Sikkim is the smallest state in India in terms of population, located in the northeastern parts of the country. It’s known for its majestic mountains, waterfalls, small villages, beautiful lakes, and Buddhist monasteries. A tour of the state will give you an experience of a lifetime that you’ll cherish forever. If you have been thinking of traveling to the tiny state, we have made a brief guide to help you through it.
Our Sikkim travel guide will help you get a better idea of what to expect and make the most of it when visiting the beautiful state. Let’s dive right into it!
This history of Sikkim is full of ups, downs, battles and emergence, and losses faced by many leaders. Sikkim is an example of a very classic Indian society that has a wide background of cultures, religions, traditions, and people living together as one community. The Bhutias, the Lepcha, and the Nepalese are the three major tribes that have occupied Sikkim today. Sikkim was ruled by the Bhutias in the 14th century, Cholas in the 17th century, Namgyals in the 20th century, along with many other dynasties that tried to rule and take over the state.
The Lepcha, the Mong, the Chang, and the Naong were the primary inhabitants of Sikkim that were attacked by the Nepalese in the 18th century. This is when the majority of the Nepalese that reside in Sikkim today, originally came. After Independence, a large number of political parties were formed here, but the Namgyal dynasty continued to rule over the state. It wasn't until 1975 that Sikkim officially became a state of India under Indira Gandhi's rule.
Speaking of the culture of Sikkim, it’s influenced by the tribes and dynasties that ruled over the state until the 20th century. Nepaleses is one of the primary languages spoken in Sikkim even today, along with Bhutia or Sikkimese, Limbu, Majhwar, Tamang, Sherpa, Tibetan, and Lepcha.
Sikkim has combined the cultures and traditions of Tibet, India, Bhutan, and Nepal in its food as well. The food mainly consists of noodles, sinki and gundruk soups, fermented rice products, traditional cottage cheese, fermented soybean, thukpas, and bamboo shoots. These are some of the main food items that you can try when visiting Sikkim. Some other food items famous among tourists in Sikkim are momos and wontons.
Also read - Adventure Sports In Sikkim
Traveling to Sikkim by air can be a bit difficult for many travelers as it only has domestic operations running. There are no international flights taking off or landing in Sikkim as of now. Traveling by air is not the most convenient way to get to Sikkim as the only domestic flights entering the airport are from Delhi, Kolkata, and Guwahati. Taking connecting flights is the only way you can get to Sikkim if you live in any other cities across the country or otherwise.
Pakyoung is the only airport located in Gangtok, Sikkim that was inaugurated in the year 2018. Other than the Pakyong airport in Gangtok, Bagdogra is another airport located about 126 km away from the city of Gangtok. You can travel to Sikkim from this airport via road which takes about 4 hours in total. Or you can also take a helicopter ride from Bagdogra to Gangtok which only takes about 35 minutes and is also very convenient. Booking the helicopter in advance is a must if you want to do so.
Traveling to Sikkim by road is a great idea as you’ll pass through the beautiful Testa River alongside the beautiful view of the mountains and hills in the neighboring regions. The NH 31A connects Gangtok with Siliguri which then connects with the other states. If you plan on going the road trip route for your trip to Sikkim, you may use the following transportation services.
The Sikkim Nationalised Transport or SNT is the state transportation in Sikkim. It’s one of the most efficient and convenient ways of traveling to the state from the nearest terminal in Siliguri. You can make your booking earlier to ensure you get your seats confirmed. The Gangtok Lhasa bus service is another bus service in Sikkim that you can avail of for your road trip from Gangtok to the other cities within the State.
Taxis are available at all railway stations and airports in Sikkim. You can use the private taxi services at the Bagdogra airport and Pakyoung airport. These taxis will drop you off at your desired location or accommodation. Do keep in mind that private taxis could be a bit expensive on your pockets. Some of the main taxi services in Sikkim are private taxi services, prepaid taxi services, and Deorali taxi services.
Traveling to Sikkim is the most convenient and hassle-free via railways. The two major railway stations in Sikkim are Siliguri and New Jalpaiguri. These stations are connected with some other prominent cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Guwahati, and Kolkata.
