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North Sikkim

Half Frozen Gurudongmar Lake, North Sikkim

Half Frozen Gurudongmar Lake, North Sikkim

Most of North Sikkim is restricted to travelers and permits are needed to visit these areas. The area, which shares a sensitive border with the People’s Republic of China, is heavily patrolled by the Indian army. However, in view of exquisite scenic beauty, a large number of tourists have started visiting the region overcoming all sorts of hardship. Often unregulated tourism becomes a major conservation issue in fragile ecosystem such as high mountains.

The district is the largest of the four districts in Sikkim.

Temperatures range from about 25° to below -40° in the extreme high reaches where the altitude is in excess of 6,000 meters. Kanchenjunga is the highest peak at over 8,000 m, straddling its western border with Nepal and can be seen clearly from the town of Singhik.

Teesta River, North Sikkim

Teesta River, North Sikkim

Get In & Transport

Entry to North Sikkim is only possible on a guided tour, and a travel permit must be organised in Gangtok 1-2 days prior to travel. You would need a copy of your photo id card and 2 photos to obtain the permits for North Sikkim.

All travel is by 4-wheel-drive as the roads are subject to frequent landslides. The terrain is very difficult and cold. Mostly Boleros and Scorpios are the safest bet although Sumo Victas also ply. Nevertheless, the journey into the valley is stunning. Roads are in a poor condition owing to the frequent landslides.

Food & Drinks

Simple Nepali, Indian and Tibetan food is offered at most of the guesthouses. The Tibetan momos (dumplings) are a must.

The hotels serve simple yet good food at Lachen. You can try out Wai Wai noodles, a brand of noodles widely available there.

Lachung, North Sikkim

Lachung, North Sikkim

Also, don’t forget to try lopchu, a sweet made from milk and sugar. It’s addictive.

Sampling the local millet beer (known as tongba or chang) with the locals is a great way of soaking up the atmosphere in Lachung. The Sikkimese beer “HIT” is popular for its high alcohol content.

Safety Issues

Provided you stay away from military zones, there are few safety concerns in the region. Theft is uncommon.

The journey to Gurudongmar is into very high altitude and cold zones. Many people experience headaches because of lack of oxygen. Don’t exert yourself too much and drink lots of water. If you are having kids with you, please be careful. The roads are steep and windy. Nausea is very common.