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.
Rainproof 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 coz you will barely get any chance to dry your clothes through the trip thanks to the cold climate and your travelling throughout the day.
2. Ways to keep yourself hot
Due to power shortage in the state during off season, government disallows the use of electric room heaters in offseason. Hence, be prepared 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 quite 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 8PM. Very few restaurants or food outlets stay open beyond 8 PM.
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 50rs/day each wherever we needed them. This is applicable mostly for areas covered with snow.
5. What to pack – clothes?
It is suggested that you carry woollens enough for 5-6 layers (2 thermals/warmers, thick shirts, sweaters, jackets) being worn throughout your 6-7 day trip. 80% of my luggage was just woollens.
Carry enough pairs of socks and gloves (or buy them in Sikkim) coz the boots will 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 weeklong trip.
6. Be prepared for Permits
To get permit made, id proof and photos are required. Suggest 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 coz the operator does not waste 1-2 hours in the morning to collect and get permit.
7. Wai Wai is so awesome
While you are travelling in Sikkim, Always carry your stock of Wai Wai. These will come handy whenever you are stuck somewhere or don’t have a Resto nearby
8. Shared Taxis
Population is very less, about 6 lakh. Barely any buses between tourist spots. Although there are shared taxis. If you’re looking to travel while keeping costs to the minimum, you can easily take these shared taxis. The only inconvenience is likely to be that you may have to switch taxi once twice to get to your destination 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. The taxis in sikkim play good music, both Hindi and English, which compounded with the breathtaking views make the journey even more amazing.
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, complete with good music, for Rs. 800. The 6 of us partied for 5 hours (11.30 PM) along with some localites and our total bill amounted to 2100 inclusive of all the firewood, music, old monk, cold & hot beverages and maggi we consumed that evening.
2. Observation about Taxis
Majority of vehicles are cars and a majority of cars are taxis. The Taxis are peculiar in two aspects – First, Each one of them has a yellow hood (bonnet) and second, they are either Mahindra or Maruti. The state takes tourism very seriously, and the related processes are aligned accordigly. Each public transport vehicle has a new generation number plate introduced by government in 2012 (http://www.carblogindia.com/high-security-registration-plates-india/). A Permit is required to visit most of the tourist attractions.
2. Just in case you were in double minds to go to Sikkim
Myths – http://www.tdgmag.com/2015/02/11-reasons-why-im-never-going-to-north-east-india/
3. Stuff you should try and/or buy
Dish to Try – Thukpa (Soupy Noodles)
Dress to Buy (for women) – Baaku
117 thoughts on “9 Things to know before you head to Sikkim for a Vacation”
I am planing to visit sikkim, lachung,gangtok and darjeeling on 9th november with 3 year old daughter and wife so is it advisable to travel all places with kid??
Hi I am planning to go to Gangtok from Kolkata around 23rd-24th December,2017 with husband,my mother and our 5 years old daughter .Its basically for our kid she wants to see the snow filled mountains…kindly suggest nearby places we can cover without being too hectic schedules in 4-5 days.
Can we get or smoke cigarettes in Sikkim? Can i smoke in my hotel in Gangtok? is it allowed to smoke over there?
Hi, I am planning to go to east sikkim with my friends on 23rd january 2018. Can we see Tsomgo lake and Nathula pass on that time?(is Tsomgo lake and Nathula pass will be open on january last)
Hello i am travelling to gangtok area what type of cloths i should i carry
I will be visiting Gangtok and Darjeeling by 31 October to 5th November also planning to visit Nathula pass. How will be weather and other things during this period?
I am going to Sikkim on my Honeymoon from 20-28 December.
So Which places we can’t cover during that time.
And How will be the temperature?
I am planning to visit Sikkim by Nov end and early Dec. I have already booked the flights for Pakyong airport. I have 6N/7D plan. The places I have chosen is Gangtok, Lachen and Lachung.
Since I have 6N/7D time, Is it worth to include another destination like Pelling or Darjeeling? I am confused here.
Please suggest. Since, the terrain is rough the travel itself will consume two days for additional destination.
I am planning to visit sikkim in 2nd week of January. I have already booked train tickets from Kolkata to NJP. The places I have choosen is Gangtok and Pelling. Can we visit Tsomgo lake, Baba Mandir and Nathula pass during that time ?
If we are unable to visit there, so what can be the alternative locations we should choose ?
Please help.. Thanks in advance 🙂
I have just come across this page and honestly the information is so over whelming and i am even more excited and looking forward to the trip. Me and my friend are travelling to sikkim from 23rd to 30jan. We havent planned an itinerary yet so m seeking some help from you. Also we plan to mainly live in homestays , focus is to visit places covered with snow like tsomgo lake, zero point, chopta valley etc. We can skip pelling. We are starting our trip from gangtok. So please suggest an itinerary and also how do we go about tth permits since we havent booked any tpurtour operator.
i m planning to north Sikkim on starting for June month.
we don’t want to plan with travelers, we are going by own management, i want your suggestion to below questions:
1) which transportation are more preferable public or private?
2) Do we need to booked restaurant or transplantation facility in advance also any permission required before visit places?
3) Is there pure veg restaurant available in area of Gangtok, lachen, zero point?
4) how much cost will be taken generally by transportation and restaurant for one night pure veg ?
I would like to thanks in advance if any one could help me to find out answers of above.
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