The trains connecting New Jalpaiguri and Kolkata are Testa Torsa Express and Darjeeling Mail. These trains do not operate on a regular basis and are limited.
There are regular trains operating from Guwahati to Siliguri on a daily basis. Some of these trains are Brahmaputra Mail, DBRT Rajdhani Express, Kamrup Express, Saraighat Express, North-East Express, and Abadh Assam Express.
The Siliguri station in Sikkim is connected with Mumbai. The rail route and line connecting Mumbai to Siliguri is a long one. Even then, there are a few trains that run to and from the two stations. Some of these trains are Guwahati Express, LTT KYQAC Express, Karambhoomi, and KYQ SUVIDA Special. These are trains that operate on a weekly basis.
The city of Delhi is connected with the Siliguri station in Sikkim. There is a combination of daily and weekly trains that connect these two stations. Some of these trains are North-East Express, Avadh Assam Express, DBRT Rajdhani, Mahananda Express, and Brahmaputra Mail.
Also Read: Homestays In Sikkim
Being situated in the hilly regions of Northeast India, Sikkim is known for its spring and winter bliss. The months from September to December are fit for a really chilled-out vacation around the state. The areas of Pelling are the busiest during this time. Besides, it's the time of the year when the local festivals in Sikkim start taking place. The spring and winters are perfect to visit the cherry blossom and the beautiful view of Kanchenjunga.
One of the festivals that you can enjoy and engage in Sikkim during this time is Losoong which is celebrated in December. This is a festival that is celebrated after the harvest season. Locals come together to celebrate through art, music, and dance. Dashain, also commonly known as Dussehra across India, is a long ten-day affair in Sikkim that is celebrated in the months of either September or October. Tihar is the Sikkim version of Diwali that is celebrated with grand festivities across the state.
Summers in Sikkim from April to June are perfect for a warm-weather vacation. The temperature even at this time is pleasant and ideal for you to enjoy the real nature-bound beauty of Sikkim. The relatively pleasant weather with hues of warmth along with clear skies is perfect to enjoy hot tea and shopping sprees in the local markets of Sikkim.
The monsoon in Sikkim lasts from mid-June to September. This is not the best time for tourists to visit the state as the road conditions are bad due to common landslides in major regions. The prime months of winters from February to March experience low temperatures and aren't an ideal time to visit as the state is covered in fog.
When visiting Sikkim, you need to figure out what transportation mode to use to ensure you have a smooth ride. Sikkim is a small state that is still working on its transportation systems. Since it’s a hilly region, using some smaller vehicles is advisable. Let us have a look at the transportation services that can be ideal for you to move around and across the cities and towns of Sikkim.
There are ample bus services that are available at several terminals and city centers in Sikkim. Traveling via buses is ideal for long-distance routes. If you want to move across cities in Sikkim, you must book your bus in advance to ensure you have a confirmed seat.
The only drawback to these services is that they are unreliable. The frequency of these bus services is extremely poor and you’ll need to have a backup plan if you do not want to waste your time waiting for these buses to come around.
Using a shared jeep or a private jeep is the ideal way for you to travel in Sikkim. You’ll find these private services in a lot of places in all the cities of Sikkim. These are best when you have to travel short distances. For long-distance travel, however, they may not be the most comfortable choice.
One of the most common stereotypes about Sikkim is,
“Sikkim is the smallest state in India with barely any places to explore”
Sikkim is one of the most beautiful places in India that is underrated by many travelers. The lakes, waterfalls, mountains, hill stations, tea plantations, valleys, local markets, are some of the many places in the small state of India that you can explore. It has an array of terrain and places that make it one of the hidden gems in India. These are just a few of the many things that Sikkim has to offer travelers and explorers who look out for isolated places.
If you want to know what other places you can visit or do around Sikkim, we have listed them down for you here - 11 Top Things To Do In Sikkim.
Gangtok is the capital city of Sikkim well known for its wide range of monasteries that are spread across the city. It’s a city with the most picturesque backdrops and beautiful views of the mountains and hills. The enchanting waterfalls, lakes, monasteries, and outdoor activities combined, make Gangtok a great spot to have a relaxing yet fun vacation in Sikkim. When you’re here, you should check out the Gangtok Ropeway.
