Sikkim is one of the smallest and yet one of the most fascinating states in India and these are the best tourist places in Sikkim to visit when there to get the best out of the area.
Sikkim can be visited any time of the year but the best time to visit Sikkim is in spring into early summer when the weather is more pleasant for getting outdoors. Having said that the winter months have their own magical charm about them.
Personally, I visited Sikkim in December and loved it, although a lot of the longer higher altitude trekking routes are not possible during winter.
Naturally, there are plenty of other tourist places in Sikkim to visit, but these are some of the main ones that you will want to go to.
Gangtok is the main settlement of Sikkim and is one of the best cities in India as far as the scenery and general vibe go. There are plenty of places to visit in Gangtok and the closer area around it.
Gangtok also makes a great location to base yourself to do day trips to some of the other tourist places in Sikkim. You can easily visit plenty of nearby monasteries from there and do a long day trip to Tsomgo Lake (see further down the article).
The best time to visit Gangtok is in spring until early summer although due to its lower altitude compared with some other places mentioned here it can be seen any time of the year.
You will most likely be heading from Darjeeling to Gangtok overland and that is a stunning drive in itself.
Gangtok is an inevitable stop on any itinerary for Sikkim.
Rumtek Monastery, also known as Rumtek Dharma Chakra Centre, is one of the most important Tibetan Buddhist monasteries in India and is not that far from Gangtok to visit, being around 15km away.
The paintings in Rumtek Monastery are stunning to see and sitting down to observe the monks going about their daily routines is peaceful to watch.
It makes for a good half-day trip and you can do some short hikes in the area as well. The spiritual atmosphere and history of the area are worth going for alone.
Tsomgo Lake, also known as Tsongmo Lake, or Changu Lake, is one of the best lakes in Sikkim and also one of the easier ones to get to from Gangtok being around 30km away. This was my first day trip from Gangtok and was a great day out.
It’s a beautiful area to go to and if you have an interest in nature, and lakes, in particular, then it’s worth it for sure. It’s also known as a healing place amongst the local Sikkimese.
Top tip: Hike up to the top of one of the more gentle mountain slopes for excellent views across the mountains.
Yuksom is the land of the mountains and is one of the best tourist places in Sikkim for organising treks into them. It’s a historical town but it’s what surrounds it that makes a visit to Yuksom worthwhile.
It’s located in a valley and surrounded by lush forest and is the start of the Kangchenjunga National Park, which is where you can do numerous treks, such as the Goechala Trek mentioned further down the article, and especially the trek to Mt. Khangchendzonga.
The town itself has some Tibetan Buddhist monasteries to explore, with the best one being the Dubdi Monastery which dates back to the early 18th-century.
The best time to visit is in spring and autumn.
Gurudongmar Lake is another beautiful lake in Sikkim and also one of the highest lakes in the world to visit. This is also a sacred lake for Buddhists and Hindus.
It’s located in the far northeast of the state and makes for one of the best tourist places in Sikkim as a remote destination.
The best time to visit is in spring to early summer.
Nathula Pass makes for a great road trip and it is the road that connects India with Tibet across the border. The drive up there is worth it in itself.
Top tip: try a yak safari when there!
Note that the border area is open for Indians only, but you can check the current situation with the police in Gangtok before going there.
Lachen, Lachung, and Yumthang Valley
Yumthang Valley is one of the best tourist places in Sikkim for those wanting to get into nature and is located in the north of the state. It’s a beautiful valley with mountains all around.
Lachen is a small village located in the area, and along with Lachung, is some of the most beautiful village and valley areas of Sikkim. It’s best to combine all three of these valleys together if planning a visit as they are all worth going to and near each other.
If you want to go to the aforementioned Gurudongmar Lake then Lachen is one the way and can be used as a base for exploring the area. The journey from Lachen to Gurudongmar Lake is one of the best scenic drives in Sikkim.
Khangchendzonga National Park
Khangchendzonga National Park is located in northwest Sikkim and is such an important nature place that it’s on the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list.
The national park is also known for the elusive snow leopards, but don’t really expect to see one as they are very reclusive and hard to spot. Having said that, keep an eye out anyway!
Ravangla is home to the delightful Tathagata Tsal, also known as the Buddha Park, which has the 4th largest statue in India.
There are also lots of forests surrounding Ravangla for walking in nature.
The best time to visit is early spring until early summer.
Zuluk is one of the best drives in Sikkim. A winding road heads up the mountain giving excellent views across the mountain areas.
This is one of the best tourist places in Sikkim to get off the beaten path a bit, and in winter when I went up there everything was covered in snow, making it feel like a place out of a fairytale.
Be sure to check out the Thambi View Point for excellent views of the mountains.
Pelling is one of the best hill stations in India and a great small place to escape to. It’s the second-best main settlement area in Sikkim to go to and is surrounded by stunning forests to explore.
One of the best historical sites in Sikkim is there, the old Rabdentse Ruins.
The best time to visit is in winter to late spring.
Namchi is one of the best places in Sikkim for flora and escaping into the woods, as well as having excellent views of the mountains. It’s located in the south of the state.
There are beautiful tea gardens to see and to enjoy some of the best tea in the country. Make sure to check out the Sherdup Choeling Monastery when there for some history.
The Teesta River oozes lushness. This is a different kind of vibe compared to the mostly mountain places recommended on this list as you won’t get those grand mountain views, but if you want to see another side of Sikkim then it’s a good place to go to.
In winter, when I saw it, it was covered by ice and had a magical feel to it, whereas I heard that in spring when the ice melts the side of the river banks and they become lush with flowers.
It’s also a great spot for birdwatching and there are fun activities in summer-like river rafting for the adventurous.
Goechala is one of the premier treks in Sikkim and is a high altitude mountain pass to trek over. This, like the Kanchenjunga Base Camp, mentioned below, is not a simple thing to just show up and do on a day trip.
You will need to keep around 10 days free to do this trek, but it comes highly recommended as one of the best treks in Sikkim, taking you through the jungle, all the way up to some of the best mountain views in Sikkim.
Kanchenjunga Base Camp
Kanchenjunga is the third largest mountain in the world standing at an altitude of 8,586m and although you can see the mountain from afar from many points of Sikkim, you can go to Kanchenjunga Base Camp to get up close to this epic mountain.
I’m including this one at the end of the article as this isn’t a simple “pop over and do it” kind of situation. In fact, getting to the base camp will involve a multi-week trek that will take you through the jungle, forest, and then up into the mountains and the base camp itself.
This is only for those hardcore trekkers with weeks of time available to trek to the base camp and it will be an epic trekking holiday all by itself. The trek starts in the aforementioned Yuksom.
Sadly as I was there in winter I did not get to do this but I met some travellers who did it in the summer and they highly recommended it.
Tourist Places in Sikkim
And those are the best tourist places in Sikkim to visit.
You can easily get to most of these places by yourself if you have your own transport, otherwise, there are plenty of Sikkim tour packages available to help you out. Some of the tours can be booked on arrival once in Gangtok.
Have a read on my winter road trip high into the snowy mountains of Sikkim in December.
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