Amol Mujumdar (July 2022)
Hi Raj, Thank you for the information. We are a group of 4 planning an 8-10 day trip to Darjeeling and Sikkim in the last week of Nov (25th Nov to 3rd Dec). We are flying directly from Mumbai to Bagdogra . Here are a few questions:
We are confused about how should we go about planning our trips to Lachung, Yumthang, Lachen & Gurudongmar. Can I get your phone number and clear all doubts? Thanks & Regards,
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) July 2022
Hi, Bagdogra to Gangtok will take about 4 and a half hours in normal traffic conditions. Gangtok to Tsomgo Lake, Baba Mandir and Nathula pass is a standard day trip and your hotel can organize that. No need to carry oxygen cylinders unless any of you have asthmatic or other breathing/altitude-related problems, in which case you should avoid going to high-altitude places. You will need to get permits which the hotel can arrange once you hand over the necessary documentation on the previous day. You can learn all about this day trip from this article Visiting Nathula Pass and other nearby attractions.
You need to stay in Lachung overnight and visit Yumthang valley the next morning. It can be extremely cold out there in end-November. For Gurudongmar, you can go down to Lachen from Lachung (1 hour 45 minutes), stay there overnight, and visit Gurudongmar lake early in the morning. All these are protected areas and you need separate permits. You should book these tours through an authorized operator in Gangtok. Suggest you go through my article on Visiting Lachung and Yumthang to know about how to go about the Lachung/Yumthang tour... you will also find links there for suggested tour plans, combined Lachen/Gurudongmar trip, tour operators, etc.
Regret, for privacy reasons, I do not share my phone number with my readers. However, if you go through the above articles and the associated links thoroughly, you should get full clarity on the matter. Good luck!
Indrajit Dey (April 2022)
Dear Raj, I will be in DZULUK and other areas on and from 23 APR.'22. Apart from the permit to be taken from RONGLI PS, Do I require the SIKKIM TAVEL CARD or the requirement is waived now. We are 2 travellers and both double vaccinated with certificate. Best regards
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) April 2022
Hello, the Sikkim authorities have not yet stated that the requirement for the Sikkim Travel Card has been discontinued. In fact, they say that it may be checked at the check posts. However, given the current situation, the strictness of implementation seems to have come down. However, it would be wise to carry the Sikkim Travel Card, which can be easily filled up online and downloaded on your mobile and can be shown at the check posts. Carry your vaccine certificates as well.
Dharmendra Kumar Pradhan (April 2022)
Dear Raj Ji, Sir, can you please suggest how many days required only for west & south part of Sikkim. We want to explore the west & south part, so what will be the route, we have to follow. we have never been there, so we are blank about Sikkim. Raj Ji, this is our humble request to you to guide us about the route to explore west sikkim. After reaching NJP, what we should do?? Should we go for a Tour & Travel or should we do our own ??(it is only possible if you will guide us). Awaiting for your reply.
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) April 2022
Hello, Please note that I do not make tour itineraries or plans... for that you need to contact a tour operator. However, I can give you some ideas and pointers to start with and you need to do some reading and research.
There are many places in West and South Sikkim and it is not practical to cover them all in one visit. The main tourist destination in West Sikkim is Pelling which is about a 5 & half hour drive from NJP station (20 minutes more from Bagdogra airport). From Pelling, you can take sightseeing tours and visit several attractions of West Sikkim. Suggest, you go through Pelling Tourism to understand more about Pelling, the attractions and places around it, how to reach there and get other information related to tourism.
Having stayed in Pelling for 3 nights, you can visit Ravangla which is only about 2 hours away. Although Ravangla is nearby, it is in South Sikkim. You can go through Ravangla Tourism to know about Ravangla tourism and the tourist attractions there. You can stay in Ravangla for 2 nights.
If you like tea gardens, you can then spend two nights at Temi Tea Garden. Go through Temi Tea Garden Tour for information about Temi.
From there you can move to Namchi which is the cultural and religious hub of Sikkim. The main attraction here is the Char Dham. You can spend one night here. Go through Namchi Tourism for details.
You will get taxis for transfers as well as local sightseeing at all these places, or you can ask your hotels to arrange for it. If you want to arrange the entire tour through a tour operator, you can go through the last section of the article Gangtok Sightseeing Tours where I have listed some of the well-known tour operators of Sikkim.
