9 Best Places to Visit in Sikkim

The snowy Himalayas, the hills with green carpets, the pristine lakes, the numerous waterfalls, the river valleys and the monasteries that sing Buddhist hymns are what await you when you visit Sikkim. The scenic places to explore are distributed throughout the State. In this trip you can explore Khecheopalri Lake, Pelling, Yuksom, Goecha La, Darap Village, Geyzing and some part of south sikkim as well like Kalimpong and Ravangla.

Planning for a distant sojourn to Sikkim involves planning the trip, booking hotels, searching for the best shopping destinations, looking for the cheapest flight options, meals, accommodation, local transfers and sightseeing. In this trip you will able to experience some of the rarest monasteries, view of Mt Kanchenjunga and pristine blue lakes like Khecheopalri Lake. Do explore the Sanga Choeling Monastery, Rimbi Waterfall and Singshore Bridge. In yuksom you can visit Tashiding Monastery and Dubdi Monastery.

Visit the brilliant monasteries of Sikkim to enjoy the sheer delight of art forms and man-made creation such as Rumtek Monastery, Enchey Monastery, Phensang Monastery, Pemayangtse Monastery, Sanga Chelling Monastery, Karma Thekchen Ling Donkun Duppali Gatsal Monastery, Labrang Monastery and many more.

Catch the thrill of spotting the third highest mountain peak of Kanchenjunga and watch the clouds play hide and seek. Get relief from the scorching heat of the northern plains of India and make the humid and cool climes of Sikkim your shroud and getaway to a few days of peace and snow-clad vacation. Here is a list of places to visit in Sikkim from the northernmost part of the state to the south.

If you’re looking for offbeat type of destinations then you can’t miss Sikkim as Sikkim shares an amazing geographical features including mountains, valleys, rivers and many more. Having an area of 7,096 km², Sikkim has multiple offbeat destinations which are very less explored by tourists.

Sikkim travel guide

Here are the best places to visit in Sikkim:

1. Lachen

The best part of backpacking in Sikkim is experiencing the high altitudes of Sikkim i.e. Lachen and Lachung. Another nature’s miracle located at 17,000 feet. You can stay one night in Lachen and then explore the beautiful pristine Gurudongmar Lake, also you can stay one night in Lachung and explore the beautiful Yumtang valley.

North Sikkim is considered as a paradise for nature lover as it is covered with scenic natural beauty right from valleys,mountains and beautiful natural lakes. As these places are very less exploited by people and is pollution free. Main highlights of North Sikkim has always been Gurudongmar lake and Yumthang valley but apart from these places there are multiple places you can explore in Northern part of Sikkim.

Let’s start from the highlighted points only. Gurudongmar lake is one of the highest lakes in the world and in India, located at an altitude of 5,425 m, in a place called Lachen of North Sikkim. It is considered sacred by Buddhists, Sikhs and Hindus. This lake mostly remains frozen in winters (starts from November to mid March).

According to ancient Indian legends, this lake is supposed to be blessed by Guru Dongmar, which is why it does not freeze even in peak winters. A must place to visit if you are up for an adventure, however, due to low oxygen level it is not recommended to stay for long near the lake.

At an altitude of 17,800 feet, this is a must see in Sikkim. It is located in the northernmost point of Sikkim and is very close to the China border. Nestled between the mountains, this lake is as isolated and pristine as it can be. The crystal blue waters surrounded by sterile earth reflect the snowy mountains.

You can see colorful prayer flags hanging from the rocks. This is a place where you can pause and appreciate nature in all its splendor. The region through which Lachen Chu flows is completely covered with rhododendron forests with Chopta and Thangu valley as other places of interest.

Kalapatthar meaning Black rock is a beautiful landmark in North Sikkim. As this place is also very less explored by people is also called as hidden gem of Sikkim. This place is covered with snowfall in almost all times of a year.

2. Lachung

Yumesamdong is a large valley surrounded by mountains and Katao is a snow-covered peak near Lachung. Now, it is the base camp for the famous Rhododendron valley trek from the Yumthang valley to the Lachen valley. If the weather is good and the sky is clear you can get to see the Himalayan range. The location on the road offers a majestic view of Mount Pandim, Mount Kabru, Mount Simvo, Mount Jopuno, Mount Khanchendzonga, Mount Sinolchu and other peaks and the wooded path of the Rhododendron forest usually blooms during the spring.

This valley has stunning views of the Himalayas, small villages, bright streams and fruit orchards. If you come here in June, you will be lucky enough to witness the Saga Dawa Festival, the most sacred festival for Buddhists. During spring, this place is full of Primulae, Rhododendrons and many other alpine flowers in full bloom. During the winter, this place looks darker and more rugged.

Mt. Katau offers a scenic beauty of mountains, valleys and can be called mini Switzerland that will give you a heavenly experience. This destination is also a perfect place for adventure lovers as sports like skiing, snowboarding, snow tubing and stone grinding can be enjoyed here during the winter season.

