Second smallest state of the country, Sikkim is situated in the eastern Himalayas, covered by astonishing range of pristine natural beauty. Amidst the grandeur of the mountain peaks, lush valleys, fast flowing rivers, virgin tropical forests, alpine meadows, gushing waterfalls, Sikkim offers a rare & singular experience to the visitors. Almost two third of the state is covered by mountains, with few peaks towering more than 20000ft on the western border. Geographically the state is sandwiched between Nepal on the west, Bhutan on the east, towering Tibet to the north, state of West Bengal to the south.

Being border state, three types of permits ( Inner line permits, Restricted area permits & prohibited area permits ) are required for foreign visitors, where as Indian nationals require permits only for areas beyond Chumthang in North Sikkim & for visiting Tsomgo Lake & Nathula Pass.

As per 2001 census the total population is about 5,50,000 which is mere 0.05% of our country’s population. Gangtok is the capital of the state accounting around 10% of the state’s population.

The airport located nearest to Sikkim is Bagdogra Airport of West Bengal which is only 115 Kms away from Gangtok. There are convenient flights between Bagdogra and Kolkata or Delhi. From Bagdogra to Gangtok is pleasant 4 hours drive by road, distance is about 125kms. Bagdogra is also connected with Gangtok by daily helicopter service operated by Sikkim Tourism development Corporation and it will take only 20 minutes to reach Gangtok from Bagdogra. This helicopter service is subjected to the weather conditions.

New Jalpaiguri is the rail station nearest to Sikkim located in West Bengal. NJP is about 125 Km from Gangtok. Suitable overnight trains operate between Kolkata and New Jalpaiguri. Guwahati bound Rajadhani train from Delhi is also an appropriate option for those who are travelling from Delhi or nearby cities. This drive is through dense forest along the frisky river Teesta. There are numerous picturesque tea shops to stop while driving.

Despite its small size,it enjoys virtually all climate conditions. Maximum temperature generally doesn’t exceed 25C. State experiences heavy monsoon during July and August. Keeping weather conditions, March to May & Oct to Dec is the best time to visit Sikkim./p>

The region is renowned for variety of orchids, of which the ‘Noble Orchid’ is the State flower. More than 30 species of rhododendrons are found mainly in places above 10000ft. Rhododendron is the state tree. Crops grown are mainly Millet, Maize and Rice. Sikkim tea is famous for its unique flavour. Yaks are generally seen at the altitude above 1000 ft. Red Panda is the state animal.


Capital of Sikkim, Gangtok lies at a comfortable altitude of 5500ft. City is located amidst of lush green, overlooking deep valleys and offers amazing views of snow capped Himalayas. As a visitor first thing one would notice in Gangtok ( in whole of Sikkim for that matter ) is the overall cleanliness and strong sense of civic awareness. Pleasant surprise is that Gangtok is polythene free zone. People are generally courteous and helpful because of narrow roads and no public buses, but jeeps and vans ply regularly. Traffic is disciplined.

Recommended duration of stay: minimum 3 nights & 4 days .

Major attractions: Gangtok local sighotseeing, visit to Nathula Pass & Tsomgo lake, excursion to Rumtek monastery etc ..

Major sightseeing places in the city:

  • Research Institute of Tibetology, built in 1958 in the traditional Tibetian style. This promotes research of Mahayana Buddhism and also language and traditions of Tibet. This institute houses one of the largest collections of texts and documents on Buddhism.
  • Ridge, where one can find exotic collections of Orchids
  • Enchey Gompa, 200 year old Gompa, which is an important seat of Nyingma order.
  • Himalayan Zoo, offers a view of local species like the Red Panda, Himalayan black bear , muskdeer etc.
  • Ganesh Tok, small, quaint, unspoilt temple dedicated to Lord Ganesh located near the zoo entrance.

Visit to Tsomgo Lake and Nathula Pass :
Ideally you could do this on second day of Gangtok stay. Carry warm clothes, equip yourself by layering your clothing – ending up with a warm wind proof jacket, closed shoes and warm socks. As weather in this region is highly unpredictable, we would suggest you to start the excursion in the early morning. Though there are plenty of dhabas enroute the best option is to carry a packed breakfast and a flask of coffee/ tea.

Tsomgo is 1km long and 15m deep lake which remains frozen during winter months (From Oct till mid Mar). Almost 5km up the road from Tsomgo you will come across an ATM at 13200ft height run by UTI Bank. Opposite to that don’t miss computerised Indian Railways booking centre.

Next stop is army check post at Sherthang, 12km from Tsomgo lake where the army withholds your camera to be collected on your way back. Almost 5 km up the road is Nathula (14400ft), Indo – China border where you can attempt to glimpse the Chinese soldiers.

It’s an humble experience to see difficult conditions in which the army live and operate. Nathula is snow covered for more than 9 months of the year. Weather is extremely harsh. No electricity, diesel generators are on only during meal times. Typical posting ranges from 6 months to 18 months.

While driving back from Nathula you can visit Menmecho lake and Baba Harbhajan Mandir, subject to availability of the time.

