FAQ Sikkim

Sikkim FAQ’s – Frequently Asked Questions

Team JustWravel
Written by Just Wravel
1: Why is there a need for Inner Line Permit , Restricted area permit / Protected area permit required for foreign nationals?

Ans: Because Sikkim is sharing its boundaries with three international Borders China, Nepal and Bhutan so for security reasons, the foreigners are required to obtain Inner Line Permit.

2:  Why Nathula and Gurudongmar lake are not yet opened for foreign nationals?

Ans: Since Nathula Pass and Gurudongmar lake are located in the international border of China, Bhutan and Nepal, that’s why foreign nationals are not allowed here. 

3: Why foreign tourists have to be in groups of two or more to travel around in Sikkim ?

Ans: The practice is being followed in pursuance of the instructions issued by Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India.

4: Why do Indian citizens need permits to visit Nathula and Gurudongmar Lake and other protected areas of Sikkim?

Ans: Since Nathula and Gurudongmar lake are very close to the international border of China, Bhutan & Nepal, hence domestic tourists as well as locals need permits to visit these areas.

5: Where can I apply for a permit for Nathula And Gurudongmar Lake? 

Ans: Permit for Nathula and Gurudongmar lake are issued by Tourism and Civil Aviation Department. When you plan to travel to North Sikkim, you would need a permit for exploring all the areas beyond Singhik.

Before Singhik, you can obtain a permit in Mangan, North Sikkim. To reach there, you can easily get a shared cab from Gangtok.

6: Do we need a permit to visit North Sikkim?

Ans: Yes, beyond Singhik all areas in North Sikkim require permits for tourists. 

7: Do bikers need a special permit to ply in Sikkim?

Ans: Yes bikers need special permit to ply in protected areas.

8: Can I drive by my private car? 

Ans: Private vehicles are not allowed in protected areas of Sikkim. 

9: Is there an online system of Inner Line Permit?

Ans: Sikkim government is planning to launch Online Inner Line Permit, but for now you just can apply for a permit offline. 

10: Can we tour Sikkim on our two wheeler bikes?

Ans: As per the rules of Sikkim State Government, two wheeler motor bikes are to obtain permission from Home.

11: What Documents will be required to apply for a Permit? 

Ans: Documents required for the permit: 
two passport size photographs 
ID proof. 

You will have to fill a form with basic details with the places you planned to visit in North Sikkim.  You should carry extra photocopies of your permit. Because there are various check posts along the way.

12: What is the best season to visit Sikkim?

Ans: The best time to visit Sikkim is between months of March to June and from October to December
Summer: April to June ( Best season to visit Sikkim) 
Monsoon: July to September ( Should Avoid during Monsoon) 
Winter: October to March ( Good for adventure lovers and Young age people) 

13:  What are the places from where we can shop during the Sikkim trip?

Ans: You can easily shop for the best souvenirs, handicrafts, prayer flags, woollen carpets and necessary thing’s. 
MG Road Gangtok: One of the major places for shopping in Sikkim, it has many restaurants and shops to visit. You can get various types of handicrafts
Lal Bazar East Sikkim: Lal Bazaar is the important place of Sikkim’s kitchen. It is the best place where you can buy fresh organic products. You can explore the various eatables to buy. 
Directorate of Handicrafts & Handlooms: Best place to buy authentic Sikkimese handicraft items or artwork. 

14: How many minimum days are required to explore Sikkim? 

Ans: There are plenty of exciting destinations in Sikkim. 
Major destinations are – Gangtok, Lachen, Lachun, Yumthang Valley, Nathula Pass, Gurudongmar, Namchi, Pelling etc. 
You need at least 8 to 9 Days to cover all these destinations. North Sikkim is very famous amongst tourists; it takes a minimum of 6 days to explore. 

15: What kind of Vehicle will you provide during the trip? 

Ans: For less than 3 Pax (Passengers) we provide Wagon R and for more than 4 Pax we Provide Innova Car. Tempo travellers are not allowed in Lachen and Lachung so in case of more than 6 pax we provide two or more Innova Car. 

16: What is the nearest airport for Sikkim? 

