the beautiful mountains!

Photo of Sikkim, India by Amrita

Permits to visit Sikkim

Indiand do not require permits to visit Gangtok and South Sikkim. All foreign nationals require Restricted Area Permit (RAP) to visit any part of Sikkim including Gangtok.

But for some specific areas in Sikkim, there are restrictions for all visitors including Indians. The areas like Tsomgo (Changu) Lake, Nathula, Yumthang Valley, Gurudongmar Lake, Dzongri, Dzongu are defined as Protected Areas and have special army deployment. Both foreigners and Indians require a separate permit known as Protected Area Permit (PAP) to visit such places. But foreigners are not allowed to visit the border areas like Nathula Pass and Gurudongmar Lake. In Sikkim, the only way you can get a permit for these areas is through a registered tour operator or travel agent.

Photo of The Ultimate Guide to Sikkim in 10 days by Amrita

10 Days Itinerary in Sikkim

Day 1

After you arrive at Gangtok, roam around the quaint capital city of Sikkim. Gangtok is situated at a height of 5410 feet in east Sikkim and is mainly inhabited by the Lepchas, Bhutias and Nepalese. Stroll around the M. G. Marg and you will feel that you are not in India! Sikkim is a clean state and they do take their cleanliness seriously. So littering the beautiful boulevard is a big no. As the sun sets, the M G Marg becomes more beautiful with all the light and sound.

And while you are roaming around the city, don’t forget to give your ID proofs and photographs to the travel agent so that they can get your permits for the next days.

M G Marg, Gangtok

Photo of Gangtok, Sikkim, India by Amrita

Accommodation:

Gangtok has a number of hotels catering to all budgets near the M G Marg. It is better to stay near the M G Marg.

Places to eat: Again the M G Marg is the best option with a number of cafes and restaurants.

Day 2

Exploring Gangtok

Spend this day for Gangtok Sightseeing. There are 3 points, 5 points, 7 points and Mixed points tours available. Since you have the whole day in hand, it is better to opt for a mixed point tour. You will visit the Tashi View Point from where you would get a breathtaking view of the Kanchenjunga range. You will also visit the Hanuman Tok, Ganesh Tok, Bakthang Waterfall and Enchey Monastery, one of the oldest monasteries of Sikkim. The mixed point tour also offers you to visit either the Rumtek Monastery or the Ranka Monastery. I would suggest you to visit the Rumtek Monastery.

Rumtek Monastery

Photo of Gangtok, Sikkim, India by Amrita
Day 3

Gangtok – Tsomgo Lake – Nathula – Gangtok

Gear up for a long day as you will visit the Tsomgo Lake, Baba Mandir and Nathula Pass. Tsomgo Lake is a glacial lake at an altitude of 12310 ft. You can also go for yak rides near the lake. Baba Mandir is a memorial built in the memory of Harbhajan Singh, a soldier from the Punjab Regiment who was posted here. The army believe that Baba Harbhajan still protects them in this difficult terrain. A further drive will take you to the Nathula Pass at 14410 ft. The Nathula Pass used to be the silk trade route between India and Tibet.

After this wonderful visit to the Tsomgo Lake and Nathula Pass, you will return to Gangtok for a good nights rest, because the next days will have long rides.

Tsomgo Lake (Courtesy: Wikimedia)

Photo of Tsomgo Lake, Sikkim, India by Amrita

Gangtok – Lachen

Day 4

Start early from Gangtok towards Lachen. Lachen is a beautiful destination in North Sikkim. On the way, you can stop at the Seven Sisters Falls and the Phodong Monastery. The distance from Gangtok to Lachen is 121 km, but it takes 6 – 7 hours to reach there because of the road conditions. On reaching Lachen, spend your time exploring the beautiful village surrounded by the hills and mountains.

Accommodation:

Lachen also has a number of hotels, homestays and resorts. Talk to your travel operator who is arranging your North Sikkim trip about your hotel preference.

Places to eat: There are not many eateries in Lachen except a few small ones that serves tea, Maggi and delicious momos. You will get your main meals from your hotel or homestay.

