Menu
Sikkim / Travelogue

Experience From My Sikkim Trip

Gurudongmar Lake

Hello, It’s been some time that I bought this domain and installed WordPress out of curiosity but never found anything to write about. But recently I have been to Sikkim and thought of writing about my experience which may help others to plan their itenary and for me, helping myself to make the setup useful 😛

So, it started off by my mom, who suddenly said, “Hey, it’s been a long time we have not done any trips, let’s go somewhere”. Yeah, I know she was right, I got really busy into my professional life and the rat race to make money. I always loved travelling and previously we used to go every year to some tour, but suddenly it’s been 2 years I started running after making money.

So thought of taking a week off and after going through few places I fixed on Sikkim. I always prefer Mountains over Beaches and I have never been to North East. So this was my chance to explore the beautiful state of NE.

Well, I better stay off from the details of Sikkim, it’s altitude and all etc. Who thinks about all these while planning for a trip? Well, if you disagree, then Wikipedia is there.

We all of us, in my family loves DIY Backpacker Tour instead of going with any Tour Operators. DIY is fun, starting form gathering all information, probable risks, scams etc. to fixing on destinations and everything. DIY allows me to do the tour in my own way instead of relying on someone else to plan my tour. Though there’s nothing wrong loving packaged tour, that eliminates all your headache. But we love DIY, as we don’t always go by fixed itenary, we may increase days at some destination if we like it.

It’s always better to catch a train at night, so that you can reach NJP (New Jalpaiguri) at morning and can go upwards on that day only. But due to my schedule we couldn’t do that so we started off our journey by catching the train at morning and reached NJP at around 7:30 PM. As it was too late to go further, so we stayed in Siliguri for the night and explored Hong Kong Market. Siliguri itself needs 2-3 days to explore, but we have been to Siliguri previously, so it didn’t matter much for us. Enjoyed the delicious Toasts and Half-Boiled Egg in Netaji Cabin. I always go there if I’m in Siliguri.

Teesta River

Teesta River

Next day early morning we took Shared Jeep to Gangtok. Shared Jeep’s are always available in Siliguri and NJP for different areas such as Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Gangtok etc. They have fixed rate, so no chances of being scammed. Right now, the cost of shared jeeps are 200/- for Gangtok and 150/- for Darjeeling per person. One can also go for private car but as you can guess it costs higher but is more comfortable. Private cars cost between 1500/- to 4000/- depending on the car you are hiring. The shared jeeps takes total 10 person (4 Back + 4 Middle + 2 Front), so it can be very uncomfortable if you are a bit fat and not much open minded. In that case I’d suggest to go for private car as once you start the journey you won’t be able to negotiate anything. If you are on a budget trip you can also go for 2 tickets to make yourself comfortable. We as backpackers, always prefer local mode of transport, that helps us keeping the cost within range and also to enjoy the local culture.

Sikkim Checkpost

Sikkim Checkpost

The cars of WB is not permitted to go beyond Deorali in Sikkim. So the cars from WB will drop you at Deorali Stand and from there you have to catch local cab to Hotel or M. G. Marg. The journey from NJP / Siliguri to Deorali is around 3.5 to 4 hours with a nashta break in between. Have your breakfast / tiffin over there with Tea or Coffee. Don’t forget to enjoy Momo which is served with cutney, as you are in the land of Momo’s. Also note that, in Sikkim they do not have any concept of Chicken Momo, Mutton Momo etc. It’s Veg momo everywhere. Though you may find some stalls at M. G. Marg selling Chicken Momo, but it’ll be rare, very rare.

If you can catch the cars going back, that came down from Sikkim to NJP / Siliguri, then you don’t need to change the car at Deorali. From Deorali it’ll be around 200/- to your hotel (depending on the location) or M. G. Marg. Remember that though these are Taxi, there’s no meter system in Gangtok. They have fixed rate for fixed distance for locals. So bargain it accordingly before the ride. Also, maximum 4 person is allowed in a cab, so if you are more than 4 person, then you have to hire more than 1 cab.

We stayed at Hotel Ma Yang in Gangtok, Development Area. It’s a bit far from M. G. Marg. Hotels in M. G. Marg will generally have higher rate, while on Development Area or Lal Bazar Road you will get cheaper options. From our hotel, shared cabs were available to M. G. Marg for Rs. 10/- per person so it was not a problem for us to roam around.

Hotels throughout the Sikkim are available on AMP (American Meal Plan) / EP (European Plan) / CP (Continental Plan). Ours was with AMP. Though it may seem first that with AMP it’s going to be on higher side, but ultimately at the end you’ll realize it’s not. In Sikkim, it works in a different way.

If you are not aware about the Meal Plan systems, below is the basic idea of all the Meal Plans.

  • AMP (American Meal Plan) – Room with Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
  • MAP (Modified American Plan) – Room with Breakfast, Lunch / Dinner
  • EP (European Plan) – Room only
  • CP (Continental Plan) – Room with Breakfast

AMP is generally preferred which serves Bengali Cuisine, rest you can be sure that you won’t be disappointed. Different dishes will be served in every meal. So rest assured dishes won’t be same on all the meals for all the days. One can also go for MAP if your itenary is something which won’t allow you to have Lunch at the hotel. You can also go for EP / CP if you want to try out local dishes. But beware that, in Hilly Regions everything gets closed at sharp 9 PM and food in M. G. Marg can be a bit costly with the ratio of quantity served.

Gangtok

Gangtok

Once thing I loved and amazed about Gangtok is, everything is well organized and it looks like planned city. First thing that amazed me as soon as I was entered Gangtok, is the Footpath and Footbridges. Here in Kolkata we do have footpath, but I never seen anyone to use that, instead peoples walk along the main road. Well how would they? footpaths are filled up with different stalls. But here in Gangtok, I was amazed to see, that everyone is walking along the footpath and using footbridges to cross the road. That way both the cars running along the road and the peoples walking, don’t interfere each other.

