North and West Sikkim Guide for Two People: Budget and Itinerary13 min read

North West Sikkim

Expenditure: 16,000/- INR for 2 People (Excluding Flights)

Duration: 7 Days

So, it was my mother’s birthday and we thought we would go to Sikkim this year. I am glad we chose this place because it was truly an enchanting and soul-searching place.

I learned a lot on the way about different places here but what remains with me is that people and places are beautiful. It is truly a waste of life if you stay in one place forever.

So, we traveled around a bit in Sikkim but I know I will be going there again to see the places I missed out on. Till then, you can visit the few places which we covered this time. 

Our Sikkim Itinerary

Tsomgo, Sikkim
On the way to Tsomgo Lake

We started our journey from Delhi and Hyderabad and reached Siliguri for our exciting journey through Sikkim. We had 12 days with us which included our transportation time too, so we were a little short on time.

Since we were also planning to visit a few places in West Bengal (If you want to know more about it, read our other blog post at Darjeeling and the hidden gems of West Bengal), we had only 6 days with us for Sikkim. Out of this, a lot of our time went in traveling since many roads in Sikkim are currently under construction. Many tourists also prefer opting for Sikkim tour packages.

So, we started from Siliguri and made our way to Darjeeling in a shared taxi. We spent a couple of days there and then made our way to Kalimpong, another beautiful hill station in West Bengal. From Kalimpong, our journey to Sikkim finally commenced. We first went to Pelling and spent a day there looking at the beautiful Kanchenjunga waterfalls and the magical Wishing Lake.

 

Sikkim
Entry to Sikkim

It took us almost half a day to reach Pelling since there aren’t any direct shared taxi from Kalimpong. First, we had to stop at Jorethang and then take another taxi from Geyzing to reach our ultimate destination. We reached Pelling around 12-1 p.m. in the afternoon.

Then, we hired a driver to take us to the waterfalls and other majestic views on the way since we were a little short on time.

If you have some time with you, I would recommend you to not hire a private taxi. Instead, Go for a shared jeep tour although since Pelling is not really that commercialized, it might be difficult to get hold of one. One can easily spend 2-3 days in Pelling as there is a lot to see but since we were short on time, we moved on the next day to Gangtok.

It took us the whole day to reach Gangtok and by the time we finally reached our destination, it had grown dark. Again, we didn’t find a direct jeep to Gangtok (more on that in the later section), so we had to first reach Singtam from Geyzing and from there, we found a shared jeep to Gangtok.

We spent a lot of time in Gangtok as there was a lot to see around. Our one full day went in sightseeing in Gangtok (that too only the most important attractions), another day went in visiting the Tsomgo Lake. We also spent a day here just chilling around and going through the Gangtok Mall road.

Sikkim
On the way to Lachung

After that, we went on to Lachung and Katao but we couldn’t make our way to Yumthang valley due to excessive snowfall so we had to return back.

We reached on the night of 13th and we had our departing train and flight early morning the next day, so we made our way back to Siliguri on the 14th morning and returned to our not-so-happening life.

Best time to Visit

Recommendation: Just after monsoons (September – November)

There is no single best time really, different parts of Sikkim are properly accessible during a different time of the year. So, you need to first decide on the places you want to visit and then make your visit.

If you want to visit the East Sikkim which includes Zuluk, Nathula Pass, etc., then you would need to visit during the summer months and before the winters start. So, basically, you can visit this place from May-November.

Now, if you are more interested in visiting the north Sikkim like Gurudongmar lake, Yumthang valley, etc., then you would need to plan your trip from September to November as there are fewer chances of snow blocking your way during these months.

Kanchenjunga Falls, Pelling
Kanchenjunga Falls Enclosure

You can visit the South Sikkim, Gangtok, West Sikkim during most of the year but a good time would be to visit from March – June, and September – November as you will find these places more lively and green during this time.

How to reach Sikkim

There are a few ways to reach Sikkim but there is no railway station or airport in Sikkim which makes a direct commute to this place impossible.

Air

You will need to take a flight to the nearest airport to Sikkim which happens to be Bagdogra airport. Usually, if you book early, flights don’t cost much and come around to just 8k for a return trip.