Gurudongmar Lake

Photo of Lachen, Sikkim, India by Amrita

Lachen – Gurudongmar – Lachung

Day 5

You have to start very early this day in order to visit Gurudongmar Lake. The lake, considered holy among the Hindus and Buddhists is the largest lake in Sikkim and one of the highest in the world. On your way towards Gurudongmar, you will visit the beautiful Chopta Valley that remains full of flowers during the soring and snow-covered during the winters. After visiting Gurudongmar Lake, drive back to Lachung, another beautiful village in the Sikkim hills.

Once you reach Lachung, try to visit the Lachung Monastery.

Photo of Gurudongmar Lake, Sikkim by Amrita

Accommodation:

Lachung too has a number of hotels, homestays and resorts.

Places to eat: Just like Lachen, there are not many eateries in Lachung except a few small ones that serves tea, maggi and delicious momos. You will get your main meals from your hotel or homestays.

Day 6

Lachung – Yumthang Valley – Gangtok

Yumthang Valley is also called the Valley of Flowers of Sikkim. During April and May, the whole valley is filled with blooming rhododendrons. It is a majestic sight. A few kilometers further is the Zero Point. This is the place where three rivers meet and the surrounding snow-clad mountains and offering marvelous scenic views. Zero Point generally remains snow covered for most part of the year.

After visit to Yumthang Valley, return back to Gangtok.

Yumthang Valley in snow

Photo of Yumthang, Sikkim, India by Amrita
Photo of Yumthang, Sikkim, India by Amrita
Photo of Yumthang, Sikkim, India by Amrita

Gangtok – Pelling

Day 7

Start off towards Pelling through scenic hilly roads, tiny hamlets and beautiful landscape. Pelling is a small hill town in Sikkim at an altitude of 6800 ft with magnificent views of Mt. Kanchenjunga. Pelling is known for its breathtaking views, natural landscapes and beautiful waterfalls.

Accommodation: Pelling has a number of hotels, homestays and resorts.

Places to eat: There are a few good restaurants in the main area of Pelling. Do try the delicious momos or dumplings from here.

Kanchenjungha Waterfalls, Courtesy: Wikimedia

Photo of Pelling, Sikkim, India by Amrita
Day 8

Exploring Pelling

Explore Pelling as much as you can. Visit the ancient Pemyangtse monastery, Rimbi falls, Khecheopalri Lake, Kanchenjungha Waterfalls, Darap Village, Rabdentse ruins and Singshore Bridge. You can also visit the Pelling Helipad Ground that will give you a panoramic view of the valley beyond.

Khecheolpalri Lake, Courtesy: Wikimedia

Photo of Pelling Sikkim, Pelling, Sikkim, India by Amrita


Day 9

Pelling – Rinchenpong

Rinchenpong is a slightly offbeat deatination in West Sikkim. Start early from Pelling and you will reach Rinchenpong within 2 hours. The main attraction of this place is the great views of the Kanchenjunga ranges. Take the whole day to explore the beautiful town. Visit the Rinchenpong Monastery, the ancient Resum Monastery and the Poison Lake.

Accommodation & Food: Rinchenpong has a few good hotels. As for food, there are few restaurants in the market area. It is better to have food from the hotel you are staying.

Rinchenpong

Photo of Rinchenpong, Sikkim, India by Amrita

Rinchenpong – Siliguri/Bagdogra

Day 10

Return back to Bagdogra or Siliguri for your return journey.

How to reach Gangtok:

The Bagdogra Airport is the nearest airport. But the Pakyong Airport near Gangtok is going to be functional soon.

The nearest Railhead is New Jalpaiguri (NJP). From Bagdogra/Siliguri/NJP, you can take a shared sumo or hire a car to Gangtok.

Moving around in Sikkim:

For North Sikkim and Tsogmo Lake & Nathula Pass, you have to take the help of a registered travel Agent to get the permits and vehicles. For North Sikkim, the operators provide 2N/3D packages for Lachen and Lachung. Compare with a few operators and choose the best one that suits you.

For Pelling, you will get shared cab. For the sightseeing in Gangtok, Pelling and Rinchenpong again, you have to hire a cab.

Best Time to visit Sikkim:

You can visit Sikkim at any time of the year except the monsoons. Rains are unpredictable in the mountains and the road conditions remain bad due to landslides.

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