Thursday, 27 April 2017

Sikkim in a nutshell



Guys, thank you. I have received quite a few "Thank You" mails from some of my regular readers. Your mails really touch my heart and I have no words to express my gratitude. All I can say in return is wish you lots of happiness, good luck and good health along with lots of travels that makes good memories.

In the same post, I would like to address some of the queries that some of you have raised regarding travelling to Sikkim. Since the questions seek more information so I thought of assimilating the ones I have received so far in this post. I will keep on updating this post with more questions and answers if I get more.

1. I want to visit Sikkim, I will first visit East Sikkim and then North Sikkim. Do I need permit for East Sikkim? - Bimal Ghosh

[Soma and Ankur] : Hi Bimal
Yes you need to have permit to enter East Sikkim which your tour operator can easily arrange for you provided you provide him with a xerox of any of your Government of India approved photo ID card and two copies of passport photo. Alternately you can also get it at the first checkpost at Rangpo on submitting your forms and photos along with the photo ID copy.

I assume you are an Indian citizen, and in that case you do not need any permit only for West Sikkim.

2. Is Sikkim expensive for travellers? - Anonymous

[Soma and Ankur] : Hi Anonymous
Sikkim is expensive if you avail a lot of private transportation. There are syndicates for private transportation and they do a lot of monopoly. For instance a car with North Sikkim registration will not be allowed to enter West or East Sikkim and vice versa. Similarly to move around in Gangtok city you need to hire cars that are authorized to ply only in the city.So its pretty taxing on any tourist.

Also for North Sikkim you need to book a package from an agent and there the costs go high.
Alternately you can choose a shared North Sikkim package, but in that case, your comfort will be highly compromised. They squeeze 10 people in a old shaggy bolero for a 2/3 nights trip of North Sikkim where the road is bad all round the year.

Contrary to the popular notion you can also make your own North Sikkim itinerary without going to any agent. In that case costs will be much less but then you need to take a lot of pain. You need to arrange for north sikkim permits, book the local homestays( none of them are online), and also get a car and driver.

Food is also expensive in Sikkim compared to most other hill stations in North India although hotel price is nothing extravagant.

3. I am taking my parents for a trip to North Sikkim. Will senior citizens be allowed? - P.B Sukla

[Soma and Ankur] : Hi P.B Sukla
Yes and No. It mostly depends on the army person issuing the permit on that day. Senior citizens are not encouraged to go to North Sikkim.The reason is there is hardly any health care available at such high altitude.So if your parents have any of the problems such as asthma, heart/walking/breathing problem  its better not to take them. If your parents are less than 65, is hale and hearty with a young heart and is eager and excited to travel, you may take a chance.

4. Will I get vegetarian food in Sikkim as we are pure vegetarian brahmins? -S.Swamy

[Soma and Ankur] :Hi S.Swamy
I do not think finding vegetarian food will be a problem, especially in the popular tourist locations. Please get it confirmed from your tourist agent/hotel while you are planning.

5. Can I plan a tour of North Sikkim on my own? The operators I have contacted are asking for over the sky amounts. -Moloy Kanti Biswas

[Soma and Ankur] : Hi Moloy Kanti Biswas
As I have already stated before, contrary to the popular notion you can also make your own North Sikkim itinerary without going to any agent. In that case costs will be much less but then you need to take a lot of pain. You need to arrange for north sikkim permits on your own. You can get it done by your driver or hotel in exchange for some money although it is free of any charges.

You also need to fix your home stays in the places you wish to halt for night. The problem here is most of the budget home-stays are not online so you cannot directly book them. Either you must have their numbers or you need someone who can do it for you.

You also need to get a car and driver, which you can easily get from the North Sikkim taxi stand. If you book your package from them instead of hotel, you will save some money on your hotel's commission.

6. I will be on a very short trip to Sikkim. I am confused between West and East Sikkim. Which one should I do? Do I need to book hotels beforehand? - Ms Kabita Sanyal  

[Soma and Ankur] : Hi  Ms Kabita Sanyal 
Both East and West Sikkim are beautiful in their own ways, you can't compare. But since you can only visit either of the two let us try to talk of both so that it becomes easier for you to choose.

If you are concerned about the availability,  more options (stay), culture and nature choose west Sikkim as it has some of the beautiful waterfalls,monasteries and valleys.On a clear day you can see Mt Kanchenjunga very clearly from Pelling. Also there lots of options for hotels and food.

East Sikkim is more virgin, less forgiving but strikingly beautiful. A tour of the silk route will surely be a lifetime memory, but then you must go in the proper season, else it will not look the best.Also stay options are very very limited and nothing special. A complete tour of East Sikkim will also be a little more expensive since it is remote. Also there are no activities to do after sunset.

If you are travelling as a young group, then you do not need to pre-book hotels for West Sikkim except in the peak season if you are staying in places like Pelling or Ravangla.
In East Sikkim , yes you need to pre-book, there are very few options for staying

Hope we have answered all the questions that came our way. Let us know if you need any more information for planning your perfect Sikkim trip. Enjoy the pictures from Sikkim!

Pelling












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