The snow-clad peaks of the mighty Himalayas, the freezing cold lakes, the foggy hills, and the colorful valleys of Sikkim can certainly persuade you to seek a life of peace and solitude. Along with that, you won't be able to resist strolling down the pretty streets of Sikkim and taking part in the chitter-chatter with the locals at the charming little tea shops. Surrounded by West Bengal, Tibet, Bhutan, and Nepal, Sikkim has long been considered one of the last Himalayan wonderlands.
Spending a night under the starry sky and watching the shimmery Himalayan peaks bathe in the beautiful moonlight can convince you that Sikkim is no lesser than a magical dreamland. The ravishing beauty of Sikkim offers you an unparalleled vacationing experience. Ranging from having heart-warming meals to going on treks, we have compiled a list of 11 top things to do in Sikkim.
You’d be certainly missing out on a lot if you travel to Sikkim and don’t pay a visit to the Yumthang Valley. Aptly dubbed the ‘Valley of Flowers’, Yumthang Valley in Sikkim is a visual delight for all those who pay a visit, especially during spring. Staying true to its name, this place is home to a plethora of indigenous wildflowers like the rhododendron, primrose, and primula that decorate the valley in all possible colors.
In fact, you can take a walk around in the Shingba Rhododendron Sanctuary that is decorated with about 24 distinct species of rhododendrons! The view of the towering mountains, the lush green meadows, and the silvery fir trees scattered all across the landscape makes Yumthang Valley look extremely enticing. You’ll be able to click some really good pictures here so don’t forget to visit the Valley of Flowers.
Speaking of Valley of Flowers, there’s another with the same name in Uttarakhand. Read all about it here!
What’s the first thing that you plan on eating when you go to Sikkim? We’re sure that you are pretty excited about trying out the authentic momos and noodles, and just thinking about all this has already got you drooling! Food in Sikkim is heavily derived from the cuisine of Nepal and Tibet. There will be a blast of flavors in your mouth when you try out Sikkimese food items like dumplings, soups, vegetables, rice, meats, stews, and so on.
You might start off by having the traditionally prepared Kinema curry (fermented soybean), Gundruk (mashed green leaves), and Sinki (radish pickle), and these dishes might quickly become comfort food for you. While you go for your evening strolls, try out momos with a variety of fillings and thukpa, which is a noodle soup that contains spinach, ground pepper, and cauliflower. End your meals with the traditional desserts of Sikkim that include Sha Phaley (fried pastry with meat, cheese, and tofu filling) and Sel Roti (a doughnut-shaped sweet).
If you thought that all the things to do in Sikkim didn’t involve any nightlife, you couldn’t be more wrong! Sikkim caters to all types of travelers, be it the ones who wish to spend their nights stargazing in snowy mountains, or the ones who wish to socialize with the locals, have great food, and chill in the nightclubs!
Consider staying in Gangtok for a couple of days if you wish to experience the nightlife of Sikkim. Vacationers that stay in Gangtok do get completely soaked in the colorful and vibrant atmosphere of the city. From the adventurous activities, serene atmospheres, appetizing food, to its busy shopping centers, everything you do gives you an insight into the wonderful lives of the Sikkimese. Don’t forget to drop by Café Live Loud, Osm Lounge, Lounge 31a, or Dark Party to experience how Sikkim likes to party.
Here’s a list of some of the best hotels in Gangtok!
Sikkim’s topography is a soul-searching trekker’s ultimate dream. The ancient town of Yuksom serves as a starting point to several trekking trails to Mount Khangchendzonga (Kanchenjunga). Trekkers can choose to follow routes that take them to the Dzongri Peak, Rathong Glacier, Prel Chu River, Paha Khola Bridge, and Tshoko. But if you’re up for more rigorous trekking, set off for the Goecha Peak. All these spectacular and lesser-known sights are only for all those fearless trekkers who love adventures.
The Goecha Peak trek, popularly known as the Goechala Trek, is one of the most sought-after treks in Sikkim. The major reason for that is its route that winds through pristine woods, vivid rhododendron gardens, and the mighty rivers of the Khangchendzonga National Park. The best time for trekking is from March to May. It will take you about 10 days to go from Yuksom to Goecha Peak and then back to Yuksom. Do keep in mind that foreigners who wish to go trekking here require some additional permits.
