My eventful tour of North Sikkim

Gurudongmar Lake, Sikkim
Gurudongmar Lake, Sikkim

Located in North East of India, the state of Sikkim is blessed with breathtaking waterfalls, lakes, scenic Valleys monasteries and Gompas. There are several exciting trek routes too.

In the year 2010, just after Durga Puja, I got roped into a hurriedly decided tour to Sikkim with some of my young friends who were mostly from TCS. The tour itinerary included the Capital city Gangtok and its outskirts followed by a tour to North Sikkim.

I have been four times unlucky regarding a trip to Gangtok and North Sikkim. So I hopped in, despite the fact I knew only one of the team members.

A typical tour to Gangtok and North Sikkim comprises of several things. To start with there is the city tour which comprises of several Monasteries including the famous Rumtek.

The highlight of North Sikkim tour comprises of the high altitude fresh water lake of Gurudongmar at 17,100 feet in North Sikkim. The lake is named after Guru Padmasambhava who had brought Tantric Buddhism to Tibet in the 8th century. It is said that Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikh religion, visited this lake.

Also added to the tour was a visit to Tsongmo alias Changu Lake in east Sikkim, 40 km from Gangtok. The lake was 40 km from Gangtok at a height of 12,400 ft and is accessed through a treacherous road.

Crawling Traffic at Ranipool Bridge
Crawling Traffic at Ranipool Bridge

Accompanied by my young friends, I reached the very next day after Durga Puja at New Jalpaiguri Station. With a bright sunny weather accompanied by the blue waters of Tista River, we enjoyed a pleasant 4-hour drive to Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim. There is a bridge just before entering Gangtok. The bridge is known as Ranipool bridge and the stream below it as Rani Khola. On crossing the bridge some army men checks car papers. The traffic usually crawls here.

Not great news at Gangtok

On our arrival to Gangtok, we came to know that our hired car from NJP will not be allowed to go further from the Deorali Jeep stand. We had to hire cabs to reach there. The cabs do not run on meter and do not have any fixed rate. Besides that, each cab takes only 4 people. Since we were a group of five, we were forced to take two cabs to reach our hotel.

There was more bad news to come. Our North Sikkim Tour scheduled two days later took a jolt when our pre-booked exclusive tour with a local travel agent was cancelled. Since it was peak season and we had no other options than to convert our exclusive tour into a shared one with another agent. Also, there seemed to be no car or taxi available to take us to Tsongmo alias Changu lake the next day at a reasonable rate.

We went out for a stroll in the afternoon to keep our spirits high. Our hotel was near Tashiling Secretariat. There was a viewpoint near it, but dusk was settling fast. We managed to get in the last ride on the ropeway over the city. It was not very fruitful as the fog was coming down very fast. We got a basic glance of the city from the top and then everything went white.

Viewpoint near Secretriat
Viewpoint near Secretriat
View of Gangtok from Ropeway
View of Gangtok from Ropeway

After getting down from ropeway, we walked down to the most happening place of Gangtok – the M.G. Marg. It is a pedestrian plaza and well maintained. Comparing with Kolkata, this road can be considered as the Park Street of Gangtok. The bus and jeep stands are nearby. Also the famous ‘Lal Market’ where tourists do their maximum shopping is just adjacent to it. There are several hotels on the M. G. Marg. It occurred to me that maybe we should have opted for a hotel at M.G. Road to save the cabby fare up and down to the hotel.

M.G. Marg is the most happening place of Gangtok
M.G. Marg is the most happening place of Gangtok
Lal Market is the best place to shop at Gangtok
Lal Market is the best place to shop at Gangtok
A souvenir shop at Lal Market
A souvenir shop at Lal Market

Since nobody was in a great mood, we decided to have dinner in a good restaurant instead of our hotel. We entered into one of the good restaurants named “Gang Talk”. The ambience was good and so was the food. Some of the team members decided to drown their sorrow with alcohol. It did not have a good effect and the result was that on our way back in confusion escorting our “high spirited” friends we took a wrong pathway to the hotel.

Chance Night encounter strikes rich.

It sounds funny, but getting “lost” in a city that too in the night is rather embarrassing. Worse one of our “high spirited” friends started hailing cabs at random and asking them whether next day they could take us to a tour of Changu lake and Baba Mandir . I was getting irritated and puzzled when a miracle happened. A cab actually stopped and he informed that there can actually be a car available next day to give us a tour to Changu Lake and Baba Mandir! After we reached our hotel, the driver of the said car paid a visit. He took two of our passport sized photograph and I.D. Proof photocopy in order to make Inner Line Permit to visit the lake. The lake falls in restricted area and thus needs a permit. Our tour to Changu Lake for the next day was fixed.

The next morning started very promisingly. To start off we were treated to an awesome sight of Mount Kanchendzonga and other peaks shining brightly amongst floating clouds and lush greeneries right from our balcony. The scenario was looking like an oil painting and it was not till clouds covered the snow capped mountains, we thought of getting ready for our tour to Changu Lake. After a hearty breakfast, we had a talk over the phone with our driver who asked us to join him at the private bus/jeep stand opposite to Hungry Jack Hotel. It was walking distance from M.G. Road.