Train

If you are planning to take a train, then the nearest station would be the Siliguri station or the New Jalpaiguri station. You will find around 7-8 trains on this route which take something around 1 day to 2 days, so plan your train schedule properly. Also, there are frequent chances of the trains getting delayed so if you are on a tight schedule, I wouldn’t recommend taking a train.

To Sikkim

Shared Jeeps – 150-200 INR per person

You will find a lot of transport options to reach Sikkim both from Bagdogra and Siliguri. You will find private taxis from both of these places which will cost you somewhere around 2200-2500. It will take you 3-4 hours to reach Gangtok using a private taxi.

If you prefer buses, then you would need to take a bus from Siliguri’s Tenzing Norway bus station. It takes around 5 hours to reach Gangtok using buses.

You will also find a lot of shared taxis from Siliguri to Gangtok which cost you around 150-200 rupees per person and take 4-5 hours to reach.


Traveling around Sikkim

Budget mode of travel: Shared Taxis
Fast mode of travel: Private Taxis

The best mode of transport in Sikkim is the shared taxis due to its connectivity and frequency. They are cheaper and take less time than buses and well, some places are just not connected by buses so you might have no option really.

You need to remember one thing when traveling in Sikkim. Many of these places won’t be connected directly by a shared taxi and you would need to change your shared taxi at several locations to reach your destination. If you are taking a private cab then this would not be an issue but the private taxis will cost you more.

Reaching Pelling

Shared Taxi to Pelling: 400 INR per person
Private Taxi to Pelling: 2500-3500 INR for the whole taxi

If you are traveling from Darjeeling or Siliguri, you will find a few options to reach Pelling directly but if not, then you would need to follow the below mentioned time table.

We started from Kalimpong so we didn’t find any direct shared taxi to Pelling. You will need to travel till Jorethang and then take another taxi from there to Geyzing, which will take around 6-7 hours in total. It will take you 3 hours to reach Jorethang and another 3 hours to reach Geyzing.

From Geyzing, you will find many shared taxis and private cabs to Pelling. A private cab from this place to Pelling will cost you around 160 rupees and a shared taxi will cost you around 40 rupees. It takes around 30 minutes to reach from Geyzing to Pelling.

Sikkim
On the way to Sikkim

Please Note: There are fixed times for these shared taxis. The first taxi from any place to Jorethang would be at 7.30 a.m in the morning and the last one would be at 1 p.m. If you aren’t planning to stay at Jorethang, it would be advisable to go for an early taxi as it would make it easier for you to catch the connecting jeeps to other places.

Also, the first taxi from Jorethang to Geyzing leaves at 7.30 a.m and the last one leaves at 2 p.m. so plan your journey carefully. A shared cab for this total journey would cost you 400-500 INR for one person. If you choose a private cab, it would take you just 5 hours to reach Pelling and will cost you somewhere around 2500-3500.

Pelling to Gangtok

Shared Taxi to Gangtok: 200-250 INR per person
Private Taxi to Gangtok: 2500 INR for the whole taxi

This was a tricky journey as we weren’t aware of the pre-booking system and the limited number of shared taxis to Gangtok from Pelling. There are only 4-5 shared taxis every day to Gangtok, costing around 200-250 rupees per person, from Pelling which start early in the morning. The first one leaving at 6 in the morning and the last one leaves at 1 p.m. from Geyzing.

It is difficult to get a seat on these direct shared taxis as locals tend to book it a month or two before. So, unless you know someone locally, you are bound to miss these direct shared jeeps.

I would suggest you to try to book a seat as soon as you reach Geyzing for the designated date so that you don’t end up losing a direct transport to Gangtok. But if you are not lucky enough then no worries, there are other routes to reach Gangtok too.

Sikkim
On the way to Singtam

You can take a shared taxi to Singtam which goes via Ravangla and will take 3-4 hours to reach from Geyzing and will cost you around 150-180 rupees per person. From Singtam, you will find lots of shared jeeps going to Gangtok as it is just an hour away from there and will cost you around 60-80 rupees per person.

Please Note: Since Geyzing and Gangtok lie on the different ends of Sikkim, you will find less frequency of shared jeeps between these two places. So, make sure you book your journey well in advance. If you are taking the Singtam route, get your seats booked immediately else you might have to stay one more day in Pelling.

