How to travel amazing places of Sikkim in budget
We recently visited some of the best places on earth within a very tight budget. How we did that? Wanted to share my whole experiences based on the trip for future travelers so that the things will get a bit easier for them.
We went to New Jalpaiguri from Kolkata by train. Shared cab is available right outside the NJP station , fare rate Rs. 300 per seat. If you are traveling with 7-10 people than you should take a reserved cab which will cost around Rs. 3000.There is a another option available-take auto from NJP station to Siliguri NBSTC Bus stand ,it will take 20-25 Minute to reach there where you can get AC/Non AC bus for Gangtok.
Tip: The cab contains 10 passengers + driver (2/4/4). So if you are 3 people, taking an entire seat makes sense,gives you some breathing space in case someone wants to sleep.
The cab will take you to Deorali taxi stand from where you need to take a local taxi for the final stretch (5 odd km).
Tip: You will be mobbed by local taxi drivers at the taxi stand demanding Rs 150 for taking you to Gangtok ,MG road. Ignore them and come down to the road and wait for 10 minutes. You will get a shared taxi to take you to MG road, in Rs 25 each. However, since they expect to load 4 passengers, more than 1 big bag per person might cause grudges.
We stayed at Utpala Hotel in the middle of MG Road. I would recommend this place to any budget traveler. Plenty of hotels are available here, this is a clean and decent place for affordable price. Online booking for hotel is recommended.
We started our Gangtok sightseeing with The Banjhakri waterfalls, this place without any doubt one of nature’s wonders. It is a hundred foot waterfall located to the Ranka Monastery. The park where the waterfalls are located about seven kilometers away from Gangtok.
It is a perfect spot to click beautiful pictures with your family. You can admire the beauty of the waterfalls and spend a nice relaxing time around the waterfall. The place is quite vast and you can admire as well as explore the area around it. One can’t afford to miss its beauty and charm.It is with any doubt one of the most visited places by tourists. The breathtaking aura of this place and its pleasant sight is totally worth a visit. The energy park has other major attention also one of which is the man-made lake with a dragon located in its center. The entry to the place hardly costs fifty rupees with extra parking charges.
Ranka Monastery located about 20kms from Gangtok town is one of the most wonderful monasteries in east Sikkim. The monastery is spread out in a vast area with great scenic views.
The Average price for one day trip for Gangtok local sightseeing is Rs 1200-1400 for a small cab. The other recommended places to see are: Orchid garden, Gangtok Zoo (Hanuman Tok is next to zoo so don’t pay extra for this).
For Lachen ,we took a share packaged tour which was provided by hotel. You can book a cab from outside, but the price will be more or less the same. It covered two nights and three days stay including fooding /lodging along with cab.
Tip: Prices for Lachung and Lachen are about Rs 2700 -3000 per person in shared cab (including Gurudongmar lake and Youngtham). But for Zero point it will cost Rs 500 more for each person.
The road leading from Gangtok to Lachen, via Chungthang, has several important stops on the way, therefore you are likely to only reach Lachen by the end of the first day. Around 30km away from Gangtok, is the Seven Sisters Waterfall, a lovely cascade of pristine water , Stop here for some spectacular views and great photo opportunities, as well as a hot cup of tea at the government-run cafeteria. From Chungthang, it is a short drive to Lachen (27km) in a beautiful valley.
Stay in Lachen
Visitors can spend half a day in the village of Lachen, walking past old wooden homes built on stone bases and decorated with bright, multi-hued window frames constructed in the Tibetan style.
You might want to visit the village on your first day here, since it is a good idea to let your body acclimatise to Lachen’s height of 9,000ft, before you head to Gurudongmar, which is at a staggering height of over 17,000ft. Our tour operator chose a hotel for us.
Gurudongmar Lake is located right on the border with Tibet. One of the highest lakes in the world, it enjoys a stunning setting, with perennial snow peaks all around. However, this lake is a popular pilgrimage site for both Buddhists and Sikhs. Rapidly fluttering prayer flags welcome the visitor, and the fine sight of the turquoise green waters of the lake can be considered divine. There is a legend about formation of Gurudongmar Lake, considered to be blessed by Guru Rinpoche while others say it is blessed by Guru Nanak. The water of the lake is regarded as sacred, and it is believed that a small part of the lake doesn’t freeze even in the winter. Visitors are advised to reach Gurudongmar Lake early and start the return journey around noon as the wind really picks up after that. At 5140 m (17000 ft), it is one of the highest lakes in the world.
Tip: It is advisable not to run or spend more than an hour at the lake, as the altitude can be dizzying.
At the fork in the road at Chungthang, the one to the right climbs rapidly to a group of settlements known as Lachung, which is located merely 15km away from the international border between India and the neighbouring Tibet.
Head further north from Lachung to admire the beautiful Yumthang Valley, about 10km from Lachung proper. This juncture is also the entry point for the Singba Rhododendron Sanctuary, which is a treat when the flower is in bloom between March and early May. The sanctuary has a number of hiking trails, a great chance to give your legs a warm up after all the driving. As you drive around, the valley will get wider and flatter, with stunning vistas of jagged mountain peaks and rich pastures.
Fourteen kilometres ahead of Yumthang Valley is Yume Samdong or Zero Point. At a dizzying height of 15,200ft, this is the spot from which to stare slack-jawed at the sharp peaks that rise towards Tibet. This is the farthest point that tourists can travel up to. Note that the road is often completely blocked by snow during the winter.
Stay in Lachung
Here also travel agent chose the hotel for us.
For an authentic Sikkim cuisine, do check out 9’INE Native Cuisine restaurant (just off MG road, not more than 15m off. Use Google map to search for the place, its a bit tricky as there are no signboards, and the place is on 1st floor. There is a small staircase leading to it, and a doctors board present on the stairs. Ask for Sikkimese Thali, its totally worth it.
Hope this article would be helpful for your trip to Sikkim. Do share your feedback and opinion in comment section below.