11 BEST Things to do in Sikkim

Winters are approaching and it is time to plan your next family vacation. If you are looking out for tourist destinations that are in full bloom during winter, you must consider Sikkim. Sikkim during winter is no less than a wonderland, with picturesque attractions, snow clad mountains, and acres of wilderness. This is a great place to drench yourself in pretty snowflakes and weave some beautiful memories with your loved ones.

From being a mountain kingdom in 1975 to one of the most beautiful states of India – Sikkim is a gateway to the heavenly Himalayas. Conglomerating the living style of the Tibetans, Buddhists, and Hindus, this state breathes a seamlessly beautiful culture. Known for the latter-day mega sculptures, traditional monasteries, Himalayan Mountain, and countryside views – Sikkim is profound in beauty.

Travelers from around the world head over to Sikkim to visit the stunning places like Rohtang La Pass, Tsongmo Lake, serene hills and towns, and the revering organic life that Sikkim is highly known for. Divided into two regions – South Sikkim and North Sikkim, the itinerary for the state has to be chosen as per one's inclination of travel choices.

For nature lovers, South Sikkim is a paradise in disguise. The lush greenery, rich wildlife, and charming locals bring one close to the goodness of Mother Earth. Here are some places to visit in Sikkim and things to do if you are nature's fan!

Magnificent Sikkim with the majestic mountain ranges, picturesque locations and rugged terrain offer a plethora of Natural Mountain trekking options. The misty mountains and cool slopes, beauty of conifers and elusive greenery are regarded as essential ingredients for happy trekking expeditions.

Sikkim has got in its avenue some of the most hair-raising expeditions for the most adventurous of trekkers. These treks give you an opportunity to praise the unexplored ranges of Himalayas. Bare your bones to the divinely trekking expeditions of Sikkim. Booking Sikkim Tour Packages beforehand is a good choice if you want comfortable and hassle-free vacation.

places to visit in Sikkim

Here is a long list of delightful adventure activities in Sikkim that can be planned while on a getaway.

1. White Water River rafting in Melli

Teesta is the lifeline of Sikkim and adds majorly to the charm and beauty of this tourist favourite destination. Teesta also offers the tourists the chance to experience some great rapids that can be maneuvered only by ace and avid rafters with experience. The rafting course holds enough of thrill to entice the most brave and adventurous of rafters.

There is enough pull and current in the river to set your heart racing. One can attempt grade 2 and 4 rapids according to their expertise. Teesta offers the bumpy thrill of experiencing the rapids across the gushing river currents. Teesta has rapids ranging from Grade One to Grade Five and thus forms an international attraction for river rafting.

The rapids of these waters are an international site for rafting ranging from Grade I to V. The river course forms one of the most fascinating routes across the thrilling gorges and deep valleys. Rafting on the river is the ultimate adventure activity to get to Sikkim, and the Teesta River offers some world-class opportunities.

The main route is Makha-Sirwani-Bardang-Rongpo. The Rangeet River, with its more turbulent waters, also offers advanced opportunities for rafting from Sikip-Jorethang-Majitar-Melli.

2. Mountain Biking to Rangpo

Mountain biking is a thrill for adventure lovers. Gangtok-Rangpo is an mountain biking route for ace and passionate bikers who dream of riding across rough and rugged nature. The enchanting landscape, the magnificent flora and fauna can be thoroughly experienced while motorbiking through the lush green hills. Group Mountain biking in Sikkim and, solo biking both are popular in Sikkim.

Some other biking routes are Rangpo to Yungthum and Temi, Gangtok, Melli route.

3. Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary

This one has access to the majestic razor sharp snow clad mountains slopes. The route leads via Varsey Rhododendron Sanctuary and offers open views of the pristine forests of Eastern Himalayas.

Sikkim is a bird watcher's paradise. Sikkim is rich in bird species and offers approximately 550 species of birds. The marked distinction of various zones with differing humidity, rainfall and climate create typical pockets of astounding variety of bird species. You can watch several bird species that are completely indigenous to Sikkim.

Rare species of birds along with exotic and indigenous ones include Satyr Tragopan, Fire-tailed Myzornis Sultan Tit, Puff-throated Babbler, Streaked Spiderhunter Scaly Laughingthrush, Rusty Cheeked Scimitar Babbler, Red Faced Liochichla, Scarlet Finch, Cutia, Black-headed Shrike Babbler, Scaly-breasted Wren Babbler and more.

Maenam Wildlife Sanctuary, the areas around Khecheopalri Lake, the enchanting Yuksom Valley, the interesting Varsey Rhododendron Sanctuary and Dzongri are some of the popular destinations booked exclusively for bird watching in Sikkim. Nature and wildlife photographers, simple nature lovers and ornithologists all flock regularly at these locations.

4. 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.

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.

5. Ralong

How could it be otherwise, Ravangla is part of the important Buddhist pilgrimage circuit. 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 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.

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.

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.

6. Temi

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.

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.

7. Kaluk

In Kaluk there are some night resorts and from there you can walk the distance (3 km) to Rinchenpong to see the monastery and get trapped by the tranquility of this area.

8. 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.

9. 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!

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.

11. Kupup

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. You 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, are 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.

Sikkim presents a vibrant face of traditional India which has the perfect blend of modernity and ethnicity. The ancient monasteries and pilgrimage places will fan the spirituality while the thrill of adventure activities will flare up the adrenaline rush and the captivating vistas and breath-taking mountain ranges, meadows and valleys will keep you overwhelmed.
Kalyan Panja