Gangtok to Tsomgo Lake/Nathula Pass

Package cost: 500-750 INR per person

There is no shared taxi system for reaching these places, you will need to take a package which will cost you 750 if you want to go to Tsomgo lake, Nathula Pass, and Baba Mandir.

If you just want to visit Tsomgo lake, then it will cost you 400 including the permit. You can stay at Tsomgo Lake for as long as you like. Also, make sure that you wear waterproof shoes and proper clothing because you might end up visiting this place during snow and it becomes quite slippery and wet during the snowy season.

Gangtok to Lachung and Katao

Package cost: 1200-1500 INR per person

Again to reach Lachung and Katao, you would need a package as individual shared taxis don’t come here often and if you do reach here somehow, finding accommodation will be difficult as it is mostly booked by tour operators and there are barely any hotels which allow stragglers to stay in.

So, to avoid all the hustle you can book a tour package to Lachung/Yumthang Valley which costs 1200-1500 per person depending on the operator. This will include the to and fro transfer, stay, meals and sightseeing. To go to zero point or Katao, you will need to pay an extra 250 rupees per person.

 

 

If you also want to visit Gurudongmar lake, then there is a package of 2 nights 3 days which will cost you 2500 including the transfers, meals, stay and sightseeing but remember that whether you will be able to see these sights depends on the weather.

If there is fresh, heavy snowfall, chances are you won’t be able to see much and will have to return back earlier. So, plan your trip accordingly.

There are a lot of local operators here who take care of these packages so there is no need for you to pre-book it. Just come to Gangtok and check out a few of these tour operators and go for the one which provides you with a cheaper and better package.

Sightseeing in Sikkim

Packages cost: Around 1500-2000 for a day

 

Pelling

For Pelling, you will get shared taxis which for sightseeing and the sightseeing places are divided into two parts. They would cover 4 places in the morning and 4 places in the evening since the places are a little far. If you don’t have time for the whole trip, then you can simply do the one which interests you more.

It won’t cost you more than 1500 for a customized tour. Make sure you don’t miss out on the Kanchenjunga waterfalls and the Sing Song bridge. To know about more places to visit in Pelling, read our other article on Sikkim – Places You Must See in Sikkim .

Gangtok

For Gangtok, you will come across different packages for sightseeing. There is the 10-point tour, 7-point tour and the 5-point tour. Just a word of caution, even if you do take a 10-point tour, you won’t be able to cover a lot of places and the driver won’t refund back your money.

 

 

So, it would be better to go for a customized package. All of these packages will vary from 2500 to 1500 depending on the places that you choose. We chose only 4 places to visit in Gangtok, these were the ones which we found really interesting. These were the Banjhakri falls, Rumtek monastery, Lingdum monastery and Tashi View point.

It cost us around 1600 to travel these 4 places as these were a little far off but we are glad we chose only these places as we had enough time to spend at each place and we didn’t miss out on anything important.

(Apart from this there are several hidden places to explore in North and East Sikkim. Read our guide here to know more – Hidden Gems in North and East Sikkim)

Staying Options in Sikkim

We used Goibibo.com for a lot of bookings.
Average price per night: 500-750 INR for a room

In Pelling, you will find a lot of nice places to stay at which will cost you around 500-750 rupees per room. You don’t need to book this beforehand if you are going during the off season, but if you are traveling during high season, it might be advisable to prebook your stay.

Jain Patola, Gangtok
Jain Patola Hotel, Gangtok

In Gangtok, you would find a hell lot of places to stay but since it is just a popular city, most places tend to be full. I got pretty good deals at Goibibo for my 3-4 nights stay at just a total of 2000 rupees.

I would highly recommend ‘Jain Patola‘ hotel to anyone who wants to stay at a decent and comfortable hotel but make sure you check the prices. We got an amazing deal at Goibibo for our two nights stay here at just 800 rupees.

Eating Options

Try Chinese food and Thupka

In Pelling, you won’t find a lot of options and will mostly find Chinese food here. An average meal would cost you something around 150-200 rupees per person. You might find 1-2 hotels with different cuisine over here but I would advise you to stick with Chinese unless you want to waste your money.