Way To M. G. Marg

Way To M. G. Marg

Next thing, I loved is, the organized Cab system. Like, cabs that bring you from Deorali to the City can only run along the same route and they cannot hop into short distance passengers or cannot run in different route. So the cab that runs within the city for short distance cannot hop into other passengers too. Each cab has the licence stucked on the front window which determines it’s route. Also, they have different Cab Stand (multistoried buildings) for these. Like the cabs that runs from Deorali to the Gangtok City have different stand than that of cabs running on short distance within the city or than that of the cabs going to North Sikkim or West Sikkim. Everyone have different stand with different set of Cabs.

After checking in to hotel and having lunch we took rest for few hours and went for a visit to M. G. Marg. Again, it was simply stunning. With the lighting and decorations everything seemed planned. Had some delicious Momo and Tea and walked around the Marg. It felt awesome in Chilly 5 Deg C. Well that’s what my mobile showed me 🙂

M. G. Marg

M. G. Marg

M. G. Marg

M. G. Marg

M. G. Marg

M. G. Marg

Sikkim is one of the state for Spirit lovers. So don’t forget to buy Liquors / Beer. It’s a tax free state so prices are much lower than that of your hometown (if you are not coming from another tax free state). Branded Beers are available for 55/-. Local beer is available for 50/-. We bought Antiquity Blue and VAT 69 for 710/- and 1050/- respectively.

Low Price + Chilled Weather = Enjoy the drink.

Next day after breakfast, we left for 3D/2N North Sikkim tour (also known as Lachung – Lachen tour). Cab from our hotel to North Sikkim Cab Stand took 200/-. The Lachung – Lachen tour is generally available within 3000/- per person (everything inclusive i.e. Accommodation and Food). This tour comes in various forms and can be booked from your Hotel or in Tour Stalls in M. G. Marg or in Siliguri / NJP while catching the cab to Deorali / Gangtok.

The North Sikkim tour comes in various forms, such as

  • 2D/1N – Lachung with Yumthung Valley
  • 2D/1N – Lachen with Gurudongmar Lake
  • 3D/2N – Lachen – Gurudongmar Lake & Lachung – Yumthung Valley

All the above tour comes with accommodation and meal plan. You cannot deviate from this i.e. you can’t book hotel yourself. The reason is, at that high altitude you won’t find anything. The hotels are very basic, so keep your expectation low. Though, they are more of a Lodge rather than Hotel. You will be served Bengali Cuisine throughout your stay. These hotels runs depending on these tour operators in Gangtok. Each tour operator have collaboration with a particular hotel accordingly.

Let me warn you, that all of the North Sikkim tour is really hectic and tiresome. Specially the 3D/2N tour. Also you will be climbing at very high altitude (17,100 ft above sea level), so be prepared and plan accordingly specially if you have aged person with you.

Also note that, you need to fix the tour with you tour operator / hotel, a day before you are willing to take this tour and submit Photo ID Proof along with 4 Passport size Photos, as these places are situated in Indo – China border, getting permission is required for the same. If you are not Indian, then your permission will be very limited

INFO : North Sikkim Tours are available both in Shared and Private options. This is in terms of the vehicle. Accommodation will be private to you if you are travelling alone or in double sharing mode if you are travelling in a group. Shared Option is recommended for Budget Tourists, however please keep in mind that due to the hectic journey, this won’t be much comfortable though. Of course, if you don’t want to shell out 6X amount on private vehicle, you don’t have any other option.

North Sikkim being restricted region, you need Restricted Area Permit (Restricted Area Permit) / Protected Area Permit (PAP). On booking of the tour package, your tour operator would arrange the same for you on submission of a photocopy of Voter ID Card and Passport Size Photo for each member. And considering the current costing of the package (with both shared and private vehicle), this is the best option. Because getting the permit on your own is theoretically possible but practically very tough (because of local politics) and hiring a vehicle for the trip along with booking the homestays separately would cost you more than the package cost. So practically it’s not worth the effort.

But believe me, if you take this tour instead of all the obstacles, it’ll be your lifetime memory

Way To Chungthang

Way To Chungthang

Way To Chungthang

Way To Chungthang

We started at 11 AM and reached Chungthang at around 6 PM in the evening with a 30 mins lunch break in between. Gangtok to Chungthang is 6 Hours journey. From Chungthang the road gets divided to Lachung & Lachen. Generally Lachen is covered first and then Lachung. So after having some Momo and Tea in Chingthang, we started for Lachen again without wasting much time.

Note that, Chungthang is the last destination where you’ll get Mobile tower. So take your time to make any calls or surf internet if you needed to. After this point, only BSNL will work. So you’ll be out of coverage area for 2 days if your provider is not BSNL.

UPDATE (2018) : Airtel, Vodafone etc. works really great throughout Lachen and Lachung now. You can even access 4G Data. There’s no coverage at Gurudongmar, Yumthang and Zero Point though.

We sighed when we reached Lachen after around 1.5 Hours. Finally we were at Lachen at 7:30 PM starting from Gangtok at 11 AM. We checked in to the Hotel. It was -10 Deg C and what I loved is, as this sort of temperature stays throughout the year, all the hotel sells liquor. I sat with a Beer. After an hour or so, we were called for Dinner.

Way To Gurudongmar Lake

Way To Gurudongmar Lake

Next day early morning at sharp 3’O Clock in the morning we left for Gurudongmar Lake. We reached Thangu, the last village of Indo – Chinese Border at around 7 AM. It’s mostly covered with the military base so be ready to be amazed to see different Regiments, Armour, Tanks, Shelling Equipment’s etc. I felt proud when I saw how hard our Indian Army works to protects us throughout the year on -15 Deg C. I felt proud watching them how they sacrificed their life, their family and is always there standing on the border so that we all Indians can go to sleep without worrying.

“Jai Hind”

Gurudongmar Lake

Gurudongmar Lake

So finally at 7:30 we reached Gurudongmar Lake at 17,100 ft. Many of tourist felt ill due to low oxygen and started facing breathing problem. The hills looked awesome, it was like made of Gold. The beautiful and awe inspiring lake remains milky in color throughout the year. According to a legend, since the lake used to remain frozen most of the year, it was not possible to use its water for drinking purposes. When the Guru Padmasambhava passed by, while returning from Tibet, the local residents are reported to have approached him for providing source of water. The Guru obliged. A portion of the lake touched by him does not freeze in extreme winter. Since water of the lake is considered sacred, visitors carry the ‘blessed’ water in bottles.

