Sikkim - A place for ??
Updated: Jan 19
What is Sikkim famous for ? Is it only about Gangtok ?? Are North and West Sikkim worth visiting ? Can I take my own car or bike ? And a lot of questions were popping up when I thought of planning a trip to Sikkim.
I was amazed to see this wonderland. Sikkim is a place for experiencing almost everything, mountain, snow, blue river, lake, valley of flower, breezy weather, street market, beautiful culture and last but not the least our Indian Army.
For me, Sikkim turned out to be a surprisingly beautiful journey.
So let’s check out what Sikkim has to explore.
North Sikkim I found this place so fascinating that it deserved another blog :) Check-out: https://www.traveltaleswithkashyap.com/post/north-sikkim-a-valley-of-lakes-and-snow
East Sikkim: Natu-la Pass, Baba Harbajan mandir, Tsongmo lake, Yak ride, Ropeway
Natu-la Pass is at 13k ft high. Experience the Indo-China border. You can also get a climbing certificate of reaching this high mountain range here. Baba Harbajan mandir is a memorial and temple in order to honour an Indian Army soldier, Baba Harbajan Singh. The temple is maintained by the Indian army. Tsomgo lake is on the way to Natu-la pass where you can do a Yak ride. Just beside this, there is a ropeway and you will get to see the beauty of Tsomgo lake and Mt Kanchenjunga range. Reserve a whole one day for East Sikkim.
How to go ? Hire a traveler. Or, hire a cab at “Vajra taxi stand” in Gangtok. When visiting East Sikkim, a vehicle pass is needed. So, try to book your traveler/cabs a day before visiting. If you want to take your own car or bike, make sure to get a temporary vehicle permit from their RTO office. The private cabs will cost you ~5k INR. It’s a 5-6 hr day trip.
Mg road, Lal bazar, City view Ropeway
Mg road is one of the major attractions of Gangtok. I would suggest you to reserve an entire day to roam around mg road. Try different street food, buy souvenirs. Lal bazar is a building just down the mg road lane and best place to buy trendy wear at a very reasonable rate. Mg road and Lal bazar gets closed around 9 PM due to Covid, very few eatery places are open till 11-12, so plan accordingly. City view ropeway is at walking distance from Mg road. You’ll be able to capture a beautiful city view surrounded by mountains. The ride will cost ~110 per person.
Tashi view point Mt Kanchenjunga range is visible from this viewpoint. It should be a must-visit place. The view is spectacular and a perfect picture spot to get all your profile pictures.
Himalaya view point This is another viewpoint to check out a beautiful view of mountains. A tree house is there to relax where you can enjoy your coffee along with the view.
Bakthang falls This is one of the local falls that you can go to if visiting Gangtok.
Hanuman Tok, Ganesh Tok Hanuman Tok is located at ~7k ft altitude and provides a spectacular view. The belief is Lord Hanuman took rest at this place while carrying Sanjeevani Booti. Both of the temples are maintained by the Indian army and at a distance ~3km from each other.
Flower Exhibition Center, Chorten Monastery These are the few other places to visit. How to explore ? The places in Gangtok can be easily explored in a day. Hire a traveler or a cab. They will take you to all these places and will charge ~1800. You can take your vehicle too, no permission is needed for these places.
“India mei ghuma aur local culture experience na kiya to kya kiya ?”
Yess. I really believe this. "Local culture experience karne ka apna hi maza hai"(There is a different level of happiness in exploring local culture) So, the time is to explore Sikkim :)
You can rent Bakhu, one of the local traditional wears worn by Sikkim people. It costs ~50 INR per dress for rent. Rent it, Wear it, and take a lot of pictures. Local and other street food:
Falafel - Lal Bazar
Churpi - Lal Bazar
Butter Tea - at Tea Point, MG Marg
Momos: Try steamed and onion chili pan fried momos at Lal Bazar building (2nd floor)
Rhododendron Wine - extracted from Rhododendron flowers. It’s a sweet wine and you can find this at most of the shops in Sikkim
If you explore anything there other than listed, let us know too in the comments :)
Where to Stay ?
If you don’t want to spend much on travel but want to roam around, book a hotel near Mg road. In such hotels, views might not be present, but you can explore Gangtok easily.
Muscatel Grand Silk Route: This hotel is only 500 m from Mg Marg, provides good service with a very reasonable rate
Other good hotels that i found: Jewels of the east, The Cosmos hotel, Hotel doma palace, Muscatel Bellevue
If you have 3-4 days in hand, book hotels with beautiful views. Because relaxing in hotels with the view is an altogether different experience.
How to reach ?
Bagdogra airport is the nearest one. Pakyong Airport is also a nearby airport and is only 45 km from Gangtok but most of the flights are not available till Pakyong.
Nearest railway station is New Jalpaiguri station
In both of the cases, you will need to take private/shared cabs till gangtok as it is a 4-5 hr drive. It’ll cost you around 4k-4.5k INR for private while ~600 INR for shared ones.
You can easily find such cabs after reaching the airport/station.
Document Time !!!
Sikkim comes under restricted area as it shares its border with China, Bhutan and other countries. You will always find our Indian army protecting us. So visitors need travel permit.
Sikkim Travel Card Apply for a travel card here This will be needed at every checkpoints when traveling in Sikkim.The process is very simple and the card gets generated immediately as soon as you apply. You can refer to this link for more details.
Passport size photograph
Government Id proof (No aadhar card) Driving license/Passport/VoterId
Covid-Vaccination certificate of both doses
RT-PCR certificate within 3 days of visiting Sikkim if not fully vaccinated.
Tip: Have a digital copy of all the above documents in your phone and for being safe, carry their xerox copy with you.
Now, you know everything, time for a few tips and tricks ;)
When roaming around in Gangtok, take help from locals regarding its road. There are a lot of shortcuts in between the shops that even google maps does not know.
When taking your own car, confirm with the hotel if they have space for parking.
Carry an umbrella/raincoat, because in Sikkim you never know when it starts raining.
Carry cash because at some places, internet does not work.
Recommended Traveler Details:
Batman Tours and Travel
Vicky Tours and Travel: 79087-26179
So, now that you have a guide for Sikkim…Are you ready to pack your bags and enjoy this beautiful place ???
Let me know your questions and experience in the comments :)