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10 places you must visit in Sikkim

Located in the North East of India, Sikkim in bordered by the countries of Bhutan, Bangalesh, Tibet and Nepal as well as the Indian state of Bengal. The least populous and second smallest state in India, Sikkim is known for its abundant biodiversity and alpine climates. The very name ‘Sikkim’ comes from the terms ‘Su’ and ‘Him’, meaning beautiful home. The third highest mountain in the world, the Kangchenjunga is also here. Sikkim was once a mountain kingdom, the remnants of which are still visible all over the sate. In 1975 a state wide referendum was called, with an overwhelming majority voted to abolish the monarchy. Sikkim is the perfect fusion of Tibetan Buddhism, Hinduism, and Nepali culture, and shrines to each adorn the skyline of the country. The temperatures of the country may be very cold, but the people are warm and hospitable, with a deep sense of welcoming an integral part of the very fabric of their lives. Known to be a snow white wonderland, Sikkim also have some beautiful and lush sub-tropical woodlands, with tall trees that have stood steadfast in the are for millennia. The ideal time to visit the various attraction in Sikkim is during the spring-summer months of March and May or in October to mid-December, after the more turbulent months, but before the harsh winter hits.

The Sikkim of today is multiethnic and multilingual, with speaking English, Nepali, Sikkimese, Lepcha as well as a wide diversity of local dialects like Gurung, Limbu, Magar, Mukhia, etc. The state’s government and its residents are very particular about the preservation of culture and traditions. While Sikkim is currently the 3rd smallest economy in India, is also amongst the fastest growing states. In 20016, Sikkim accomplished something that many thought impossible – it became a fully organic agriculture state. Since then, it has taken its eco-conservation to the next level, and became among India’s most sustainable states, by banning plastic water bottles in all government activities, as well as a total ban on polystyrene products all over the state. With over 40% of the state with forest cover, one can understand the need to protect the green.

While travel to Sikkim is a little inconvenient, the journey is worth it and for some off-beat travellers, is even the charm of the region. There are no rail station in Sikkim, with he best entry point being by road from West Bengal via a jeep or a bus. The nearest rail station is the New Jalpaiguri station in Bengal. Both private services and government-operated transport is available for the same. One can visit Sikkim by flight, at the Pakyong Airport. From there, the capitol city of Gangtok is 4 hours away.

There are some other barriers to entry in Sikkim. While the state is the model of calm and serenity, it is also a highly militarised area of India. To visit, all foreign nationals require the Restricted Area Permit (RAP) also known as the Inner Line Permit (ILP) to visit any part of Sikkim, including the capital city of Gangtok. Depending on your vehicle, you may need transport permits as well. Within the state, people prefer to use private jeep services, or travel by road. For the more adventurous travellers, trekking is also a popular means of short-distance transport.

10 places you must visit in Sikkim:

  1. Gangtok
  2. Tsomgo LaKe
  3. Nathu La Pass
  4. Kanchenjunga Base Camp
  5. Lachen, Lachung and Yumthang Valley
  6. Pelling
  7. Zuluk
  8. Teesta River
  9. Gurudongmar Lake
  10. Goechala

Gangtok

The capitol city in Sikkim, the sheer beauty of the city perfectly justifies the swarms of people who visit it every year, it being one of the only modern, resource rich locations in the state. The inexplicable charm of its colourful houses as they sit on steps of the mountain side is a scene of beauty, combines with the dense clouds that obscure ones view of the true extent and size of the city. Blessed with both cultural-spiritual and historical significance, though Gangtok is small, it has something for everyone! Considered one of the most beautiful hill stations in India, Gangtok is even more breathtaking when observed from the cable car that overhangs it.

Visit if:

Ideal for both friend groups ad families, Gangtok has a wide array of attractions. In many ways, logistically especially, it is impossible to visit the depths of the state of Sikkim without first visiting Gangtok though many even visit the city as the only location in Sikkim altogether.

Stay for:

3-4 days, especially to enjoy the many day trips that can be taken from here.

Don’t miss out on:

  • Nathula Pass
  • MG Road at night
  • Visit the serene Rumtek Monastry
  • Enjoy the peace of Tsomgo Lake
  • Pay you respects at Ganesh Tok
  • Namgyal Institute of Technology
  • Kanchenjunga
  • Baba Harbhajan Singh Temple
  • Mangan
  • Himalayan Zoological Park
  • Reshi Hot Springs
  • Kabi Longstok
  • Seven Sisters Waterfalls
  • Tinkitam
  • Flower Exhibition Centre
  • Do Drul Chorten
  • Saramsa Garden
  • Hanuman Tok
  • Paragliding
  • Tashi View Point
  • Tsuk La Khang Monastery
  • Shingba Rhododendron Sanctuary
  • Banjhakri Falls
  • Ranka Monastery
  • Enchey Monastery
  • Saga Dawa festival (seasonal)
  • International Flower Festival (seasonal)
  • Gangtok Ropeway
  • Yak Safari
  • Baker’s Cafe
  • Phodong Monastery