Mt. Kangchenjunga and other peaks as seen from out hotel balcony
Mt. Kangchenjunga and other peaks as seen from out hotel balcony
Zoomed view of Mt. Kangchenjunga as seen from out hotel balcony
Zoomed view of Mt. Kangchenjunga as seen from out hotel balcony

We walked from our hotel to the M.G. Road. In the day time, the path looked pretty easy and we reached the Jeep Stand in no time. Our driver arrived sometimes later with a Mahindra Maxx. We had intended to visit Nathula pass too. However, it was not possible as we came to know that the pass remains open only to Indian nationals on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Sadly it was Tuesday, so we had to drop the idea.

Tsongmo alias Changu Lake and Baba Mandir

We started at 10:00. Another fellow came in and handed over the inner line permit to the driver. It was sunny all around with clouds floating. The zigzag pathway with greeneries all around was a treat to the eyes.

Inner Permit for Changu Lake handed over to our Driver
Inner Permit for Changu Lake handed over to our Driver

After a drive of one and half hour we stopped at the check post where there was a huge line of cars. Our driver went to see the permit, whence I notice small waterfalls beside the road. It looked pretty and in a jiffy I was on the road armed with my camera and tripod. As soon as my photo session was over, the driver came back and we resumed our journey.

A small waterfalls on our way to Changu Lake
A small waterfalls on our way to Changu Lake

The road was a mixed affair. At some place it was pretty descent, while it was extremely difficult to negotiate at some other. We needed some military men to push our vehicle at a point. We came to know that there was a landslide yesterday and the cleaning process was going on. We saw some road repairing machines on the way.

Road to Changu Lake from Gangtok
Road to Changu Lake from Gangtok

Meanwhile the weather God played foul with us. As we were proceeding towards Changu, it became cloudy. By the time we had reached, the place was full of fog and mist. It was drizzling a bit too. The water of the lake was yet unfrozen. The glacial lake is at a height of 12,400 ft and about 40 km from Gangtok.

Changu lake on a cloudy day
Changu lake on a cloudy day

We loitered a bit around the lake, plainly disappointed as the weather was dull and full of mist. There was a small wooden bridge with lots of coloured flags. We strolled over the bridge a bit and went back to the car and drove off to Baba Mandir. On our way back I was lucky to spot and shoot Rainbow at Changu Lake which for me was no less than a miracle.

A Rainbow at Changu Lake
A Rainbow at Changu Lake

The legend of Baba Mandir is quite famous. It was built in memory of Baba Harbhajan Singh, a soldier in the 23rd Punjab Regiment of Indian Army, who was drowned in a stream near the spot. In fact, there are two Baba Mandirs at Sikkim. The original Baba Mandir has been built at the site of the bunker of Baba Harbhajan, where he served during his tenure at the army. The new one has been built close to Changu Lake. It is around 20 km from the lake at a height of 13000 feet. Tourists traveling to West Sikkim at Nathang Valley, Kupup Lake visits old Baba Mandir. The new temple is always crowded with Indian Army Soldiers who believe the soul of the departed soldier still guards the frontier. A huge number of devotees visit the temple during peak tourist season.

Baba Mandir with Indian Soldiers around
Baba Mandir with Indian Soldiers around

I found this blog to be useful about facts on Baba Harbajan Singh

North Sikkim Tour

Shared jeep travel in Gangtok means 10 passengers other than the driver in a Mahindra Maxx. Since we were first to arrive, we got the best seats. Two of us sat beside the driver and two positioned themselves in the middle seats. The other passenger took some time to come and it was not before 12 noon we started our journey.

We were to first reach Lachen (8838 Feet or 2694 Mtrs), which was 123 km from Gangtok. On the way to Lachen, our first stop was the Seven Sisters falls. Located 32 km from Gangtok, the waterfall gushes down against a green backdrop. There were quite a lot of tourists climbing up a staircase to reach near the waterfalls. I managed to get some good shots fixing the tripod some way on the stones.

Seven sisters falls
Seven sisters falls

Around 2 p.m. we halted for a lunch break at a pre-arranged local house at Phodong, 40 km from Gangtok. Soon after leaving Phodong, the road turned from bad to worse. It was a two way narrow lane with thick mud all over. Worse, in some places there were abandoned military trucks on the road. We literally crawled up to Mangan, the district headquarters of North Sikkim. There was a round of permit checking after Mangan.

Scenic fields at Phodong
Scenic fields at Phodong
The road turned from bad to worse after Phodong
The road turned from bad to worse after Phodong

After Mangan, we passed by the gorgeous Naga falls which flows over the road. Unfortunately, the light was very low now, so we could not stop to have a good view. Our final checking was at Tung check post before entering Lachen. It was around 6:00 when we reached Chungthang , where there are two pathways. The left goes to Lachen and the right to Lachung. The road was very dangerous here as there were no street lights. On our right side, below the valley, we could see a hydroelectric project under construction.