Priti Shah (March 2022)
My husband and myself are doing the Annapurna trek .After the trek we want to visit Sikkim and Daarjeeling. We are 64 years old. Will we be able to travel to Lachen, Lachung and Tsomgo lake. We are ok with altitude. We are OCI citizens and do realise we will need permits to visit these places. Please let us know how we can get it and whether we will be allowed to visit the permitted areas. Thanks.
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) March 2022
While you can go up to Lachen, you won't be permitted to visit Gurudongmar lake because OCI citizens have the same status as foreigners in Sikkim and permits are not issued to them for some protected areas like Gurudongmar, Zuluk and Nathula pass. You can visit other places such as Tsomgo Lake, Lachung/Yumthang etc. You need to get the permits and visit the places through authorized Tour Operators of Sikkim. Suggest you go through Sikkim Permits where all details are given including how to visit such places.
Venkat Vujji (February 2022)
Hi Raj, First I have to congratulate for your effort to put all important information together in one place to plan visit. It is very helpful for first visitor like me. We 8 people group are planning to visit Sikkim and darjeeling in early July 2022 including my daughter, citizen of USA aged 13 years and rest of all are Indians. I would like to know if she can get ILP to visit Nauthla pass and Harbajan Baba place and other sensitive places along with us? also my father is 76 years and my mother is 68 years old so is it advisable to take them to above placesses. Please advise so that I can plan our trip accordingly and thanks in advance.
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) February 2022
Hello, as a foreign national, your daughter can not visit Nathula Pass, Baba Mandir, and other protected areas where foreigners are not allowed such as Gurudomgmar, Zuluk, etc. It is not advisable to take elderly persons to such high-altitude places as Nathula.
Andy Weston (January 2022)
Many thanks for your informative website Raj. I hope to be able to visit Sikkim in November 2022 as an independent traveller, travelling by bicycle with some taxis. Ideally in very rural roads around old hill stations. I am prepared to book all hotels in advance. But can you please tell me if this sort of travel is allowed under the new Travel Card system? Many thanks.
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) January 2022
Hi Andy, the new Sikkim Travel Card system does not have any clause preventing cycling across Sikkim, at least as of now. So you should be able to do that unless the guidelines change. As per the travel card requirement, one only needs to enter the Sikkim tour details online into the system (in addition to one's health and personal information) and keep that updated so that one's status can be tracked while in Sikkim. It also recommends that tourists should book rooms in health & safety compliant hotels in advance, but advance booking is not mandatory. It is also not mandatory to use any tour operators.
For official confirmation, I suggest that you contact Sikkim Tourism and Civil Aviation Department. You can find their contact numbers and office timings on this link.
Maharshi (December 2021)
Hello Raj, You are really an amazing person. Your help to travellers like us is much appreciated. We are a group of 10 person and finalized our tour date after 15th February 2022. Now we are concerned about Omicron... means corona related situation in Sikkim. Can you please suggest if the tour during February 2022 would be a safe or good decision or not? Your help would be much appreciated.
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) December 2021
Hello, it will depend on how the situation pans out in February. Presently, both Sikkim and Darjeeling are packed with tourists and the travel guidelines mandate that tourists should be fully vaccinated, otherwise they must carry RTPCR negative certificate. There is no indication of introducing any further travel restrictions as of now. February anyway is a lean period and you can plan 15 days before you travel... by then you will know the prevailing situation and take a decision accordingly.
Sourav Bansal (December 2021)
Hi Raj, you did an amazing work. Your website is like a one stop solution to all questions relating to a trip to Sikkim. However, I have one question, and I would be so grateful if you help me. My friends and I are planning to visit Sikkim during the new year (28th Dec to 2nd Jan). This will be our first visit to Sikkim, so naturally all our knowledge is based on research we did on the internet. Some websites say that the main attraction of North Sikkim will not be available to visit during that time due to the heavy snowfall expected during that time of the year. Places like Nathula Pass, Zero Point, Gurudongmar lake etc would be closed for visitors.
As a result, we are planning to visit West and East Sikkim, including Pelling and other tourist attractions. However, we would really love to be able to visit the Northern areas like Lachung and Lachen. Can you please tell me if those areas will be completely out of our reach or we can still visit those beautiful towns? We will make an itinerary based on that information. Thank you so much.
