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West Sikkim – Offbeat Travel in Sikkim

Sikkim is blessed with abundance of mother nature and is right on the lap of the mighty Himalayas. The beauty of Himalayas from the North-Eastern India state of Sikkim, will sweep you off your feet making you want more. In the recent times Sikkim has got a lot of attention and tourists are flocking to East Sikkim while the district of West Sikkim continues to remain offbeat and best kept secret of the organic state. My travel guide to ‘West Sikkim – Offbeat Travel in Sikkim’ is going to give you a picture of my travel journey in this charming state.

Khechupari Lake
Divine Lake

Permits to visit West Sikkim

Protected Area Permit (PAP)

If you are an Indian national, then you would not require PAP unless you are going for treks like Goecha La and Dzongri. Your trekking company/homestay owner can help you get the permit.

Restricted Area Permit (RAP)

If you are a foreigner, (excluding people from Pakistan, China, Myanmar, Bangladesh and Nigeria) you are eligible to get a RAP to visit Sikkim, excluding the areas that share border with China (Tibet) and Nepal.

FYI: Permits doesn’t apply to Bhutanese 🙂
Click here to check the details on PAP and RAP.

Prayer wheels
Prayer wheels all the way

How to reach West Sikkim?

You will have to first reach Siliguri from Bagdogra airport or New Jalpaiguri Junction railway station(NJP). There are shared auto rickshaws and cabs available for the same. Once you reach Siliguri you can find shared cabs to go to Jorethong till 3 PM. On reaching Jorethong, you will get shared cabs to Geyzing (Gyalshing), Pelling and Yuksom. If you aren’t getting a cab to directly go to Pelling or Yuksom then reach Geyzing (transport hub) from where you will again find shared transport.

If you want to travel to West Sikkim from Darjeeling or Gangtok, you will find shared cabs for the same.

bus stand
Pelling bus stop to board bus to Siliguri

Additional Details

  • Click here to check about the bus availability
  • Click here to get a complete picture of commute, to and within Sikkim and Darjeeling by Solobackpacker 🙂
  • Click here to get a list of Government Authorised Travel Agents in Sikkim
    Note: I have contacts of drivers with whom we explored Sikkim, if anyone is interested
Khecheopalri lake
Prayer wheels and flags at Khecheopalri lake

When to visit?

You can visit West Sikkim all around the year, but you need to be extra careful during monsoons because of the frequent landslides.

What to wear?

Since the temperature ranges between 10 – 28° C you can wear any comfortable clothing. Evenings can get cold for which you will be needing a jacket. If you are visiting monasteries in West Sikkim, it might require you to be mindful on the type of clothing you are planning to wear.

Food in Sikkim

The Sikkimese cuisine is an amalgamation of Tibetan and Nepalese cuisine along with the native Sikkimese cuisine. Majority of Sikkimese are meat eaters though you get Vegetarian options as well to eat. Sikkim is an organic state, and you will find homestay owners having plots behind their houses where they grow their own organic food.

If you want to try the local food then choose momos, thukpa, kinema, gundruk, phagshapa, chhurpi soup, sinki, dhindo, gya kho, sha phaley and the local beer called chang.

Where did I stay in West Sikkim?

I had stayed at Udaan Olive Hotel & Spa in Pelling for 2 days since it was during the Covid period. In normal times I would have preferred one of the many homestays in Pelling/Geyzing/Darap/Yuksom to stay with the locals.

Places to visit

Khecheopalri (Khechuperi) Lake

It is one of the sacred lakes for Buddhists in Sikkim. You will have to remove your footwear before entering the footpath surrounding the lake. The lake is said to be more than 3500 years old and one that will fulfil your wishes?

Khecheopalri lake
View of the holy Khecheopalri lake

You will also find people selling fish feed and make sure you buy them. It was fun feeding the fishes there and watch them play.

Fishes
Fishes at the lake

Kanchenjunga Waterfalls

The waterfall is said to have its stream originating from Mt. Kanchenjunga and hence the name. It is located at 24 km from Pelling and 10 km from Yuksom. You can find people engaging in zipline and other such fun activities.

Kanchenjunga falls
Kanchenjunga waterfalls

Rimbi

The village of Rimbi is known for its waterfalls, oranges, homemade wine, and other organic produces. It is about 14 km from Pelling. When we entered the village, we were told by the locals about the different vegetables that they grow. There were women selling homemade wines made out of ginger, cherry, orange, grapes, apple, and many other fruits. When we went close to the stream we spent time with the locals, getting to know them, their food, language, culture, and all about the homemade wine.

Locals
Wine tasting with the locals

Darap

Darap is a village with 300+ families of the Limboo community who practice organic farming and sell their produce in the markets of nearby towns. It is about 10 km from Pelling and 4 km from the village Rimbi. Darap has held the attention of trekkers in the recent times along with Yuksom which is the base for the most famous Goecha La trek which takes you close to Mt. Kanchenjunga.

Darap
Darap Valley

Chenrezig Statue and Skywalk

The 137 ft Buddha statue along with its skywalk is one of the recent attractions in Pelling. The site was opened for tourists in 2018 with India’s first skywalk at 7200 ft above sea level. I spent about 2 hours at this place which was serene and peaceful.

Chenrezig Statue
Chenrezig Statue

Rabdentse Ruins

History says that Yuksom was the first capital of the Sikkim Kingdom followed by Rabdentse as the capital for about 150 years in the 17th and 18th centuries. The Gurkha Army had invaded Sikkim and destroyed the capital city of the Sikkim Kingdom.

You can find the ruins of the palace in Rabdentse which is currently located at Geyzing. This is a place for history buffs. There was no entry fee and to reach to ruins you will have to walk for almost a km.

Rabdentse Ruins
Rabdentse Ruins

Pema Yangtse Monastery

It is said to be one of the oldest monasteries in Sikkim. Rabdentse ruins can be viewed from here and it holds a lot of history. Unfortunately, I was not able to visit this monastery due to the covid travel restrictions for tourists. The Cham dance festival happens in this monastery in the month of February every year.

There are few other places in West Sikkim like Rinchenpong, Okhrey, Uttarey, Dentam and Tashiding which are still in my bucket list for my next Sikkim trip ?

White flags
White flags are Buddhist prayer flags for the soul that has parted from its body to rest in peace

Sikkim bewitches the soul and always has something to offer to ones who search for it.

Tips to be a responsible traveller

  • Carry your own water bottle, tumblers/mugs when you travel
  • Avoid buying bottled water in shops, instead you can fill water from the homestay/hotel where you stay. You will also find fresh water from the mountains/waterfalls which can be used for drinking
  • Do not carry wet tissues because they are non-biodegradable, instead carry small towels and hand kerchiefs
  • Use menstrual cups in the place of sanitary napkins during your periods. Napkins are again non-biodegradable and take at least 500 years to decompose, after releasing toxins into the soil
  • Reduce, Re-use and Recycle to protect Mother Earth
Kanchenjunga falls
Wearing rented ornaments at Kanchenjunga falls

Click here to check my other blog posts from Sikkim.

Aarthy Chinnaiya

Hola, you travel-prying soul! Welcome to my blog and thanks for stopping by! My name is Aarthy Chinnaiya, exploring new places, food and people gets me excited. I focus on budget travel and exploring places to the fullest in limited number of days (being a Software Engineer I don't get much leaves you see :P). Follow me for a constant dose of my travel stories, experiences, tips and much more.

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