3. Yumthang

This stunning spot in Sikkim is also known as the 'Valley of Flowers' and can be visited only during a certain time of the year between April and November. Seated at a height of 3,564 m above sea level, Yumthang Valley is guarded by the majestic Himalayas. While you are here, be sure to stop at the Shingba Rhododendron Sanctuary - a wonderful place for botanists, ecologists and nature lovers.

Although it is located about 150 km from Gangtok, you need to travel for nearly two days to reach this pretty valley because visibility drops from early evening due to heavy fog.

Visit the flower sanctuary in Yumthang. It is located in North Sikkim, with an altitude of 11,693 ft. You can see at least 24 types of rhododendron flowers. Your journey to Yumthang will be followed by the River Teesta, where the whole area will be covered by flowers due to rainfall.

Yumthang is located at an altitude of almost 11,800 feet. On the way back you can visit the famous hot spring which is known for its healing properties. Yumthang is a valley near the Lachung Chu River surrounded by mountains where the tree line ends. During April season the whole Yumthang valley seems like a carpet of colorful flowers. The experience is just magical.

In spring the valley erupts in riot of colors with flowers like Primulae, Rhododendrons and many other flowers in full bloom along with snow covered valley. Yumthang has snow all around and the snow clad mountains add to the beauty. Wander up to Lachung monastery and the of Lepcha village.

Wrapped in a blanket of snow, Zero Point, also known as Yumesamdong, is the last outpost in Sikkim. Situated roughly 15,300 ft above sea level, this is a place that takes your breath away and makes you forget all your worries. Only Indian nationals are allowed to visit Zero Point, and only after obtaining a Protected Area Permit from the District Administrative Center at the Gangtok Tourism Office, Sub-Divisional Magistrate Office, or Mangan.

4. Chungthang

Chungthang Valley is between Lachung and the Yumthang Valley, famous for Yumesamdong (Zero Point) and Mathilda pass. This point is 15,300 feet in altitude and the stretch of road that brings you here stops abruptly. That's why this place is called Zero Point. Here you will find some members of the army, since the Chinese border is a few kilometers from here.

Chungthang is 96 kilometers from Gangtok. Lachen is 35 kilometers from Chungthang with snow-capped peaks. Shingba Rhododendron Sanctuary, located in the Singalila range in the southwest corner of West Sikkim, Gurudongmar Lake, Chopta Valley, Thangu are the biggest attractions. It is a valley surrounded by giant snow peak mountains and is the starting point of the Green Lake Trek.

In fact the village is cradled between stern, high standing rocks as protectors. This village is almost hidden from the outside world like a Shangri-La. Visit the Lepcha village.

5. Zemu Glacier

North Sikkim is a magical escape for travelers who want to get away from the usual tourist spots. With majestic mountain ranges, stunning lakes, and lush green meadows, it is a haven for those who want to enjoy nature in all its glory. You can go on an enthralling trek and revel in the glory of the high mountains.

Nestled in Lachen, Green Lake is one of the best-hidden places in the state, and you should not miss visiting it. This is one of the high-altitude lakes of Sikkim, fed by the nearby Zemu glacier. This glacier is 26 km long and is located at the base of the Kanchenjunga. There are many adventure walks in which you can board around this glacier. This is the best way to fully enjoy the terrain in the Himalayan laps.

Challenge the rough trails, hike through the fascinating slopes, and scale the heights of the hills and finally feast your eyes on the otherworldly lake as a reward for your efforts.

6. Khangchendzonga National Park

This UNESCO World Heritage site is a unique diversity of plains, valleys, lakes, glaciers and spectacular snow-capped mountains covered with ancient forests. This great site has the third highest peak in the world, Mount Khangchendzonga. The best way to experience the spectacular views of this mountain is by taking a walk through the Goecha La. This would be a moderate to difficult hike with rewarding views of many peaks in the Himalayas such as Mount Pandim.

Dzongu is not the typical mountain town. The reason is that Dzongu is located in the buffer zone of the Kanchendzonga National Park and is home to the Lepcha tribe. In about 3 hours from Gangtok, Dzongu is an experience that you will value all your life.

7. Mangan

The capital of North Sikkim, Mangan is a lazy town that attracts visitors looking for a luxurious place to enjoy while in Sikkim. This is a high-end destination that fortunately doesn’t mandate any kind of special permits. This beautiful place is the gateway to many other hidden havens in the state such as Lachen, Lachung, Katao, Yumthang and Chungthang.

For a truly marvelous experience here, plan your visit to make it to the three-day music festival held every year. You can enjoy live music from bands all over northeast India. Prepare to be enamoured by natural beauty all around you.

