Sikkim Tourism – Travel Guide to Plan an EPIC Road Trip to Sikkim
Visiting Sikkim in winters was an awesome decision we took last year. It was one of the most beautiful and fulfilling trips we had in 2017. Sikkim is all about dramatic landscapes, cascading waterfalls, lush greenery, fresh white snow, ancient Buddhist monasteries, therapeutic hot springs, deep blue lakes, clear skies, innocent people, majestic Himalayas, highest mountain ranges, cute red pandas, frozen rivers, vibrant colorful flowers, misty mornings, alpine meadows and so on. If this is your idea of a perfect holiday, read on to know more. In this post, we shall share a detailed travel guide about Sikkim Tourism for 10 days which will help you to plan an EPIC road trip to this scenic least populous fully organic North East Indian state.
Brief Itinerary for Sikkim Tourism (10 Days)
- Day 1: Fly to Bagdogra Airport and Transfer to Gangtok. Overnight Stay at Gangtok.
- Day 2: Depart for North Sikkim. Stop at Seven Sister Waterfalls, Pass-through Mangan & Singhik, Reach Lachen. Overnight Stay at Lachen.
- Day 3: Drive to Gurudongmar Lake, Visit Chopta Valley and Kala Patthar, Reach Lachung in the evening. Overnight Stay at Lachung.
- Day 4: Drive to Yumthang Valley, Visit Zero Point, Reach Gangtok at night. Overnight Stay at Gangtok.
- Day 5: Explore East Sikkim i.e. Gangtok and its surroundings. Overnight Stay at Gangtok.
- Day 6: Drive to Nathu La Pass, Visit Changu Lake/Lake Tsomgo. Overnight Stay at Gangtok.
- Day 7: Depart for South Sikkim. Explore Namchi and Ravangla. Overnight Stay at Ravangla.
- Day 8: Depart for West Sikkim. Reach Pelling. Overnight Stay at Pelling.
- Day 9: Explore Pelling and surroundings. Overnight Stay at Pelling.
- Day 10: Transfer to Bagdogra Airport and fly back home.
Budgeting for Sikkim Tourism (Breakdown of Costs)
A trip to Sikkim for 10 days would cost approx. INR 90,000 (GBP 1000, USD 1400) for a couple. (Of course, it depends on many factors such as hotels where you choose to stay, duration of the trip, number of people traveling, cab booked in advance or on the spot, places visited etc.)
Here is a breakdown of our daily expenses including car, hotel, flights, sightseeing, food, entry fees, permits etc:
- Flights (New Delhi- Bagdogra) INR 12,000 for 2 people
- Hotels – Gangtok, Lachen, Lachung, Ravangla, Pelling – 9 Nights – INR 22,500
- Daily expenses – Food, Entry Fees, Sightseeing, Shopping etc – 10 Days – INR 15,000
- Pick up from Bagdogra Airport, Transfer to Gangtok – INR 3,000
- Transfer to Lachen via Seven Sister Waterfalls – INR 4,000
- Reach Lachung via Gurudongmar Lake and Chopta Valley – INR 4,000
- Arrive at Gangtok via Yumthang Valley, Zero Point, Singhik, and Mangan – INR 6,500 (Including Zero Point Permit)
- Gangtok City Tour – INR 3,000
- Visit Nathu La Pass, Changu Lake/Lake Tsomgo – INR 7,500 (Including Nathu La Pass Permit)
- Transfer to Ravangla exploring Namchi and Ravangla on the way – INR 4,000
- Transfer to Pelling – INR 3,000
- Pelling City Tour – INR 3,000
- Drop to Bagdogra Airport – INR 3,000
We had opted for an Innova Car for the entire trip. Our driver was knowledgeable and friendly. His name and contact detail – Santosh +91 97330 30787. It is always advisable to opt for a heavy SUV vehicle for a road trip to any Himalayan destination like Leh-Ladakh, Kinnaur-Spiti, and Sikkim because the roads are rough and you will be spending 8-10 hours on the road daily. So, its better to be comfortable during the journey.
Best time to visit Sikkim
Sikkim is an all year round destination. Different months bring about their own beauty and charm.
March to May – Spring Season – Blooming natural beauty all around, good for adventure activities.
