When & Where 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. 
 
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. 
 
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. 
 
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. 
 
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. 
 
 
 
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Visitors' Reviews/Comments 
 
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 (darjeeling-tourism.com) 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 (darjeeling-tourism.com) 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 (darjeeling-tourism.com) 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 (darjeeling-tourism.com) 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. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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