The village of Lachen
The village of Lachen

We reached Lachen at around 07:30 p.m. The accommodation was reasonably good at Lachen as we did not expect such a well-furnished room with Geyser facilities for bathing. It was extremely cold outside and we had earlier thought of skipping bath these days. After a nice bath and a simple dinner, we went to bed early.

Gurudongmar Lake

Next day in our journey for Gurudongmar Lake started at 04:00 a.m. The road condition was the worst and for the first time, I was feeling scary. There were numerous waterfalls on the way. We reached Thanggu at 06:45 a.m. It was still quite cold. The hot breakfast and tea at Thanggu tasted heavenly. Foreign Nationals cannot proceed after Thanggu as they are not permitted to visit the lake. They visit Chopta Valley instead.

Early morning at Thanggu
Early morning at Thanggu
Our breakfast getting ready at Thanggu
Our breakfast getting ready at Thanggu

It was getting cloudy and the terrain after Thanggu was very much like Ladakh. The clouds were getting dense and it was drizzling a bit. We were stopped at a military post where army men asked as whether we were feeling fine. There were bunkers and heavy artillery around us. None of us dared to take out our camera here. This was the final checkpoint and after that, the road was like a massive field from one horizon to the other. On our right, we could see snow clad mountains. Here we took out our cameras and started shooting.

The terrain from Thanggu to Gurudongmar Lake
The terrain from Thanggu to Gurudongmar Lake
The massive open field on the way to Gurudongmar
The massive open field on the way to Gurudongmar

We reached Gurudongmer lake around at 09:00 a.m. The time allotted was 1 hour. The clouds were clearing a bit but the snow clad peaks were not clearly visible. I climbed down a steep wooden staircase to reach the banks of the lake. There were colourful prayers flag around the lake. Keeping a sharp watch on the time, I decided to take a stroll around the giant waterbody.

Close view of Gurudongmar Lake
Close view of Gurudongmar Lake

At 17,100 feet, it is not surprising to have breathing trouble. Especially when you have gained that altitude from 9022 feet at that early part of the day in just about 5 hours !

My friends decided to stay up and not risk it. I walked to the left of the lake and crossed a small bridge. The colour of Gurudongmar Lake was greenish blue. With the clouds clearing from the snow clad mountains beside it, the place was looking out of the world. I have no idea what heaven looks like, but it must be something like this. Half way down the lake, I decided to turn back as it was getting late. A major disadvantage of a shared trip is you do not seem to get enough time anywhere.

Gurudongmar Lake Panoramic view
Gurudongmar Lake Panoramic view

After I climbed up the stairs, I found that it was the correct light to take my desired panorama shot of the lake. I took some other shots too as the driver was pursuing us to get in. Two of the fellow members were not feeling well and it was time to go. There was a small temple of Buddhist Guru besides the temple, where we made a hasty visit.

Landscape Near Gurudongmar
Landscape Near Gurudongmar

The sun was shining brightly now, and with great despair I climbed into the car. On our way back the valley was looking nothing less than Ladakh with the snow clad mountains shining on the horizon underneath the blue sky.

Going back I was feeling like having something extremely tasty but not having enough of it. One hour in heaven was bit too less.

Visit to Yumthang Valley and Zero Point

We reached Lachung (8610 Feet or 2624 Mts) the same afternoon after having a brief lunch stop at Lachen. I found Lachung more scenic and spread out than Lachen. The dinner was excellent today with Rumali Roti and Chicken Curry. Thankfully next day we were not supposed to start in the dark, but around 07:00 in the morning.

Lachung was more scenic than Lachen. That yellow two storied house was our lodge
Lachung was more scenic than Lachen. That yellow two storied house was our lodge

Next day the weather did not clear and Yumthung Valley was a big disappointment. We did not expect any flowers at this “Valley of Flowers” of Sikkim in October, but the bad light made the scenary look extremely dull.It had not snowed there as well. We strolled down to the river and had some slow shutter shot.

Yumthang Valley was a big disappointment because of bad weather
Yumthang Valley was a big disappointment because of bad weather
River at Yumthang Valley
River at Yumthang Valley

The driver had already told us that if we were to proceed to Zero Point, we have to pay extra Rs 500 as it has not part of original plan. Reluctantly we paid him the money, but it turned out worth going to reach Zero Point. The road was zigzag and narrow. Since it was a two way road, driving was really difficult.

Road to Zero Point
Road to Zero Point

Although weather did not clear and we could not see any snow clad peaks, it had snowed heavily at Zero point and everyone had their share of fun with snow and ice in the area. We took a stroll in the snow, but I advised not to cross the bridge over the icy river as fog was getting in.

Tourists at Zero Point
Tourists at Zero Point
A Kid enjoying with snow at Zero Point
A kid enjoying with snow at Zero Point
A bridge at zero point
A bridge at zero point

Three of our fellow passenger ventured across the bridge and we had to wait for long before they came back. By that time all other tourist jeep has left and it had started snowing again. As we were about to lose our patience they came back strolling lazily. Well, you have to face such troubles while going in a shared car.