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) December 2021
Hi, if the routes to Nathula and North Sikkim are open then you can go... you will need to plan according to the prevailing situation. If there is little snowing that doesn't block the routes or there are no special military activities at the border, you can get permits and visit the places. But the main problem is, sometimes tourists get stuck after reaching Nathula or North Sikkim because snowing can be quite unpredictable around that time... it happened last year when the military had to carry out the rescue operation to bring tourists down. Well, you need to take your chances but do follow the advice of the tour operators.
Abhijit S (November 2021)
Hi Raj, Your posts on Sikkim tourism are really insightful. My wife and I are planning to travel to Sikkim in early December and I had 3 questions:
1) Do I need to contact a tour operator before I reach Sikkim. I plan to book my own stay and book taxis and permits once I reach there. Is this advisable?
2) Is early December a good time to visit : Nathu La, Lachen, Tsomgo and Gurudongmar?
3) Is Lachen or Lachung worth spending 2 nights to see around?
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) November 2021
Hi, it is not mandatory to book the tour beforehand through an approved operator... you can book your hotel (should be Sikkim government approved) and visit. However, you should fill up and carry the Sikkim Travel Card which needs to be shown at the entry check-post (at Rangpo/Melli etc). Early December is not an ideal time to visit high altitude places, but you can go if the routes are open. There is no need to stay extra nights at Lachung and Lachen. You will need to spend 1 night at each of these two places anyway to visit Yumthang and Gurudongmar lake respectively.
Nuren Asef (August 2021)
Dear Mr. Raj, I'm writing from Bangladesh. I wish to visit Dzongu Valley, Pelling & Temi Tea Garden (possibly in June 2022) subject to improvement of Covid situation. I have some questions regarding the trip.
1. Are foreigners allowed in SNT buses which depart from Siliguri to Mangan/Pelling?
2. As much as I know SNT bus tickets are not available online. Is it easy to buy tickets from bus Stand or there is a long queue or other problems? Can I buy tickets earlier than date of travel?
3. Would it be wise to travel to Dzongu, Pelling and Temi Tea Garden in Mid June (June 10 to 20)? Should I expect heavy showers?
4. Are Cabs/ Local Taxis available to travel to different places of Dzongu Valley?
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) August 2021
Hello, foreigners can avail SNT (Sikkim Nationalised Transport) buses plying between Siliguri and various parts of Sikkim. You need to purchase the tickets at the bus stands. Unless there is an abnormal situation, buying tickets at the stands is usually not a problem. The monsoon usually starts by mid-June, so yes, you should expect showers. In order to visit Dzongu Valley, one needs a special protected area permit. You should first contact and book a homestay at Dzongu... the homestay owner will arrange for the permit and local tours in Dzongu valley.
Nuren Asef (August 2021)
Dear Mr. Raj, I have 2 more questions. 1. As much as I know, for visiting Temi tea garden and Pelling only Inner Line Permit(ILP) is enough and for Dzongu valley, special permit for Dzongu valley along with ILP are needed. Correct me if I am wrong. 2. Will I be able to see Kanchanjunga in Mid June with showers? Are the showers heavy or mild in Mid June? Do landslides happen during that period? I am asking so many questions because I plan to travel with my wife and 2 years old baby daughter. Regards,
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) August 2021
Hello, You are correct on your point-1. The monsoon season actually begins in mid-June.... so there can be intermittent to slightly heavy showers around that time. There are some chances of getting a glimpse of Kanchenjunga in mid-June... the sky usually remains cloudy, some times it clears (particularly in early mornings) when you can see the snow peaks. Landslides mostly take place in July and August when there are continuous heavy rains.
Shivam (December 2020)
I have made a booking at Royal Barsey Homestay at Okhrey for January 1-3. Is this a good option? Should I not try for North Sikkim or the old silk route?
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) December 2020
For Okhrey vs. the other places... it really depends on your preferences... they are all good in their own ways. Okhrey is great if you want to deeply understand the Sherpa culture and life, and also visit the famous Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary (however you won't see any flowers in January, the rhododendrons bloom between March to April).
For North Sikkim, you need a bit of luck this time because sometimes heavy snowing block the routes, particularly the route from Lachen to Gurudongmar. You can, however, visit Lachung and Lachen, and try your luck for Yumthang and Gurudongmar. It will be extremely cold out there in January. Zuluk/Silk Route should likely be more accessible than North Sikkim around this time.
