How to see snow in Darjeeling & Sikkim

Let's first take Darjeeling to understand how and when you can see snow there. I'll then let you know about Sikkim too. 
First, if you are considering only Darjeeling town then the bad news is, although it gets freezing cold in Darjeeling town during winter, it hardly ever snows within the town limits. After all altitude of Darjeeling is only about 6,700ft. There have been exceptions though. In some years places like the Mall road and even Chowrasta got covered with snow, but you have to be really lucky to experience that. And your best chance is from December-end up to February-end when the possibility of snowing in Darjeeling is highest. But as I said, it does not snow every year in Darjeeling town. 
But having said that, Darjeeling is not just a hill town, it's a district. There are places in Darjeeling hills which are at much higher altitude and that's where you will get all the opportunity of watching snowfall or at least see lots of snow. Sandakphu, which is known as the trekkers' paradise, is the highest point (12,000ft) in the state of West Bengal. This place will reward you with wonderful snowfall along with stunning views of Kanchenjunga and other snow peaks. 
Snowfall near Tumling 
Snowfall near Tumling 
Although there is a trekking trail to Sandakphu and beyond to Phalut, there is also a gravel road which is Jeepable. So you can take a jeep and first drive down to Manebhanjan which is a small town at the starting point of the trail to Sandakphu. It takes about 1 hour 20 minutes from Darjeeling. 
From Manebhanjan, it takes about 4 hours to Sandakphu by Jeep. The best time to get snow here is between December-end to February-end, and sometimes up to mid-March. Actually you don't need to go all the way up to Sandakphu, about half way up near Tumling, you will often get plenty of snow. 
Snowfall on the route between Tumling and Tonglu 
But note that if it snows heavily, the route may no longer be accessible to vehicles beyond Tumling. Also about 1km from Tumling you will reach the entrance of Singalila National Park
A permit is required to go further towards Sandakphu. From Darjeeling, a day trip is quite doable up to Tumling, but for Sandakphu you should plan an overnight stay. 
Snowfall near Towards Tonglu 
Now coming to Sikkim.... like in Darjeeling, you won't usually get snow in Gangtok because it's located at an altitude even lower than Darjeeling. But there are plenty of places in East Sikkim like Tsomgo Lake and New Baba Mandir, further up Nathula Pass, and also places in north Sikkim like Lachung &áYumthang Valley where you will surely get lots of snow during winter (November-end to Mid-March) particularly in Zero Point. However Nathula usually gets closed during winter. 
Snow at Tsomgo Lake, Sikkim 
Tsomgo Lake in snow 
Photo: Alosh Bennett, flickr, cc by 2.0 
Note that restricted area permit is required to visit Tsomgo lake, and protected area permit for Nathula (foreigners are not permitted in Nathula because it's an Indo-China border area). Tour operators can help get the permits. 
Another place in East Sikkim where you can see a lot of snow is Zuluk (10,100ft) which you can approach from both Gangtok and Kalimpong, and it lies along the same route (Jawajarlal Nehru Road) that passes by Tsomgo and Nathula, and comes down via Kupup, Zuluk and Kalimpong. Requires protected area permit (foreigners not allowed). Snowing starts usually from December onwards, snows heavily from January and snow cover remains till April-end. 

Renting snow gears

If you plan to play in snow, make snowballs etc, you can also rent snow attire or gears at several places. For example in Tsomgo Lake there are stalls renting snow gears. Similarly in Yumthang Market there are shops that rent snow gears to those heading towards Zero Point. 

Recommended Resources

If you are planning to visit Darjeeling or Sikkim, the eBook on Darjeeling &áSikkim can be very handy in knowing all the best places, sightseeing tours &áoperators, eateries, nightlife, shopping and lot more, and would serve as a guide to effectively make your tour plan. 