Our lone car at Zero Point waiting for our fellow mates to return
Our lone car at Zero Point waiting for our fellow mates to return

The visibility was getting down from bad to worse as we drove on through that zig zag road with walls of ice beside us. Finally, we came down to a normal road and drove without much event to Lachung. After a quick lunch, we drove back to Gangtok. The road was worse while returning. One vehicle had got stuck in the mud and everyone gave a hand to heave it. We reached around 11 in the night at the city.

After a day of local sightseeing at Gangtok including a visit to Rumtek and Ranka Monastery, we headed for New Jalpaiguri Station the next day.

Rumtek Monastery
Rumtek Monastery
Ranka Monastery
Ranka Monastery

The Manager of our lodge, Hotel Pomra promised to get us an SUV, but ended up providing us with a Tata Indica. We had a heated argument, but at the end, we were forced to board that car as there was not much alternative. My friends had done truckload of shopping at Gangtok, and it was really cramped inside the car.

We learned the lesson in the hard way that at Gangtok, one should arrange the vehicle on their own instead of depending on hotel managers.

As we reached New Jalpaiguri, one of the team member said – “We managed a car out of the blue for going to Changu Lake, survived a shared trip to North Sikkim after our tour agent duped. At least, we had a ready car to drop us at New Jalpaiguri. Thank God the worst is over.”

Actually at that time fate must have looked upon us and said “Picture abhi baki hai mere dost” (the show is yet to go on), as we were completely unaware of the events which were about to happen within another two hours.

But that is another story. Maybe in some other blog post, I will share it. Look out for that adventure or should I say a misadventure.

Neccessary information

North Sikkim

To reach Gurudongmar Lake and /or Yumthang, it is mandatory to do the trip of North Sikkim with tour operators recognized by Sikkim Government. If budget permits, try to go for an exclusive tour instead of a shared one. I recommend that you book your tour from travel agent based in your city or at Kolkata instead of directly booking through a Gangtok based agency. The drivers of Sikkim may be champion of the roads, but most of the Gangtok based travel agencies are extremely unreliable.

People having a heart problem or breathing trouble should not attempt this journey. You should carry enough warm clothes anytime you visit this lake. You need to carry your identity card (Voter’s card or Pan Card preferable) and two copies of your passport sized photograph as you will need a permit to visit this lake. Normally your local tour operator is supposed to get you the permit. Keep more photographs with you in case you need it.

Gurudongmar Lake is very near to China border and a high-security zone. Be careful not to take photographs of bunkers, heavy artillery and other military buildings. You may be heavily penalised for this.

Usually the best time to visit North Sikkim is the end of April to mid of June and October to the first week of November. But nowadays the perfect months to get together the flowers in full bloom at Yumthang and also relatively clear Sky at Gurudongmar is end of April to the second week of May.


You can reach Gangtok in 4-5 hours either by hired car from NJP station/ Siliguri or by Sikkim transport’s Bus from Siliguri. There are several trains reaching NJP station in the morning from Howrah / Sealdah. Preferable time of visit is March to June and November to December. October is a good time too, but due to late monsoons it may be dicey.

At Gangtok, I will advise staying at a hotel near M.G. Marg. It is walking distance from the Deorali Bus /Jeep Stand. Also since M.G. Marg is at heart of Gangtok, you get easy access to every amenity. Lal Market is a good place to shop, but one needs to bargain hard and do proper quality check before closing the deal.


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  • Your post contains so much of necessary Information with beautiful images for a well understanding of the place.
    Such article can make anybody dream about the destination if someone have not visited yet.
    I think Itinerary part should be more highlighted as I’m near to fix a trip plan.
    But Information for starting the journey is very helpful and well guided.
    Thank you, for sharing your knowledge and Ideas to make our journey more boastful.

  • I was wondering a trip in North Sikkim and found out your blog with some amazing picture & details knowledge of the destination. The photos are so vibrant that one can’t escape it’s sight. Hotels, Sight-seeing, rivers in there can easily melt anyone’s heart. Hope soon I could cover this mesmerizing destination with the help of your detailed knowledge.

  • Very nice post, you have descried all the places in Sikkim with nice way. I am planning to visit Sikkim in July with my family and the information you mentioned in your post really helpful for us. One of our relatives suggested me to consult & book Sikkim tour with Thanks for your very useful and informative blog.

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  • Daphnie Lias

    Hi Sir,
    Is it advisable to travel during pooja holidays October 3rd week to North Sikkim . Also do you suggest any good travels from Chennai

  • Hi Amitabha,

    Great write-up!
    I need some help with my upcoming Sikkim trip. We are two people going there from May 19-26. Any assistance would be appreciated!
    1. It being the peak season, is it advisable to book hotels upfront, or can they be booked on-the-go once we reach there?
    2. Same query for taking a cab for Nathu La – since it’s only the two of us, we’d rather take a shared cab than an entire cab for ourselves. How advisable is it to not pre-book an entire cab?
    3. In case we take a shared cab to Nathu La, how do we arrange for the ILPs?
    4. ILP q. no.#2 – Where and how to procure the ILP for Gurudongmar?
    5. Are shared cabs available from Gangok to Pelling. If not, are buses?