Other than that, a few places you can visit in Gangtok are Nathu La, Ban Jahangir Falls, Hanuman Tok, Enchey Monastery, Ganesh Tok, Kyongnosla Alpine Sanctuary and Falls, and Tsomgo Lake.
If you want to know more about all the things you can do around Gangtok, have a look at our Gangtok Travel Guide.
Ravangla is a small town towards the south side of Sikkim well known for its laid-back lifestyle. The area experiences mild snowfall during winters which makes it one of the best places suited for a view of the snow-capped mountains. The waterfalls in the areas are splendid to have a small picnic during the summers. Most of the town is divided into small villages where different tribes reside. Visiting the local market and monasteries is something you would want to engage yourselves in during your visit to Ravangla.
Some places that you must visit while on vacation in Sikkim are Buddha Park, Ralag Monastery, Rayong Hot Springs, Samdruptse Hills, Doling Gompa, and Kheunpheling Carpet Center.
Pelling is one of the most visited tourist locations in the western parts of Sikkim. It’s one of the best places to have a clear view of the snow-capped Kanchenjunga range in winters. The enchanting beauty of the small town in addition to the pleasant weather and some of the best food places, make Pelling a must-visit destination in Sikkim. This area of Sikkim has a wide range of gorgeous terrain that you should not miss out on when visiting the city. The Khecheopalri Lake, Rabdentse Ruins, Singshore Bridge, Dentam Valley, and Pemayangtse monastery are some of the prime locations that you must visit.
Lachen is a picturesque location within the northern regions of Sikkim. The tranquil settings, clear sky, gorgeous weather, and breezy mountain air makes it the perfect hill station to visit during the winter as well as the summer seasons. You can visit the small valleys by the riverside and enjoy some camping for the weekends. You can also enjoy some small hikes in the neighborhood regions over summers in Lachen.
Gurudongmar Lake, Shingba Rhododendron Sanctuary, Cholamu Lake, Chopta Valley, Green Lake, Thangu Valley, and Lachen Monastery are some of the places worth visiting in Lachen, Sikkim.
Which Airport Is Near Sikkim?
The Pakyong Airport is located near Gangtok. It’s the only airport located in the state of Sikkim. It’s a relatively new airport in the state that allows travelers to get to Sikkim by air.
How Many Days Are Enough For Sikkim?
Sikkim has a wide range of things and places to explore. If you really want to dig deep and have a great experience, you may want to take a two-week-long vacation. Ideally, 12 to 15 days is enough time to explore several parts of the state.
Which Is The Best Month To Visit Sikkim?
Sikkim is a beautiful state in India that you can visit during the summers, spring, and early winter seasons. The months from April to June and from September to December are ideal for summertime or wintertime vacation.
Does Gangtok Have Snow?
Not all regions of Sikkim experience snowfall. Experiencing snowfall in Gangtok is quite rare, to be honest. The only time when it could possibly snow in Gangtok is anytime between December and February.
Which Is The Highest Point Of Sikkim?
Kanchenjunga in Pelling is the highest point in Sikkim. The view from this point is one of the best views you’ll ever see. The point is one of the most visited places in all of Sikkim.
Why Is Sikkim Famous?
Sikkim is part of the Eastern Himalayan region and is well-known for its biodiversity, including the alpine and sub-tropical climates as well as for housing the highest peak in India i.e. Kanchenjunga. Sikkim is also famous for its beautiful monasteries, glacial hill slopes, and a variety of flora and fauna.
What Is The Main Food Of Sikkim?
Sikkimese food is largely based on rice, and vegetables found in the region like ferns, wild lilies, bamboo shoots, mushrooms, pumpkins/ squash, pumpkin leaves, etc. Most of the Sikkimese people are meat eaters, so you will also find a variety of fresh and processed meats like mutton, beef, pork, chicken, and fish in their cuisine.
What Language Do They Speak In Sikkim?
The Sikkimese language also called Bhutia, or Drenjongké, Dranjoke, Denjongka, Denzongpeke, and Denzongke, belongs to the Tibeto-Burman languages.