  • Gurudongmar Lake 13100 Ft
    Gurudongmar Lake 13100 Ft

Don’t try to find logic or science within this story, but be amazed to see, how it’s not frozen at -15 Deg C when everything around it is frozen. 🙂 Be amazed, to see the Hills, well the last hills of India.

While coming back to Lachen we had breakfast at Thangu and spoke to some of our Army mens regarding the border conditions. Finally we were back at Lachen again at 12’O Clock. Took rest and a nap for an hour and then we were called for Lunch. Taking rest for few mins we left for Lachung at 2 PM.

While going to Lachung, we had a break in Chungthang. Again we were back in coverage area, so made few calls back home to inform that everything is fine. We reached Lachung at 5:30 PM. Took rest for the evening as all of us were really tired after the hectic trip of 2 days, well still 1 day remaining. We were called for Dinner at around 10 PM and had a Beer afterwards and went off to sleep.

Yumthung Valley

Yumthung Valley

At 5’O Clock in the morning we left for Yumthung. Yumthung is famous for varieties of Rhododendrons and known as “Valley of Flowers”. Though as we took this tour in October, we couldn’t see any flowers there. Bad luck, we missed the natural beauty.

  • Yumthung Valley
    Yumthung Valley

It was around 7 AM, we thought of extending it to Zero Point. Generally Zero Point is not covered in the tour, but you can always negotiate with the driver. Don’t negotiate about Zero Point with the Tour Operator beforehand, as it requires permission which will raise the cost. Instead pay your driver 500 – 1000 bucks and ask him to take you to Zero Point.

  • Way To Zero Point
    Way To Zero Point

We reached Zero Point at around 9:00 AM. Finally after enjoying and playing a lot with ice bergs, we left for Lachung at around 10:30.

  • Zero Point
    Zero Point

At sharp 12’O Clock we reached Lachung, back to our Hotel again and left for Gangtok at 2’O Clock after having lunch and freshening up a bit.

Ahh…So finally we are back to Gangtok at around 7 PM. We all were really tired from this 3D / 2N North Sikkim tour. We planned for visiting M. G. Marg but we couldn’t, as we didn’t had any energy left. Got a beer ourselves and we soon hit the bed after dinner.

Next day Morning, we planned for Nathula Trip, but our hotel suggested to shift it next day, as it’d be really hectic for us as we were just from a hectic trip of North Sikkim. Well, yeah, he was right, so we shifted the Nathula trip to next day and planned for local sight-seen. After breakfast, we arranged a reserved 10 Point Half-Day Tour which cost us around 1000/-

There are many sight-seen packages like

  • 3 Point Half Day
  • 7 Point Half Day
  • 10 Point Half Day
  • 10 Point Full Day
  • Mixed Point

Points are fixed for all the tours unless you go for Mixed Point. For Mixed Point, you need to plan it yourself, what points you’d like to visit.

On our 10 Point tour, we went to Tashi View Point, Hanuman Tok, Ganesh Tok, Bakthang Waterfall, Enchey Monastery, Flower Exhibition Center, Handicraft Center, Chorten Stupa, Institute of Tibetology and Ropeway Cable Car.

  • Gangtok From Tashi View Point
    Gangtok From Tashi View Point

Well, we didn’t went to Cable Car as we didn’t think the price is justified for the timings. It’s just that, you’d be able to see the Gangtok from cable car. So if you have never been to cable car then this can be a nice experience. But we had ride cable car many times before. So this didn’t attract us.

I heard of Rumtek Monastery a lot, and I had planned to visit it from the very beginning when I started to research on my tour. But those are included in 10 Point Full Day tour as it was on the opposite side of all the above points. So, I thought of booking a 10 Point Half Day and then I’d try to negotiate directly with Cab driver as that would save the money and also I was not interested in other points of Full Day tour except Rumtek Monastery. So, as I had planned, we negotiated with our cab driver for 500/- and he agreed, as that amount will exclusively go to his pocket.

View From Rumtek Monastry

View From Rumtek Monastry

View From Rumtek Monastry

View From Rumtek Monastry

Finally, we were at Rumtek Monastery. What should I say, Awesome. Simply Awesome. Our driver was very friendly guide, he narrated us the story of the Monastery on the route.

Way To Rumtek Monastry

Way To Rumtek Monastry

Rumtek Monastry

Rumtek Monastry

Rumtek Monastry

Rumtek Monastry

Way To Golden Stupa

Way To Golden Stupa

After this, he took us to Botanical Garden, though we didn’t asked for it and it was closed too due to Diwali. And, with this, we ended our so called 10 Point Half-Day Tour (or should I call it 10 Point Quarter Tour :P) and back to our hotel.

Botanical Garden

Botanical Garden

We took a nap after having our Lunch and later in the evening we went to M. G. Marg. It was Diwali, and people were burning crackers all over and it was just stunning. Watching colorful shells in the mountain with Tea and Momo, is just different and awesome.

Diwali Celebration at M. G. Marg

Diwali Celebration at M. G. Marg

Next day, after breakfast, we went for Tsongmo Lake – Nathulla Pass – Baba Mandir Tour. This tour generally costs 800/- per head (With Nathulla), and 500/- per head (Without Nathulla). The first stop was Tsongmo Lake. I don’t know, but may be after all the scenic beauty of Gurudongmar and Zero Point, I didn’t find this much interesting. So we didn’t wasted much time here.

Tsongmo Lake

Tsongmo Lake

Tsongmo Lake

Tsongmo Lake

We had Thukpa as our lunch in a small jhoops near Tsongmo Lake and headed for Nathulla. Words can’t describe the feeling when you are standing in your country’s border watching the bunkers of India and China and the LoC. Just a step forward and you’ll be in China.