Whichever destination you choose, know that unlike Darjeeling, Sikkim still has some travel restrictions... go through The New Travel Norms in Sikkim to understand those implications.
Kaushik Banerjee (May 2019)
Hello Sir, Kindly advise if visit to Sikkim in mid-August would be ok, in view of the monsoons. I plan to be in Siliguri during that time and am preparing for a short trip (3-4 days) with my family to Gangtok, Peling and other such places of interest. Thanks and regards,
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) May 2019
August is in high monsoon season, so expect showers and cloudy days.
Milind Ranka (May 2019)
Thank you Raj ji. This is all important information that a person needs to make Sikkim/ Darjeeling visit successful. Once you have gone all around different sites, you could be rest assured that here you get detailed information with no ambiguity, whatsoever to clarify all your queries and doubts. Appreciate it very much. Take care and happy selfless social service. :-)
Megha (March 2019)
Thank u so much for your prompt replies... So do u suggest we should be visiting Sikkim ... Even though we will miss out on Nathula pass, Tsomgo Lake, Lachung, Lachen....? Kids are 7 and 4 years old... any other place you would suggest in June after 20th ...
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) March 2019
You might be aware that the time you are choosing for your visit is the monsoon time in Sikkim (June 15 to September 15), so I would advise you to consider Gangtok and nearby areas. Roads to several other places get affected due to rains and there are also chances of landslides.
Megha (March 2019)
We are planning to travel to Sikkim around 20th June.... we have two kids age 7 and 4 ... How difficult it is to travel with them considering the long routes and bad roads...? And also the low oxygen levels at few places .. ? How do we manage with kids.... ? It would be really helpful if you could guide us... Thanks in advance.
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) March 2019
You can easily visit Gangtok and nearby places with your kids as well as south Sikkim (places like Namchi, Ravangla etc) and even west Sikkim (such as Pelling... road condition is bad though). All these places have adequate facilities and altitude won't be a concern. However you should avoid places like Tsomgo/Nathula and several places in north Sikkim such as Lachung/Yumthang, Lachen/ Gurudongmar lake etc because of high altitude where it is not recommended to take very young kids like yours.
Jay Joshi (August 2018)
Nice to read all info of Sikkim tourism. I am planning to have tour for 10 days with Gangtok, Lahchung, Lahchen, Pelling, Darjeeling. It is possible to cover all these? Also is it advisable to book taxi plus hotel both in advance or only hotel and book taxi point to point after reaching there as journey advances? We are 4 adults and 1 child 6 year old. Bagdogra airport to Bagdogra return in Nov 2nd week. Please advice. Thanks.
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) August 2018
With 10 full days you can cover all the places you mentioned. You can take taxi transfers and tours when you reach Gangtok, Pelling and Darjeeling. You need not book in advance. However for Lachung & Lachen, contact one or two well-known Sikkim operators to plan out your trip (regular city taxis can not go there).
Vinod Kumar Yadav (April 2018)
I have toured almost all corners of India and hereafter I place Sikkim amongst the three best sites one should at least visit in their life. Sikkim is really a Jewell of the East/North East. The natural beauty in and around, cleanliness, honesty and simplicity of its people are highly remarkable. The unique thing which I noticed here is the vibrancy, hard work and omnipresence of its women power. The state with 100% organic food, plastic free and almost Zero % unemployment. Namchi, Ravangla are such a wonderful sights that spellbound you.
Prerna (January 2018)
Hi, Me and my husband are planning tour to Sikkim in first week of Feb 2018. Kindly guide for below info: Access to Nathula pass, Gurudongmar Lake and Zero point, will the roads be blocked? Your reply will be very helpful in making our tour memorable. Thanks,
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) January 2018
Hi, usually heavy snowfall takes place around that time and roads get blocked. But one can be lucky too. Gurudongmar is likely to be inaccessible.
Ajay (August 2017)
Hi Raj, we will be traveling to Gangtok during October 3rd week and planning to visit Changu lake, Baba mandir and Nathula pass in a day. How long does it take to cover all three and can we travel all these places with 9 yr old? Thanks in advance.
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) August 2017
9-year old usually should not be a problem. It's a full-day trip from Gangtok... you need to get your permits on the previous day.