    Sorry for the ‘too many questions’, and TIA!

  • Arka

    Hello Sir
    Is it safe to visit north sikkim in first week of june? Given the beginning of the rainy season.

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  • Rajul

    hi, thanks for such helpful information. wanted to check is 10 march to 20 march is good time to visit north Sikkim ? we want to visit gurudongmar lake, we have 5 year old kid and my mom 58 years. Please suggest.

  • Patrick

    Hello Amitabha

    This is very good info. Enjoyed your blog. I am planning to visit in July 2017. Can you let me know how I can do this itinerary

    Pelling, Gurudongmar lake and Nathula Pass

    We are two adults, two teens and a 4 year old. Would like to have private transport to all the places. What do you suggest I take? I am a US Citizen but have Aadhar card I pass off as a local? My email id is [email protected].


    • Should not try any trick with Indian Army, specially when it comes to Gurudongmar Lake. No and absolutely NO.

      July would be monsoon in Sikkim. I would not advise you to visit Sikkim at that time.

  • Hi , Amitabh , you said it right. MG Marg is the most happening place in Gangtok. I have been there and it was really awesome experience.

  • Travelling Sikkim is really a valuable experience. Thanks for elaborating the sightseeing places and picture.


    Hi Amitabha, wonderful naration, superb photos. …Thank you so much for your information.

    We are planning to visit between 25th and 29th. 1) Can we cover Gurudongmar and yamthang in 2 days and one night in exclusive cab?
    2) I don’t have any contacts in kolkata or Gangtok. …any suggestion to identify right travel agent?
    3) Is it very difficult to manage low oxygen levels? What precautions, medicine that we should carry?

    Pl answer I will be very thankful to u

  • Very informative blog Amitabha. I am visiting sikkim next month (4-5th april) for a week, can i get details on reliable taxi operators for 8 days airport-airport service? i really appreciate it.

  • mayank

    Hi Amitabha,
    Can u provide the name and no. of that driver. I will book my comelete package through him for 8 n/9 days…or if u can suggest one.. going with mom dad, kids , wife in june 2017…

    • Unfortunately.. No… This happened in 2010…and I have no clue about his whereabouts.

  • tamal

    north sikkim zero point.any rules visit this point .pleace help me.

    • You need an inner permit to visit North Sikkim, which your travel agent should be able to do.

  • Manish


    We are planning to visit gangtok and north sikkin from 30th dec to 4th jan

    Would it be possible to visit nathula pass and gurudongmar lake at that time.??

  • HTV8

    Thanks for sharing time to take such greats photo + details for the blogs. I have the same problem with the people coming to Sikkim end Jan- early Feb. We did contact some travel agents in Sikkim, and was advised that it is “ok” to go to the North. I really doubt about it, until i read your post and it reconfirms me. Please help to advise:
    1. People will normally go Darjelling–> Gangtok–> Pelling-> Lachung-> Yumthung–> Gurudongmar. What will be the good alternatives if the road will be block from Pelling to Lachung–> Yumthung valley.
    2. I read another post of you regarding the “unseen and undiscovered places” and the social media affect to our travelling life. I m the one who want to see place not are full of tourists. I have noticed the Rinchenpong and Okhrey on your web, are there any places that we can only see, breath and play with the natural beauties?
    Thanks for feedback.

  • Anirban banerjee

    Nice blog Amitabha, nicely penned as well as a good hand in photography…
    I am planning to visit Sikkim during 5-10th Dec 2016. Could you please suggest a tentative itenary? Or will it be possible to visit gurdongmar that time? I know that hilly region is always unpredictable still want to try our luck. I will appreciate if you can help

  • Lakshmi

    We ( I , my husband and my 7 year old son) are planning to visit North Sikkim during November. can we visit Cholamu lake also and how to reach that place from Lachen or Lachung?


    north sikkim tour in november is it advisable pls help me out

  • Tamal halder

    hi bro i planing nortth sikkim april first week ,i visit zero point,Yumtang,Gurudongmar lake etc.but i go april first week anay problem ? please help me.