  • Way To Nathulla
    Way To Nathulla
Nathulla Pass

Nathulla Pass

While returning back from Mathulla, we visited Baba Mandir. Though the use of word Mandir which means Temple, it’s not a Temple actually. Baba Harbhajan Singh was an soldier who died near the Nathula Pass. He is revered by soldiers of the Indian army as the “Hero of Nathula” and the army men have also built a shrine in his honour. He has been accorded the status of saint by believers who refer to him as the Baba (saintly father). Many of the faithful people, chiefly Indian army personnel posted in and around the Nathula Pass and the Sino-Indian border between the state of Sikkim and Chinese occupied Tibet have come to believe his spirit protects every soldier in the inhospitable high altitude terrain of the Eastern Himalayas. As with most saints, the Baba is said to also grant favors presumably to those who revere and worship him.

  • Baba Mandir
    Baba Mandir

And finally we were back in Gangtok again.

Mera Bharat Mahan

Mera Bharat Mahan

It was 11 PM, chilled weather with a Chilled Beer in hand watching the peaks. Last night of our tour. What can I say, I thought I’ll miss this place, the trip, the enjoyment. The friendly nature of all the Nepali people around who helped us a lot throughout this trip of ours.

Next day, we left for NJP after breakfast. Throughout the route, I kept my eyes closed and every details of our trip went through my mind. I was missing it badly. And more than that, I was afraid of going back to that so called rat race life again. But what can I do? That’s the way of life. Right? I kept telling my heart that, Let’s go back, earn more money, so that you can again pack the bags and leave for another awesome place again.

Memory

Memory

Last but not the least, this trip would not have been successful without

Thanks a lot to all the volunteers out there in Trip Advisor, who helped me a lot researching about destinations and various suggestions. DIY is fun, it helps us to be informed about the destinations and pick up them according to our choices, probable scams which helps us to keep our cost low avoiding them.

Any critics and suggestions is welcome.

Costs Involved:
NJP -> Siliguri : Reserved Auto = 200/- (For 5 Members)
Siliguri -> Deorali : Shared Car – 200/- Per Head x 5 = 1000/-
Deorali -> Development Area (Hotel) – 200/- per car. As we were 5 members we took 2 taxi’s. So total is 400/-

North Sikkim 2N/3D Tour : 3000/- Per Head x 5 = 15000/- (including accommodation and all the meals) + 1200/- given extra for Zero Point (Zero Point is not included in the package)

If you are planning to hire a private vehicle it costs around Rs. 16,000/- for 2 Pax and around Rs. 20,000/- for 4 pax including accommodation and all the meals.

Gangtok 10 Point Sightseeing : Exclusive vehicle for 5 members – 500/- + 500/- Given Extra for Rumtek Monastry = 1000/-

Nathulla Pass Tour : 800/- Per Head x 5 Person = 3200/-

Hotel Maa Yang @ 1200/- Per Day x 4 Nights = 4800/-
We, 5 persons, stayed in a single room. And this price includes MAP i.e. Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner and Tea 2 times (Morning and Evening).

We were there for total 6 Nights, out of which 2 Nights we spent in Lachung, Lachen. So the Hotel Costs is of 4 night with all the meals.

As far as I remember, our total cost for the trip from Home to Home was 40k for 1 week for 5 persons. Ofcourse that includes too many Momo’s @ 30/- and Thukpas here and there.

Development Area -> M.G.Marg shared cabs take 10/- per head. But while returning from M.G.Marg you’ll never find a shared cab. So you need to book it exclusively for 80/- – 100/-. Depends on your bargaining. Some day we got for 70/- and some day for 90/-.

Contacts:
Hotel Maa Yang : +919748659918 / +919432491159

North Sikkim, Nathulla Pass and Sightseeing Tours booked from Lama Tour and Travels. It’s run by an young women, Binita Lama. You can call her or whatsapp her at +919832079292 / +919734983536. She has recently started her Hotel Business too in Development Area, Gangtok. Lamaz Residency : Lamaz Residency

We didn’t stayed there, as the prices were a bit high than our budget. We had a budget of around 1000/- for a room (for 5 people!!). Though she gave us a discount, still it was too high for us.

Sightseeing Driver [SK 01 T 1077] : +919734008523. Well I asked a lot but he didn’t told his name. Instead he kept on insisting by saving his name as Uncle. So I saved the contact as Uncle on my phone 😛 He’s really a good driver and a guide himself. He told us the story behind Rumtek Monastry on our way.

About Author

Hi, I'm born and bought up in Kolkata in the midst of what bongs are best known for - Eating, Sleeping and Travelling. A developer by profession and a traveller by passion. As I was facing a lack of budget-friendly information on the internet while planning my travel, I started drafting my travel experiences here to help you all having a pocket-friendly smooth travel experience.

937 Comments

  • aeishwariya
    July 31, 2019 at 10:10 AM

    hi
    can u suggest some stay options in gangtok?? budget hotels or home stays would be nice..

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      July 31, 2019 at 11:13 AM

      Hi, You may check Hotel Tibet, Hotel Silverline, Hotel Doma Residency under budget category. My personal favourite under Budget category is Hotel Tibet. Gangtok being a well-known, common and popular tourist destination, is full of hotels. So you can also check for some deals on Oyo, Goibibo, MMT etc.

      Reply
  • Karan
    August 16, 2019 at 4:45 PM

    This blog is great. I am also planning a trip.

    Reply
  • Perwez
    September 7, 2019 at 1:51 PM

    Thanks a lot. This is undoubtedly one of the best blogs with all minute details. Great work dada. Keep it up.

    Reply
  • Mannat Sharma
    September 12, 2019 at 4:51 PM

    I really like this blog…keep sharing and writing

    Reply
  • Zeba Ahmed
    September 16, 2019 at 2:46 PM

    Great blog Krishnandu da. I am planning a trip to north sikkim in oct and your blog was of great help. Just wanted to know if its possible to cover Tsogmo lake in the first half if I have a train to catch at 8pm from NJP.

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      September 23, 2019 at 10:21 AM

      Hi Zeba, Thanks a lot and I’m glad that you liked my blog 🙂

      Yes you can go to Tsomgo Lake and then proceed to NJP easily without any issues. But make sure to start early by around 8AM – 9AM or so, such that you are back to Gangtok by 1PM or 2PM max.

