Situated in the Eastern Himalayas, Sikkim is one of the most beautiful states of India. It boasts of the third highest mountain in the world, Mt. Khanchendzonga which is also worshipped as the Guardian Deity of Sikkim. Sikkim is blessed by Nature in all aspects, from snowy mountains to medicinal hot springs.
It is a destination for all seasons and here is how you can make the most of it –

DAY 1: In and around Gangtok

  • Hanuman Tok, Ganesh Tok, Enchey Monastery (you can squeeze this into day 2, though I wouldn’t suggest that)
  • Tashi view point – Spectacular view of Kanchenjunga and Siniolchu and nearby located Labrang Monastery and Phodong Monastery (can be seen on the way to North Sikkim)
  • Rumtek Monastery, Lingdum Monastery, Banjhankri falls, Bakthang falls
    (Banjhankri falls has a fun park as well with sculptures and children’s play ground and a small food court as well)
  • Aritar lake (in Rongli sub- division, 3.5 hrs. drive)
  • Himalayan Zoological Park (The state animal of Sikkim is Red Panda)

    Rumtek Monastery

DAY 2: East Sikkim
A day’s trip from Gangtok to

  • Tsomgo Lake, NathuLa Pass, and Baba Harbhajan Temple
  • Zaluk
    It’s a small village and a transit point within the Silk Route. A great attraction of Zuluk lies in watching the sunrise over Mt. Kanchenjungha and its allied peaks from Thambi View Point (around 14 km away) at 11,200 feet. That’s possible only if you stay- there are some basic homestays available if you’re interested. But this is not suggested in summer months and in monsoon because it often gets foggy and the landslides are a regular occurrence.

    Tsogmo Lake, East Sikkim

DAY 3: Rest at Gangtok, visit places around (you may follow schedule from day 1)

DAYS 4, 5, 6: North Sikkim
Sadly, I couldn’t go to North Sikkim during my visit to Sikkim because of a roadblock. But here is what makes North Sikkim a MUST visit:

  • Places en route- Kabi Lungchok, Phensang Monastery, 7 sister falls, Phodung Monastery
  • Yumthang Valley side (Lachung, Yumthang, and Yumesamthong)
  • Gurudongmar lake side (by the river Teesta, Tarum hot spring- off road, Lachen, Thangu, Chopta Valley- off road, Gurudongmer Lake)

    A panoramic view of Gurudongmar Lake, Picture by Indranil Kar

DAYS 7, 8, 9: West Sikkim
About  4 hours drive to the main city- Gyalzing. You can reach Pelling (which is half an hour ride away from Gyalzing) and make Pelling your base for next two days to visit the nearby attractions of West Sikkim.

  • Rabdentse Palace ruins, Pelling, Darap, Khecheopalri Lake, Khangchendzoga falls, Yuksam – Phamrong Falls, Tashiding monastery
  • Changey falls, Singshore Bridge – takes you to the Mainbaas falls.
  • Yuksom – Dubdi Monastery (oldest monastery in Sikkim), Coronation Stone. Yuksom is also the starting point of many treks of the higher eastern Himalayan region.
     At Pelling, you will find many tour agencies which offer you one day tour covering most of these sites (except Yuksom) for as low as 350-400/- in shared taxis (8-10 people).

    Sunset view of Khanchendzonga from Pelling
    Sunset view of Khanchendzonga from Pelling

DAYS 10/ and 11: South Sikkim
A day’s trip from Gangtok to

  • Ravangla (Buddha Park)
  • Namchi (Siddhesvara Dham, Samdruptse)
  • Temi Tea Garden (you can opt to stay one day in the resorts near Temi)

    Buddha Park, Ravangla

DAY 11/12: Drive back to Gangtok, rest, go for a short and relaxing walk, shop and eat a fine dinner or go café-hopping. Gangtok has a crazy nightlife. Almost all the pubs and café have live music scenes. Your Sikkim trip is incomplete if you come back without rocking Gangtok at one of those karaoke nights!

Helicopter rides from Gangtok:

Sikkim Tourism Development Corporation operates 5 seater helicopter tours from Gangtok. You can contact the office for reservation at below given address.
Sikkim Tourism Development Corporation
Tourism & Civil Aviation Department Building,
M.G Marg, Gangtok.
Phone: 03592-203960/281372

Flight Duration Route Landmark
Joy Flight 15 mins Around Gangtok Covers eight points around Gangtok
South Sikkim Flight 40 mins Gangtok-Tendong-Damthang-Maenam-Temi Samdruptse Statue, Namchi Bazar, Temi Tea Garden, Tendong Hill, Ralang Monastery
West Sikkim Flight 55 mins Gangtok-Singtam-Geyzing-Yuksom-Dikchu Rumtek, Temi Tea Garden, Rabong hill, Maenam Hill, Pemayangste, Phamrong waterfall, Khangchendzonga
North Sikkim Flight 65 mins Gangtok-Mangan-Teesta-Chungthang-Lachung-Yumthang Khangchendzonga Range, Lachung Monastery, Memenchu Lake, Yumthang Valley
Khangchendzonga Flight 80 mins Gangtok-Chungthang-Lachen-Zemu Glacier-Green Lake Teesta Valley, Mangan, Lachen, Zemu glacier, green lake, Khangchendzonga range (close up views)

 

Permits:

India nationals only require permits for North Sikkim and East Sikkim (Nathu La).
It can be collected from Sikkim House in Delhi, Kolkata, and Rongpo. Some of the destinations within Sikkim come under restricted or protected categories. These areas can be accessed with special permission from Sikkim Police.

Foreigners must obtain Restricted Area Permit (RAP) from Sikkim Tourism Offices at Delhi, Kolkata, Siliguri, and Rangpo.
The total permissible duration of stay to the foreign tourist is 60 days. Initially, 30 days duration permit is issued on production of photocopies of the passport and visa details along with two passport photos. The permit can be further extended twice for 15 days each. The extension of the permits can be obtained from Foreigners Registration Office at Gangtok and SP Office in North, West and South Districts.

For trekking in the interior region of the state, the Department of Tourism issues Protected Area Permit (PAP) at Gangtok which is available for groups consisting of two or more foreigners subject to the condition that the trekking program is arranged through a registered travel agency.

Note:
There are packages available with local tour agencies for East and North Sikkim. Also, there are permits required for both these sides so it’s wiser to go through them unless you want to try your hand at going through the process yourself.
You can opt for a shared taxi (usually a sumo) or hire a cab as per your feasibility. Make sure you ask them about hotel pick up and drop to avoid any nuisance later.

Thank you, Indranil Kar (Gurudongmar Lake pic) and Shubham Mansingka for such beautiful pictures!!!

(Contact Soul Trails in case of any travel query or a personalized itinerary for Sikkim with hotel and other recommendations)

A Glimpse of Sikkim…

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