Thursday, September 8, 2016

From South to North-east: How I planned a trip to Sikkim.

Our 2nd wedding anniversary was coming closer and we had no plans to travel. We were rather thinking on going to a swanky restaurant and splurge on shopping. But destiny had other plans. We were watching TV where a travel show was running and the host was in North Sikkim. The location was just beautiful. We instantly decided to plan our anniversary trip to Sikkim. This was little over a month ago to our anniversary. I started searching for cheapest flights from Bangalore. Return flights for 2 were coming over 36k which I think was expensive. I waited a couple of more days before finally booking the tickets for 28K ( which was still expensive).

Guru Dongmar Lake, North Sikkim
Guru Dongmar Lake, North Sikkim

I started looking for hotels on various sites. TripAdvisor is my most trusted site for finding out the best hotels based on reviews and rankings. After zeroing in on the hotels, I started searching for the best deals. I got the best deal on GoIbibo as I already had some Ibibo Gocash (virtual cash). If you're signing up on Goibibo app, you can get Rs2000 Gocash free by using my referral code VIP1186.
My plan was to book decent budget hotels throughout the trip thereby minimizing the total trip expense. My itinerary for this trip was:
  • Reach Gangtok on 19th April.
  • Stay in Gangtok from 19th-22nd April. (Hotel for 3 nights)
  • Stay in Lachen on 23rd April. (Hotel for 1 night)
  • Stay in Lachung from 23rd-25th April (Hotel for 2 nights)
  • Stay in Gangtok on 25th April (Hotel for 1 night)
  • Leave for Bangalore on 26th April.

There are limited options if you're planning to travel to North Sikkim and wish to plan it individually. You have to book a tour package for North Sikkim. There are hundreds of online portals for booking the tour. You can also book it after reaching Gangtok. There are 3 types of tour. 1N-2D, 2N-3D, and 3N-4D. I emailed my query to a number of tour operators. My wife and I were interested in booking 3N-4D tour as it will give us lots of time to explore at leisure. We finally booked the package through cabinsikkim. Mr. Prem, the manager, was very courteous and gave us right deal in our budget. We booked 3N-4D for Rs 21k which included accommodation, transport, food ( Breakfast, lunch as well as dinner) for 4 days. The itinerary for North Sikkim tour was:

Day 01 : Gangtok - Lachen (Approx - 121 kms 6 hrs)

After breakfast around 8-10.00 a.m. we start from gangtok to Lachen (13500 ft). On your way visit Naga, . Lunch on the way in Mangan. Check-in to your hotel on arrival. Overnight in Lachen in at Jachu valley resort.

Day 02 : Lachen - Gurudongmar Lake (Approx 68 Km 4 hours each way)

After breakfast we begin our trip to Gurudongmar Lake ( 17100 ft.).On the way visit Chopta Valley, tshangu and back around 2-4 pm and have lunch.
Lachen – Lachung (Approx – 52 kms 2.5 hrs)
After lunch we start towards Lachung. Check-in to our hotel on arrival. Overnight in Lachung.

Day 03 : Lachung - Yumthang (11800 ft.) - Lachung (Approx 24 Km each way)

After breakfast we begin our trip to Yumthang-valley (known as Valley of Flowers), visit Hot Spring and back around 3-5 pm and have lunch. Day at own to explore the Valley. Overnight in Lachung.

Day 04 : Lachen – Gangtok (Approx – 121 kms 6 hrs)

After Breakfast, we start towards Gangtok. Lunch in the way in Mangan. Check-in to your hotel on arrival. Overnight in Gangtok.

Hotels we stayed while in Gangtok:
  • Hotel Tashi Thendup.
  • Mount Pleasant guest house.
I will write a separate review blog for the hotels we stayed in..

For the 2 days in Gangtok. we planned for 10 point city tour on Day 1 and Tsomgo Lake/Babaji Mandir on Day 2. Taxi cost for day 1 and day 2 was 2K and 3K respectively. I booked these taxis from the hotel itself by asking the hotel manager.

Total expense for the trip came out to be around 72K. Drop in your comments if you have any questions, query, suggestions. Stay tuned for blog posts on my experiences in North Sikkim.


  1. Can you please give your review of the North Sikkim tour? How were the hotels in Lachen & Lachung? And how was the overall service of Cabin Sikkim? thanks.

    1. Hi Mustaf. Apologies for replying so late as I was travelling for last one month.

      North Sikkim tour was amazing and this is the best time to visit. Hotels in Lachen and Lachung were very basic. They were managed by local people and the food was amazing. I really liked the service of cabin sikkim, especially our cab driver, Tashi. He was a jolly fellow and kept us entertained throughout the journey.

  2. Hi Vipul,
    we family of four are planning to go to Gangtok-pelling-Darjeeling. I booked hotels myself.I am now trying to book taxi for whole tour through tour operators.But they are charging exorbitantly saying it is peak season. Recently I came across taxi rental portal on which I found the rates reasonable. Only thing is to know how is the service provided by them and attitude of drives. Your suggestion will really help us to decode on booking as transportation play most important role to make the trip memorable.

    1. Hi Manish, as I've mentioned in my post, I had a very good experience with Cabinsikkim. The manager was courteous throughout the negotiation process. The driver assigned to us went extra mile in keeping us entertained throughout our trip.

  3. Critical: Professionalism, Value
    I had one really good, and one unpleasant experience with the proprietor Prem. I was travelling with my senior citizen parents, our Lachen - Latchung leg of the journey had to be modified as stays in Lachen and Lachung were not allowed.

    Drivers were excellent, and the cabs really good.
    Initial interaction with Prem also good. I paid 3000 advance from kolkata itself.

    Couple of issues:

    1. Prem knew about it and decided to disclose it to me on the night before (Lachen Lachung no stay over issue)

    2. Forced me to stay at a below average stay at a pathetic home stay in Naga stating he does not have any other contacts.

    3. Since Gurudongmar ls also closed, there s no point in going to Lachen. You can manage the trip with one night halt, again not informed.

    4. We decided to return as we could not stay in Naga. This is where the gentleman (Prem) started behaving oddly.

    5. As I mentioned earlier, travelling with old parents, he was negotiating on the price as the tour was severely curtailed. (1 day less than the plan)

    6. Since we were on our way back, i told him, whatever the amount minus advance and fuel costs paid, i ll pay the rest once we arrive at the hotel.

    7. He literally asked the driver to STOP the vehicle in the middle of nowhere in freezing cold, and said, pay me or else vehicle will not move.

    Hardly for a dispute of 1500 rupees, we were stuck. I did not have much choice, somehow begged the drivers feet to move the cab, arranged cash whatever I had, paid him in full and got out at our hotel.

    I spoke with Sikkim tourism officials and was advised to launch a formal complaint, i will do that as soon as I am out of Sikkim state border as I feel really unsafe, threatened and humiliated, expletives were used during our phone conversation with regards to my dad.

    We understand that economy and business has been dull this year, but this kind of behaviour was completely unexpected.

    Lesson learnt, better to book cabs as you go along, local drivers are not that bad. OR book through your hotel.

    Trust me, he will give you some sob story about what happened, but I am a deeply disturbed by the turn of events, don't know if he was drunk or having a bad day, but we expect better.... Much better....

    1. Really sorry to hear that you had an unpleasant experience with Prem and the trip ended on a bad note. I hope you had a good time in Sikkim otherwise. It's better to forget such experiences and cherish the good times.