7 Best Places to Explore in Sikkim When You Head for North East India
The spectacular beauty of Sikkim, a small state bordering Nepal will leave you awestruck if you are travelling from the US and Europe. The hill station seated in the great Himalayas is a coveted tourist destination with high mountain peaks and verdant valleys, scenic lakes, and stunning landscapes.
The state of Sikkim has diverse cultures blossoming here for many centuries. Be it the influence of Hinduism from West Bengal or Nepal or Buddhism from Tibet, the state has everything to offer to tourists flocking from all parts of the world.
Besides scenic beauty, snow-capped mountains, and pristine lakes, Sikkim has many historical, cultural, and religious hotspots to delight you.
The best time to visit this tiny state is during the summer months when the weather is pleasant. Here are the seven best places to visit in Sikkim:
Gangtok is pleasurably energetic, extremely attractive, and shrouded in clouds, Sikkim’s capital, as well as, India’s most sought-after hill station. The hill town is seated at an elevation of 1650 meters above sea level, delighting you with brilliant sun-drenched days offering jaw-dropping views of the Kanchenjunga.
Gangtok is the best place for adventure seekers, campers, and trekkers for some adrenaline rush. If you are a nature lover, then visit this hill town during March – Mid May, to take in the beauty of blossoming wild Rhododendrons metamorphosing the nearby areas into extensive fields of colorful blooms.
River Teesta is one of the popular places to visit in Gangtok if you have a penchant for white water rafting in this North-East state of India.
Do not miss the Rumtek and Enchey Monastery during your visit to Gangtok in Sikkim.
2. Nathula Pass
Did you know that Nathula is one of the best and motorable roads in the world? It’s mountain pass seated in the Himalayan peaks connecting China and Sikkim, on the Indo-Tibet border and 14,450 ft. above sea level.
Nathu signifies listening ears and La denotes pass, known for its scenic beauty and spectacular surroundings. You will experience low temperatures most of the year but turns into a very touristy place in summer.
If you would like to see heavy snowfall, the temperature dips to minus 25 degrees Celsius in winter. Then, ensure you carry proper warm clothes if you are visiting Nathula Pass during the chilly winter months. In summer, however, the temperature here is approx 10 degrees Celsius.
3. Tsomgo Lake
The picturesque lake is nestled between the peaks at an elevation of 12,400 ft. above sea level, one of Sikkim’s high-elevation lakes located on the Nathula-Gangtok highway. The locals call it the Changu Lake and should be in your itinerary for all the good reasons, its spectacular scenic beauty.
Surrounded by snow-capped mountains and nestled between verdant alpine forests, the scenery of this unspoiled water body is sure to leave you mesmerized!
It’s a glacial lake fed by melting snow of the surrounding mountains, and popular for its changing colors. During the monsoons, the lake turns a brilliant aquamarine, while during the chilly winters, the water freezes into a white, translucent white, covered with ice. With the advent of the summer in the mid of May, the lake’s border is dotted with infinite color, flowering blossoms lending the pristine waters a dash of vivid colors.
Tsomgo Lake with much cultural and religious significance, and is associated with several legends or myths. It’s believed that the Buddhist monks considered the lake’s color to foresee the future.
4. Yumthang Valley
Located in North Sikkim, the valley of flowers is 140 km off Gangtok, and a popular tourist hotspot rife with rivers, hot springs, verdant meadows, and yaks. Seated at a height of 3,564 meters above sea level, Yumthang Valley is a nature lover’s paradise as it blooms with the Shingba Rhododendron Sanctuary, featuring 24 different species of the flower blossoming from February until mid-June.
You cannot visit Yumthang Valley from December to March, as it has heavy snowfall around this time. The hot springs are believed to have amazing therapeutic powers. If you have a passion for photography, the lush green forests rife with silver fir and pine trees and cosmic verdant meadow to give you enough opportunity to take some spectacular shots.
Pelling is a scenic hill town in the West Sikkim and the second largest tourist spot in the state after Gangtok. Seated 10 km off Geyzing and also 130 km from the small town Gangtok, the major attraction of Pelling for tourists is the breathtaking view of the Khangchendzonga and its surrounding peaks. Take delight and be awestruck when you see the sunrays fall on the snow-capped mountain peak, a golden glittering spectacle to leave you awestruck.