    • you may face lotta problem if you go to “nortth sikkim” in april first week…due to snow fall causing road block…. you go april last week or May 1st /middle weeks…

  • Ashish gupta

    Hello sir very nice and informative article
    Sir, I m planning to visit Sikkim from 24th to 30th december.
    I have planned it like this kindly suggest me
    Day1 bagdogra to Gangtok .gangtok stay
    Day 2 nathula pass route back to Gangtok
    Day 3 gangtok s.s.
    Day 4 to lachung and stay
    Day 5 lachung yumthang and zero point with return to Gangtok
    Day 6______________
    Day 7 to bagdogra

    I m planning to book a tour operator. I talked to Sikkim tour and is this tour operator

    Also want to enquire about 2hotels.h ow are these hotels. Mainly cleanliness and heating facilities
    1) in gangtok–yangthang heritage
    2) lachung—yarlam this different from yarlam portico
    3) etho metho at lachung

    He suggested me these hotels

    Is it possible to visit lachen and the guru lake



    Hi, Dear Sir i hav been to sikkim this year in may 2016 . it’s was a great experience to explore the sikkim but due to bad weather condition my north sikkim part was totally cancelled. Now we are planning for n-sikkim in feb 2017 . Could you pls give some suggest regarding this tour is it ok in feb 2017. an early reply is reqested.


    Hi, Amitabha, Its a very nice effort. Really appreciable. Can u please share the EXIF details of those photos. Thanks in advance.
    BTW I am planning a trip to north sikkim. Your blog is a big help. Thank you.

  • anupam

    Hi Amitabha, Thanks, very informative blog. We are planning a family trip(parents+ kid) to Sikkim in early September i.e 4th to 10th Sep. Would you suggest going to Lachung & Yumtang now. We are planning to cover in and around Gangtok & Darjeeling.Not sure on other places as such.

  • Hey Amitabha, wonderful article. Its very informative. I wish you go for a solo road trip from Mumbai to Sikkim and i want to visit all the places that you have mentioned. Is it possible to visit all the places that you have mentioned esp. Nathan la and La chung in my own vehicle (its Mumbai registered). Also do you have any suggestions for the trip. Thank you.

    • Solo Road trip to Nathu La, Changu and North Sikkim from Mumbai? Not advisable. The Roads are not exactly a walk in the park.

  • Dr Rahul Gupta

    hi amitabha,
    your blog is really informative and interesting. I am pretty convienced to go to sikkim in the last week of november this year with my wife. Can you help me out to plan an itenary for like 7-8days.I would really like to see the lake you mentioned and the scenic beauty.

  • Which hotel did you stay at Gangtok to get a lovely view of Kanchenjunga? Is North Sikkim tour worth taking in second fortnight of Octgober?

    • Hotel Pomra at Secretariat Road. It is 10-15 walking from M.G. Marg. Second Fortnight of October is good time to visit North Sikkim. Usually weather remains clear at that time.

  • Sarang Pandharkar

    Hi Amitabha,

    Nice blog…I wanted to Know through which tour operator you booked North Sikkim tour & Nathula Pass tour ? What would be the tentative charges to visit these places in May first week ?

    • Just a local tour operator who offered us a shared tour. Not a great experience these shared tour.

      Yes… May first week should be fine.

  • sumit

    Very informative Blog…
    Please help me to create Itineraries for Sikkim trip as there are many places.
    I am travelling with my family ( 2 adults and one 4-year old Kid) from 6 th April to 12 th April.
    Below i have planed , please help me
    – 6 Th April -> Reach Gangtok and rest
    – 7 th April –> Changu /Baba mandir/nathu-la
    – 8 th and 9 th April –> 2 days and 1 night trip to Yumthang Valley and zero point in north sikkim
    -10 April – Darzling local shit scene
    -11 April Darzeling – tiger hill/tea garden etc
    12 April leave for bangalore

    Would we facing any issue with kid on changu and Yumthang Valley.

    Please help me with your Itineraries. my mail id is [email protected]



    we are planning a trip to sikkim ex mumbai on 27th april and wish to cover the following places
    pelling, gangtok, lachen-Gurudongmar lake,lachung-yumthoong-zero point,katao.
    will be travelling from mumbai by train (so need one day rest at gangtok).
    1. Suggest a plan for us.
    2. At Gurudongmar you had mentioned that oxygen level are low… is that the case in any other place where we are visiting above.. Also suggest the whether oxygen cylinders are available..
    we are family of 2 adults and 2 kids(9 and 14)
    3. Can i travel from lachung to pelling directly..
    4. Can i travel from Pelling to NJP directly..
    5. if possible suggest hotels to stay and car travel cost

    • 1. Please mention the days. Otherwise cannot give you a plan.

      2. No oxygen cylinders available.

      It is totally upto your adaptability whether you are fit enough to go. A normal person will have no problem at Gurudongmar, unless he /she runs around the lake. Persons with breathing problem should not go.

      Zero point near Yumthang has low oxygen level too.

      3. Usually no.

      North Sikkim packages generally start and end at Gangtok. You have to talk to your travel agent for a North Sikkim Tour from Pelling.

      4. Yes you can.

      5. In Gangtok stay in a hotel close to M.G. Marg. In Pelling stay at Hotels in Upper Pelling. As for North Sikkim, the costly is your Package – the better will be the hotels.

      • Parag KINKHABWALA

        The dates of travel are 27th April we reach gangtok and on 8th may we need to reach njp by 18:00 hours

        • Here is it. Hope this helps you.

          27th Reach Pelling from NJP
          28th Pellng Sightseeing
          29th Pelling Sightseeing
          30th Leave for Gangtok after lunch.