Ans: Bagdogra Airport is the nearest working airport for Sikkim. Which is 124 Km away from Sikkim in West Bengal. There is one more airport in Sikkim Pakyong Airport but there are no regular flights operated by this airport.

So we prefer Bagdogra Airport to reach Sikkim. 

17: What is the nearest railway station for Sikkim? 

Ans: New Jalpaiguri Railway station is the nearest railway station for Sikkim. It is well connected to major cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru etc

18: What are the commonly spoken languages in Sikkim? 

Ans: The official languages of Sikkim are English, Nepali, Sikkimese and Lepcha. The language percentage of Nepali = 64%, Lepcha = 11% and Sikkimese = 11%. English is also frequently used here. Other spoken languages of Sikkim are Tibetan and Bhutia. 

19: How are the road conditions of Sikkim?

Ans: The terrains are rough so you will encounter traversing through the roads but in major city spots and tourist destinations, the roads are pretty good.

20: Are there any good restaurants in major towns of Sikkim ?

Ans: You can try a variety of local restaurants in Sikkim. Here is list of some good restaurants-
Nimtho Gangtok: try flavourful traditional Sikkimese food here or try their Nepalese thali here 
OSM Gangtok: it’s a great contemporary ambience and a flavourful selection of food in Sikkim
Crumbs N Whips Namchi: famous for fast food 
Mama Kitchen Yuksom: famous for home-style Sikkimese cooked food 
Kabur Pelling: famous for mix of Indian, Chinese and Tibetan cuisines
Havmor Pelling: famous for South Indian food 
For vegan : you can try local Sikkimese food or Hotel Garuda in Pelling and Mama’s kitchen in Yuksom. 

21: Can I do trekking in Sikkim? 

Ans : Yes! you can do trekking in Sikkim, there are various trekking trails in Sikkim – 
North Sikkim : Green lake Trek, Tosar Lake Trek, Phuni Toska Trek and Shingba Rhododendron Trek
East Sikkim :Khedi Trek and Fambong Lho Trek 
South Sikkim : Himalayan Trek and Maenam Trek, 
West Sikkim: Kastori Trek, Khangchendzonga Trek, Singalila Trek and Barsey Rhododendron Trek

22: What is the local food of Sikkim?

Ans: Sikkim cuisine is famous for its traditional taste, which is a combination of Tibetan, Nepalese and native Sikkimese food. Rice is the chief food of the Sikkimese. Some of the local dishes include momo (dumplings), thukpa (Tibetan noodle soup), gundruk (leafy dish), sha phaley, Pork curry, Chhurpi – a fermented dairy product, Ring shaped Nepalese bread, Traditional fermented vegetable products – Gundruk & Sinki and Sishnu Soup. 

23: What is Sikkim famous for? 

Ans: Sikkim is known for its peaceful nature, simplicity and pleasant climate throughout the year. Sikkim is famous for Kanchenjunga, the third highest mountain in the world at 8586m, beside this it offers a tremendous variety of plants and wildlife with a diverse mix of rich culture and traditions. Apart from this Sikkim has been blessed with verdant valleys, refreshing air, serene ambiance and snow-clad peaks.

24: Is photography allowed in Sikkim? 

Ans: It’s totally dependent in which area you are travelling. Asking for permission before you click your image is the best way to do photography. There is some place where photography is prohibited – 
Some Monasteries like Rumtek 
Nathula Pass
Drone is also prohibited in Gurudongmar

25: What are the Do’s and Don’ts while visiting Sikkim? 

Ans: DO’S :
Travel with a guide.
Avoid use of  plastic bottles 
Deposit garbage at designated places and Avoid littering
Take permission before taking photographs of local people 
Do proper research of local culture and manners and dress accordingly. 
It is tradition to leave a donation at a monastery 

DON’TS :

Don’t misbehave with the locals 
Don’t disturb wildlife 
Don’t buy endangered antiques.
Don’t smoke, drink alcohol or talk loudly near monuments and sacred places.
Don’t pluck plants or flowers 
Do not pollute streams and Lakes.

26: Is Sikkim a family destination? 

Ans : Yes Sikkim is a mountainous terrain region and a great place to explore with your family as it has a northeastern charm along with the snowy Himalayan peaks which can be seen  at all times.