June to August – Summer & Monsoon Season – Perfect to experience rainfall and bird watching.
September to November – Autumn Season – Clear skies and cherry blossom festival.
December to February – Winter Season – Chilly weather and frozen lakes.
We visited Sikkim during the winters of 2017. It was so scenic, no wonder it’s called a Winter Wonderland!
Gangtok – Jewel of the East Residency & Spa, MG Marg, Gangtok
Lachen – Hotel Tso Lhamo, Main Road, Lachen
Lachung – Tenzing Retreat, Thomchi, Lachung
Ravangla – Hotel Zumthang, Legship-Rabongla Rd, Ravangla
Pelling – Summit Newa Regency, Lower Pelling, Pelling
Day by Day Itinerary for Sikkim Tourism (Lots of Tips Included)
Day 1: Fly to Bagdogra Airport and Transfer to Gangtok
You can choose to book a cab on the spot after you reach Bagdogra or book it in advance. We booked it in advance to avoid bargaining on the spot. Bagdogra to Gangtok is a comfortable drive of about five hours. We had our lunch at Hotel Ranjeet in Siliguri on the way which serves delicious vegetarian food. We spent the evening walking around the main square, M.G. Marg in Gangtok.
Day 2: Depart for North Sikkim, Stop at Seven Sister Waterfalls, Pass-through Mangan & Singhik, Reach Lachen
After an early breakfast, we set out for North Sikkim. We headed for Lachen (8,840 meters) which is about 6 hours from Gangtok. Opened for tourists in the year 2000, Lachen is a nature lover’s paradise. Enroute to Lachen is the Seven Sister waterfalls and Naga waterfalls, where we stopped to play in the water and click some photographs. Halfway to Lachen is the small hamlet of Mangan, with its flower patches and waterwheels strung with bells set in exquisite gardens. Four kilometers ahead of Mangan is Singhik, from where one can view Mt. Kanchenjunga (the 3rd highest peak in the world). The route from Mangan to Lachen is beautiful, with the Teesta flowing briskly, cold as cold can be, and the mountains standing tall and beautiful. We had our lunch at Hotel Angeela on the way. We checked in our hotel at Lachen, which provided us with a clean room and basic facilities, as expected in Lachen; but the hosts were very warm and hospitable. They served us a delicious home-cooked hot meal which felt heavenly in the chilly weather of Lachen.
Day 3: Drive to Gurudongmar Lake, Visit Chopta Valley and Kala Patthar, Reach Lachung
Around dawn, we set out on our quest to reach India’s second highest lake – Gurudongmar. It is one of the highest and most remote lakes in the world. We passed through the last inhabited village – Thangu (13,000 feet). The mountains with the alpine steppe vegetation were a mix of green, red and purple. We passed through Chopta Valley, with its breathtaking alpine scenery, meandering rivers, and snow-capped peaks. Then crossed Cholamu Lake – the source of river Teesta – and it is fascinating to note how small the source is and how massive it becomes as it flows down mountains on its way to Gangtok and West Bengal. Lake Gurudongmar (17,100 feet) is unbelievably blue during the summers, a blue that we only otherwise see in Ladakh lakes. Tibet lies just a stone’s throw away. The winds are furious here, and it is advisable to spend max 40-45 mins on the lake shore. Please note there is a place called Kala Patthar 3 km ahead of Chopta Valley which is covered in snow throughout the year. We insisted our driver and he drove us to this magical place where the Gods reside! The views on the way were astounding. Most people don’t know about this place and give it a miss. However, we highly recommend it. Kala Patthar is also known as the foot of Mount Everest since it provides the most accessible closeup view of Everest. Many adventurers undertake the “Everest Base Camp Kala Patthar Trek” every year. We reached Lachung in the evening which was the chilliest of all places in North Sikkim.
Day 4: Drive to Yumthang Valley, Visit Zero Point, Reach Gangtok at night
Yumthang is Sikkim’s very own Valley of Flowers and in spring, you can see rhododendrons, a hundred variety of orchids in various colors, blue poppies, and other Himalayan flowers. There are yaks grazing on carpeted meadows and towering peaks. It is known as the Valley of Flowers in North Sikkim. The grazing pasture was surrounded by the Himalayas. The views on the way from Yumthang Valley to Zero Point are beautiful. We reached Zero Point which is close to Tibet border (23 km from Yumthang Valley). The rivers were frozen and there was a chill in the air. We were wearing 5 layers of clothes! You get jackets and boots on rent on the way to Zero Point. This was a long day and we reached Gangtok only at 8 pm. Thus, ends our sojourn in the beautiful North Sikkim.