Sujitha (June 2017)
Hello, I just dropped by to say that this is the best website for anyone who is planning to visit Sikkim. You have managed to put every information possible which is really amazing. Kudos!! Thanks.
Shravan Kumar (January 2017)
Dear Sir, I have a 7 seater Maruti Suzuki Ertiga car with Bihar Registration number. This is my private car than can I allowed to drive my car in Darjeeling and in Gangtok as well for sightseeing and tourism. Please suggest me as soon as possible. Thanks
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) January 2017
Yes, you can take your private car to Darjeeling and Sikkim. However note that to travel to protected areas in Sikkim such as Tsomgo lake, Nathula, Yumthang etc, you need to get special permit for your vehicle from Sikkim Govt and army. Normally only vehicles from registered tour operators are permitted in such areas.
Riyaz (October 2016)
Hello. I'm a 23 year old student, and planning to visit Darjeeling and Sikkim in mid-February. Is it a good idea during that time of the year? I don't mind the cold. Also, will the north Sikkim be accessible? I'm very curious to check out Yumthang Valley and Lachung. Since I'm travelling alone, is it possible to travel across Sikkim without booking with any tour operators? If yes, please suggest how. I want to cover a lot on a limited budget. Your response will be much appreciated. Thanks :)
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) October 2016
February is one of the coldest months in Darjeeling & Sikkim and roads in north Sikkim (Lachung, Yumthang etc) can be blocked with snow. If open on a day, you can visit. However most of these places are protected areas and you need to go through a registered operator. You can try to combine with other groups, but in winter it can be difficult finding tourists.
Ria Roy (September 2016)
Sir, I only want to know if it is mandatory to book any tour package from Sikkim Tour operators to see the tourist places of Namchi and Rabangla, and any other South Sikkim destinations. It is because I have found out that to visit North, West and East Sikkim there are mandatory tour packages, and tourists themselves cannot book hotels and cars/cabs there.
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) September 2016
There is no such restriction. If you have a rental car with driver, you can move around and go anywhere (except to places that require Protected Area Permits). Only protected areas such as Nathula, Lachung/Yumthang etc require that you go through registered tour operators. Namchi, Rabangla do not fall in that category.
Vankani Haresh S. (December 2015)
I had been at NJP, Bagdogra, Gangtok, Lachung, Nathula Pass, Pelling and Darjeeling from 17th Nov to 27th Nov 2015. It is a fact that there is no state bus services between the places mentioned above, one has to travel by taxi. Though I traveled all my destination shown above by taxi, I am not able to get a certificate regarding the state bus services are not available in between the places shown above which is very required in claiming LTC to Govt. employees. If the same certificate is issued and published on website the tourists may increase and will encourage the tourism. So Sikkim Govt must think on this to encourage tourism.
Jayati (November 2015)
I am planning to visit Yumthang valley/Lachung in 2 days 1 night trip from Gangtok and Tsomgo lake and Baba mandir on other day in 1st week of March. I have my husband 2 years old son and 9 years old daughter. Please let me know if the road for these places will be open that time. Also for the kid what kind of precaution can be taken. I have heard of some small oxygen cylinder which is refundable if not used (with some charge). Is it available in Gangtok?
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) November 2015
End march and beginning of April is usually the time when roads to these places get cleared. But if you are lucky, the routes may remain open in 1st week of March as well. Portable oxygen cylinders are available at Gangtok.
Vijaya (May 2015)
Please inform me whether we can travel to Sikkim by our own vehicle? Also please inform me the cost of permit if any for nathula pass and yumthang. Can u pl let me know whether yumthang is worth visiting in Oct. Awaiting your expert and experienced advice so that we can plan our visit soon. Thanks n regards
Raj (darjeeling-tourism.com) May 2015
You can take your own private vehicle to Sikkim. However there are some restrictions for Nathula and North Sikkim. Usually vehicles from Sikkim government authorised operators are allowed in these areas. There are tour packages available from Gangtok. You can however take your own vehicle, but for that you need to obtain Sikkim police and army permits, vehicle fitness certificate from permit issuing authority, and also take a local guide along from Gangtok who will be your navigator. Your vehicle should be an SUV or 4WD vehicle to negotiate the bad roads. While Nathula road is not good, the road to Lachung and Yumthang is terrible. Permit cost is reasonable. For example permit to Nathula costs Rs. 200/- per person. October is a good time to visit Sikkim.