          1st Gangtok Sightseeing including
          2nd Gangtok sightseeing including
          Ranka (Lingdum) monastery &
          Bonjhankri falls
          3rd Leave for Lachen. Takes 7 hours
          from Gangtok
          4th Visit Gurudongmar Lake. Lunch
          at Lachen, Night stay at Lachung
          5th Visit Yumthang valley & Zero
          Point. Night Stay at Lachung
          6th Leave for Gangtok. Relax the day
          7th Nathula, Baba Mandir and
          Changu Lake
          8th Leave for NJP by 13:00 ( have at
          least 2 hour buffer time)

          Note :
          1. Nathula is open from Wednesday to
          Sunday for general public. So I have
          fixed it on 7th – a Saturday.
          Alternatively You can fix it after
          returning from Pelling on 1st -a

          2. Since you have enough time I have suggested a 4 days 3 night package for North Sikkim instead of a 3 day 2 night package. This is because it feels very hectic returning to Gangtok the same day you visit yumthang. People do it as they do not have time.

      • Parag KINKHABWALA

        Here are the days for travel
        27th april we will reach gangtok and we need to reach njp by evening on 8th may for overnight train to Kolkata and next day morning train to mumbai
        Please include any other places of interest, if you feel we have more days

  • yogesh

    Hi Amitabh
    Your blog is really a like a virtual tour to sikkim.thanks a lot.I really appreciate your responses to people which are really humble and cooperative.
    I am planning for honeymoon in first week of may for less than 8days. can you please suggest itenary for it.thanks a lot in advance

  • Mayank Bansal

    Hi Amitabha,

    I with my wife and 4 year old baby has planned to go to 3rd April-9th April.
    our plan is as follows.
    3rd April- Bagdogra to Namchi. O/n Stay at Namchi.
    4th April –Namchi Full day and Transfer to Pelling. O/n stay at Pelling.
    5th April- transfer to Gangtok via Ravangla.O/n stay Gangtok
    6th April- Gangtok full day ss.
    7th April- Gangtok to Nathula Pass/Changu lake/Baba Mandir and back. O/n stay Gangtok.
    8th April Gangtok to Lingtam SS and O/n stay
    9th April – Check out and Back to Bagdogra in early morning.

    My queries.
    1. is it possible to cover all these in 5 days
    2. should we book our hotels in advance? or we can do it on arrival after checking with our requirements?
    3. My budget for Hotel + Vehicle for full day is 5000.00 per day inclusive of all considering above budget hotels.

    please suggest.


    Mayank Bansal

    • 1. No, absolutely not…. specially with a four year old baby ! In fact the first three days can make an adult go crazy too. Hardly any sightseeing and only transit journeys.

      Your baby will get tired on the first day itself with the drive from Bagdogra to Namchi itself.

      Anyways , why do you want to do stay at Namchi out of the all places in Sikkim ?

      By the way , if you want to travel to Changu Lake with a four year old baby, you are actually putting the baby in extreme life risk as the route to Changu is extremely treacherous.

      2. If you are going with family it is better to book in advance.

      3. You want a full day vehicle for every day at Sikkim ??? The cost can be sky high.

      4. If you actually want to visit Sikkim with a four year old baby, stay at Gnagtok or Pelling only and do local sightseeing.

      Then you can travel by local cabs only and the cost will definitely be within Rs 5000 per day.

  • Thank you so much for this informative blog post! Would you be willing to review my plans and guide me through for my upcoming holiday? We are 2 women travelers and aiming for an exclusive tour, and although we have received quotes from a Kolkata based travel agent, we’d very much appreciate if someone like yourself would test the authenticity of plans 🙂 My email id is [email protected]. Thanks!!!!

  • Mayank

    How to reach yumthang from njp ,directly?
    How much will it cost, if we are traveling in a pack of 6?
    How about the accomodation at yumthang?

    • No Way….It is North Sikkim, not a
      walk in the park. You have to start from Gangtok, cannot do it directly from NJP.

      You have to take the service of a Govt registered Travel agency from Gangtok. They arrange car and hotels both. For shared trip having 10 people….approx Rs 3500 per head(all inclusive)….3 days /2 Nights.

  • Hello,

    I’m planning a trip to Gangtok first week of April. I was wondering if it is feasible to do a day trip to Gurudongmar lake without spending a night at Lachen? As I will be a solo traveller, it will probably have to be a shared tour. How dangerous is the road condition for the journey? Lastly, did you prepare for the high altitude and how bad is the altitude sickness?

    Thank you!

    • Don’t even think of such an absurd plan and never tell any tour operator for a “day trip” to Gurudongmar lake from Gangtok. They will laugh all day and may die laughing !

      The road to Gurudongmar is BAD ! It is scary at many places. And if it starts snowing , you had it. There is every possible chance of landslide in this route.

      I personally did not do any preparation for Gurudongmar because in the last two years before going to this lake I had done treks to Pindari-Kafni, Roopkund, Goechala, Sandakphu and Darma valley. So I was more than fit.

