It is the wee hours of the day when the River Teesta roared along intensely. The mountains echoed with soothing chants of nearby monastery. I was lost in my thoughts, when the mist slowly disappears, and revealed the snow-capped mighty Mount Kanchenjunga. I am in Sikkim.
Nestled in the foothills of mighty mountains, surrounded between Tibet, Nepal and Bhutan is the small state of India Sikkim. Secluded from hustle of the big cities in India is full of cultural, historical and natural wonders. Due to its uncommon location therefore finding information about backpacking is a bit difficult in Sikkim. But this guide is here to help you plan your trip and travel independently with proper information about the best places to visit, where to stay and how to get around sikkim on a budget.
Sikkim is basically divided into 4 districts, out of which North and East sikkim is most popular. Each district will cost you approx ₹4-8k. In this article you will know about my journey and how i managed to complete with such a shoestring budget.
I will be honest, i majorly avoid planned and group trips. But these untouched places are in remote area and one needs a guide to do the trip.
Table of Contents
Permit/ Visa Requirement:
Foreigners (other than Bhutanese citizens) are required to obtain a valid Protected Area Permit (PAP) or Restricted Area Permit (RAP) to enter Sikkim. Indians are required to obtain a visiting permit to North & East Sikkim. No authorisation is required to visit places such as Namchi, Pelling, Yuksom, Ravangala, etc. Full detail has been given on other post visit to know more.
Also Read : Detailed Guide For Entry Permit in Sikkim.
Things to Bring during your trip:
Being on very high altitude North Sikkim, is very cold throughout the year. You’ll get snow throughout the year at Gurudongmar and Zero Point. So you must carry winter clothes and wear it in multiple layers to withstand the cold.
Almost 98% people face some breathing problem at Gurudongmar and Zero Point (Yumesamdong) due to high altitude. You can carry some Camphor and some popcorn to smell and eat. Those items helps you to regain oxygen in your body thus minimizing altitute sickness.
Booking : There are various agents in Gangtok through whom you can book packaged tour to Day Tour/ North Sikkim. The best option to book is
1. Nathula Pass, Baba Mandir and Tsongo Lake package for sharing basis is ₹750-800 per head.
2. North Sikkim is 2N/3D Lachung-Lachen Package with approx ₹3000-3500 per head. All these packages includes Fooding, staying and Traveling, so you have no other expenses except personal expenses. All you need is to submit photocopy (Xerox) of your Voter ID Card / Passport and a color Passport Size photograph while booking. You should book this trip at least a day in advance.
Also Read: Detailed guide to Sikkim With Price.
Cost : This is what people bothered the much are also being fooled around on this section. By Shared Cab, North Sikkim trip should not more than ₹3000/- per person for the 2N/3D trip, and with exclusive vehicle it depends on number of persons and type of vehicle you take.
Day 1, Day 2, Day 3 comprises of East Sikkim & Day 4, Day 5, Day 6 comprises of North Sikkim.
Day 1 : Reach Gangtok & Rest.
Gangtok neither have any rail network nor it has airport. Therefore Road is the only way to reach Gangtok. Once you reach, visit Mg Marg and enjoy the night stay at hotels/hostels or at homestays.
Day 2 : Early morning trip to Tsongmo/changu Lake, Baba Harbajan Mandir & Nathula Pass. Post brunch back to Gangtok. Visit Mg Marg for shopping.
On day 2, Leave Gangtok early around 8 AM as it is advisable to do so. The winding, mountainous road across some rugged terrain with mesmerising landscape will leave you with unforgettable memories.
Just 35 km from Gangtok situated at an elevation of 12,400 ft. The lake froze in winter with the surrounding covered in snow and the profusion of blooming flowers brings a riot of colors around the lake in late spring.
It was here that i had my first encounter with the Himalayan Yak. But these were the tamed ones on which one could take a ride around the lake for a small charge. But I, skipped this and just took a photograph or two for which you can give some small amount and they will allow you to take photos.