Tsomgo Lake

Nestled amongst tall, snow capped mountains, Tsomgo Lake is just 40 kilometres from the capital city of Gangtok. This extremely famous glacier lake is one of India’s highest altitude lakes. It’s name literally translates to ‘Source of Water’. This calm clear lake perfectly reflects the mountains that surround it and the saturated blue sky above it, making the whole view even more mesmerising. We recommend reaching the lake by the early hours of the mornng, as once the evening draws close and the daylight vanishes, the treacherous roads of the region become unsafe to drive on, especially for those driving without a local guide. Despite the harsh temperature in the area, there are in fact many species of flora and fauna native to the region like Primulas, yellow and blue poppies, Irish, Yaks and Ponies, and migratory ducks – Brahmini.

Visit if:

A journey to Sikkim is in complete for all kinds of travellers. Especially idea for those who enjoy photography and topographical marvels.

Stay for:

Ideal for a day trip of 5-6 hours

Don’t miss out on:

  • Jawaharlal Nehru Botanical Garden
  • MG Marg
  • Phensong Monastry
  • Enchey Monastry
  • Thakurbari Temple
  • Ghumo Ghumao
  • Palzar Stadium
  • Himalayan Zoological Park
  • Ranka Monastery
  • White Hill
  • Lal Bazaar
  • Do Drul Chorten Stupa
  • Tashi View Point
  • Deorali Orchid Sanctuary
  • Gonjang Monastery
  • Tsuk La Khang Monastery
  • Bathing Falls

Nathula Pass

Lovated 53 kilometres from the capitol city of Gangtok, the Nathula Pass has great historical, topographical and perhaps most importantly, political significance. The Nathula Pass connects India to Tibet via Sikkim, creating the perfect blend of both cultures as this spiritual and sacred ground. Besides its breathtaking beauty and the allure of its deep, reflective waters, the Pass is also famous for the famous border market of Sherathang from where one can purchase a real sovereign as a souvenir or keepsake. The vibrant, bustling market even sells many Tibetan wares. Close to Nathula Pass is a place called ‘Kupup’ which is know as always being under a dense cloud cover, giving it a mystical identity unlike none other.

Visit if:

A must-visit in Sikkim, the Nathula Pass is ideal for friends, families, and people of all ages. The pass is especially ideal for trekkers, photographers and those looking for truly out-of-the-box souvenirs.

Stay for:

Ideal for a day trip of 5 to 6 hours.

Don’t miss out on:

  • Baba Harbhajan Singh Mandir
  • Mera Bharat Mahan Hill
  • Staircase to the Inso-China Border
  • Tsomgo Lake
  • Mandakini Waterfalls

Kanchenjunga Base Camp

Many people visit the Kanchenjunga Base Camp for the destination, but so many more visit it for the journey. On a route that takes you 14,000 feet above sea level, the various places you visit not he way up is the most authentic slice of Sikkim’s culture you’ll ever witness. Nestled so close to the Inso-China border, once at the base camp, the sheer enormity of the mountain hits you afresh, reminding you that Kanchejunga is the world’s third-highest peak. Beginning at the region of Dzongri, this is a location you’d be remiss to not visit!

Visit if:

One of the most iconic places to visit in India, a trip to the base camp is a must, whether you’re clouting your next trekking expedition or visiting with family members.

Stay for:

Once there, ideal for a day trip of 3 to 4 hours.

Don’t miss out on:

  • Frey Peak
  • Rating
  • Chandra Pea
  • Kabru Peak
  • Kabru Dome
  • The various extremely hospitable tribal villages on the journey there, and there amazingly authentic cuisine
  • Vsiit the monastery at the base camp

Lachen, Lachung and Yumthang Valley

The winter residence of many nomadic Tibetan tribes, Lachen is a small village in North Sikkim. While the area is not as popular as some of its counterparts in the state, the Lachen, Lachung and Yumthang Valley area is a beautifully scenic region, with endless blue mountains engulfed by pristine white clouds. The region is also the gateway to two of Sikkims most beautiful natural locations, the lakes named Gurudongmar and Tso Lhamu Lakes. While Lachen and is the ideal location to witness dense, lush greenery in Sikkim, Lachung is a snow-lovers paradise and Yumthang is a valley overflowing with brightly colour flowers during the spring months.

Visit if:

Ideal for those looking for a breath of fresh air and an escape away from the hustle and bustle of city life.