The glory of nature will always drive you to explore the waterfalls of its valley, stunning Buddhist shrines, and the kind gestures of the natives staying in there. Don’t forget to try their local food like Gya thuk, dhindo, dumplings and many more. 
Adopt yourself in the culture Sikkimese by learning more about their cultural heritage & Monasteries. There are some adventure activities which you can try with your friends or family like: paragliding, river rafting, cable car rides, challenging treks, shopping, sightseeing, birdwatching, mountain biking and yak riding. 

27: Is it safe to travel alone in Sikkim? 

Ans:Oh Yes! Sikkim is a safe place even for a Solo traveller or going in a group as the people over there are really helpful and charming, even though they don’t understand much of English but those small talks with them asking about the direction or to find a nearby ATM is fine. 
Remember what their tag line says “ Where nature smiles” – I guess it really does.

28: What are the important points to remember while travelling in Sikkim

Ans: These are the few tips that needs to be kept in mind while your travelling solo or with family 

1.    Prefer to take out cash at day time only rather than searching it at night if you’re travelling alone.
2.    Most of the places like MG Mall road is always busy even at late night so you may not be facing any problem if you stay nearby, even if you don’t that’s fine since even your budget little less so so you can stay little far from that place 
3.    Stay safe since it lies near the China Sikkim border so you’ll be able to find most of the army roaming at night as well for your safety. Prefer not to take any pictures of their base camp nearby as it is restricted.
4.    While entering Sikkim you will be brought to the station where a copy of your passport and a passport size picture will be taken just for their reference and to give you a pass to enter Sikkim.
5.    If I talk about clothes to wear since it’s cold we prefer wearing something simple like a normal t-shirt or a jacket can go after all you have to explore more there.
That’s it folks! I hope these important tips would be sufficient for you to travel freely in Sikkim.

29: What are the major attractions of Sikkim? 

Ans: 
Sikkim is divided into 4 districts. North Sikkim, South Sikkim, East Sikkim and west Sikkim. Every district has its own charm but North Sikkim is the most visited region in Sikkim. 
North Sikkim places: Kabi Lungchok, Lachung,Yumesamdong, Lachen, Chungthang, Dzongu, Mangan, Yumthang, and Gurudhongmar, Khangchendzonga National Park, Katao, Dzongu Forest, Thangu Valley, Dikchu. Etc
South Sikkim places: Namchi, Ravangla Gumba, Jorethang, Samdruptse, Temi Tea Garden, Buddha Park of Ravangla, Ralang Monastery, Siddheshwar Dham Namchi, Tendog, Ralang Monastery, Char Dham Temple, Namchi Rock Garden, Rock Garden, Glass Sky Walk, Green Park, Bon Monastery, Rose Garden 
 East Sikkim places: Tsomgo Lake, Nathula Pass, Tashi View Point, Rumtek Monastery, Namgyal Institute of Tibetology, Enchey Monastery, Baba Harbhajan Sing Temple, Hanuman Temple, Do- Drul Chorten, Himalayan Zoological Park, Banjhakri Falls, Jelep La, Aritar Lake, Elephant Lake, Pal Karma Zurmang Shedup Chokhor Gangtok Ropeway, Bakthang Waterfall, Ganesh Tok, Flower Exhibition Centre, Sikkim Silk Route, Pemayangtse Monastery, Khecheopalri Lake, Seven Sister Waterfall, Zuluk, Nam Nam ViewPoint, etc. 
West Sikkim places: Pelling, Yuksom, Dzongi
 Khechuperi, Hee Bermiok, Pemayangste, Rinchenpong, Sombaria, Goecha La Trek, Kanchenjunga Falls, Dubdi Monastery, Tashiding Monastery, Mount Pandim, Rimbi Water Falls, Rathong Glacier, Samiti Lake, Rinchenpong Monastery, etc. 

30: What activities can I do in Sikkim?