      Reply
  • ayushi shrivastava
    October 2, 2019 at 9:09 PM

    Hi Krishnandu,

    I am planning solo trip to Sikkim, will I get a shared cab for north sikkim tour?

    Regards,
    Ayushi

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      October 2, 2019 at 10:04 PM

      Hi Ayushi, Yes, Packaged Tours in Shared Vehicle for North Sikkim are easily available. North Sikkim being restricted regions needs various permits. Thus you just can’t hop into a shared cab like other destinations in Sikkim

      You have to book the tour through a authorized local tour operator. So the shared package comes with accomodation, meals and the vehicle in shared mode. It costs around Rs. 3000/- – Rs. 3500/-. However during peak season the price gets inflated to around Rs. 4000/-. These are indicative per person costs for 2N/3D including accommodation, meals and vehicle in shared mode.

      Reply
  • Rosalin Sahoo
    October 7, 2019 at 2:42 AM

    Wonderful blog with many minute details and guides. I got most of the information I was looking for at one place. Thanks for penning down your amazing experience.
    I am planning a solo trip towards end of this month. I see you have mentioned there are Gangtok and North Sikkim tour packages available in shared taxis. Is there a way I can pre-book the tours before reaching there? Also, do I need to haggle on the price or those are fixed prices? Another query is, what are the area in Gangtok do you suggest to stay for a budget traveler, and how easy is it to get taxis there?
    I’m also planning 2D Darjeeling trip towards the end. Any suggestion regarding that would be really helpful.

    Best.
    Rosalin

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      October 7, 2019 at 6:09 PM

      Hi Rosalin, Thanks a lot and I’m glad that you found my blog to be helpful 🙂

      Well, those Gangtok + North Sikkim packages in shared cabs are available at Siliguri and NJP. Or if you don’t want to go by the package, you can take a shared cab and reach Gangtok on your own.

      However North Sikkim being restricted region, you have to go through tour operator only. So once you reach Gangtok, you can contact your hotel travel desk or there are lots of tour operators out there in MG Marg and throughout the city. You can contact them for Shared Package for North Sikkim.

      Prices are not fixed, but most people quote you around the same range. So you have to find a good deal. Service is more or less same for everyone.

      NJP – Gangtok Shared Cabs costs Rs. 250/- per pax and same is around 150/- per pax from Siliguri. For North Sikkim it’s 3000/- per pax for 2N/3D including accommodation (at homestays), meals and the vehicle. However these are off season prices. During end of Oct, no one would offer you Rs. 3000/- for 2N/3D North Sikkim shared package. So it’d be around Rs. 3500/- – R. 3000/-. If there’s huge rush there, it’d bump upto Rs. 4500/- too.

      Okay regarding accommodation, if you want to stay around the Market then get a hotel around M. G. Marg. Hotel Tibet, Hotel Silverline, Hotel Doma Residency are some of the well known budget hotels around M.G.Marg. And if you want to stay away from the market, check out hotels around Development Area.

      Getting a taxi in Gangtok is very easy. There are lots of taxi’s running around the town. You can either take a shared taxi or hire a pvt. one depending on your need and route.

      Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      October 7, 2019 at 6:10 PM

      Hi Rosalin, I forgot to mention that yes, keeping Darjeeling on the end for 2N is really a fuitful decission. Regarding Darjeeling please check Budget Trip To Darjeeling for all the details.

      Reply
  • Claudia
    October 15, 2019 at 2:39 PM

    Hey Krish
    Namaskar! An amazing blog you have!!
    Sikkim sounds amazing and we would like to start our trip after a hike in Nepal.
    The problem is to find a good, serious and english speaking driver who would pick us up in Nepal (Pokhara) the 01.11., drive with us to Sikkim and Darjeeling. Do you have any idea because we will not take a tour operator.
    Best
    Claudia

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      October 16, 2019 at 12:01 PM

      Hi Claudia, Thanks a lot and I’m glad that you found my blog to be helpful 🙂

      Coming to your query, Nepal being different country, same vehicles cannot cross the border and drive you to Sikkim and Darjeeling. So you can fly to Bagdogra or cross the border yourself and accordingly hire another vehicle on India.

      Due to territorial restrictions of Sikkim and Darjeeling, same vehicle cannot be used in both the regions for sightseeing.

      Reply
  • Gourav
    October 21, 2019 at 3:24 PM

    Hi Krishnaa,

    Could you please suggest or provide me contact information of tour operators who arrange cab on sharing basis.

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      October 21, 2019 at 7:33 PM

      Hi Gourav, You may check with Binita Lama : +919832079292. I travelled with her during my visit. However there are lots of tour operators who arrange the same.

      Reply
  • Abhay Sancheti
    October 24, 2019 at 12:08 PM

    Hi Krishna,
    Amazing blog and write up, it has helped a lot for my planning. Would like to know if
    1. Hot springs are covered in the package? I mean can we go and take a dip there.
    2. How are the fellow passengers usually , as I am travelling with my wife.
    3. Do the shared cab stop at all the points mentioned by them or do they just rush it?

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      October 24, 2019 at 12:36 PM

      Hi Abhay, Thanks a lot and I’m glad that you liked it 🙂

      Well, coming to your queries
      1. Not it’s not. But you can ask the driver to take you to hot springs.
      2. It depends. No one can predict. How can you predict how the people in your neighbourhood would be! Although, travelling with wife is not an issue, like satfety wise. North Eastern States are Matraichal society, so womens are respected a lot and women related crimes are less.
      3. Yes they stops at the points mentioned. But tourists always tends to spend a lot of time at a single spot which makes it difficult to keep up with the time for North Sikkim. So the driver sometimes pushes you to make it fast if you are wasting a lot of time. Else if you stick to a schedule it’s not an issue.

