10 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.

Planning for a distant sojourn to Sikkim involves planning the trip, including booking hotels, searching for the best shopping destinations, looking for the cheapest flight options, meals, accommodation, local transfers and sightseeing.

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. Tashiding

To add mysticism, visit the four holy caves in Sikkim. Tread to the remotest parts of Sikkim to feel the thrill of mystery of the Caves of Occult Fairies and Secret Caves and Cave of Happiness. Tashiding monastery is famous for the Bhumchu festival.

2. Lachen

Another nature’s miracle located at 17,000 feet. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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 port of 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.

6. Ravangla

With a jaw-dropping view of the Himalayas, Ravangla is a journey into the clouds. Surrounded by a thick forest of Oak, Magnolia, Chestnut, and Rhododendron trees, this small town is known for breathtaking landscapes and tranquility. With silence breathing in the air of Ravangla, and snowfall an astounding sight during the winter months, the town also gives a glimpse of the Himalayan Mountain like Mt. Pandim, Mt Sinialchu, Mt. Kanchenjunga, Mt Kabru, etc.

The fragrance of the flowers, untimely rains, low-lying clouds and romance seeping into the air – Ravangla is but a paradise that nature lovers would love to make a home at.

Halfway between Ravangla and Namchi, you will find the picturesque Temi Tea Garden. While travelling from Gangtok to Pelling, you must halt in the Temi Tea Estate. It's a tea garden in Sikkim and a peaceful resort is in the middle of it. Here you can take part in adventure activities like paragliding, ziplining, camping and more.

Oaks, hemlocks and rhododendrons are companions in this walk. The dense forests pass right next to almost all the trekking. You can reach the start of the trek in Ravangla by taking a taxi from the New Jalpaiguri train station or from the Bagdogra airport. You can spend a night in Ravangla and see the Ralang Monastery there. If you start early the next morning from the base camp, you will be at the top at sunset.

The walk is quite easy and straight and you will find a clearly marked path to choose from. One of the best parts of this hike is that there are some hikers in this.

Known predominantly for the hot sulfur springs that have been found enriched with medicinal properties, the Borong and Ralang Cha Chu on the banks of Rangit River is a sight beyond imagination. The traditional winter spas of the hot springs amidst nature invite travelers from around the world to taste the goodness of nature.

In south Sikkim we find the Ravangla Buddha Park (about 80 km from Gangtok), also called Tathagata Tsal. Built in 2006, on the 2550th anniversary of the birth of Gautama Buddha, the government and the inhabitants of Ravangla decided to create a complex with a giant statue of Sakyamuni Buddha and a beautiful garden surrounding it.

How could it be otherwise, Ravangla is part of the important Buddhist pilgrimage circuit. The Palchen Choeling monastic institute (also known as the new Ralong monastery) in the nearby town of Ralong also houses a golden Buddha of considerable size. You'll find Maenam Wildlife Sanctuary near Ravangla in south Sikkim.

This city is the base if you want to make a small trek to Maenam Hill and Borong. Borong is a popular destination for eco-tourism embracing unmatched beauty that collides warm sunny days and cold winter nights. Taking you amidst the mountainous beauty, this small town brings the experience of traditional huts, jungle safari and a minimalistic style of living. One can indulge in an organic diet that is a staple diet here as the state is known to practice organic farming.

You can also go to see Cho Zo Lake and the Rabong Monastery. One of the interesting places of visit in South Sikkim, Rabong has its comforting charm on the foothills of Maenam Hill. This tiny town with revering natural beauty, natural living and a jaw-dropping view of the hills is the ultimate place to live through the silence of the hills.

A hub for the trekkers, Rabong is the base camp for Maenam hill trek, Borong trek and more. The sightseeing places of Rabong like the Chozo Lake, Manilakhang, etc are quite stunning to unleash amidst nature.

Home to India’s finest medicinal herbs, Maenam hills is a revering sight for the botanists, naturopathy practitioners, and nature lovers, Dug deep into alpine forests trekking to the Maenam hill is quite popular. The diverse terrain of the Maenam wildlife sanctuary invites travelers to wanted in high altitude capturing glimpses of rare birds and animals on the way.

The rich population of flora and fauna of the sanctuary that includes red panda, barking deer, civet cats, magpies, pheasants, blue-necked Pitta, etc. As you make way to the hilltop you are greeted with a jaw-dropping sight of the Himalayas, nearby villages and snow-capped mountains.

7. Yuksom

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.

8. Namchi

South Sikkim is highly known for its cultural indulgence, traditional values, and purity of nature. Being a religious hub, this part of Sikkim is filled with religious places to visit. Namchi is the first stop you should make when on a tour to Sikkim. This hill town shares an ecstatic view of the mountains while holding some really interesting spots to visit.

Another thing you can do in Namchi is to see Siddheshvara Dham, a complex with different replicas of the most important temples of India, and a statue of Shiva.

The Char Dham Temple, dedicated to the four popular Hindu pilgrimage site is a beauty in itself. With a larger than life statue of Lord Shiva atop a hill, there are reimagined versions of the four temples inside the complex. The temple is at such a height that one can feel clouds and cool breeze touch their face.

Venture to the monasteries at Namchi. There is a large statue of the local deity called Guru Padmasambhava on the top of Samdruptse hill in the beautiful Namchi valley. You can also visit the Samdruptse Monastery a short distance from the sanctuary.

If you happen to travel between February, March or October, you will catch the Namchi flower festival. With a collection of flower gardens and rich natural vegetation – Namchi is a must-visit.

