Guarded by the colossal Kanchenjunga, the third highest mountain in the world, Sikkim is the idyllic Himalayan escape. Finding inner peace in Sikkim’s ethereal monasteries (with their ornate prayer wheels) and charming landscapes is inevitable. With flower-clad mountain valleys and waterfalls, snow-fed lakes and hot springs, forests teeming with wildlife, stupendous religious and cultural centers, the state is a perfect destination to explore with your family.
Unarguably one of the most beautiful places in India, travelling to Sikkim is a delight because the people are sweet and warm and the monasteries and rope ways are a delight for the kids. So here’s a six day and five night Sikkim itinerary to help you discover its many magical wonders. The hills here are always alive with the sound of music!
Getting around in Sikkim
Most travel in Sikkim is either by bus or shared jeep. Trekking around the state is also a popular option. While Indians need permits for protected areas only, if in case you are a foreigner, you would require permits for the entire state. Make sure you have your identity proof and passport sized photographs for the same.
Gangtok, for obvious reasons tops the list of things to do in Sikkim. The city does not have a commercial airport or a railway station and the nearest airport, as a matter of fact is 124 kilometers away in Bagdogra, West Bengal. The nearest railway station is in Siliguri and you would have to hire a pre-paid taxi to Gangtok from both places. Additionally, government buses run between Siliguri to Gangtok and are a lot cheaper.
1. Gangtok :
What has basically morphed into a concrete jungle, Gangtok retains most of its charm in the form of its many culturally significant sights, outstanding hotels and friendly locals. Sikkim’s capital serves as the perfect base for exploring the rest of the state and travelers therefore can’t stop gushing about it. Excellent views of the Kanchenjunga and perhaps the best momos in the country are additional incentives.
Things to do in Gangtok
Wonderfully exuberant, there is no dearth of things to do in Sikkim’s capital and we have hand-picked just the right places for you:
1. Explore the impossibly beautiful interiors of the Rumtek Monastery and let the kids try their hand at run at giving the prayer wheels a spin or two.
2. Immerse yourself in the glorious culture of Tibet at the Namgyal Institute of Tibetology. Your Sikkim itinerary is incomplete without a visit to this place.
3. Climb aboard the cable-car that embarks on a zig-zag ride overlooking the Gangtok city.
4. Catch a spectacular sunset at the Tashi View Point
5. Hop from one monastery to the next – Tsuk La Khang, Pemayangtse and many other lesser-known ones.
Day-2 Tosongmo Lake
Located at a staggering altitude of 12,300 feet, Tsongmo or Changu Lake is undoubtedly one of the prettiest attractions in Sikkim. The name of this glacial lake roughly translates into “source of water” and it transforms into a glorious snowfield during winters. Spring on the other hand is a different story altogether as alpine flowers paint the landscape in an array of colors. When in Tsongmo, yak rides are imperative.
Lake Tsongmo is a 2 hour drive from Gangtok and it would be wise to book a jeep or an SUV in advance. A round trip should cost you around Rs. 3000 and you should ideally leave early in the morning. Since this is a protected area, make sure you have a permit from your hotel, your travel agent or the Sikkim tourism Information Center in Gangtok.
Things to do in Lake Tsongmo
1. Ride a yak and immerse yourself in the beauty of Lake Tsongmo and then go right up to Nathu La.
2. Beat the chill and hunger pangs by gorging on soupy Maggie. And later, click a few hundred epic pictures by the lake.
3. At 7,200ft, visit the temple of Hanuman Tok, on your way back to Gangtok.
Day 3 Lachung
Lachung is nothing but a utopian fantasy. With snow capped peaks, milky cascades, apple orchards, babbling brooks and an idiosyncratic form of self governance, this mountain village is as close to perfection as one could possibly get. Travellers are smitten by Lachung not only because of its pristine beauty but also for its handicrafts and monasteries.
In order to get to Lachung, which is a good 3 hours way from Gangtok, book an SUV or a jeep from a reliable travel agency for around Rs. 3000. You could even ask your hotel to do the same for you. A Sikkim tourism permit is imperative.
Things to do in Lachung
Discover the apple orchards, monasteries and handicraft centres of the fairy-tale mountain village of Lachung.
Day -4 Yumthang Valley
Yumthang, also known as the ‘Valley of Flowers’ stands tall and pretty at 1800 feet. The meadows are dotted with colourful rhododendrons while imposing pines and firs skirt the rest of the breath-taking landscape. The river flows with all the grace and tranquility in the world. For those who love being in the warm embrace of nature, Yumthang is an ideal destination.
Take a day trip up to Yumthang Valley, an inherent part of things to do in Sikkim, from Lachung rakes roughly 2 hours. Book an SUV in advance (approximately Rs. 2000 for a round trip) and leave early in the morning. Permits are essential.
Things to do in Yumthang Valley
1. Soak in the surreal beauty of Yumthang and go back with the realisation that paradise is real! Make sure to engage in a snow-fight or two.
2. Drive up to Zero Point and slurp on piping hot maggi and momos.
Day -5 Bagdogra
Drive down to the airport at Bagdogra or the railway station at New Jalpaiguri, to head back home.
You will leave Sikkim with a heavy heart and a box full of happy memories, we can vouch for that fact!