      Reply
  • Anjaneyulu MSR
    November 20, 2019 at 10:48 AM

    Hi Krishnandu,
    Thanks you very much for wonderful travel blog with lot of details. I have been following your travelogues. Experience of reading has been as if I traveled along with you. This is going to help me a lot when I plan to visit Gangtok, Darjeeling and Kolkata some time in April/May 2020. While I got reasonable idea about hotels in Gangtok and Darjeeling (after reading your travelogues), would like to know what would be stay options in Kolkata for family of 3 for a 3 day period. I may prefer to stay either in Park Street area or Esplanade. Request you to suggest any Hotels that I can choose to stay with family. My budget can be around Rs. 2000+. Thanks in advance.

    Regards,
    Anjaneyulu MSR

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      November 20, 2019 at 12:18 PM

      Hi Anjaneyulu, Thanks a lot and I’m glad that you found my blog helpful 🙂

      Well regarding Kolkata, I’d suggest you to check your options online. As it’s a big city, lots of options are available for every budget and there’s always some discount options going on. So, may be you can check travel portals like MakeMyTrip / GoIbibo etc. for such deals.

      Staying at Park Street / Esplanade would be really nice, as it’s the city center and prime location to move around.

      Reply
  • Hemant
    November 22, 2019 at 10:03 AM

    Very nice, informative blog. Thank you.
    Amazing pics as well. What camera did you use?

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      November 22, 2019 at 7:13 PM

      Hi Hemant, Thanks a lot and I’m glad that you found this blog useful 🙂

      Although now I use Nikon D750, however pictures here are taken on Sony P&S Camera which I used to have back then.

      Reply
  • Suchismita
    December 3, 2019 at 8:52 PM

    Beautifully written . But in chungthang where u stayed as well as in lachen

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      December 3, 2019 at 8:59 PM

      Hi Suchismita, Thanks a lot and I’m glad that you liked it 🙂

      Well, you don’t need to stay at Chungthang. As for Lachen / Lachung, all are homestays with more or less same facilities. Accommodation would be included in your package. You don’t have much choice here.

      From 2017 onwards two 5* hotels came up. But those are very costly, and for that you need to book the package from them only.

      Reply
  • Suchismita
    December 5, 2019 at 12:50 PM

    If one would like to visit north Sikkim by one self (without package ) in shared transportation is it possible . Bcoz we never prefer package .

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      December 10, 2019 at 7:45 PM

      Hi Suchishmita,
      You can visit North Sikkim in shared package. That means transportation would be in sharing mode however accommodation and fooding will be there in the package.

      North Sikkim being restricted regions you need RAP to visit those regions. And getting that permit on your own is really an issue. So if you try to do it on your own, it’s kinda not worth the effort. As shared packages costs around Rs. 3000/- per head (on off season) and around Rs. 4000/- per head (on peak season) including accommodation and fooding.

      So if you try to do it on your own, you’d instead shell out more than the package cost.

      Reply
  • ashraf
    January 5, 2020 at 12:22 PM

    Dear Dada
    Your blog is of great use to many.
    i am plannig for lachung visit in march2020(3days and 2Nights. we are four(2adults+2children).i am planning to book tour in jan it self.
    can you please suggest few reliable tour oprators for lachung.
    shared cab will not suitable for me because of children.
    your guidance will be of great help

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      January 6, 2020 at 6:06 PM

      HI Ashraf, Thanks a lot and I’m glad that you found the blog to be helpful 🙂

      I visited with Lama Tour and Travels and had great experience with them. You can contact them at Binita Lama – +919832079292. You may take my reference.

      However I’d also suggest to check the competetive prices from other tour operators.

      Reply
  • bharat shah
    January 11, 2020 at 12:16 PM

    Dear SRI Krish,
    My daughter’s family is to tour Sikkim in April middle. I am guiding her based on our no-problem tour in April ’17 with full guidance from you. I like to have some information from you. As I understand, in some areas of Sikkim small car ( 4+1) are not allowed and only SUV are allowed. Will you please let me know whether on following roots small vehicles are allowed, or normally plying or not:
    1. Darjeeling to Bagdogra via Mirik and Nepal boarder S S
    2. Bagdogra to Gangtok
    3. Gangtok to Pelling via VIA TEMITEA GARDEN ,,SAMDRUPTSE STUAP), CHARDHAM
    4. Pelling local S S
    5. Pelling to Darjeeling
    This is required to guide them for transportation, as they are four persons in a group. For Nathulla and LACHEN-Lchung, as I am almost sure that SUV type vehicle and permits are required and for Darjeeling local S S and Gangtok local S S small car ( wagon R type) is allowed. Please reply. Thanks in advance!

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      January 11, 2020 at 7:16 PM

      Hi Mr. Bharat, Thank you being an avid reader of this blog from the very beginning 🙂

      Coming to your queries…
      1. Darjeeling to Bagdogra via Mirik and Nepal boarder S S – Yes Small vehicles are allowed
      2. Bagdogra to Gangtok – Yes Small vehicles are allowed
      3. Gangtok to Pelling via VIA TEMITEA GARDEN ,,SAMDRUPTSE STUAP), CHARDHAM – Mostly SUV’s plies in this route, as the road condition is not that good
      4. Pelling local S S – Yes Small vehicles are allowed
      5. Pelling to Darjeeling – Mostly SUV’s plies in this route, as the road condition is not that good

      Yes for Lachen – Lachung and Nathu La only SUV’s are allowed. Yes local sightseeing can be done by a small vehicle.

      Reply
      • bharat shah
        January 13, 2020 at 10:35 AM

        thank you very much. Your answer would be very helpful for planning my daughter’s family tour to Sikkim. Again big thanks for speedy reply.

        Reply
  • Ankit Singh
    February 20, 2020 at 1:46 AM

    Hello Krishnandu,
    Your blog is really impressive. I would like to discuss my scenario with you and ask for few urgent suggestions if possible. I have planned my upcoming honeymoon in gangtok/north sikkim. I am reaching there on 2nd march morning and coming back on 7th march evening. I have already booked my flights and 2 night hotel stay in gangtok i.e. from 2nd march – 4th march. I want to take a north sikkim tour from 4th march. I would required a private car not a shared one. What would be your suggestions on the budget for this trip and can i book this trip after going there. One more thing , what package cost would be there in my case according to you .