Situated 53km from gangtok bus stand,towards Nathula Border between China and India is a holy shrine of Baba Harbajan Singh Mandir. This Mandir is a tribute to an Indian Army soldier Harbajan Singh. This is a holy place which the spirit of Baba Harbhajan Singh believes to bless.
This is a pass which was part of the ancient silk route and connects India to China.It is an Indian military fortified area and of bounds for all foreign nationals. The bumpy 2/3 hrs ride from 6500 to 14500ft will take you through a scenic and jaw dropping landscape, mountains, and lakes.
Reach Gangtok around 4pm, take some rest or you can roam around the gangtok.
Also Read: Backpacking in Sikkim | Detailed guide with Budget
Day 3 : Gangtok Local Sight-Seeing.
On Day 3, You can take 7 point, 10 point or 13 point tour package Which Includes:
Hanuman Tok is a very famous Gangtok temple, named after Lord Hanuman, which the Indian Army maintains. The temple also gives a breathtaking view of the Kanchenjunga peak which is the world’s third highest peak.
Ganesh Tok is a Ganesh Temple, at an altitude of 6500 m, 7 km from Gangtok. The temple is so low that it can hold only one person at a time and you have to crawl to reach it.
This monastery is located 24 km from Gangtok, and is considered one of Buddhism’s most sacred monasteries. In this very building, the most sacred traditional Buddhist rites are performed, and the religious significance of the Rumtek Monastery has drawn devotees and tourists from all over the world.
Namgyal Institute of Technology
Housed in a traditional Tibetan-style building, the museum boasts a jaw-dropping array of Vajrayana Buddhism and Tibetan culture-related artifacts. The museum ‘s main objective is to promote scholastic and cultural study.
Do Drul Chorten Monastry / Stupa Gangtok
Constructed by late Truslshi and Rimpoche in the year 1945. One of Gangtok’s finest monasteries is the Do-Drul Chorten, or Stupa. Within this stupa you will see a full collection of phurba Dorjee, ‘Zung’ (mantras), a collection of relics of Kang Gyur (Holy Book).
Located 8 km from Gangtok’s main town, Tashi Viewpoint is a scenic beauty from which travelers can enjoy a view of the spectacular Sinilochu Mountain and Kanchenjunga Range.
Lingdum Monastery which the local calls in other name, follows the Buddhist Zurmang Kagyud lineage which is located 20 km away from Gangtok. It is spread over a wide area and provides the visitors with beautiful scenic views.
North Sikkim Comprises of 3Day 2night Package and it is recommended to take package.
Day 4 : Gangtok to Lachen via Chungthang. Nightstay at Lachen.
Day 5 : Early morning starts the trip to Gurudongmar Lake. Post lunch proceed to Lachung. Nightstay at Lachung.
Day 6 : Early morning trip to Yumthang Valley and Zero Point. Post lunch back to Gangtok. Nightstay at Gangtok.
On Day 4, you’ll start a bit late around 10:00 AM or so that you’ll reach Lachen by 6:00 – 7:00 PM. Your Day 5 will start very early at around 3 ‘o clock in the morning for Gurudongmar Lake. After sightseeing at Gurudongmar, come back to your Hotel at Lachen take lunch and proceed for Lachung, if everything goes on time you should reach Lachung within 5 o’ clock. Stay the night at Lachung.
You’ll start for Yumthang and Zero Point at around 5 o’ clock in the morning of Day 6, post lunch at Lachung hotel, you’ll proceed towards Gangtok and will reach by 6:00 – 7:00 PM.
Also Read: Travel Sikkim Using Public Transport.
NOTE : Don’t even try to book Zero Point from the tourist agents as they charge hefty amount as these trip are not included in packages. Just pay the driver Rs. 1000/- – Rs. 2000/- or so (depending on your bargaining skill) and you’ll be fine.