The Ultimate travel guide to Sikkim – 5 day itinerary

Located in the North East India, Sikkim is known for its huge mountain ranges  and a dramatic landscape. With its beautiful lakes surrounded by snowcapped mountains and meandering roads with high cliffs, Sikkim has a lot to offer. Last year, during our visit to India, we went on a 5-day trip to Sikkim. It was on our bucket list for a long time.

In this travel blog, I will share all the details about places we visited along with a detailed itinerary and travel tips and recommendations

Ideal time to visit Sikkim

We visited in the week of April. Usually, the weather is good with little to no snow at higher elevation. However, when we visited it snowed with some landslide situations at few places. Not trying to scare you but its always good to be aware !

The ideal time to visit either is Summer (April – June) or Winter (October – March). Though, keep in mind winter could be harsh, so carry all the warm layers with you. I would suggest avoiding rainy season (July to September) if you are planning to visit North Sikkim.

How to reach

The best way to reach Gangtok – either fly to Bagdogra or take a train to Siliguri. After reaching Bagdogra or Siliguri, you can hire a taxi or take a bus to arrive in Gangtok. There is also a direct flight from Kolkata and Delhi to Pakyong Airport in Gangtok.

Budget for the trip

Flights to Bagdogra roundtrip is about INR 10000-15000 per person. If time is not a constraint, you can book a train to Siliguri which will cost way less than the flight.

North Sikkim tour + a day trip from Sikkim + Cab to Bagdogra – INR 35000 for 2 people which includes private cab, Permits and hotel stay. 

Food and other miscellaneous things – INR 10,000

If you want to know about the tour agency we opted for, you can contact us.

Getting Around in Sikkim

Renting a car for self-driving is not an option in this area. Therefore, I recommend booking a tour or hiring a cab through a local tour agency as the best alternative. Although we faced some issues with the tour agency we had booked, however, the overall experience was good.

You will need multiple permits to visit various places of interest if you choose to drive your own car from a different state.

Permit Requirements

A permit is required to visit certain parts of Sikkim. Tour agencies and cab providers usually handle permit arrangements for visitors, so it’s best to check with them directly when booking.

5-day itinerary to visit Sikkim

We planned our entire trip with the assistance of a local tour agency, which included the hotel bookings, private cabs and permits. Based on our experience and the places we visited, below is a sample itinerary. You can customize the itinerary based on your preferences and work with the local tour agencies to make necessary arrangements. If you want to know about the tour agency we opted for, you can contact us.

Day 1 – Arrival in Gangtok, Sikkim

After our trip to Bhutan, we hired a taxi from Jaigaon, the border town between India and Bhutan, to reach Gangtok, the capital city of Sikkim. It took us around 6-7 hours to reach Gangtok from Jaigaon. 

We arrived at our hotel late in the evening and after check-in, we headed out to the bustling streets of Gangtok. MG Marg, situated at the heart of the town, was buzzing with a lively atmosphere. We spent the evening leisurely exploring this vibrant market and ended the night with lots of momos for dinner.

If you are arriving from other parts of India, you can either fly to Bagdogra or take a train to Siliguri. After reaching Bagdogra or Siliguri, you can hire a taxi or take a bus to arrive at Gangtok. There is also a direct flight from Kolkata and Delhi to Pakyong Airport in Gangtok.

View from our hotel in Gangtok

Day 2 – Northward bound to Lachen

The next day was all about the drive from Gangtok to Lachen in North Sikkim, which is situated at 9000 ft. The journey was spectacular with roller coaster rides through the bumpy roads, offering panoramic views of lush valleys and the Teesta River. We took a lot of pit stops to sip chai, have maggi and enjoy few waterfalls along the way. 

After arriving at Lachen, we checked in and called it a day as it started to rain. It was very cold in Lachen, so we would recommend to bring warm layers. Also, our hotel here was very basic with limited facility.