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      February 20, 2020 at 1:54 AM

      HI Ankit, Thanks a lot and I’m glad that you found this blog helpful 🙂

      Yes, March being lean season you can book after reaching there on 2nd or 3rd March. You can talk to your hotels travel desk and compare the rates with other tour operators in M. G. Marg and decide accordingly.

      For a 2N/3D trip to North Sikkim for 2 person, it should be around 18k – 20k. But do try your luck if you can get a better deal 🙂

      Reply
      • Ankit Singh
        February 20, 2020 at 2:22 AM

        Hello,
        Thank you for your prompt reply. Actually i discusses an itenary with a agency called connecting northeast and it goes as follows –
        2 march – arrival gangtok
        3 march – gangtok to tsomgo lake and babamandir
        4 march – gangtok to lachung
        5 march – lachung to yumthang valley and gangtok
        6 march – ganbtok local sightseeing
        7 march deoartye
        They are charging me 26k for two people for the above 1N/2D day trip. Lachen is not included as they are saying that gurudonmar would be closed. This cost includes my pickup and drop from airport as well. I would be getting a non shared innova for the whole trip except local sightseeing. What do you think about the cost ? Would i get a better cost from lama tour agency? As I think 26k for 1N/2D is quite high inspite of taking non shared car. As I have already booked my hotel in gangtok from 2nd-4th

        Reply
        • Krishnandu Sarkar
          February 20, 2020 at 10:26 AM

          Hi Ankit, 26k is too high for March for 1N/2D trip to North Sikkim. Although obviously it depends on the type of vehicle they are providing. It’s justified and correct for luxury vehicles like Innova / Xylo. So please get it clarified first.

          Moreover, March being lean season, I’d recommend to book your North Sikkim tour on-spot on 2nd or 3rd March after reaching Gangtok. I feel you’d get better deal than this.

          Yes, Gurudongmar might be closed during that time. But if you are lucky and the snow gets cleared you can visit the same. So booking on-spot would give you that flexibility to decide.

          Regarding Lama Tour & Tavels, yes they provided me cheapest rate during my visit in Nov 2014 and again on May 2019. So yes you can check with them for quotations.

          But please keep in mind that, although I recommend a tour operator based on my experiences, but I never vouch for one. And there are lots of tour operators in Gangtok. So you can check with them too on-spot for competetive rates before booking.

          Reply
          • Ankit Singh
            February 20, 2020 at 10:47 AM

            Yes they are providing innova for all the journeys. But still i think i would take your suggestion and book it on 2nd after reaching there. I would just myself hire a car from airport to the hotel when i land.

            Reply
            • Krishnandu Sarkar
              February 20, 2020 at 11:18 AM

              Well for Innova 26k seems to be a good price. Yes booking after reaching there would be more benificial for you. Just went out on 2nd evening and take rates from the tour operators in M.G.Marg. Check with your hotel’s travel desk and Lama Tours & Travels both to see if they are offerring competetive prices.

              If you are on budget you can hire Sumo / Bolero. Else if you can afford you can go for Innoxa / Xylo. Obviously Innoxa / Xylo would be more comfortable in terms of journey but will be more costly too than Sumo / Bolero.

              Reply
              • Ankit Singh
                February 20, 2020 at 12:57 PM

                Thank you so much for all the excellent suggestions

                Reply
  • Ankit Singh
    February 20, 2020 at 10:16 AM

    Hello,
    Thank you for your prompt reply. Actually i discusses an itenary with a agency called connecting northeast and it goes as follows –
    2 march – arrival gangtok
    3 march – gangtok to tsomgo lake and babamandir
    4 march – gangtok to lachung
    5 march – lachung to yumthang valley and gangtok
    6 march – ganbtok local sightseeing
    7 march deoartye
    They are charging me 26k for two people for the above 1N/2D day trip. Lachen is not included as they are saying that gurudonmar would be closed. This cost includes my pickup and drop from airport as well. I would be getting a non shared innova for the whole trip except local sightseeing. What do you think about the cost ? Would i get a better cost from lama tour agency? As I think 26k for 1N/2D is quite high inspite of taking non shared car. As I have already booked my hotel in gangtok from 2nd-4th

    Reply
  • Old Silk Route North Wanderthirst -
    February 20, 2020 at 9:21 PM

    […] Sikkim was in mind, but couldn’t materialize it somehow due to other assignments. I have been to North Sikkim, South Sikkim and West Sikkim previously, so I had fair enough idea about Sikkim but not Silk […]

    Reply
  • Manish Goswami
    February 21, 2020 at 3:04 PM

    Very nicely written and informative blog I came across. Especially for budget travelers. I am also planning with my family for Gangtok lachung Pelling and Darjeeling tour in the month of May.
    My Plan would be;
    Day 1 NJP to Gangtok
    Day 2 Half day local Sightseeing at Gangtok and transfer to Lachung
    Day 3 Lachung to Yumthan Valley and back to Gangtok
    Day 4 Visit to Tsongmo Lake and Nathula pass ,Baba mandir
    Day 5 Half day local sightseeing at Gangtok and transfer to Pelling
    Day 6 Local Sight seeing at Pelling and Transfer to Darjeeling
    Day 7 Local sightseeing at Darjeeling and in the evening proceed to New JalpaiGiuri
    My questions are-
    1) Is the tour very hectic or something I have to drop?Is there any important place I am missing?
    2)I want to book hotel on my own. Only concern is booking of cabs for this tour.Will it be advisable to book cab in advance ?and if yes is there online portal for cheapest rate to book exclusively for cabs in advance?
    3)Do hotel in which i will stay help me getting permit for Nathuilla Pass?

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      February 21, 2020 at 8:04 PM

      Hi Manish,
      Thanks a lot and I’m glad that you found this blog helpful 🙂

      Coming down to your questions…
      1) Is the tour very hectic or something I have to drop?Is there any important place I am missing?
      A. Yes. You have too short number of days in hand and you are trying to cover everything. That way you are missing everything.