In Gangtok, you will find a variety of options to eat. You can try the momos here or some bakery. You will find a lot of vegetarian hotels also here which serve decent food items. A few places worth mentioning in Gangtok are:

Oven at the Mountains

Gangtok, Sikkim
Oven in the Mountains, Gangtok

One of the best bakeries in Gangtok, this bakery offers you a variety of muffins and sandwiches and trust me, they are good. I really loved their muffins as they were homemade and fresh every day and I used to go every day once to gorge on their delicious items.

It was quite affordable too and never cost me more than 100 rupees for an assortment of eatables. If you are on Gangtok MG Road, do make sure that you visit their quaint shop in the street.

Hotel Bayul

Gangtok, Sikkim
Hotel Bayul

Another great place to eat at is Hotel Bayul. It is directly on the MG Road pathway and offers a great many options to anyone who is a vegetarian. My mom is a pure vegetarian so we used to visit this place frequently for lunch. One of the most delicious things that they served is the Veg Sandwiches which was both filling and delectable.

Apna Dhaba

Another great place to visit, if you are craving a little Indian cuisine, is the Apna Dhaba which is situated a little inside the small alleyways. You might come across it or you might not, there is no telling since there are so many alleys in the MG road, but if you do make sure you eat here once. You will be instantly transported back to your home.

At Tsomgo lake, you will find a lot of stalls selling maggi, eggs, coffee, and stuff and will cost you around 100 rupees per person.

 

Package Details

We found a lot of package details here for the sightseeing and for visiting the North Sikkim which was reasonable enough if you are going with a group of people. These packages contain those places which are usually not accessible by shared jeeps or buses.

You have no option other than to take a private vehicle for this place or go for a pre-decided package. If you are going solo, these package details will help you in planning your trip better:

Lachung-Yumthang Package(2D/1N)

Cost: 1300/1500 INR per person

Katao, Sikkim
Playing at Katao

This package contains the to-fro journey from Gangtok to Lachung and Yumthang valley and also includes two lunches, 1 dinner, and 1 breakfast. You will be assigned a vehicle and a driver for the entire duration and many sightseeing spots on the way will be shown to you. There are a lot of waterfalls and view points on the way to Lachung which are completely worth the stop which are included in this package. You will also be provided a room for the night in one of the homestays in Lachung. You can go to the Zero Point or Katao Village by paying an extra of 250 INR to the driver.

Gurudongmar-Yumthang-Lachen Package (3D/2N)

Cost: 2500 INR per person

In this package, you would be taken to Lachen, Gurudongmar lake, Yumthang valley and Lachung. You will stay 1 night in Lachen and 1 night in Yumthang valley in homestays. You will be provided with 3 lunches, 2 dinners, and 2 breakfasts during this trip. Again, a driver and a vehicle will be provided you for the entire journey and several sightseeing spots on the way will be shown to you.

Tsomgo Lake-Baba Mandir-Nathula Pass(1D)

Cost: 500/750 INR per person

This package includes a 1-day visit to the Tsomgo Lake, Nathula Pass, and Baba Mandir. You will be taken in the morning around 9 a.m. and you will be back by 5-6 p.m. in the evening. This package includes the vehicle fees, driver fees, and the permit fees. You would need to pay extra for any eatables or any clothing or shoes that you rent here.

Please Note: The food in these packages is of the minimalist kind, so please don’t expect some lavish treatment. You would be provided atmost with 2 vegetables and a bowl of rice.


Things to Remember when Visiting Sikkim

 

  • Sikkim is cold most part of the year, so it would be advisable to take as many warm clothes as possible.
  • Take warm inners and leggings too. Don’t forget gloves and a cap.
  • Take your government ID and passport sized photograph for the verification and getting the permits.
  • Keep cash with you as most places don’t have a card system
  • Book your shared jeeps one day before you leave and opt for an early morning jeep.
  • A lot of time will go in travelling as most of the roads in Sikkim are not well-made so please plan accordingly.
  • Go for front seats in a shared jeep as they are more comfortable than the middle and back seats. If given an option between a middle or back seat, always go for the middle seat. Avoid taking back seats as they are uncomfortable and you would be left with sore muscles the next day.

