Experience Community Tourism in Sikkim – An Unconventional 10 day Travel Itinerary

Experience Community Tourism in Sikkim – An Unconventional 10 day Travel Itinerary
Reading Time: 11 minutes

 

Sikkim, a tiny state tucked in the North Eastern region of the country has gained popularity among travellers over the past decade. Snow capped peaks, icy lakes, rhododendron sanctuaries, tea estates and rich biodiversity, the reasons to visit Sikkim are plenty. If you are someone who loves mountains, there are high chances that you have already visited Sikkim. But what’s surprising is, most of the travellers tend to follow a generic Sikkim Travel Itinerary (unlike this one 😜) and head to the conventional and touristy destinations in Sikkim, ultimately missing out on the authentic experiences.

I believe that a place is all about its people. The best way to know about a place, its history and culture is by interacting with the original inhabitants. It is the locals who will be able to tell you about hidden gems which you otherwise would have never been able to discover. The concept of community tourism has evolved in Sikkim on the same note. Community tourism allows you to live with the local community, explore the untrodden paths and experience their lifestyle.

There are several villages in Sikkim that have been modeled on community tourism principles with aid from the government. Locals in these villages have transformed their homes into home-stays to host guests from all over the globe. There are several culinary, adventure and cultural experiences that are hosted in these villages which you can be a part of. Various festivals are held as a part of community tourism initiative to boost the economy. And these festivals are nowhere close to what we experience in cities. Go ahead to read about some of the places you can visit to make your trip to Sikkim an unconventional one. 

Here is a 10-day detailed Sikkim Travel itinerary covering East, West and South Sikkim which you can follow, along with details on how to plan your trip to Sikkim. This Sikkim itinerary covers quaint villages and dreamy locations, away from all the tourist hotspots, perfect for discerning travellers or for ones who have already visited Sikkim once and are expecting to see the other side of the state.

 

10 Day Offbeat Sikkim Travel Itinerary

 

Day 1 : Arrive in Gangtok

How to reach Gangtok?

  • The nearest airport to Gangtok is Pakyong. You can directly fly to Pakyong and then take a cab from Pakyong to Gangtok. You should not pay more than INR 1200 for this distance of 1 hour.
  • Alternatively, you can fly to Bagdogra Airport and travel from Bagdogra to Gangtok.
  • Reserved cabs from Bagdogra to Gangtok would cost you about INR 3000. You can opt for a shared cab from wizzride as well. The pickup would be from the airport itself and you can choose your convenient drop off point in Gangtok.

Gangtok is the capital of Sikkim and a vibrant town with a character of its own. Unlike other hill towns, where the city shuts down by late evening, you will find restaurants and pubs open post 11pm. To start your trip in Sikkim, you’d have to reach Gangtok, unless you are aware of alternative routes from Bagdogra.

If you manage to reach by afternoon, head out to visit Enchhey Monastery, Gangtok Ropeway and Tashi View Point. You can opt for local cabs for this.

In the evening, stroll at MG Marg and head to the amazing cafes and restaurants lined up at MG Marg.

 

Recommendation for cafes and restaurants

  • Nimtho for authentic Nepali/Sikkimese cuisines
  • Sass and Guff for Thai and Tibetan
  • Café Live and Loud and Gangtok Groove to experience nightlife in Gangtok
  • Breakfast platters and coffee at The Coffee Shop

 

Where to stay in Gangtok?

Head back to your hotel/homestay and sleep early on this day.

 

 

Day 2 : Gangtok to Yangang

How to reach Yangang?

  • From Gangtok, take a reserved vehicle till Yangang. It will take about 2-2.5 hours to reach Yangang, and a reserved cab will cost you between INR 2000-2500 for a drop off.
  • If you want to opt for a shared vehicle, you’d have to break the journey at Singtam. First, take a shared sumo till Singtam, from where you can take a second cab till Yangang.

 

Where to stay in Yangang?

Tungna Homestay | Dhuni Homestay

You can spend the rest of the day at your homestay and interact with your hosts, followed by dinner or explore the orchards and farms in your homestay.

 

 

Day 3 : Explore Yangang

This is your first day, in this 10 Day Sikkim Itinerary, when you get some time without having to worry about ‘what to see next.’ The village stay itself is an experience. Start the day with a healthy breakfast at your homestay and head out to explore the village on foot.

Take a tour of the lush green paddy fields in Yangang and spend a quiet day in the monasteries with your hosts. You can ask your host to arrange for a vehicle to drive you till Mangzing Waterfall, a hidden spot in the village where no tourist goes.

You can request your hosts to give you a guided walk through their farm lands in the evening after which you can spend the evening in the outdoor area of the homestay. You could join the hosts to prepare dinner and learn more about local cuisines.

 

 

Day 4 : Yangang to Kewzing

On your fourth day, prepare to head to Kewzing after breakfast in Yangang.

Kewzing is a perfect example of community tourism where the Lepcha and Bhutiya communities have worked together to boost the economy of the village through tourism. All the home-stays are run by the families themselves who’d make you feel at home right as you arrive.

 

How to reach Kewzing?

  • Shared vehicles are not available on this route. So you’d have to hire a vehicle till Kewzing. Best option is to inform the hosts beforehand so that they can arrange a cab to pick you up from the homestay.
  • Alternatively, you could take a cab till Ravangla and take a second cab from Ravangla till Kewzing. There’s a possibility of finding a shared cab till from Yangang till Ravangla.

 

Where to stay in Kewzing?