Stay for:

Don’t miss out on:

  • Yume Samdong (Zero Point)
  • Naga Falls
  • Pelling
  • Bhim Nala Falls
  • Lachung Monastery
  • Lachung River
  • Flower meadows tour

Pelling

The second most popular location in Sikkim, after Gangtok, Pelling attracts thousands of visitors every year who travel here in search of calm.. tranquility, and serenity. The region is nestled amongst slush greenery and surrounded by nature, clear skies, and fluffy clouds. This small provincial city, with its small-town charm is ideal for both backpackers, and families, trekkers and peace lovers. Pelling is not only accessible via Gangtok but also via the city of Darjeeling in the neighbouring state. For every season of the year, the whole town transforms, attracting a whole new demographic of travellers every time. Whether winter, spring, or summer, the town remains charming and enticing. Also known for the authentic local cuisine, Pelling is a must-visit in Sikkim.

Visit if:

Ideal for both friend groups ad families, Pelling has a wide array of attractions.

Stay for:

3-4 days, especially to enjoy the many day trips that can be taken from here.

Don’t miss out on:

  • Kanchenjunga Falls
  • Singshore Bridge
  • Rabdentse Ruins
  • Kecheopalri Lake
  • Pemayangtse Gompa
  • Sangacholing Monastery
  • River Orange Garden
  • Chenrezig Statue
  • Rimbi Waterfalls
  • Sewara Rock Garden

Zuluk

Not often seen on round ups of places to visit in Sikkim, Zuluk is for those tourists who enjoy journeying not he road not taken. This offbeat location is known for the terraced ghats (roads that spiral around a steep mountain face) that appear as snow white patches amongst the otherwise autumnal trees if the region. The region is also a pilgrimage site to the pristine and unique Nag Temple which is dedicated to Nag Devta (Snake God). Zuluk is also a great view point for the most magnanimous views of the snow-clad Mt. Kanchenjunga from Thambi View Point.

Visit if:

Ideal for bot spiritual devotees and avid travellers.

Stay for:

1 to 2 days

Don’t miss out on:

  • Thambi View Point
  • Nathang Valley
  • Lungthung
  • Kupup Lake
  • Menmecho Lake
  • Tukla Valley
  • Kalpokhari Lake
  • Old Baba Mandir
  • Tsomgo Lake
  • Nag Temple
  • Nathula Pass

Teesta River

Some of the most pristine blue water you’ve ever seen, the Teesta River is frozen in the winter and resplendent in the summer. Surrounded by wilderness in most places, the river’s natural beauty is an unforgettable sight for all who visit it. During the summer, colourful blooms are seen all along its course, welcoming even larger swarms of tourists who come to delight in its celebration of Mother Earth’s bounty. River rafting and kayaking are popular activities on the river, though it is also known for the place where it joins with the Rangeet River. The Dikchu Bridge, found on the journey to Lachung is an aesthetic marvel.

Visit if:

Ideal for both friend groups and family vacation, this is an ideal spot for all

Stay for:

1 to 2 days

Don’t miss out on:

  • Yumthang Valley
  • Gurudongmar Lake
  • Yuksom
  • Lachung
  • Pelling
  • Goechala
  • Khangchendzonga
  • Rumtek Monastery
  • Ravangla
  • Namchi
  • Zuluk
  • Do Drul Chorten
  • Dzongri Trek
  • Cholamu Lake
  • Chota Valley

Gurudongmar Lake

Said to be the visual twin of Leh’s Pangong Tso Lake, Gurudongmar Lake is a bright turquoise blue. The clear waters and underwater pebbles seem to almost merge into one, as they come together to reflect the clear skies above. The settlements around the lake reflect the vibrant culture of Sikkim, even in the harshest of climates. The Gurudongmar Lake is uniquely considered sacred by not just one or two, but in fact by three religions – Hindu, Sikhs, and Buddhists. One may even gain a rare view of wild yaks and blue sheets in the region.

Visit if:

A beautiful vista like none other, this is an ideal spot for photographers and nature lovers

Stay for:

1 to 2 days

Don’t miss out on:

– Sarv Dharma Sthal

Goechala

Without a doubt, one of the most beautiful scenes in all of Sikkin, Goechala is a popular trekking location due to its high altitude, breathtaking vistas, and view of perennially snow capped mountains. Known also for skiing, this iconic place is amongst the must-visits in Sikkim.

Visit if:

A beautiful terrain, this is an ideal spot for trekkers and adventure junkies

Stay for:

1 to 2 days

Don’t miss out on:

  • Sachen
  • Thansing
  • Lamuney
  • Bakhim
  • Tshoka
  • Kokchurang
  • Dzongri

Founded in the 17th century by the Namgyal dynasty Sikkim has always been a regal land. Even though, following protests in 1973, Sikkim is now a democratic state, it carries in every breathe  sense of nobility. Its mighty mountains create a maze of plunging valleys and sun kissed peaks, making Sikkim a land of spirituality and respect for human life. On the lucky occasions when the clouds clear and the mist settles, the vistas are so breathtaking, you will forever be edited to be a human on Earth. Sikkim instills in each and every person who sits it a respect for life and humility in its purest form.

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