Day 5: Explore East Sikkim today i.e. Gangtok and its surroundings
We did a city tour of Gangtok and visited Sikkim Himalayan Zoological Park where we spotted Red Pandas, Snow Leopard, Black Bear and many other animals, Tashi View Point, Ganesh Tok, Hanuman Tok, Namgyal Institute of Tibetology, 200-year-old Enchey Monastery, Rumtek Monastery, Do Drul Chorten Stupa, and took a ride in the Ropeway. We spent the evening in Gangtok at MG Mall Road. There was a live musical show which kept us engrossed for the major part of evening. I even shopped for the traditional Sikkimese dress from Bansal Trading Shop in MG Marg. 🙂
Good eateries in Gangtok include the following:
- Taste of Tibet (amazing momos and chow mein);
- Café Live & Loud – which is Gangtok’s most happening live rock music bar as per Lonely Planet;
- Rhythm & Wine Café;
- The Coffee Shop;
- Roll House (delicious rolls);
- Baker’s Cafe (cute little well-decorated cafe which serves mouth-watering food);
- Moti Chaat House (amazing chaats)
We tried all of the above and were highly impressed by them.
Day 6: Drive to Nathu La Pass, Visit Changu Lake/Lake Tsomgo
Since there was a high amount of snowfall the previous night, we did not get the permit for Nathu La Pass which costs Rs. 3,000 per vehicle. Monday & Tuesday pass is closed. However, we visited Changu/Tsomgo Lake and it was the high point of our trip. We witnessed snowfall for the 2nd time in our lives! The first experience of snowfall for me was in Ladakh. Set in the middle of the mountains, Changu Lake at 12,400 feet above sea level is an absolutely pristine crystal clear lake and revered by Buddhists. It is 1 km long, oval in shape and 50 feet deep. We played with snow to our heart’s content, clicked loads of photographs, made videos and came back like 2 happy kids! We also took a ropeway up the lake which is newly opened for tourists and costs Rs. 295/- per person. We don’t encourage taking a yak ride at Changu Lake because the innocent creatures suffer a lot for the entertainment of the tourists.
Day 7: Depart for South Sikkim, Explore Namchi and Ravangla
Now we will explore the South of Sikkim where the weather is pleasant and views are beautiful. We explored Temi Tea Garden with lush greenery all around on our way to Namchi. In Namchi, we visited The Holy Statue of Guru Padmasambhava (World’s Tallest Statue of Buddha standing tall at 135 feet) at Samdruptse 13 km from Namchi. It is an important place for Buddhist worship and a sight to behold! Thereafter, we visited Solophok Chardham on top of Solophok Hill, which is one of the most sacred places in Sikkim. It’s very popular for the replicas of 12 Jyotirlingas & Char Dham. The prime aim behind its formation was the promotion of Eco and Village tourism, clubbing it with Religious Tourism. The main temple is situated at a height of 108 feet and has an 87 feet high Lord Shiva statue in it. Other places to explore in Namchi are Central Park, Baichung Stadium, Rock Garden etc. Ravangla is a sleepy little Himalayan town with attractions such as Buddha Park which houses a 130 feet high Buddha statue as its centerpiece, Ralang Monastery etc.
Day 8: Depart for West Sikkim, Reach Pelling
After breakfast, we departed for Pelling which was the last leg of our journey. This monastery town is situated at a distance of 50 km from Ravangla. You can choose to relax today or explore the nearby monasteries and waterfalls.
Day 9: Explore Pelling and surroundings
Take a city tour of Pelling and explore Pemayangtse Monastery (One of the oldest and premier monasteries of Sikkim, also the most famous in West Sikkim), Kanchenjunga Falls (Big tourist attraction so reach early around 8 am to avoid the crowds), Rimbi Water Falls, Tashiding Monastery, Sanga Choeling Monastery etc.
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