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Visitors' Reviews/Comments

Vasudha (January 2023) 
Hello Raj, We are travelling to Kalimpong and Baiguney for 5 days in the second week of February. My 5 year old son wants to see snow, is there any place close to Kalimpong or Baiguney where we could have snow at that time? Your website is a treasure trove of information. Thank you so much. 
Raj ( January 2023 
Snowing is rare in that area. You have to be really lucky to experience snowing or even see snow in Kalimpong, and chances are even lesser in Baiguney. 
Ron (August 2022) 
Sir, I and my friend are traveling to Darjeeling and Tonglu in the middle of November, at that time is there any snowfall in Tonglu? 
Raj ( August 2022 
If you are lucky, you can get snow at Tonglu in mid-November. But it is not usual to get snow in Tonglu around that time. 
Dipankar Dey (June 2021) 
I would like to see snowfall and enjoy greenery in a place near Darjeeling. Also stay in a homestay with my family. What is your recommendation... please mention. Thanking you. 
Raj ( June 2021 
Snowfall is not common in Darjeeling proper or near around although it snows once in a while during the winter. However, you will get lots of greenery in the outskirts such as Tinchuley, Takdah, Lamahatta, Lepchajagat where there are many homestays. If you want snowfall, then you need to go to the higher reaches such as to places like Tonglu, Tumling, Sandakphu etc (all on the Sandakphu route)... there are several lodges and homestays at these places... shortly after Tumling, the Singalila National Park starts and you can get good greenery there as well, additionally, you get an awesome view of Kanchenjunga range from these places. You need to go there in late November onwards (it can be freezing cold though). 
Jayashree (January 2020) 
We are planning for a vacation in Gangtok and Darjeeling from March 15 2020 till March 22 2020. Can we see the snow and is it the best time to visit ? 
Raj ( January 2020 
March is a good time to visit both Darjeeling and Gangtok. However, the possibility of seeing snow in proper Darjeeling or Gangtok is remote, in fact snowing in Darjeeling and Gangtok towns are quite rare. You can still see some snow if you visit Tsomgo lake from Gangtok, or even better, at Nathula Pass. 
Heena (January 2019) 
Hi Raj, I have just come across your website and m lucky it came at the right time. We are 2 friends (females) taking our first trip next week. Our agenda is to feel and experience snowfall, nature and view the amazing peaks. We are short on time as we have 5 days, we will start from Darjeeling and wish to go to snowy places. We do plan to explore Gangtok as well. Please advise what great places we should go to and how do we manage our time. 
Raj ( January 2019 
Hi, you are unlikely to get snow in Darjeeling or Gangtok. From Gangtok go to Tsomgo lake and further up to Baba Mandir and Nathula (if the route is open). You will certainly get a lot of snow there. It's a day trip from Gangtok and you can get back by 3pm. Go through a proper tour operator... you need to get a protected area permit which the operator can arrange. Carry passport size photos and proper Photo ID Cards. 
Samir Khan (December 2017) 
Hi Raj, All your posts about Darjeeling and Sikkim are mind blowing, just need to ask I am planning to visit Tsomgo Lake with my 2 kids (5 and 3yrs), want to enjoy snow in Feb 3rd week. 
can I find snow during Feb 3rd week? route to Tsomgo Lake is opened in Feb? any other do u recommend to visit for snow near Darjeeling or Gangtok. Kindly advice. Thanks 
Raj ( December 2017 
Hi, route to Tsomgo lake is sometimes closed between December to February due to heavy snow. If it's open on the day, you can go after taking the necessary permit. Snowing is rare in Darjeeling and Gangtok. 
Sasikiran á(October 2017) 
Hi Raj, Thanks a ton for giving infinite details. Your passion about travelling is highly appreciated. I'm planing to visit Darjling on NOV 11th to 13th Nov (Nov 10th night by 9 I will reach Darjeeling from Bagodara airport). My doubt is about, is it the correct time to see Snow fall at TONGLU and return to Darjeeling on same day? If so then I will plan to go there on 12th November. Advice me whether my planing is good or not. Thanks in advance. 
Raj ( October 2017 
While snowing in Tonglu is never assured, chances are low in November. Usually heavy snowfall takes place between December to February. 
Chandan Singh (October 2016) 
Sir, I am planning to visit Gangtok &áDarjeeling from 14th to 21st November 2016. áWe are 4 adult members in the age group of 55 to 62 years. áWant to see snow fall. áPlease guide where to visit during this period to see snow fall. Want to visit independently hiring taxis/cars etc. and want to visit Nathula pass compulsorily. áCan we get permits directly after reaching Gangtok from the concerned authorities after mailing required documents in advance. áThanks a lot in advance for guidance.  
Raj ( October 2016 
You can get snow at Tsomgo lake and beyond at Nathula. However road to Nathula may be closed if the snowfall is heavy. You can get the permits after reaching Gangtok. Carry required docs and keep half-a-day in the morning for getting the pass. 
Karan (October 2015) 
Hi Raj, This is probably the best and most informative site for Darjeeling on the Internet. Kudos to you for that. I was planning a visit to Darjeeling during January, with my family. We would be put up at The Swiss. The only question I have is that we are eager on having to see snow/fall. Apart from Sandakphu, would there be any place close by to be able to experience snow. And if so, could you please help me with where could I find an easy commute, along with the prices for the same. Thanks in advance. 
Raj ( October 2015 
Hi, you won't usually find snow in Darjeeling. You can find plenty from Tumling onwards as you go towards Sandakphu. Otherwise you will need to try places like Tsomgo lake from Gangtok (it requires separate permits). Sometimes it snows at Tiger Hill as well.