Sikkim is one of the most gorgeous locations in India. And there are lots of amazing places to visit in Sikkim that I had no clue about. So, when I planned my Sikkim Itinerary, I tried to include as many places as I could. It still wasn’t enough but it did give me a glimpse into this beautiful state.
And the best part is that we were able to complete this trip in just 16,000 INR for a complete 7 days with my mom. If you are also planning a visit to this beautiful destination but need help planning your Sikkim itinerary, then this article is for you. For people who would like to include a few other places in Sikkim, you can check out our articles – Zuluk Travel Guide and Hidden Gems in North and East Sikkim.
In this article, I have shared all the important information that you need to plan a successful trip to this enchanting land.
North-West Sikkim Itinerary
Nestled in the North-Eastern part of India, Sikkim is a small state that has a lot to offer. One of the best things about this Himalayan state is its dramatic landscapes that change from colorful meadows to thick forests to snow-capped mountains in just a few turns.
What is even more commendable about this small state is that it is home to warm-hearted people that offer you amazing hospitality. With majestic treks, scenic views, and exciting snow activities, Sikkim can easily make you fall in love with it.
This state also offers amazing views of the third highest peak in the world, Mt. Kanchenjunga and sees hordes of tourists throughout the year. With freezing winters and cool summers, this state has become a popular destination in India and attracts tourists from all over the world.
History of Sikkim
One of the most fascinating things to know about Sikkim is that it shares borders with three countries – Nepal, China, and Bhutan. And until 1975, Sikkim was an autonomous kingdom that was ruled by monarchs. The kingdom was first established in 1642 when India and Nepal were not united and had several rulers at the time.
However, Sikkim was already a unified country at the time under the rule of the king known as Dharma King or Chogyal. It has had twelve kings and Namgyal was the last king before Sikkim became a part of India. In 1975, it was integrated in India and several provisions of Indian constitutions were modified to include the international treaties between Sikkim and India.
As Sikkim shares border with multiple countries, it is able to maintain a peaceful co-existence among different communities here. So, you will find many monasteries and Hindu shrines constructed nearby here.
Best time to visit Sikkim
Due to the unique geography of Sikkim, this state experiences three types of weather – Alpine, Temperate, and Tropical. Although the best time to visit Sikkim is between March and November, different regions in Sikkim experience different kinds of climate.
So, the best time to visit Sikkim depends on your Sikkim tour plan. Here is a detailed description of what you can expect in different seasons in Sikkim.
Summer Season (March – June)
Summer is the peak time to visit Sikkim so if you are looking for a quiet vacation then this is definitely not the best time to visit Sikkim. From March to June, the entire region is crowded with tourists. However, during this time, everything is accessible too so you can drive to the Tsomgo Lake, Lachung, Gurudongmar Lake, and so on.
This is the best time to visit North Sikkim too as the ice has melted from the road so you can reach Zero Point, Yumthang Valley, etc. with great ease. It is also a great time to visit Western Sikkim where you can explore Pelling and enjoy the pleasant climate along with magnificent views. However, make sure that you have your hotels booked in advance and permits ready because as mentioned before, this is the peak season.
Monsoon Season (July – September)
If you don’t mind a little rainfall and wish to explore the natural beauty of Sikkim without crowds then monsoon is the best time to visit Sikkim. Remember, this is not the best time to visit North Sikkim because the chances of landslides are great so the route is mostly closed. However, you can trek to Nathang Valley or visit the Khecheopalri Lake and find budget-friendly rates as it is the off-season.
Autumn Season (September – November)
Once the monsoon is over, it is again a good time to visit Sikkim. This is particularly the best time to visit North Sikkim, especially Gurudongmar Lake. The chances of snowfall during these months are low so the roads are clear. Also, Yumthang Valley is known as the Valley of Flowers and is perfect for a visit in the Autumn season.
Make sure you carry warm clothes if you plan a visit in October as it starts getting chilly here.
Winter Season (November – February)
Winter is probably not a good time to visit if you wish to enjoy the beautiful landscape here. But if it is snow that you are after then there could not be a better time to visit Sikkim than the winter season. In these months, you can plan a trip to Yumthang Valley and Zero Point to enjoy the stunning sunsets and snow.
And you can also plan a trip in January or February to attend the Red Panda Winter Carnival here. You would need to book your accommodation beforehand because it becomes packed during events and festivals.
Best Months to Visit Sikkim
March to June and October to December are the best times to visit Sikkim. There are several amazing festivals held during these months such as The International Flower Festival, Lamphokhari Festival, Lhabab Duchen, and so on. You can plan a visit during these festivals to learn more about the local culture while enjoying the stunning mountain views.
And October to December is the best time to visit North Sikkim, especially before the snowfall.
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.
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.
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.
Siliguri 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.
How to Travel in and 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.
How to Reach 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.
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.
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.
Sikkim Itinerary to Follow for 7 Days
Packages cost: Around 1500-2000 for a day
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 .
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 Viewpoint.
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)
Accommodation 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 offseason, but if you are traveling during high season, it might be advisable to prebook your stay.
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-night stay in 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.
Where and What to Eat
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
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.
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.
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.
North Sikkim Tour Plans
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:
Cost: 1300/1500 INR per person
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 viewpoints on the way to Lachung which are completely worth the stop which is 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 vehicle fees, driver fees, and 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 at most with 2 vegetables and a bowl of rice.
ATMs in Sikkim
There aren’t many ATMs in Sikkim and you will find easy access to cash in major cities like Siliguri, Gangtok, Pelling, etc. So, make sure you withdraw sufficient cash beforehand, especially if you are traveling during the peak season.
Try to make most food and hotel payments using your card and keep cash for public transportation, snacks, permits, and so on.
Mobile Network in Sikkim
Ideally, Airtel and Jio work predominantly in most parts of Sikkim and you will find Vodafone working in a few areas as well. However, North Sikkim offers a weak network connection so regardless of which mobile network you own, you won’t receive any calls or messages here.
So, make all your important calls in Gangtok, Pelling, Siliguri, etc. and don’t expect any Internet or call network in other Sikkim cities.
Things to Remember When Visiting Sikkim
- Sikkim is cold for the 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 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 traveling as most of the roads in Sikkim are not well-made so please plan accordingly.
Honestly, my trip to Sikkim was something like a dream come true. Sikkim has a lot of beautiful places to showcase but it is truly the people who make this place so lovely and wholesome.
We heard so many stories, met so many new people on the way who were kind and helpful which was refreshing. 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 children, especially girls, and they are provided with equal opportunities as the boy child. You will hear about so many travelers that came to this place and fell in love with it so they ended up taking teaching jobs here to stay longer.
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.