Day 3 – Gurudongmar Lake

The highlight of our adventure unfolded on this day with an excursion to India’s highest lake – Gurudongmar Lake. After a light breakfast, we began our epic journey early morning around 6 am with the goal of reaching our destination, which was at 17000 ft above the sea level. The drive from 9000 ft to 17000 ft was breathtaking, both figuratively and literally. There was snow everywhere, as we reached the higher elevations. It looked absolutely gorgeous.

Somewhere in Lachen
A snowy day in Sikkim

After an arduous yet beautiful journey, we finally arrived at the Gurudongmar Lake. The lake, situated at an awe-inspiring altitude, reflected the grandeur of the snow-capped peaks. We were ecstatic! 

However, altitude sickness is common in this region, so we made sure to carry medicines with us. The oxygen level at 17000 ft is low, which may cause dizziness and shortness of breath. Therefore, we took it easy, walked slowly, and kept our activity to a minimum. 

After spending some time admiring the lake, we said goodbye and headed back to Lachen for lunch. Then, we picked up our bags from our hotel in Lachen and continued towards Lachung. This city is bigger than Lachen in terms of facilities. The hotel we stayed in was decent and good for a night’s stay.

North Sikkim - Gurudongmar Lake
Gurudongmar Lake

Day 4 – Yumthang Valley & Zero Point

On this particular day, our plan was to visit the stunning Yumthang Valley and Zero Point. This valley is known for its beautiful flowers and is home to the Shingba Rhododendron Sanctuary. We were eagerly looking forward to experiencing the best view that the valley has to offer.

However, on our way, we were informed that there had been a landslide, and the road to Yumthang Valley was closed until further notice. We waited for a few hours, hoping that the roads would reopen, but unfortunately, they didn’t. So, we decided to turn back and head back to Gangtok. On the way, we stopped at Amitabh Bachan Falls, which is a very popular tourist spot.

The drive back to Gangtok was a nightmare as it began to pour heavily, and the visibility was very very low. We heaved a sigh of relief only when we finally reached our hotel. It’s essential to note that the weather in Sikkim is very unpredictable and can change quickly, so it’s best to be aware of that.

Yak on the way to Yumthang Valley in Sikkim
Yumthang valley in Sikkim

Day 5 – Day trip to Namchi & Ravangla (South Sikkim)

Next day, we went on a day trip to Namchi and Ravangla. We visited Char dham in Namchi and Buddha park in Ravangla.

Char dham in Namchi has the replicas of all the dhams of India. Badrinath, Jagannath Puri, Rameshwaram and Dwarka. It is also popular for the statue of Lord Shiva. 

Buddha Park in Ravangla is popular for the 130 feet high statue of Lord Buddha.  

The other option would be – Gangtok city tour or visiting Nathula pass. Our initial plan was to visit Nathula pass but unfortunately our plan got cancelled due to heavy snow and landslide. Do note that the Nathula pass is closed on Monday and Tuesday.

Ravangla in Sikkim
Ravangla, West Sikkim
Namchi, Sikkim

Day 6 – Heading back home

Next day, our flight was at 10.30 am from Bagdogra. So, we started quite early from Gangtok and headed back home after making a lot of memories in this trip.

If you have an extra day or two, I would suggest visit Peiling (West sikkim) or Zuluk (East Sikkim).

Things to know before you go!

Here are few things to keep in mind while planning a trip to Sikkim

1. There are mainly 4 different regions in Sikkim to explore – North, East, West and South. A trip to North is the most challenging due to weather and altitude. You would need at least 14 days to cover all the different regions.

2. Permits are required for most of the places and you can get those with the help of local tour agencies.

3. If you prefer comfortable accommodations, you can choose the North Sikkim Tour (Lachen – Gurudongmar – Lachung – Yamthang Valley) which includes only a cab and a driver. You will need to book your own accommodation

Hope you find this blog helpful to plan your trip to the beautiful state of Sikkim, India. 

Also, let us know in the comments if have any questions. Happy to answer! or if you find our blog useful. Happy to know!

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