 

 

Our Experience

I have always wanted to go to Sikkim but it always seemed like a dream before. I knew that Sikkim is in the north-eastern part of India and I had heard of its beauty but I hadn’t come across a lot of people who had visited this place.

It seemed like a secluded and out-of-reach place until I started seeing the pictures of Gurudongmar lake. It is funny how a single picture can make you want to visit such a far-off place so bad. Once I started seeing its beautiful pictures, I couldn’t stop.

So, I decided that it is time to visit the place I have heard so much about. So, as my mother’s birthday drew near, I figured what better gift to your mom than taking her to Sikkim and showing her all these beautiful places.

Tsomgo Lake, Sikkim
My mom at Tsomgo Lake

So, I booked the flight and train tickets and off we went into this magical land. The moment I reached Pelling, I was struck by its simplicity and beauty. It looked like such a quaint town with its happy and kind residents and so, I fell in love with it. I loved the waterfalls and the rivers and its ruins.

This place had so much to offer but that’s not even the best part about visiting Sikkim. Sikkim has a lot of beautiful places to showcase but it is truly the people which make this place so lovely and wholesome.

Katao, Sikkim
Katao

We heard so many stories, met so many new people on the way who were kind and helpful which was refreshing and kind of restored my faith in humans, even if by a little bit. We heard the stories of our drivers who started driving at the age of 15. How their life has been and how they chose this life for themselves.

It was good to hear that Sikkim doesn’t neglect its girl children and they are provided with equal opportunities as the boy child. It was so uplifting to hear that so many travelers come to this place and fell in love with this magnificent place that they end up taking teaching jobs here to stay longer.

All these stories, all these people helped us in understanding others so much better. Sikkim is truly a wonderful place to visit and I don’t regret any time that I spent here. In fact, my only regret is that I couldn’t stay for a little longer.

So, I urge you to visit this place and experience this beautiful journey for yourself. Trust me, once you visit Sikkim, you will return as a completely changed person.

Pelling, Sikkim
Pelling Old Bridge

Comments

  1. Amona

    Hi,

    Wow, I am impressed.
    I am traveling with my mother who is turning 80 in June. After reading this I think I will travel point to point instead of booking a taxi for the entire way. The cost quoted is huge.
    I love to travel but not waste money. So can I know when you went there so that I can chalk out the economics? For every payment I’ll do +1000 to be on the safe side.
    thanks in anticipation

    1. Post
      Author
      RACHITA SAXENA

      Hi Amona,

      I am so glad that you liked this post. A package can indeed be more expensive, especially when you are booking online. You will find several cheaper options once you land in Sikkim itself.
      I went with my mother in early March to celebrate her birthday and it was just the start of the tourist season. Since June is peak season, you might need to pre-book a few things to be on the safe side. Let me know if you need any other information.

      Have an amazing trip! 🙂

  2. nazifa taslima rafa

    hi sis, your post seems really helpful. thanks a lot for posting. actually i am from Bangladesh and i am planning to visit sikkim with a group of 10 persons starting from siliguri. the tour duration will be from 16th january to 19th january. but i really don’t know if i can visit gangtok (nathula pass, tsomgo lake), laucheng & katao. can you kindly provide some of the name and numbers of the agents who will provide us the above packages have you mentioned in the article ? thanks in advance, love from Bangladesh

    1. Post
      Author
      RACHITA SAXENA

      Hi Nazifa,

      Glad you liked the post. 🙂

      I don’t have the name of the agents because I just randomly went to the tour package shops in Gangtok. So, you just need to reach Gangtok and ask at a couple of shops for their package prices. It shouldn’t be more than 3500 INR per person for Yumthang Valley, Lachung, Zero Point, and Gurudongmar package.

      And Nathula Pass, Tsomgo Lake, etc. should be at most 1000 INR.

      Let me know if you need more help.

  3. nazifa taslima rafa

    thank you so much sis, how many days it will take for the yumthang valley, lachung, zero point and gurudongmar package? i have heard that only indian tourists can visit nathula pass is it true? can’t i visit the silk route ?

    1. Post
      Author
      RACHITA SAXENA

      Hi Nazfa,

      It would take around 3-4 days for the Yumthang valley, Lachung, Gurudongmar package. As for the Nathula Pass, yes only Indian visitors can visit with a permit.

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