      For E.g. On Day 2, you have to start for Lachung by around 10 AM, so you cannot do Half-Day Sightseeing on that day. Gangtok – Lachung is almost 8 hours of journey.

      On Day 5, if you do Half Day Gangtok Sightseeing before proceeding towards Pelling, then you’ll have to rush through Ravangla Sightseeing on the way as it’d be past evening.

      Again on Day 6, you need a full day to explore Pelling. Half Day Pelling Sightseeing doesn’t do much justice. Also on your way to Darjeeling you can explore Namchi if you have a full day for that.

      Again on Day 7, there’s no point in going to Darjeeling as you are hardly doing anything there. As exploring Darjeeling requires 3N stay, although 2N is good enough too.

      So as I can see, there’s really no point in going to Pelling and Darjeeling, as it seems like you are just going for a night stay and leaving next day. That way you are not exploring the place but just doing touch-and-go just to post on social media that you have been there or to tick off destinations from your list.

      So I’d recommend, drop Darjeeling and explore Gangtok and Pelling fully.

      2)I want to book hotel on my own. Only concern is booking of cabs for this tour.Will it be advisable to book cab in advance ?and if yes is there online portal for cheapest rate to book exclusively for cabs in advance?
      A. Yes you can book hotels on your own without any issues through online portals or calling up hotels directly. Regarding the cabs, it depends on few things i.e. (a) When you are planning to visit, (b) Whether it’s a rush season or lean season, (c) How comfortable are you on bargaining and booking vehicle on the go everyday, (d) How many persons you are.

      However, please be informed that a single vehicle will not be able to do the whole trip. There are various regional restrictions within Sikkim and also between Sikkim and Bengal. If you hire a luxury vehicle like Innova / Xylo it can cover both Gangtok, North Sikkim and Pelling. However for Darjeeling you need to hire another vehicle. Else for Sumo / Bolero / Small 4 Seater vehicles, you need to hire seperate vehicles for North Sikkim, Gangtok, Pelling, Darjeeling.

      For North Sikkim and Tsomgo – Baba Mandir – Nathu La route you must go through a tour operator as those are restricted regions and requires permit.

      So if you are on a budget you can book vehicle through a Tour Operator / your Hotel’s Travel Desk, who’ll arrange all the vehicles on daily basis as per your need. And yes, if you are planning to visit during peak season, you must book cab in advance.

      3)Do hotel in which i will stay help me getting permit for Nathuilla Pass?
      A. Well most hotels in Gangtok have their own travel desk or have connection with some tour operator. So yes they can help, but consider comparing prices with tour operators in M G Marg. Because hotels might keep their commission if they don’t have their own travel business.

      Also please be informed that, no one can guarantee you permit to Nathu La. If someone is saying that, it’s a complete bluff. Govt daily allocates limited number of vehicles from authorized tour operators on turn basis for Nathu La. So no one can guarantee you the permit for Nathu La.

      Hope that helps 🙂

      Reply
  • Manish M Goswami
    February 21, 2020 at 8:58 PM

    Thank you very much Krishna for your utmost quick reply and preventing me from making blunder of covering everything. I will now change my plan as per your suggestions.
    God bless you !!

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      February 21, 2020 at 9:15 PM

      You are welcome 🙂

      You may consider doing it like

      Day 1 NJP to Gangtok
      Day 2 Gangtok to Lachung
      Day 3 Lachung to Yumthang Valley and back to Gangtok
      Day 4 Visit to Tsongmo Lake and Nathula pass, Baba mandir (Make sure this day is not a Monday / Tuesday, as Nathu La is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays)
      Day 5 Gangtok – Pelling via Ravangla
      Day 6 Pelling Sightseeing
      Day 7 Pelling – NJP

      Instead of Pelling you can go to Darjeeling if you wish to.

      Reply
      • Manish M Goswami
        February 21, 2020 at 9:30 PM

        Thanks for this tour plan.
        Please keep sharing your experiences through this blog whenever you explore any new place. This will help budget travelers like us from getting exploited from tour operators.

        Reply
  • Fakhruddin Thathiya
    March 8, 2020 at 12:21 PM

    Hi Krishnandu,
    your blog inspires to visit all places you mentioned. Actually we booked dates and flight till Bagdogra for Bhutan tour from 4th April 2020 to 14th April 2020, but recently they have restrict visitors because of Corona Virus effect. so if they will not withdraw travel restrictions till our dates, we will plan sikkim tour as per your blog.
    also i would like to know that, is sikkim tour is convenient for 4th-14th April?

    i will contact you if i need further info about my sikkim tour also i am regularly seeing you on Bhutan forum over Tripadvisor 🙂

    Reply
    • Krishnandu Sarkar
      March 8, 2020 at 1:10 PM

      Hi Fakhruddin,
      Thanks a lot and I’m glad that you found my blog inspiring and helpful 🙂

      Travelling to Bhutan is barred as of now for all foreigners. During April it might change depending on the situation.

      Yes visiting Sikkim during that period is convenient. April and May is also one of the best and peak season of the year. However if you are not an Indian, then please note that travelling to Sikkim is also barred for foreigners.

      Reply
      • Fakhruddin Thathiya
        March 8, 2020 at 1:46 PM

        Yes Dear, i am an Indian (Gujarati), so i guess it wouldn’t be a problem to visit Sikkim for us.
        And yes, we are 2 friends (male) only, so what you say, can we get shared taxis and hotels as well 3D package for North Sikkim? Because we are also budget travelers.

        Also we are planning for bike trip to Darjeeling for 2 days as still we have spares 3 days for our return flight, so it’s doable in April though we aren’t professional bikers so?

        Reply
        • Krishnandu Sarkar
          March 8, 2020 at 2:01 PM

          Okay. Then there’s no issue.

          Yes, you can get shared taxis. They are available throughout the year.

          Well if you are not much experienced with riding bikes then I won’t recommending riding in the hills. As riding in plains is very different than in the hills.

          Reply
  • Taxi Booking
    March 14, 2020 at 10:41 AM

    Beautiful pictures. This looks amazing in your post. Thank you so much for sharing it.

    Reply
1 6 7 8

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.

You have Successfully Subscribed!