8. Yuksom

The classic trip to Dzongri peak (13,123 feet) in west Sikkim passes through magnificent rhododendron forests and culminates with the magnificent views of the snow-covered peaks in Dzongri. The emotion of Dzongri, the meeting place of man and the gods of the mountains, is undoubtedly a source of attention.

The trek starts from the Khangchendzonga National Park in Yuksom. The trek to Dzongri is ideally five days, with a day of acclimatization in the Tshoka village. The trek to Tshokha passes through dense tropical forests of the Khangchendzonga National Park, with magnificent views of the mountain peaks and the mystic music of the river that flows down into the Valley.

The first five or six miles of the hike are quite easy, with picturesque waterfalls, some suspension bridges and magnificent red and white flowers of rhododendron. The last kilometers are particularly exhausting. The walk has a continuous ascent with a gradient of 45 to 60 degrees to Tshokha.

The best time to visit Dzongri is from mid-March to April, and then from September to mid-October, to avoid snowfall and monsoon rains. However, due to the high altitude, there is a definite possibility that the climate will take unexpected turns at any time of the year.

Mark your presence at a historical town situated in the Geyzing subdivision of the west Sikkim district in the Northeast state of Sikkim. Back in days this town served as the first capital of Sikkim.

Yuksom has become the base camp to ascend Mount Kanchenjunga. The Dubdi Monastery, one of the oldest in Sikkim, is a Buddhist shrine also called Yuksom Monastery which is accessed after walking for an hour from Yuksom. At the top of the roof, there is an ornate bell-shaped golden dome called Gyaltshen.

Along with the Dubdi and Ngadak Chorling monasteries, the Kathok or Kartok monastery, named after one of the three monks who crowned the first king of Sikkim, is one of the most important of Yuksom. It is next to Lake Kathok and the Norbugang Forest and, after climbing a small wooden staircase, you access the building that is very striking for the amount of colors, including red as a base and yellow ornamentation, a classic Tibetan style.

Tashi Tenka was a complex built for the delight of the royal family when Yuksom was the capital of the Namgyal kingdom. One of the most recommended is the Goechala and Dzongi trek, which will take you to walk among the most impressive mountains in the area, seeing the Kanchenjunga peak of more than 8500 m, the Talung or the Rathong.

One of the places not to be missed in the center of Yuksom is the Mani Hall temple, with large glass windows that reveal huge golden copper cylinders. The trip from Yuksom to Dzongri Peak and Rathong Glacier, and beyond to the Goecha Peak if you are prepared for the challenge, is the most popular trek in Sikkim.

When you want to experience tough and arduous trekking in the Himalayas, then go for Goecha La. Nestled between the imposing peaks of Sikkim, Nepal, China and Bhutan, lies a land of incomparable beauty that invites hikers and adventurers. Embark on the daring Goecha trek, the one that passes through the picturesque Yuksom-Dzongri pass and great views of Mt. Kanchenjunga.

Feel close to nature as you pass through rhododendron forests to valleys swathed in lichen and moss. This makes for a memorable trek as it offers fresh chilling breeze and silent wild vales and the magic of Kanchenjunga.

If you are looking for little more tougher trek than Sandakphu, try Goechala Trek. It is a 10Days/9Nights in Wilderness Trek (you could do this trek in 5 days if you are good trekker). It is one of the best trek if you want to go away from civilization and be in wild for couple of days. The trek starts from Yuksom, which is also called the “door to heaven” and end back to Yuksom itself.

The highest point of the trek is the Goechala View Point 3 but you are allowed to trek only till Goechala View Point 1 which is at the height of 15,100 feet. You can spot, Wild Yak and blue sheep in the wild. The are highly considered lucky and noble to be found on the trek.

The best time to do this trek is April to May mid and October to November mid. Some people do it in December as well. ofcourse it depends on the capacity to withstand cold. The most prefered month is April as its the dry season and also a Rhododendron flowering season. You can also see some Snow Piegon or Red beak Crows and the beautiful Himalayan Monal during this season.

9. Rinchenpong

Leisure walk across the pretty villages of Sikkim are a treat to eyes. The very green forests and hills, the tranquil environment all around, the all-pervading serenity of a village walk of Sikkim is undoubtedly remarkable. The crimson glow of the setting and the rising sun, the snow-laden peaks of Himalayas, the misty valleys, the fresh air all do wonders to your health and mind or if you are on honeymoon.

When we think of a trip to North Sikkim, our choice revolves around Gurudongmar lake and Yumthang valley. Though recently Dzongu has become partially successful to make it's place into the destination list of some people who always search for a offbeat destination, yet some other beautiful places still remain in oblivion. People residing in Sikkim has the love for fashion and one can witness them dolled up all the times.

For all those who wish to experience the Eastern Himalayas in all its purity, without any kind of material comfort, this route is absolutely recommended. The places are little contaminated by the commercial tourism, they are still authentic and surely this way they stay during long time.
Kalyan Panja