Ans: You can try various activities as a solo traveller as we well as with your family… 
Wildlife watching : Maenam wildlife Sanctuary , Varsey Rhododendron Sanctuary, Khangchendzonga National Park, Kewzing Forest, etc. 
Paragliding : Gangtok, Ani Gompa, Pelling 
River Rafting : Teesta River 
Mountain Biking : Gangtok, Rangpo
Trekking : Yuksom, Hilley, Lachen, Yumthang, Namchi, Taktse, etc.
Visit Monasteries : Rumtek Monastery, Enchey Monastery, Pemayangtse Monastery
Ropeway /Cable Car: Gangtok
Yak Riding : Tsomgo Lake, Dzongri
Savour the Local Cuisine : Tibetan, Nepalese and Sikkimese food
Mountaineering: Mt. Kanchenjunga (27,803 ft), Mt. Kabru (24,005 ft), Mt. Siniolchu (22,610 ft)
Mt. Thingchinkhang (6010 meters) and Mt. Jopuno (5936 meters), Mt. Pandim (22,010 ft), Mt. Rathong (21,911 ft)

31: What are the best places to stay in Sikkim?

Ans: So there are plenty of options available in Sikkim for a tourist to stay depending upon the type of budget they carry. So if you have a decent budget to stay in a hotel these are the few options available at Sikkim. You can choose these locations for your stay in Sikkim : Gangtok, Lachen, Lachung, Pelling, Namchi, Yuksom etc. 
You can check below properties or similar properties while visiting in Sikkim 
Mayfair Spa resort & casino by sterling 5star 
Lemon tree hotel, Gangtok 4 star 
Summit denzong hotel & Spa 4 star 
Udaan hotels wood berry hotel & resort spa 3 star deluxe 
So mostly in terms of budget hotels in Sikkim prefer taking oyo but here’s a thing even oyo has some standardised categories for your reference Which are as follows
The ones with (SPOT ON  – these are basically the base category or you can say the entry level properties or OYO )
Above this is the ( OYO ROOMS XYZ NUMBER )
Oyo room Capitol O properties as they are more spacious and clean
Besides that now they have an Airbnb facility also available in which you get complete privacy of having your own kitchen room and living area attached for per room per night basis or on monthly basis. It is for those who don’t want to stay in Sikkim specifically in hotels they can have a home away from home feeling.

32: Which are the best places to visit in Sikkim? 

Ans:  These are the top places to visit in Sikkim
Tsomgo Lake – Frozen during Winter 
Nathula Pass – Trade link between India and China 
Kanchenjunga Base Camp – Third Highest Mountain in the world 
Yumthang Valley – Sikkim Valley of Flowers 
Gurudongmar Lake – One of the highest lake in the world 
Goechala: High mountain pass in Sikkim 
Green Lake : base camp of Kanchenjunga 
Lachung : Serene mountain village 
Pelling : Hilly hamlet of Himalaya
Zuluk: Transit point of Jelep La & Nathula Pass
Ravangla: New tourist spot 
Rumtek Monastery : A Romantic Monastery 
Yuksom: Historical town of Sikkim

33: Is it very cold in Sikkim?

Ans: During winters, it becomes cold and lakes freeze everywhere and the area receives snowfall. During summers, the weather is quite pleasant, a bit chilly and sunny during daytime.

34: What should I pack for a trip to Sikkim?

Ans: Packing Depends on the nature of travel. If you are planning a hiking trip, you will require proper hiking shoes, sun protectors for eyes, proper dress, A flashlight, sun protection lotions, caps and more. Here is a list of necessary items for Sikkim trip:
 Warm Clothes, Camera, Camera Charger, Additional Lenses, Medicines, Hairbrush, Comb, Gel, Spray, Phone Charger, Adapter,Walking Shoes, Hiking Shoes, Gum Boots, Water Bottles, Passport, Sun Glasses, ID Proof, Miscellaneous equipment, Extra Cash in case of emergency and Sikkim Inner Line Permit (Can be obtained upon arrival at Sikkim border)

35: Major attractions of Gangtok ?

Ans: There are plenty of attractions in Gangtok. Here is a list of a few famous attractions of Gangtok. Namgyal Institute of Tibetology, Tsuklakhang, Ganesh Tok, Himalayan Zoological Park, Tashi Viewpoint,, Enchey Gompa, Flower Exhibition Centre, TV Tower, etc.

