Clothes to wear in Darjeeling & Sikkim

 
 
What to expect 
So what type of clothes should you carry when visiting Darjeeling and Sikkim on your vacation? This is one of the most loaded questions I have faced. Because the weather, particularly the temperature varies widely depending on the season or the month of your travel. 
 
 
 
And even within in the same season, depending on the place of your travel within Darjeeling Hills and Sikkim, the temperature can change dramatically. For example places like Sandakphu which is part of Darjeeling and Nathula which is in Sikkim remain extremely cold throughout the year although the weather in Darjeeling town and Gangtok become quite pleasant in spring, summer and autumn. 
 
Clothing for Darjeeling town &Gangtok 
Let's look at the clothes that you should take by season. Clothing for high altitude places like Sandakphu, Tsomgo Lake, Nathula Pass, Lachung, Yumthang valley etc are mentioned separately. 
 
March - April (Spring) 
The harsh winter has ended and this is the beginning of the pleasant season in the hills here although the temperature can drop below comfortable limits in the evenings and early mornings. Usually the average temperature varies between 6C at night to 17C during day time. 
 
Full trousers or jeans are good to cover your legs. Take socks and shoes. Instead of bulky jackets, carry 2-3 layers of light woolens. For example, carry a full sleeve sweater and a wind cheater. Some times the wind chill can make it quite uncomfortably cold and then the wind cheater comes in very handy. Another very useful woolen to carry would be a shawl. 
 
If you plan to roam around in the evenings, then carry a cap, light muffler and for the elders even a pair of light gloves to keep your hands warm. 
 
 
 
May - July (Summer) 
The average temperature ranges between 11C at night to 19C during the day time. It's a very pleasant time in both Darjeeling &Sikkim. On a hot sunny day one can even wear shorts. However at night the temperature falls but remains within comfortable limits. 
 
You should carry light woolens for the evenings, like a light full sweater, shawl or a jacket. Otherwise normal dress wear is okay like jeans, T-Shirts etc. But do take a pair of shoes or sneakers with socks because it would be required if you plan to go out in the evenings. 
 
June - September (Monsoon) 
Average high and low temperature varies between 13C to 19C. So like in summer you need to carry light woolens. However some time on a wet evening or morning, the temperature can drop and with the wind chill adding to the impact can make it quite cold. So it's a good idea to carry an additional wind cheater or a shawl. Also since it rains a lot, carry an umbrella or a rain coat. 
 
October - November (Autumn) 
High/Low ranges between 18C to 6C. As you can see it starts to get colder particularly in November. Nights and early mornings are quite cold in November. So carry couples of layers of woolen clothing like a full sleeve sweater and wind cheater / shawl, or a good jacket. 
 
During day time you may not need to wear any woolens in October. But in the evenings you will certainly need one. Also carry socks and caps. 
 
December - February (Winter) 
High/ low usually ranges between 10C to 2.5C. So as you can see, it really gets cold during winter, particularly in the month of January and February. But very seldom the temperature goes below zero degree Celsius. And therefore snowing is not common in Darjeeling town or Gangtok. For that you need to go to a high altitude place. Know how to experience snow in Darjeeling hills or Sikkim 
 
So what should you wear in winter? Obviously heavy woolens. And that should include thermal full body inner wears, a good warm jacket, gloves, cap, muffler, shoes &socks. 
 
Clothing for high altitude places 
Here are my clothing recommendations by season for places like Sandakphu, Tsomgo Lake, Nathula Pass, Lachung, Yumthang valley etc. 
 
First note that round the year it remains very cold in all these high altitude places. So irrespective of the time of your visit, you will need heavy winter clothing, particularly for the nights and early mornings. The month of your visit will determine how heavy the woolens should be. 
 
 
 
During winter and early spring, you will get heavy snow in all these high altitude places. If you want to play with snow, you can rent snow gears like long overcoats, high cover boots, leather gloves etc which are available before you reach the spot. For example at Tsomgo lake you will get stalls renting such snow gears. Similarly if you are heading for Zero point from Yumthang Valley to experience snow, you can rent snow gears from stalls at Yumthang market. 
 
Suggested reading for snow seekers: How to experience snow in Darjeeling hills or Sikkim 
 
March - April (Spring) 
Average high and low temperatures would range between 10C to -2C. Early March can be extremely cold. So heavy woolens like thermal full body inner wear, jackets with heavy woolen linings or fur, muffler, woolen gloves, cap, woolen socks, shoes are must. 
 
May - July (Summer) 
Average high/low varies between 15C to 6C. You should carry moderate to heavy woolens like jackets, muffler, cap, gloves, socks etc. Thermal full body inner wears can come in handy at nights. 
 
June - September (Monsoon) 
Average high/low temperature ranges between 13C to 8C. You need to carry moderate woolens like a good jacket, cap, gloves, socks etc. Sometimes due to wind chill it can get very cold. So woolen inner wears, shawls etc should be carried. 
 
October - November (Autumn) 
Average high/low temperature ranges between 12C to -5C. It starts getting very cold towards the evenings and early mornings. In November, you are likely to find a layer of frozen water in your bucket if you stored water overnight. 
 
So carry heavy woolens which should include two to three layers of clothing like thermal full body inner wears, sweater, jacket, muffler, good pair of woolen gloves, cap, socks etc. 
 
December - February (Winter) 
Average high/low temperature varies between 7C to -10C. It's the peak winter and it'll be freezing cold at the high altitude places. So take all possible winter precautions including full body thermal inner wear, full sleeve sweater, heavy jacket (preferably with fur lining), wind cheater, extra pair of socks, cap (monkey cap would be very useful), muffler, good pair of woolen gloves etc. 
 
Are there shops renting winter clothing? 
Unfortunately you won't get winter clothes on rent at any stores in Darjeeling town or Gangtok. Which means you should carry your own. However if you land up and find what you have is inadequate, then you can certainly buy at the stores in both these places. 
 
An economical option in Darjeeling town is to visit the Bhutia Market which sets up on two sides of a narrow road off Chowrasta (Mall). Lots of local Bhutias sell all kinds of winter wears including jackets, shawls, caps, gloves etc at reasonable prices. Ask any local around the Chowrasta Mall and he will show where the Bhutia market is. 
 
You can however rent snow gears like long fur coats, leather gloves, caps etc for few hours at places like Tsomgo lake and Yumthang valley market to play with snow. 
 
 
 
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