Once a chosen site by the lamas and the Lepchas for their hermitage, Tendong Hills are popular for their divine beauty. 13km from Ravangla, the Tendong Hill is a popular trek and a spiritual journey for the trekkers as the forests of the hill are considered holy because of the Lepcha Tribe praying inside them.

Connect back to nature as you march through the Tendong hill and make your way to the top. The Tendong State Biodiversity Park spread across an area of 255 acres is widely famous for bamboo, walnut, cane and oak trees, medicinal plants and flowers. With different species of birds and animals finding their home at the park – this is the perfect place to indulge into a sprawling walk in nature.

Covering the foothills of the outer Himalayan region, the deep gorges and steep valleys of Sumbuk are a treat for the nature lovers. Sumbuk Village encapsulates the mind with its laid back beauty, the charm of small hill stations and an extension of tropical forests along the greater Rangeet zone. Unassumingly this place is an astounding visit for travelers to enjoy the exquisite presence of nature and wildlife.

Sumbuk is popular for its biodiversity and population of birds like hornbill, peafowl, peacock, etc along with a large stretch of pine and Sal trees. Bird lovers are known to give a long stay at the village for their fetish of bird watching and wildlife photography.

From lush Tea Gardens, an expanse of forests and wildlife to old-age monasteries, bird sanctuaries, and vivid landscapes – South Sikkim is a paradise to unfold for the nature lovers. With each new site, the state becomes an ecstatic journey!

9. 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.

10. Zuluk

Zuluk is surrounded by dense forest of pines that are completely virgin making an home for wild bears, wild boars and red panda. Variety of local state birds can be seen on the way to Zuluk like Blood Pheasant, Monal and Kalij. During winters (starting from November to mid march) you’ll see this place entirely covered with thick blanket of snow and on the other seasons of a year like summer, monsoon and autumn you will find a very pleasant and moderate weather.

The roads of Zuluk offers incredible views of Mt.Kanchenjunga and it’s mountain range. Apart from that there are multiple other attractions in this place like lakes, temples and points such as Thambi view point, Nathang valley, Old baba mandir, Kupup, Memenchu lake, Lungthung, Zigzag point.

The summer temperature of this place is usually 20 degree Celsius and in Winters it will be around 3–4 degree Celsius. Dzuluk is an unusual but close destination near Padamchen. You can see winding roads below the village on the edge of the mountains that lead to Nathula. Northeast of Zuluk is Lungthung and is southwest of Lungthu.

Zuluk is located about 3,000 meters above sea level on a slope surrounded by steep mountains. To have an unobstructed view of the Kangchenjunga massif it is necessary to climb a few more kilometers, but accommodation can no longer be found. The village of Zuluk is aptly called the abode of the clouds. The garrison located in the surroundings is also called that of the fighters of the clouds.

Before independence, the English soldiers who were there for the construction of the roads were physically strong and survived on the basis of a diet consisting of whole chickens and a bottle of Ron. There are no hotels or hostels in Zuluk, and the town has not changed since the time caravans and their yak convoys had a habit of stopping for the night, making sure to get there before the sun sets.

Comfort is rudimentary, with ingenious heating systems in the rooms. The village is composed of few families, and most of the men work for the army, installed in the transit camp located about 300 meters above Zuluk. Huddled in the jeep, we left Zuluk in the cool, foggy darkness of 5 am the next day. The driver, installed at the wheel as usual, step on the pedals and take the vehicle through tortuous slopes to a strategic place to enjoy the sunrise.

Zuluk is covered with a thick layer of snow since a few days ago and the higher we climb, the more it thickens at the edge of the road. Totally green and yellow during the monsoon, the region offers browns and reds during the winter. When turning by an abrupt curve, we observe the sky that is going from a deep violet color to pink tints.

About fifteen minutes later, while the temperatures remain glacial outside and that Zuluk is no more than a miniature version of herself, the sun, with its orange face, appears at last among the peaks of Bhutan. An amazing vision with a panoramic effect at 360 degrees, the road has been ornate, for a moment with a golden and silky glow.

Right in front of the sun, the Kangchenjunga massif drastically changes color from one minute to the next. How many spectacular sunrises in altitude exist in the world? The glacial silence was broken by our driver, who invited the team to have a hot coffee. Just what we needed! We continue our ascent along the winding road.

After the viewpoint of Thambi and the town of Lungthang, we spotted a couple of Lophophore, a local bird species close to the peacock. We progressed with difficulty in the direction of Nathang Valley where, according to legend, a woman claimed to have seen a yeti some years ago.

But our biggest surprise was discovering bear tracks along the way. We were the first to pass after the snowfall and the road was marked by these tracks for several kilometers. The bears must have traveled the road at night. Kupup is located about 35 kilometers from Zuluk, at more than 4,000 meters of altitude.

Seen from above, the lake is shaped like an elephant. That's why it was named after the Elephant Lake. Bhutan uses its waters for a long time. The lake is also the usual place where Chinese red-billed cranes come to nest. A little further we see the Jelep La Pass. We cannot ignore the Chinese and Indian bunkers on both sides of the pass.

The climb is steep, but at the top the view is sublime. Kupup and its environs, the winding roads that lead to Jelep La and Lake Elephant, were a grandiose panorama that also had to marvel the merchants of the ancient Silk Road. Just a little further away is another of these curiosities created by man, the highest golf course in the world, installed and maintained by the Kupup garrison.

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