So you have made up your mind to travel to Sikkim, you have done your research well, you have an itinerary in place, and your bookings are done. If you think you are all set, think again, has your travel agent or your reference website told you everything? Here are 9 things you better be prepared for.
Bonus Tip: Just in case you’re still working on your travel itinerary for Sikkim, our detailed itinerary might help. Give it a look!
1. Rain-proof your luggage
Quite possible that while you’re travelling to another town, you might encounter rainfall or even snowfall (specially in off-season). Be aware that any of the luggage kept on the carrier of your vehicle is likely to get wet, including the clothes contained inside. The rain cover provided by the taxi guy barely helps. Ensure you have your clothes secured in plastic bags because you will barely get any chance to dry your clothes through the trip thanks to the cold climate and your travelling throughout the day. We learnt it the hard way.
2. Ways to keep yourself warm
Due to power shortage in the state during off-season, government disallows the use of electric room heaters in off-season. Hence, be ready to brave the cold without them. The few ways you can keep yourselves warm are – angithi, if you’re living in a posh hotel or a home stay, or bonfires, or consumption of alcohol.
If you are living in a budget hotel, it’s likely they may not provide any of the above. In that case, your only hope is alcohol. Luckily, it is easily available at shops in most localities.
3. Working hours in Sikkim
Markets throughout Sikkim shut down at 8 PM. Very few restaurants or food outlets stay open beyond that time. In case you’re planning to visit one of these places, call up in advance and check with them.
4. Boots and Coats available for rent
You may skip buying boots suitable for snow and really warm jackets since jackets, boots and gloves are easily available for rent wherever you may need them. We got them for INR 50 per day each wherever we needed them. This is applicable mostly for areas covered with snow.
5. What to pack – clothes?
We suggest that you carry woolens enough for 5-6 layers (2 thermals/warmers, thick shirts, sweaters, jackets) being worn throughout your 6-7 day trip. 80% of our luggage was just woolens.
Carry enough pairs of socks and gloves (or buy them in Sikkim) because the boots only protect them from getting soaked wet. In most likelihood, your socks will already be damp enough to give you chills after you get back to your car for transfer back to hotel. By the end of it, I needed 7 pairs of socks for my week-long trip.
6. Be prepared for Permits
Most of the tourist spots, specially in North Sikkim and East Sikkim, require a valid permit. To get a permit made, you will require an id proof and photos. Suggest you to carry about 10 photos and id proofs for permit. Also, to save time, talk to the tour operator, package operator a day in advance and hand over the documents and photos a night before. Since the permits are issued in the morning, this saves time because the operator does not waste 1-2 hours in the morning to collect documents and get permits made.
7. Wai Wai is so awesome
While you are travelling in Sikkim, always carry your stock of Wai Wai. These will come handy when you are stuck somewhere or don’t have a Restaurant nearby.
8. Shared Taxis
The population of Sikkim is quite less, about 6 lakh only. Barely any buses ply between tourist spots but there are shared-taxis which fulfill the same purpose. If you’re looking to travel while keeping costs to the minimum, you can easily take these shared taxis. The only inconvenience is that you may have to switch taxi once or twice to get to your destination, specially if it’s far off.
9. Average Speed is 25 KMPH on roads
Unlike travelling in plains, the speed of traffic in hills is quite slow both due to the tricky curves as well as the narrow roads. When you are planning your vacation, make sure you account for 4 hours when travelling 100 km and likewise for other distances. Typically, travelling from one major town/city to another consumes the entire day. But, if you enjoy travelling you will enjoy the views and the journey will be quite amazing. Each of the taxis we hired played good music, both Hindi and English, which compounded with the breathtaking views made the journey even more amazing.
1. Nice hangout place in Lachung – Pema Shop
A tiny Resto-Bar which serves limited food options like noodles, Maggi, coffee, alcohol but a popular hangout spot in Thumchi area of Lachung. The place can accommodate just 10 people at a time, plays good English/Hindi music and is also open till 12AM which is an exception for the area. The lady host organised a nice Bonfire party for us, complete with good music, for INR 800. The 6 of us partied for 5 hours (till 11.30 PM) along with some localites and our total bill amounted to INR 2100 inclusive of all the firewood, music, old monk, cold & hot beverages and the Maggi we consumed that evening.
2. Observation about Taxis
Majority of vehicles are cars and a majority of them are taxis. The Taxis are peculiar in two aspects – First, Each one of them has a yellow hood and second, they are either Mahindra or Maruti make. The state takes tourism very seriously, and the related processes are aligned accordingly. Each public transport vehicle has a new generation number plate which was introduced by the government in 2012.
3. Stuff you should try or buy while in Sikkim
Dish to Try – Thukpa (Soupy Noodles)
Dress to Buy (for women) – Baaku
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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