Budget Trip To Sikkim- Gangtok and Pelling
Sikkim, a state in northeast India, bordered by Bhutan, Tibet and Nepal. Part of the Himalayas, the area has a dramatic landscape that includes India’s highest mountain, (8,586m) Kangchenjunga. Sikkim is also home to glaciers, alpine meadows and thousands of varieties of wildflowers. Nathula Pass i.e Indo-China border is a hot spot for tourists when visiting Sikkim. Gangtok, the capital city and Pelling are 2 most convenient cities to stay in and plan your trip.
Best Time to Visit:
Feb-May or Oct- Mid Dec.
Visiting in monsoon is strict no as there are always landslides as its a hilly region.
For a couple, our tour cost was Rs.40000/- total including all taxes and hotel. Additional charges for the flight depending on from where are you flying.
Some Tips for Sikkim:
- Covid Test is mandatory taken within 72 hours ( as of today) Do Check latest updates on Sikkim Tourism Website.
- Mask is compulsory at all times.
- Do check your own state rules before arriving back home.
- Roads are long and zig zag. So do keep nausea medicines with you. Also medicines for headache, loose motion as high altitude and weather can cause these and toilets are not easily available.
- Always keep something to eat with you as there are not many restaurants on the way when you travel and
- Pack good winter wears.
We had booked a vehicle from a tour company in Pelling from airport to airport in advance. It is advisable to do so as there are frequent landslides, at one point you go through Nepal border, long way, roads are zig-zag and local drivers know best how to drive in those hilly dirt roads.
We decided to start from Pelling then to Gangtok. We took a flight from Mumbai to Bagdogra Airport. It is an military airport so flight frequency is less and no flights after 6pm.
Day 1: Bagdogra Airport(IXB)- Pelling (160 km/6 hrs drive)
Day 2: Pelling: Full day local sight seeing
Day 3: Pelling to Gangtok (120 km/5.5 hrs drive)
Day 4: Gangtok: Tsomgo Lake Excursion with Nathula Pass and Mandir
Day 5: Gangtok: Full day local sight seeing
Day 6: Gangtok to Bagdogra Airport
After reaching Bagdogra airport( Our flight landed at around 12pm), we proceeded to Pelling. Our driver picked us up. It's a long journey (160km/6hrs) as it's a hilly region. So do keep something to eat with you and you won't find 5 star or even 3 star hotels on the way so any dhaba you see, have your lunch. Do not wait for a good restaurant. Sikkim people are hygienic. Much better than our cities. 🤣
We reached Pelling by 8pm. We stayed at Summit Newa Regency. OMG! The view this hotel offered was mind blowing. Food and service was excellent and very economical. You can check out this hotel here.
Post breakfast, We started the day with local sight seeing which includes
Darap Valley- On the way to Rock Garden.
Rock Garden- Together with Rimbi Falls
Khecheopalri sacred Lake. After lunch visiting Rabdentse Ruins, Pema Yangtse monastery and Helipad Ground .
Day 3: Pelling to Gangtok
Next day Proceed to Gangtok (120 km/5.5 hrs drive) reach by evening and relax. We stayed at Summit Golden Crescent. Again awesome view of the entire city, great food.
Day 4: Tsomogo Lake and Nathula Pass
Early morning at around 8 am, start for Tsomgo Lake (12,400 ft/3750 m/3 hrs drive) and Baba Harbhajan Mandir( 13,200 ft/4000 m). Tsomgo Lake is considered to be a sacred lake by the locals.
Tips for Nathula pass:
- Inform your tour operator well in advance ( atleast 3-4 days)
- They will take care of the permit
- 3 passport size photos are required and one valid govt id ( Adhar card and PAN not valid) So carry passport or any other ID you have. Carry extra photos just in case
- Visit to Nathula pass and mandir depends on the weather. Military is in full control there. IF they feel weather is getting bad or weather department warns of upcoming storm (snow storms are very common specially in Feb and sometimes in March) then they stop entries of vehicles.
- Permit is non refundable and valid only for a day. If visit is not permitted due to bad weather you can not use that permit for next day. So do not keep high hopes. Sadly, we couldn't visit Nathula pass as we reached Tsomogo Lake, weather became bad and raining so they did not allow.
Day 5 Gangtok
After breakfast, proceed for a full day Gangtok town tour which includes Bakthang Waterfalls, Tashi view point, Ganesh Tok, Enchey Monastry, Directorate of Handicraft and Handloom(Closes early at 4pm and Closed on Sat-Sun), , Do Drul Chorten Stupa, Institute of Tibetology(closes early at 4pm and Closed on Sunday), Flower Show. We are not going to describe each place as it will take out the fun in visiting these places. But these are must visit places. 😊
In the evening do take a stroll in Gangtok's MG road. It is their market road. Beautiful, plenty of shopping opportunities and do try Wai-Wai noodles the way they make.
Day 6 Gangtok to Bagdogra Airport
130 km/4 hrs drive. End of a wonderful tour.
Do comment and let us know if you have any queries or suggestions. We will be happy to help.😊