I went for a three week long trip to Sikkim with my mother, in April-May 2019. Nestled among the Himalayas, Sikkim became the 22nd state of Indian Union in 1975. Words can not describe the beauty of this place, however rampant construction and human activities have taken a toll in some places, in this comparatively unexplored state. This blog post will help you in planning your trip to Sikkim.
Sikkim is divided in 4 districts- North, South, East and West and every district has a major city.
Indian nationals can enter Sikkim from anywhere however, there are certain restrictions for foreigners. If you are a foreign tourist, follow the links below:
I reached Jorethang from Kalimpong, the bottom most place on the map. From here, shared cabs ply regularly to Gayzing, the major city in West Sikkim. From here, you can easily find a shared cab to Pelling. To read about points of interest in West Sikkim, read my blog post Sightseeing in and around Pelling.
After visiting Pelling, we came back to Jorethang and took a shared cab to Namchi. From Namchi, we took a day trip to Damthang for the Tendong hill trek. To know about the trek, read my blog post An enchanting trek through the forest to the sacred Tendong Hill from Damthang.
We also took a half day trip to Ravangla to see the Buddha Park. To read more about South Sikkim, read my blog post Exploring South Sikkim- Namchi, Damthang and Ravangla.
From Namchi, we took a shared cab to Gangtok, East Sikkim. To read about sights in Gangtok and day trips from Gangtok, read my blog post Sightseeing in and around Gangtok.
We booked a 3 days, 2 nights trip to North Sikkim in a shared cab from Gangtok. The places covered are Lachen, Lachung, Yumthang valley, Zero point, Kala Patthar and Guru Dongmar lake. To read about the trip to North Sikkim and requirements for permit, read my blog post A two day conducted tour to North Sikkim.
We spent around Rs. 2500/ day on an average. This does not include air tickets and reserved cab from Gangtok to Bagdogra airport.
To reach Sikkim, you can fly to the Bagdogra airport. There is an airport in Gangtok as well but I think only one flight from Calcutta flies into and out of that airport, so it is better to fly to Bagdogra. You can also take a train to New Jalpaiguri.
In both cases, you can either reserve a cab to go to Gangtok or you can take a shared cab from Siliguri. The third option is to take the shuttle bus from Bagdogra airport, which you need to book beforehand. I clicked a picture at the airport, which I will post here.
Transportation inside Sikkim
We went to Sikkim from Kalimpong. Since we wanted to visit West Sikkim first, we went to Jorethang, the second biggest city in Sikkim. We took a shared cab to Gayzing which cost Rs. 120/person. From Gayzing to Pelling, we paid Rs. 50/ person. There are taxi stands in all major cities and Gangtok has multiple taxi stands.
Shared cabs between different places typically cost between Rs.50 and Rs.150.
Reserved cabs cost much more. In my other blogs I will mention the cost of reserved cabs and cost for cab for sightseeing in different places.
We reserved a cab from Gangtok to Bagdogra airport due to the flight time but you have the option of taking a shared cab as well. Reserved cab inside the city are insanely expensive. You might end up paying Rs.100 for a distance less than a kilometer.
Walking: In the city, we walked around as much as we could. Reserved cab inside the city are insanely expensive. You might end up paying Rs.100 for a distance less than a kilometer.
There are local shared taxis that have designated routes and you can use them for local transportation.
While the people in Sikkim are generally nice, there are some cab drivers who would try to scam you, so ensure you make clear where you expect to be dropped and the fare for the same from starting point to end point.
A basic, decent accommodation will cost you anywhere around Rs.1200/day on an average. You can find rooms costing between Rs. 1000 and Rs. 2000. I booked through booking.com and airbnb. I quite liked some places and I will list them here. They are budget hotels/homestays.
1) Pelling: Hotel Pine Crest (highly recommended, sells out fast)
21, Tara Palace ( good service, recommended)
Both were located in Lower Pelling.
2) Namchi: Sid’s place(Airbnb, nice for the price we paid, very reasonable, less than Rs.1000/day, recommended for those on budget)
3) Gangtok: We stayed in Gangtok for almost two weeks and stayed in 2 different hotels and one guesthouse.
Hotel Green Park (a family run hotel, recommended)
Hotel Tibet (location very close to MG Marg, can get a little noisy due to traffic, recommended)
Shyar Guesthouse (highly recommended, it’s a deal, book it as early as you can, very clean, very reasonable, lovely hosts, booked through Airbnb)
If you can loosen your purse strings, there are plenty of resorts and luxury hotels as well.
North Sikkim: All accommodation was arranged by the tour company through which we booked our tour.
Small restaurants on MG Marg will offer momos and chowmein for Rs. 40. You can have a full meal for less than Rs. 50 while being seated. There are plenty of bakeries and ice cream shops as well. No matter where you are, you will almost certainly find momos and Maggi. You will easily get North Indian and South Indian food as well.
In North Sikkim, you will be served rice, a vegetable dish, a chicken dish or egg curry, dal and pickle. The food is included in the package.
I hope this information helps you in making a rough estimate of the trip and helps in planning your trip to this beautiful state.