36: How many days are required to visit Gangtok? 

Ans: 2 to 3 days are sufficient to explore Gangtok. You can divide the days according to your choice of preferences. One day is enough for a local sightseeing tour and on the second day, you can visit the nearby places. If you want to try some adventure activities then one more day should be added in your tour itinerary.

37: What are the activities to do in Gangtok ?

Ans: Gangtok is famous for its majestic views and wonderful beauty. It is covered with nature wonders, a perfect destination for wholesome vacation with umpteen activities for visitors. You should try following activities when you are in Gangtok.
Enjoy The Saga Dawa festival
The International Flower Show
Gangtok Ropeway
Yak Safari at Tsomgo Lake
mountain biking
Hot Springs 
River Rafting at Teesta River
Paraglide at an elevation of 1400 m
Hand Gliding
Shopping at Lal Bazaar

38: Can i do trekking in Sikkim ? 

Ans: Yes! You can trek in Gangtok. Gangtok is the perfect destination for Trekking of Himalayas. The iconic beauty of Himalayas is favourable with a trekking trip in Gangtok as you experience the gorgeous waterfalls and sparkling lakes. Gangtok has a range of some finest treks in India, From easy to difficult levels. Here is some treks of Gangtok which you can attempt in your next trip – Dzongri Trek, Goechala Trek, Singalila Trek etc

39: Best hotels in Gangtok? 

Ans: There are plenty of places to stay in Gangtok, basically the best place to stay in Gangtok is near Tibet road, MG Marg, Ranka, these are the nearby places to see the beauty of Sikkim, Gangtok. 
Hotel Option mentioned below 
1.    Tara Palace 4 Star 
2.    Jewel of the East 4 Star 
3.    Summit Golden Crescent Resort & Spa
4.     Royal Patuka Hotel
5.    Sonam Delek
6.    Golden Imperial Hotel & Spa
7.    Capitol O 17068 3 Star 
8.    Chumbi Residency Budget 
9.    Cardamom Residency 
10.  Hotel Norbu Ghang

40: Is alcohol cheap in Gangtok? 

Ans:Yes in Gangtok, you also get well-known liquor brands as well as scotch at comparatively cheaper rates than in Delhi, Calcutta, or Bombay as there is lower excise duty. Comparing a bottle of good Scotch like Black Dog or Passport is available for Rs.1000-1200 per bottle, whereas the same brand is available in a large city for Rs.1300-1500. There are few shops available at MG Road promenade in Gangtok where you can buy it easily.

41: What are the famous dishes of Sikkim ? 

Ans: There are many options available in food gangtok which you can find easily in their local markets. There are
•    Dhindo – Traditional Nepalese food.
•    Sel roti -Traditional Nepalese rice bread which is ring shaped and sweet to taste.
•    Gya thuk or Thukpa – is a noodle based soup with vegetables or meat.
•    Momo – Tibetean/Nepali dumpling which is stuffed with minced meat or vegetablesSha Phaley -Tibetean bread stuffed with seasoned beef and cabbage.
•    Thukpa – noodle soup with vegetables

42: What are the things to do in Namchi? 

Ans: Namchi offers a magnificent view of the Khangchendzonga range and the Rangit valley. It invokes inner peace, solace and peace of mind in visitors. one can see replica of all the four dhams of India (char dhams) at Namchi and also the biggest statue of Guru Padmasambhava, Admire The Beautiful Architecture of Shirdi Sai Baba Mandir & Pilgrimage Centre, Central Park, See The Golden Statue in Samdruptse Monastery, Explore the Nature Lover’s Paradise Namchi Rock Garden, Meditate In An Old Monastery – Ngadak Monastery and Explore The Football Stadium- Baichung Stadium, Watch Colors Blend at Maenam Wildlife Sanctuary, Watch Birds Flying Around at Kitam Bird Sanctuary and Visit It To Soothe Your Eyes in Temi Tea Garden

43: What is Namchi famous for? 