Also Read: 5 Amazing Lakes In Sikkim
If you are a chai connoisseur, you can’t possibly miss tasting the Temi tea of Sikkim, which is arguably the best drink you will ever consume. This aromatic tea leaves behind a tingly sensation on your tongue and you find yourself craving to have some more of it. Temi tea is grown exclusively in the tea gardens of the Temi Tea Estate that are hidden away in the southern part of Sikkim.
Temi tea is one of the most premium teas that you can ever have and it has had a huge influence over how households in Sikkim generally prepare their tea, i.e., without sugar, black, aromatic, and packed with intense flavors. To add to that, you can have a hot cup of tea while standing in the midst of the unending tea gardens, right where the Temi is grown. Sitting on a bench on a cold, misty morning and sipping on hot Temi tea is truly a heavenly experience.
Also Read: Adventure Sports In Sikkim
The adventure sports activities in Sikkim are unlike anything that you have ever experienced before. Be prepared to feel a rush of adrenaline through your body as the adventure sports here aren’t that easy! The activities that will give you the most thrills are paragliding and hang gliding. Gangtok offers some excellent launching ridges (cookie points for the gorgeous top view of the city) and you can choose to paraglide or hang glide with a certified professional.
Another highly rated and demanded activity in Sikkim is rafting through the big rapids of the Teesta River. In fact, the Teesta River was earlier known to be the 4th best river rafting region in the world. Those who wish to conquer their fear of heights can always choose to go bungee jumping from the Singshore Bridge or rock climbing at Yuksom.
Apart from all this, skiing or snowboarding at the Zero Point, hiking through Mount Pandim or Mount Thingchinkhang and mountain biking in Namchi – Jorethang are a few things to do to get your heart pumping.
Didn’t get enough of skiing in Sikkim? Consider visiting Auli in Uttarakhand as well!
Perched at the height of 4,310 meters, Nathula Pass is an extended part of the ancient silk route and it connects Sikkim to China’s Tibet Autonomous Region. Over the years, things haven’t changed. It attracts several travelers today just like it attracted ancient traders back then. Visiting this pass is possibly among the most alluring things to do in Sikkim. But don’t forget that you’ll require a special permit from the Tourism and Civil Aviation Department if you plan to visit the Nathula Pass. December is the best time to visit this snow-clad pass and it is open only to Indians.
Another place that is a must-visit in Sikkim is the Zero Point. Located at the staggering height of over 4,663 meters, Zero Point is where human civilization ends. All you can see beyond this point are massive snow-clad mountains. Known for the scenic confluence of Lachen Chu and the Lachung Chu rivers, a road trip to Zero Point will help you cover all the must-see locations of Sikkim including the Gurudongmar Lake, Katao Mountain, and the Seven Sisters waterfall.
The main attraction of Zero Point is the hot water springs that relieve those who can’t bear the extreme cold. The locals believe that the spring water has healing properties, so make sure that you take a dip in the hot springs when you visit Zero Point.
Also Read: Homestays In Sikkim
Owing to the fact that Sikkim is home to a large number of Buddhist monks, over 200 monasteries are scattered across the beautiful hills of the state. If you ask the locals, most of them will point you towards the Rumtek Monastery which is the largest one in the state of Sikkim and is gorgeous inside out. The soothing chants and prayers and the mythical aura of the monastery fill you with a warm sensation of tranquility and peace.
Other must-see monasteries in Sikkim include the Enchey Monastery that’s located in Gangtok, the Karma Kagyu Monastery located in North Sikkim (especially known for its 200-year-old murals), and the ancient Sanga Choeling monastery which is only accessible by foot (have to start walking from Pelling). The monasteries are known for hosting several beautiful festivals like Losar, so don’t miss out on these celebrations if you happen to travel to Sikkim.
Although foreigners don’t get a permit to visit the Nathula Pass, the Tourism And Civil Aviation Department in Gangtok does allow them to visit the magnificent Changu Lake (also known as the Tsomgo Lake) which is located about 17 km away from Nathula Pass. Perched at the height of 3,779 meters, the water of this picturesque lake is known to change colors with the change in the seasons. Nestled between majestic mountain peaks, this lake remains frozen throughout the winter season till May.
