Sikkim is a great place for a soothing vacation. It has a great combination of snow-clad mountains, valleys with beautiful rhododendrons, waterfalls, lakes, a tea estate and much more. Here, we have suggested a week-long itinerary, based on our own experience, which you can use for a perfect holiday in Sikkim.
First things, first!
This travel itinerary is 9-days long assuming your trip starts on a Saturday and ends on the next Sunday. As you will figure, you can easily tinker with it to suit your exact need. Also, while this itinerary holds good round the year, things become a bit complicated in off-season (October – March). In off-season, your expectations and your plans need to be slightly more flexible as is also detailed in our other post – What to expect of Sikkim in off-season – which is based on our trip to Sikkim in February 2015
For this suggested Itinerary, Gangtok will act as your starting base station. If it’s a group tour and your friends are coming from different cities, you’ll all assemble at Gangtok.
Day 1 – Arrival at Gangtok
If you’re arriving by flight, you’ll need 4-5 hours to reach from the Bagdogra Airport to Gangtok. Sikkim Tourism Help-desk at the airport can arrange a 6-seater like an Innova or Scorpio for INR 3000. If you prefer to take shared-taxis, you’ll be charged INR 250 / person and the vehicle will vary depending upon availability.
The 4-5 hour journey is likely to be a treat, with the first views of the mountains, Teesta river, and small towns on the way. Mid-way, you may stop at Rangpo which is famous for its Momos.
Bonus Tip: To make the most of your road journeys in Sikkim, travel during the day. While heading to Gangtok, consider sitting on the left side of your vehicle to enjoy the views.
Arrive at Gangtok and check-in to your hotel. The day is free for you to walk the streets, explore the city, and soak in the holiday mood. You may consider spending time at MG Marg and Lal Bazaar. Don’t indulge in a shopping spree as yet since it will be way too much to carry to your next few destinations. It’s best to just window-shop for the moment and buy later when you’re about to finally leave Gangtok.
In Gangtok, we stayed in Hotel Sai Kripa.
Day 2 – Towards Lachen
Have breakfast and leave for Lachen (from Gangtok – 109km / 3 hours 30mins), latest by 10 AM. Enjoy the scenic beauty on your way to Lachen. After reaching Lachen, check-in to your hotel. Explore the small town, and soak in the culture of these hills.
Important: For trips to places in North Sikkim , you’ll need to hire a local taxi on a packaged tour. There are options for shared taxis as well. Whatever your choice, you’ll need to make arrangements a day in advance and submit documents for necessary permits to avoid unnecessary delays.
While this place was in our original itinerary, we couldn’t cover this place and northwards due to poor weather conditions in the area. But that was in February, which is an off-season and doesn’t guarantee access to all the popular destinations. Alternatives for off-season vacation covered further in a separate post here.
Day 3 – Head Northwards towards Gurudongmar Lake and close the day at Lachung.
In the morning, after an early breakfast, drive to Thangu (13,500 ft, 31Kms from Lachen). Pass through Chopta Valley (13,200 ft). It is rich in alpine vegetation. After this, drive towards Gurudongmar Lake (17,000ft). Gurudongmar Lake is one of the highest situated lakes in North Sikkim. Only Indian Nationals are allowed here. After visiting Gurudongmar Lake, head to Lachung for the night.
Bonus Tip : If you reach Lachung by evening, and are in mood for a lively evening and supper, make sure you visit Pema Shop. More details here.
In Lachung, we stayed at Tashi Yenkhel. Great Hosts, Good Food and a great view of the mountains.
Contact Details : Ranjeet – +91-9475425813
Day 4 – Excursion to Yumthang Valley and return to Gangtok
Lachung is one of the most demanded tourist destination in Sikkim. In summers it has blooming rhododendrons covering the whole place. In the winter months there is snow all around the place and the snow clad mountains add to the beauty of the place.
After an early breakfast, head towards Yumthang valley, which is nearly 26 kilometers, an hour’s drive, from Lachung. It is situated at an elevation of 11800 feets. On the way from Yumthang valley, one may visit the famous hot spring which is known for its curative properties. Other noteworthy places include Katao and Yumesamdong (also known as Zero Point). Zero Point, is further northwards of Yumthang and requires an additional permit to be obtained from Gangtok.
On your way from Lachung to Gangtok, you can also stop at the Seven Sisters Fall for a while, as it falls about midway to Gangtok.