Ans: Namchi is located in South Sikkim at an 5,500ft altitude. It is also known as the cultural capital of Sikkim and the capital of South Sikkim. It is a fast developing region of Sikkim. This town is surrounded by mountains of Himalayas, lush greenery, flora, and forests. This place has been developed as a hub of religious and cultural tourism in Sikkim. Namchi offers unique culture, diversity, religion, benevolence and depicts the munificence of Sikkim as well as welcoming monasteries, traditional temples, lush greenery flora and forests. 

44: Activities to do in Namchi? 

Ans: Namchi is a perfect destination for family as well as for couple’s. It also offers lots of adventure activities like Mountain biking, Trekking etc. If you are a solo traveller and want to try some moderate level of trekking and hiking then Namchi can be a perfect destination for you. Here is a list of various activities which you can try in Namchi:  
•    Local Sightseeing
•    Excursion to Tarey Bhir
•    Excursion to Tendong Hill
•    Souvenir Shopping
•    Monastery visits
•    Village Excursions
•    Bird Sanctuary visits
•    Bird Watching
•    Pilgrimage visits
•    Hiking
•    Mountain Biking

45: What kind of Accessibility is available in Namchi ? 

Ans: Namchi is easily accessible from other tourist locations of Sikkim. Namchi is located at 78 km from Gangtok and 114 km from Siliguri.The nearest Airport is Bagdogra which is 124 km and the railway station is 125 km. Regular flights connect Bagdogra with Guwahati, Kolkata, New Delhi and Bangalore
 It’s easily accessible from other tourism hubs of West and East Sikkim. Taxi service is also available in Namchi. Whether it’s a business trip, casual trip or family holiday to Namchi, It provides a wide variety of car rentals in all shapes and sizes. 

46: Best Accommodation for Namchi? 

Ans: It is easy to find good accommodation at Namchi. Namchi being a famous tourist destination, standard to deluxe accommodation options are available. There are homestays in the adjacent villages of Maniram and Sadam where local hosts provide a splendid experience to visitors. Here is a list of a few good hotel’s of Namchi. 
Summit Sobralia Resort & Spa: 5*
Ging Tea House : 5*
Juniper Residency: 3*
Suma Aavaas Farm & Homestay : 3*

47: Is accommodation available in Yumthang Valley? 

Ans: There is no proper accommodation available in Yumthang Valley due to the restrictions for movement of tourists since the area borders the Chinese, Tibet and extreme cold weather but there is permanent forest rest house available for stay that is also at night only if permitted. Ideal place to stay in Lachung, which is only 25 kms away from the valley.

48: Best time to visit Yumthang Valley? 

Ans: The best time to visit Yumthang valley starts in late February and ends in mid June, when you witness the booming colorful flowers and beauty. However, September to December season would be ideal to enjoy a clear sky and brilliant view of snow-capped mountains 
Summer (March-June)
Autumn (October-November)
Winter (December-February)

49: Things to do in Yumthang Valley? 

Ans: Yumthang Valley or Valley of flowers is a exotic location with hot springs, rivers, yaks and lush green meadows. This beautiful valley is a paradise for nature lovers. Here is a list of top thing to do in Yumthang Valley – 
Explore the beautiful town Lachen
Excursion of Shingba Rhododendron Sanctuary
Spend time near the Yumthang Chu
Remarkable excursion of Zero Point
Rejuvenate your body and mind in the Yumthang hot springs
Yumthang River which flows through the Shingba Rhododendron Sanctuary
The famous Jawaharlal Nehru Botanical Garden 

50: What is the Altitude of Yumthang? 

Ans: Yumthang is located at an elevation of 3,500 metres above sea-level and some precautions must be taken because Yumthang has almost no medical facilities available nearby. It is located at a distance of 148 kms from Gangtok. 

51: How to reach Yumthang Valley?

Ans: You can not reach directly to the Yumthang Valley. You will have to first reach Gangtok to take permission for visiting the valley then you can visit Yumthang Valley via Lachung. It will take approximately 6 hours to reach Yumthang Valley from Gangtok so it’s better to stay in Lachung a day before. 

52: How is the mobile connectivity in Yumthang Valley? 

Ans: Due to the higher altitude there is no network available in Yumthang Valley but BSNL and Airtel work a little in Lachung.

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