You might be able to spot a variety of rare bird and animal species like the red panda, Brahminy ducks, etc., around the lake. However, the main attraction for most of the tourists are the native yaks. These friendly animals are incredibly adorable and are among the few places in India where you can see them.
Zuluk/Dzuluk, a small village of East Sikkim that houses a community of roughly 700 people, is ideal for anyone who is looking to escape from the beaten part. It rose to popularity because it was the first village on the Silk Route that offered homestay options to tourists. Moreover, foreigners are prohibited from visiting this area because the entire area is controlled by the military due to the presence of the Indian Army base that serves as a transit camp for army movements to the Chinese border (situated nearby).
The view of Mount Khangchendzonga from Thambi View Points and Lungthung is what draws many travelers to Zuluk. However, if you have motion sickness, then make sure you carry the necessary medications with you because the road to Zuluk is full of sharp bends and hairpin curves.
The scenery in Zuluk changes dramatically according to the seasons. If a landscape adorned with colorful wildflowers appeals to you, consider visiting Zuluk in August or September. On the contrary, you should visit Zuluk any time between January to April if a glistening snowy landscape is what speaks to you the most. This village is a haven for bird lovers! So don’t forget to carry your binoculars if you wish to spot a variety of birds that appear as soon as the snow melts away.
What is better than celebrating a native festival along with the locals in order to get a deeper understanding of the Sikkimese culture? While the rest of India partakes in grand but not very eco-friendly celebrations of festivals, it’s a completely different story in Sikkim. The Sikkimese keep it all eco-friendly and a typical Sikkimese festival can be characterized by colorful decorations, age-old beliefs, various dance performances, and loads of happiness. Here is the list of the top 5 festivals that you shouldn’t miss out on if you happen to be in Sikkim.
Is Nathula Pass Open Now?
After a 44-year hiatus, the Nathula Pass was reopened in 2006. Although foreigners are not allowed to visit this pass, domestic tourists can take a road trip to Nathula four days a week (Saturday, Sunday, Wednesday, and Thursday) only if they receive a permit from the Tourism and Civil Aviation Department. Also, the number of vehicles that are permitted to visit Nathula Pass on each day is limited.
What Can I Buy In Sikkim?
Whenever you visit Sikkim, you might wonder about the Sikkimese things you should purchase to take back to your homes. Here is a small list of things you should definitely buy when you go on a shopping spree in Sikkim.
What Is The Famous Food Of Sikkim?
The traditional recipes of the Sikkimese are highly influenced by the cuisines of neighboring countries like Nepal, Bhutan, and Tibet. The people of Sikkim mainly consume rice and maize and that’s why these ingredients are a part of most of their household recipes. While you vacation in Sikkim, don’t forget to try out some of the famous dishes like Sael Roti (pretzel-like sweet), Chhurpi Soup (traditional Sikkimese soup), Temi tea, bamboo shoot curry, Gundruk, Sinki, and Kinema Curry.
What Is The Famous Fruit Of Sikkim?
The Sikkim Mandarin has great commercial value in the state of Sikkim. This fruit is quite similar to the other variety of Mandarins like Darjeeling, Nepal, and Assam Mandarins.
What Language Do They Speak In Sikkim?
The three languages that most of the Sikkimese speak are Nepali, Lepcha, and Bhotia. These three languages along with English are the official languages of Sikkim, although Nepali is spoken by a major proportion of the population.
Why Is It Called Zero Point In Sikkim?
The Zero Point (Yumesamdong) is located in the Northern District of Sikkim, at an altitude of 4,663 meters. The place has been named Zero Point since there are no roads beyond this point. Similarly, tourists are also prohibited from venturing beyond this point by foot due to its close proximity to the Chinese border.
Which Is The Most Visited Place In Sikkim?
Gangtok, the capital city of Sikkim, is the most visited place in the state and that too, for all the right reasons. As Gangtok is well connected to major tourist sights like Darjeeling and Siliguri, those who book sightseeing tours or treks often start off from this city. The location of the city is its main selling point.
Standing on a ridge at a great altitude of 1,650 meters, the city remains misty and beautiful throughout the year. To add to that, tourists often add visiting Gangtok to their travel bucket lists because of all the things they get to experience here, be it the vibrant nightlife, variety of shopping centers, mouth-watering food, and the great weather.
Which Language Is Used In Sikkim?
Sikkimese is the mother tongue of Sikkim.