Day 5 – Excursion to Tsomgo Lake and Baba Mandir
After breakfast, drive up for a memorable excursion tour to Himalayas in the eastern part of Sikkim. Thanks to the news of road construction by China on the other side of the eastern border, Indian government has also paved wide roads on this route.
Bonus Tip: With an additional permit from Gangtok Tourism, you can also visit the Nathula Pass, just a few kilometers ahead of Tsomgo Lake.
Tsomgo Lake (12,400 ft./ 39 km from Gangtok) is one of the highest altitude Himalayan Lake. This beautiful, oval shape lake is almost 1 km long with an average depth of 50 ft. After this, drive up for Baba Harbhajan Singh Memorial (13,000 ft / 15 km / 30 Mins) also known as Baba Mandir.
Return to Gangtok by the evening. You may visit M.G Marg and Lal Bazaar – the popular Shopping area in Gangtok. This time you may shop to your heart’s content or till you can carry no more.
Day 6 – Cover Namchi and then head towards Ravangla
After an early breakfast, proceed towards Namchi. On your way to Namchi you will cross Temi Tea Garden which is Sikkim’s sole Tea estate. The tea is marked by its exotic odour and flavour. You may stop at one of the restaurants on the way, buy tea varieties, take a walk in the tea estate, as well as get photos clicked in local attire.
Next, head towards Char Dham in Namchi. The Char Dham is a tourist destination and has scaled replicas of the four most revered Dhams of the Hindus – i.e. Jagannath, Dwarika, Rameswaram, Badrinath – in the same fantastic complex. As you proceed towards Ravangla, you may also visit Tendong Hill which has a huge Buddhist Statue. In Ravangla, visit the Buddha Park in evening. Later check-in to your hotel.
Day 7 – Pelling and beyond
Have an early breakfast, and head towards Pelling. Instead of checking-in at the hotel, cross Pelling, and visit the important sight-seeings in the area. You should give priority to Kanchenjunga Falls and Khecheopalri Lake. This lake is one of the sacred Buddhist lakes and it is believed that whatever is wished in front of the lake comes true. You may also stop at Rimbi Waterfalls and Rimbi Power Project on the way.
On your way back to Pelling, you may consider stopping and spending some time at the Darap Village and Sewaro Rock Garden. Back in Pelling, you can visit the New Helipad, and enjoy the view of the valleys. This point also gives a great view of the Kanchenjunga Mountain. Alternatively, you can cover this point early in the morning next day.
In Pelling, we stayed at Hotel Sikkim Aurora. Great hosts, Good Ambience, Good Food and just a 100 metres from the new Helipad. Contact: +91-97322-58987 & +91-9609671839
Day 8 – Rabdentse and back to Siliguri / Bagdogra
The New Helipad at Pelling offers a great view of the Kanchenjunga at sunrise. A delight for the photographers in the house. Head back to hotel and leave after breakfast.
Bonus Tip: Instead of going to the Rabdentse Palace Ruins by your vehicle, walk your way from the monastery to the palace via a small village. The light trek / walk is downhill and you’ll reach the Palace ruins in less than 30 mins (about 1.5-2 km). If you go to the Palace by your vehicle, you’ll have to walk 1 km uphill to reach the palace ruins and it takes almost the same time.
After covering these points, head towards Siliguri / Bagdogra and check-in to your hotel for the night.
Day 9 – Back to Hometown
Time to head home with great memories. Don’t forget to share photos and your experience 🙂
Total Tour Cost
Since we visited Sikkim in off-season, we couldn’t visit each of the places in this itinerary. But, the tour costing is Sikkim pans out based on the total number of days spent. Our trip was 8-days long and for the 6 of us our total trip cost, excluding flight tickets, was approx INR 75000 i.e. approx INR 12500 per person (February 2015)
What apart from the Itinerary?
While the itinerary covers most of it, there’s a lot more that you won’t get to know by reading on forums, travel experiences or established travel websites like TripAdvisor. Based on our trip experience, we wished we knew some of these things before hand. For your benefit, we have compiled them in form of a simple list. This covers tackling the unpredictable weather conditions, what to pack and what not, setting realistic expectations and some more bonus tips. Read our tiny treasure here and do share if you wish to add more to this list.
Have you been to Sikkim as well? Share some pointers which we may have missed out. We’ll love to feature them as well
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