Part II in a series about Sikkim
For those of you who have charming Sikkim on your travel list, this series of posts should be able to help you plan your visit. In my previous post, I shared some tips on the best time to visit the state, what to pack and how best to book your flights and hotels.
In this post, I suggest two variations of itineraries for Sikkim. The first one, which I like to call The Family Itinerary focuses on Gangtok and Darjeeling with a night or so in Kalimpong or Pelling. Alternately, if you are a hardy traveller, you would like to explore The Adventure Itinerary, which takes you beyond Gangtok to the beautiful reaches of North Sikkim.
The Family Itinerary for Sikkim
Day 1: Delhi- Bagdogra- Gangtok
Tip: As mentioned in the previous post, if you are coming from the south of India, you may choose to fly into Kolkata instead of Bagdogra. Since the drive into Gangtok from either place will take a couple of hours, don’t plan anything else for this day.
Day 2: Gangtok local sightseeing
Tip: On this day, you could see the local attractions like Rumtek Monastery, Ropeways, Dro-dul Chorten, Tashi view point and the Flower show.
Day 3: Gangtok: Nathula Pass, Baba Mandir, Tsomgo Lake
Tip: These attractions require permits, which you will apply for on Day 2 while you see other local attractions mentioned above. Do keep in mind however, that Nathula pass visit is open from Wednesday to Sunday only.
Day 4: Gangtok-Kalimpong or Gangtok-Pelling
Tip: Plan to stay overnight at either of these places before you move on to Darjeeling the next day. Alternately, you could undertake a day tour to Namchi or Char Dham in South Sikkim, depending on which place appeals to you the most.
Day 5: Kalimpong/Pelling- Darjeeling
Tip: Make sure you start early for Darjeeling, so that you’re able to spend the evening strolling down the Mall Road.
Day 6: Darjeeling local s/s
Tip: If you’re willing to rise really early, catch the sunrise at Tiger Hill.
Day 7: Darjeeling- Bagdogra- Delhi
The Adventure Itinerary for Sikkim
Since we are a young husband-wife couple and like to believe we are reasonably hardy, we decided to allocate 3 days to travel up to North Sikkim. What we had heard of Gurudongmar Lake, Yumthang Valley and Zero Point told us that what we would see in North Sikkim would be head and shoulders above anything we would see in and around Gangtok.
Day 1: Delhi- Bagdogra- Gangtok
Tip: The best price for North Sikkim (cabs, hotels and all meals as a package) can be got after arriving in Gangtok itself. So keep the evening to walk around the Mall Road and make sure you check out and bargain among multiple tour operators. Don’t wait till late evening to do this because permits need to be arranged on the same day so that you can leave commence your trip the following morning.
Day 2: Gangtok- Lachen (8000ft)
Tip: Start early since the roads hereafter can be quite bad. More about what to see and do enroute will follow in later posts.
Day 3: Lachen- Gurudongmar Lake (17100 ft)- Lachung (9000 ft)
Tip: Make sure you tuck in real early the previous night because you’re going to set off at 3am in the morning for this most exciting leg of your journey.
Day 4: Lachung- Yumthang Valley (12800 ft)- Zero Point (15000 ft)- Gangtok
Tip: Depending on the number of days you have in mind, you can spend another night in North Sikkim. However given the poor facilities in the hotels here, you would probably want to make the effort to reach Gangtok on this day itself. Brace yourself, for this is going to be a very long day for you.
Day 5: Gangtok: Nathula Pass, Baba Mandir, Tsomgo Lake
Tip: You need to have applied for permits for these places on Day 1 itself. Given that you have just returned after a very tiring and hectic journey, you may not be up for the long drive in the mountains once again. Some people suggest keeping this day for easier local sightseeing and covering Nathula Pass etc the following day. Since we had a time crunch, we forged ahead on Day 5 itself. To be honest, however, after the beauty of North Sikkim, everything we saw on this day seemed to pale in comparison.
Day 6: Gangtok- Darjeeling
Day 7: Darjeeling-Bagdogra- Delhi
Also read my detailed posts on planning North Sikkim and finding the best deal among tour operators.
Piyushi Dhir is the author of 'In Search of Love', 'I'm Yours, The Next Time', 'Silent Promises' and 'Enmeshed Evermore'. She is a contributor in 'Nineteen Tales of COVID-19', a collection of short stories. A voracious reader, a keen traveler, a businesswoman and a mom, Piyushi currently resides in Canada. A nomad at heart, she loves to discover new places and capture the hues of life with her pen.