Rumtek excursion :
Location: 12km away from Gangtok. Place is surrounded by dense forest
Other than natural beauty, the place is known for Rumtek monastery & Nehru Botanical Garden with variety of Orchids


Small towns in north east of Sikkim & near China border, located at an altitude of about 9500ft. Only way to reach Lachung / Lachen is by road from Gangtok. Hence your entry & exit city for North Sikkim trip is Gangtok. Accommodation is basic but clean and comfortable. Food is simple but wholesome. Though both are equally beautiful, we would recommend you to base yourself at Lachung, as the accommodation here are slightly better than Lachen.

Recommended duration of stay: minimum 2 nights & 3 days
Major attraction : Yumthang Valley

Lachung is about 120km north of Gangtok, oneway drive from Gangtok would take around 5hr. En route you come across beautiful waterfalls like Mayank Chu and Naga. Chungthang is another village, little short of Lachung, where Lachen and Lachung river converge. From chungthang, Lachen is about 27km and Lachung is about 20km drive.

Yumthang valley is an hour drive from Lachung, located at an altitude of 12000ft. Go for an excursion with packed lunch. Here again, you start your day in the early morning & come back early afternoon, to get the excellent views of mighty Himalayas.

Other excursions, subject to time availability are

  • Drive to Gurudongmar lake from Lachen
  • Trek to Zadong from Yumthang
  • Drive to Mt. Katao from Lachung


Pelling is a laid back, scenic, but rapidly swelling hamlet, situated at an altitude of about 6800ft. Place is known for magnificent views of the snow capped mighty Kangchendzonga. Pelling is about 135 kms from Siliguri & 125 kms from Gangtok.

Recommended duration of stay: minimum 3 nights

Major attractions & excursions :
Pemayangtse Monastery: Monastery, located about 2 kms from Pelling is the most significant monastery of the Nyingmapa order.

Changay Waterfall:
This water falls lies 10 kms away from Pelling. A little further is Sikkim Alpine Cheese factory which is also worth visiting.

Kechopari Lake:
Visit to Kechopari lake ( also known as wishing lake ) involves 27 kms drive from Pelling. Kechopari lake is considered to be the sacred lake & lies in a small shallow valley, surrounded by dense forest. Way back visit Rimbi waterfall.

Yuksom :
This was the first capital of Sikkim. From Kechopari, it is a short 28 km drive to Yuksom. En route one crosses a quaint suspension bridge built on the river Rutang. Kanchendzonga waterfall, 9 km before Yuksom is a fantastic place to stop for a tea break. Tashiding Gompa, located in Yuksom is reputedly most sacred in Sikkim. Visit to the Gompa involves 45min of uphill walk.

Suggested Itineraries in conjunction with Darjeeling & Kalimpong
(both are part of West Bengal)

1. Day 1: Drive to Gangtok. Afternoon local sightseeing of Gangtok.
Day 2: Drive to Lachung.
Day 3: Day excursion to Yumthang.
Day 4: Drive back to Gangtok.
Day 5: Visit to Tsomgo lake and Nathula Pass.
Day 6: Drive back to Bagdogra/ New Jalpaiguri.

2. Day 1: Drive to Pelling. Afternoon visit Pemayangtse
Day 2: Day excursion to nearby places.
Day 3: Drive to Gangtok.
Day 4: Visit to Tsomgo lake and Nathula Pass.
Day 5: Morning visit Rumtek. Afternoon local sightseeing of Gangtok.
Day 6: Drive back to Bagdogra/ New Jalpaiguri.

3. Day 1: Drive to Gangtok.
Day 2: Visit to Tsomgo lake and Nathula Pass.
Day 3: Morning visit Rumtek. Afternoon local sightseeing of Gangtok.
Day 4: Drive to Darjeeling.
Day 5: Local sightseeing of Darjeeling – morning visit Tiger Hills and afternoon excursion to Mirik.
Day 6: Drive back to Bagdogra/ New Jalpaiguri.

4. Day 1: Drive to Gangtok.
Day 2: Visit to Tsomgo lake and Nathula Pass.
Day 3: Morning visit Rumtek. Afternoon local sightseeing of Gangtok.
Day 4: Drive to Darjeeling.
Day 5: Local sightseeing of Darjeeling – morning visit Tiger Hills and afternoon excursion to Mirik.
Day 6: Drive to Kalimpong. Afternoon for local sightseeing of Kalimpong.
Day 7: Drive back to Bagdogra/ New Jalpaiguri.


Though accommodation in Sikkim cannot be compared with other part of the country, state has got reasonably good choice of places to stay & relax, especially in Gangtok.

1. In Gangtok :
Deluxe category : Nor-Khill, Saramsa Resort & Orange Village Resort

Standard category : Chumbi Residency, Hotel New Castle & Martam Village Resort ( near Rumtek )

2. In Lachung :
Snow Lion Resort

3. Pelling :
Deluxe category: Norbhu Ghang Resort
Standard category: Hotel Norbhu Ghang & Hotel Mt. Pandim


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