Pelling is also popular for rock climbing, biking, meditations, village tours, and trekking if you are an outdoorsy and adventurous tourist looking for some thrill and excitement.
A beautiful small town seated at an elevation of 6,800 ft. was at first covered with thick verdant forest, which was home to numerous, native wildlife previously, mainly Wildman.
Located at an elevation of 10,000 ft. above the sea level, it is a pretty settlement that rests in the eastern Himalayas in the state of Sikkim. Get mesmerized with Zuluk is blessed with panoramic views of zigzag path, deep gorges, snow-capped mountains, gleaming streams, and deep woods.
The virgin tourist spot of Sikkim and not overcrowded with seasonal tourists, Zuluk is known for its stunning landscapes and friendly locals. Therefore, if you have Zuluk on your bucket list, we recommend that you stay in homestays provided by the locals instead of hotels.
Seated in North Sikkim, it is one of the most picturesque towns, popular for the Lachung Monastery. The lush green vegetation, serene settings, and natural beauty are a traveler’s delight, and one of the most remarkable places for Buddhist pilgrimage.
Lachen is a sparsely populated spot, popular as the gateway to very, very touristy Gurudongmar Lake, a must-see for foreign tourists.
Lachen is also known for its grasslands, lush greenery, as well as apple orchards. The black cliffs and pine-dotted valleys, all start from here, making it an ideal spot for trekking zones of North Sikkim. It includes the Kanchenjunga National Park and The Green lake treks.
Lachen has expedition opportunities to Green Lake, Chopta Valley, Shingba Rhododendron Sanctuary, and Gurudongmar Lake.
Where to stay in Sikkim
Here are some of the best places to stay if you are visiting Sikkim:
Treebo Hotel Orchid
Situated in Gangtok, close to key corporate offices as well as restaurants, this hotel is easy to get to from the closest airport in Bagdogra, approx 120 km off. From the airport, you can hire cabs to get to Gangtok.
The rooms of Treebo Hotel Orchid have a gamut of facilities such as an intercom, hot water kettle for brewing coffee or tea, TV with DTH connection, wardrobes, sofas, and of course room heaters. All rooms feature an attached bath with 24-hour hot water.
You can dine at the in-house restaurant serving Chinese cuisine. Besides, you will also get complimentary ala carte breakfast at the restaurant.
The hotel also provides laundry and cab hire services. The key attractions easy to access from the hotel are Nathula, Changu Lake, Rumtek Monastery, as well as Banjhakri Falls.
If you love shopping, you have the M G Marg, New Market, and Lal Bazaar within 5 km from this hotel.
WelcomHeritage Denzong Regency
WelcomHeritage Denzong Regency delights you with a serene retreat with spectacular views of the Kanchenjunga. The hotel boasts of free Wi-Fi, a restaurant, as well as free parking. The hotel is just 500 meters from M G Marg, for shopping enthusiasts. You will find numerous antique shops that you can buy from here during your visit.
The plush rooms feature cozy wooden interiors and sophisticated lighting. Every room has a seating area, flat-screen TV, as well as a minibar. You will find an attached bath in the rooms with a bathtub or shower.
Foreign tourists can have fun playing mahjong in the hotel’s games room. There are entertainment facilities as well. The staff at Denzong Regency’s tour desk will help you with travel and sightseeing facilities.
Mayal & Gyakho restaurant delights you with an excellent selection of continental and oriental delicacies. There are in-room dining options if you prefer room service.
Rufina Blue Pine
Stay in this hotel at Lachen, which also features a bar. The other amenities include a 24-hour help desk, a restaurant, room service, and free Wi-Fi. You can opt for private parking at a cost.
All guest rooms feature a private bathroom, a seating area, and a desk.
You can savor buffet breakfast and continental dishes at Rufina Blue Pine.
Check for hotel availability and prices before you book. We recommend that you book in advance to avoid the last-minute rush.
There are loads of things to see and do in Sikkim, a vacation away from your mundane lifestyle and hustle and bustle of the city. The serenity coupled with snow-capped mountains, rivers, flower valleys, alpine forests, pristine lakes, and monasteries is sure to leave to mesmerized.