      Regarding you, I have no idea about your fitness level. But there is always chance of altitude sickness at 17,100 feet.

  • Sandip Das

    We want to start program from pelling Via NJP, then Gangtok , North Sikim and Changu/Baba Mandir/Nathu La. Please make an optimize plan trip from Kolkata to Kaolkata. Please share the tentative budget specially North Sikim 2D/1N or 3D/2N and One day Changu/ Babamandir with Nathula .
    Our trip schedule in first week of April’16

  • Anindit Aich

    We are a pack of 7 and planning to go for North sikkim including Gurudongmar lake and Nathang valley in east. Please guide if we be able to see some snow to play and cherish at both the points or on the way.

    • 1. You need to have two separate Travel plans for North Sikkim (which includes Gurudongmar Lake) and East Sikkim (which includes Nathang Valley). It is difficult to do both trip in one visit unless you have ample time and wish to spend a lot.

      2. For Snow , April is ideal time for East Sikkim. You can try March, but chances are most part of the roads will remain closed that time due to snowfall.

      Regarding North Sikkim, Zero Point and Katao are the two best places to play with and enjoy the snow. Try North Sikkim in May.

  • Anshul Agarwal

    Hi there. We are a group of 8 college students planning to visit sikkim in the mid of may. Can you please provide me with some guidance on what plan should we follow?

      • Anshul Agarwal

        Will we miss anything if we skip Darjeeling ? What will be the budget if we skip that part ?

        • Very difficult to say what YOU will miss without knowing your perspective.

          Once One gentleman had said to me that he was not interested in Monasteries of Sikkim because he was not religious!

          So I am not sure what YOU will miss if you do not visit Darjeeling. Some find Darjeeling chaotic, some find it Nostalgic, Some find it a town with a definite character, Some go to simply have breakfast at Glenary’s, some find it straightway congested and dirty and for some it is their second home. So I cannot tell what YOU will miss if you do not go to Darjeeling.

          Keep your budget stuck to Rs 15000 per head. If you visit Darjeeling, it will be close affair and if you indulge in frivolities there, you may have to visit the ATM. If you stick only to Sikkim, it is is very good budget.

      • Anshul agarwal

        We have a timespan of 8 to 9 days and a budget of 15,000 per person for Kolkata to kolkata. We wish to conver Gangtok and north Sikkim . Darjeeling is optional. So can you please guide us with or without Darjeeling ? And yes your blog is too awesome. This inspired us to visit Sikkim.

        • Your Budget looks decent enough. Should suffice for the tour provided you take budget hotels.

      • Anshul agarwal

        We have a timespan of 8 to 9 days and a budget of 15,000 per person for Kolkata to kolkata. We wish to conver Gangtok and north Sikkim . Darjeeling is optional. So can you please guide us with or without Darjeeling ?

        • Itenary could be :

          Day 1 : NJP To Gangtok
          Day 2 : Gangtok Sight Seeing including Rumtek Monastery
          Day 3 : Changu Lake, Baba Mandir and Nathu La
          Day 4 – Day 6 – Three days Two Night Tour of North Sikkim
          Day 7 – Relax in the morning.If fit enough can take a tour to Ranka Monastery and Bonjhankri Falls. After lunch leave for Darjeeling. Overnight at Darjeeling.
          Day 8 – Full day sight seeing at Darjeeling
          Day 9 – Take a Toy train ride and visit Ghoom Monastery.. Leave for NJP in the afternoon.

          In Gangtok stay close to M.G. Road or Paljor Stadium for easy accommodation. For very basic hotels dry Development Area. Since you are a big group, Book an exclusive trip to North Sikkim with a Travel Agent, instead of opting for a shared trip.

          • Anshul agarwal

            Do we need to book the trip through a travel agent or we can plan it as you did? Maybe like you we can take a package for north Sikkim only.

          • No need really for a travel agent except North Sikkim. Talk to reputed travel agency only for exclusive North Sikkim tour. For vehicles from NJP to Gangtok, Gangtok to Darjeeling and Darjeeling to NJP book vehicles on spot. For
            hotels book online after checking reviews and location from TripAdvisor. For changu lake tour and local sightseeing , local cars can be talked to on spot. Carry voter’s Id card with enough photocopies along with 10 copies of passport sized photographs.

  • Surbhi jain

    Hii…very well written description and so amazing pictures. I have a query too. Me n my brother are planning a trip to Sikkim and darjeeling in march first week. Can you please tell what all places should we cover. We wd b going for 7 days and 6 nights..

    • March ?

      Gangtok -Pelling – Ravangla should be your itenary as you will not get access to North Sikkim and Changu Lake because of high probability of roadblocks due to snowfall.

      • Surbhi jain

        Thankyou so much fr guiding..:)
        I want to know which is the best time to visit sikkim and darjeeling so that I can make the most of this beautiful place..

        • April – May, November to January. If you wish to visit Changu lake and North Sikkim try May – June middle and October to November Middle

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