Your Three-Day Guide To Sikkim, Home To India's Highest Mountain

Immerse yourself in Sikkim's rich biodiversity, visit its historical sites like Rabdentse Palace and the Pemayangtse Monastery, and indulge in its excellent local cuisine
Gautama Buddha statue in the Buddha Park of Ravangla in South Sikkim
Gautama Buddha statue in the Buddha Park of Ravangla in South SikkimShutterstock

Part of the Eastern Himalayas, Sikkim is notable for its biodiversity, alpine and subtropical climates, and Kangchenjunga, the highest peak in India and third highest on Earth. The Kingdom of Sikkim was founded by the Namgyal dynasty in the 17th century but in today’s day and age it has transformed into a multiethnic and multilingual paradise. You will find its people speaking English, Nepali, Sikkimese and Lepcha.

It should come as no surprise that the state’s economy runs on agriculture and tourism. For instance, almost 35 per cent of the state is covered by Khangchendzonga National Park, a popular and verdant preserve.

A view from Khangchendzonga National Park
A view from Khangchendzonga National Parklakkana savaksuriyawong/Shutterstock

Three days will not be enough to take in the sights and smells of this wonderland so once you finish living our guided itinerary, get started on booking another one.

Day One


The Rabdentse Ruins
The Rabdentse Ruinssaiko3p/Shutterstock

Gangtok is a charming place in its own right but it’s best to cover it at the end of your whirlwind three-day trip. Start your Sikkim tour before dawn to see Pelling, the gateway to Kangchenjunga. Its namesake waterfall cascades down from a height of 100ft into a swimming pool. It’s a gorgeous picnic place but tourists must climb roughly 50 steps from the road to reach it.

Next on your list should be the ruins of Rabdentse Palace. It was the second capital of Sikkim until 1814 but after the Nepalese invasion during the 18th century, the palace and monastery complex was demolished and transformed into ruins. The location is a must-see for history buffs who wish to delve into the state’s past.

Finally, the Pemayangtse Monastery is worth a visit. Standing on a hilltop overlooking the historical Rabdentse ruins, Pemayangtse is said to represent one of the four networks of nerves (vessels) in the human body. Dedicated to Guru Padmasambhava, it serves as the starting point for the popular Dzongri trek.


The tallent mountain in India, Mount Kangchenjunga
The tallent mountain in India, Mount KangchenjungaLabun Hang Limboo/Shutterstock

Stop for a meal at Grains by Udaan or the Taste of Sikkim for a refreshing lunch. Afterwards, take a four hour drive via Yuksom to see the vast expanse of Khangchendzonga National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site teeming with biodiversity. There won’t be enough time to see it all so savour your time here.


Sel roti, a ring-shaped sweet fried dough
Sel roti, a ring-shaped sweet fried doughPravruti/Shutterstock

Head back to Gangtok 45km away and eat a hearty Sikkimese meal of thukpa or shah-paley. Rest deeply for an early start to North Sikkim tomorrow.

Day Two


The Seven Sister's Waterfall
The Seven Sister's WaterfallArijeet Bannerjee/Shutterstock

North Sikkim is home to Gurudongmar Lake and the Yumthang Valley. Since these sites are a six to seven hour drive away get up before dawn. Take a couple of pit stops to see the Seven Sister’s Waterfalls and the Naga Falls. It’s best to buy some food before embarking on the trip so that you make good time to reach the north of Sikkim.


Yumthang Valley is rightly called the "Valley of the Flowers"
Yumthang Valley is rightly called the "Valley of the Flowers"Gyanveer Singh/Shutterstock

When you reach the Yumthang Valley, take a rest and tuck into a hot meal at the Yumthang Cafeteria. This "Valley of Flowers" is bursting with blossoms during the spring so take your time to relax in some local hot springs and savour a walk in the valley. You can also check out Zero Point where soaring snow-capped peaks with chimal trees in green, red and yellow colours surround the road. It has abundant natural beauty but a lot of visitors skip Zero Point due to the difficult roads.

Once you’ve had your fill of the scenic vistas, get back in the car for a three hour drive to Lachen.


The thukpa is a hearty meal that warms you up during winters
The thukpa is a hearty meal that warms you up during wintersArtit Wongpradu/Shutterstock

Head straight to a locally-owned homestay or hotel and indulge your taste buds, nose and eyes with hot, tasty food. Listen to the birdsong of parrotbills, yuhinas, laughingthrushes, robins and shortwings. Take a walk around your neighbourhood if you are still buzzing but hit the sack for an early night. More adventures await on your final day.

Day Three


Gurudongmar Lake was named after Guru Padmasambhava, the founder of Tibetan Buddhism
Gurudongmar Lake was named after Guru Padmasambhava, the founder of Tibetan Buddhism Roop_Dey/Shutterstock

Rise and shine with a hearty breakfast and head straight to Gurudongmar Lake. No Sikkim tour is complete without marvelling at this sacred lake, which stands at an elevation of 5,430m. Important to both Sikhs and Buddhists, the lake was named after Guru Padmasambhava, the founder of Tibetan Buddhism who visited in the 8th century. You’ll need a permit to access the lake so make sure you have applied for it beforehand. Oxygen levels drop precipitously here so walk slowly and call for medical help if required.


A yak at Tsomgo Lake
A yak at Tsomgo LakeNattee Chalermtiragool/Shutterstock

Head back to Lachen for a quick lunch and then go straight back to Gangtok. It’s a five hour drive so take a detour to Tsomgo Lake. Its oval surface reflects different colours with the change of the seasons and is held in great reverence by the local people. Remember to apply for a permit as the area is restricted for visitors.


MG road is a bustling high street in Gangtok
MG road is a bustling high street in Gangtokzakir1346/Shutterstock

Your final evening in Sikkim should be devoted to Gangtok. Head to MG Road which is the heart of the city. Shop till you drop or sit on one of its benches and people-watch. You’ve had a hectic three days traversing the west and north of Sikkim, after all.

Check out the Rumtek Dharma Chakra Centre, the largest monastery in Sikkim set into a hill facing the city. The temple is surrounded by monks' quarters that also encloses a spacious stone courtyard. This space is used for ritual lama dances that commemorate significant dates in the Tibetan Buddhist calendar.

The Banjhakri Waterfall
The Banjhakri Waterfallsricharan yalamanchili/Shutterstock

If you’re pining to see more of the magnificent landscape of Sikkim go to Banjhakri Falls Park which has man-made lake with a dragon at the centre, gazebos, revered statuary, and paved paths and footbridges which wind through the landscaped garden.

Getting There

Book a flight to Pakyong Airport (PYG) in Gangtok or Bagdogra Airport (IXB) in West Bengal (153km). The nearest railway station is New Jalpaiguri (157km). It connects with major cities like Kolkata and New Delhi. Hail a taxi or bus to Gangtok from the airports and railway station.

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