Samaghang Cottage | Bon Farmhouse

It will take 2 hours at the most to reach Kewzing from Yangang. After a sumptuous lunch at your homestay, explore the village. Start with Kewzing Monastery right in the middle of the village where young monks would be ready to greet you and take you around the monastery. Walk further to the cardamom plantations and tea gardens. If you have time in the evening, head towards Bon Monastery in Kewzing to have a look at the preserved scriptures and religious texts.

Return to the homestay by evening and spend time with the hosts by the fireplace. You could request the hosts to arrange for a momo making session. Savour on some delicious momos for dinner as you also learn to make them in the most traditional way.

 

 

Day 5 : Explore Kewzing

Wake up to the beautiful views of Mt. Narsing and Mt. Pandim and set out to explore the hamlet.

Opt for a bird watching tour or a guided hike in the forest trails in and around the village. If you are comfortable for a long walk, head to Doling Monastery and Seven Mirror Lake on foot or hop onto a cab to reach this place. Doling Monastery is not frequented with tourists at all. You may find a couple of locals who visit the monastery to offer prayers. The mystic vibe at the Lake is something that cannot be described with words. An array of prayer flags reflects on the water of the lake to make the scene gorgeous.

Return back to your homestay in the evening and enjoy a bonfire session with the hosts.

 

 

Day 6 : Kewzing to Khecheopalri Lake

Start early on Day 6 of this 10 Day Sikkim Itinerary, from Kewzing to head towards Khecheopalri Lake. You’d be crossing Pelling, a rather famous stop in Sikkim. Stop over at Pemayangtse Monastery and Rhabdentse Ruins in Pelling while heading towards Kecheopalri Lake.

Most of the travelers visit Kecheopalri Lake on a day’s tour from Pelling. But not many people know that this place is a treasure for nature lovers. Apart from the famous Kecheopalri Lake, there are several waterfalls, natural pools and hikes that you can visit from here. A visit to Khecheopalri Lake would be the highlight of your unconventional trip to this North Eastern State.

How to reach Kecheopalri Lake?

From Kewzing, you do not hav many options to reach Khecheopalri Lake. Either ask your host to arrange a cab for you which can directly reach you to Khecheopalri Lake or book a cab till Pelling. Visit Pemayangtse Monastery and Rhabdentse Ruins in Pelling and reserve another can till Khecheopalri Lake.

For both the options, either a direct cab or two, the expense would go upto around INR 3000, if not more.

 

Where to stay near Kecheopalri Lake?

Kecheopalri Sanctuary Homestay (Contact Mr Latup at 8145702994)

Reach your homestay by noon and relax by the lake. Spend a leisurely hour soaking in all the calmness and energy. Later, return to your homestay to enjoy your dinner by the bonfire.

 

 

Day 7 : Local Hikes around Kecheopalri Lake

Wake up early to watch the first light of the day over the lake. Make sure you stay in a room facing the lake. Just waking up in the morning would be such a fulfilling activity, that will surely become one of the highlights of this 10 Day Sikkim Trip, and something that you will remember for the rest of your life.

After breakfast, ask your host to guide you or arrange a guide to lead you through the forest trails. There is a short and beautiful trail that leads to a gorgeous natural pool. Nothing would beat the idea of taking a dip in the cool waters of the natural lake. The freshness of the water is sure to wipe off all your worries.

Explore the forest with your guide and learn about the unique flora and fauna of this part of Sikkim. Return to your homestay by early evening to enjoy some wood-fired pizza and indulge in a jamming session or conversations with the fellow travellers.

 

 

Day 8: Kecheopalri Lake to Yuksom

If you want to encounter Sikkim’s unknown history, Yuksom is the place you should be in. Yuksom is the gateway to Kanchendzonga National Park ( One of the Best National Parks in India) and happens to be the base for famous Himalayan treks like the Goecha La Trek and Dzongri Trek. The age old monasteries and  the enchanting lakes will leave a trail in your heart.

How to reach Yuksom?

The chances of finding a shared cab are quite low. But depending on the season and plans of other guests in your vicinity, you may find one for yourself and share the cab. Ask your host beforehand on this so that arrangement can be made easily.

Or ask your host to get you in touch with a driver who can drop you at Yuksom. It’s a 1.5 hours of drive and expect to spend around INR 1800-2000 for a drop off.

 

Where to stay in Yuksom?

Yak Homestay | Lobding Homestay 

 

What to do in Yuksom?

Reach Yuksom by 12pm and spend the day to explore Norbu Gang, the Coronation throne of Namgyal Dynasty, Kathok monastery and Kathok Lake. Watch the fluttering white prayer flags around the lake, a sight that is sure to touch your soul and instill a sense of gratitude within you.

Do not miss out on dropping in at Dubdi Monastery. Established in 1701 during the reign of Chogyal Namgyal, it is considered to be the oldest monastery in Sikkim.

 

 

Day 9: Yuksom to Gangtok/Siliguri

On your 9th day of your trip to Sikkim, there are two options you can opt for. First is to head back to Gangtok if you’re flying out from Pakyong.

In this case, you have to follow the following route.

  • Take a shared cab from Yuksom to Geyzing.
  • From Geyzing, take a shared cab till Gangtok.
  • There are not many vehicles in Yuksom so the best idea is to reach Geyzing in the available mode of transport and choose the comfortable option for the longer segment of the journey, i.e. Geyzing to Gangtok.

If your flight is scheduled from Bagdogra, you can head to Siliguri directly from Yuksom. Please note that Siliguri is the nearest city, about 10 kms from Bagdogra. Bagdogra is a small town in the outskirts where the airport is located.

If you are opting for a shared cab, follow this route to reach Siliguri:

Yuksom – Geyzing – Jorethang – Siliguri

If you get a direct cab from Yuksom to Jorethang, then you’d only have to change your vehicle one. If not, then twice, at Geyzing and Jorethang.

In case you want to book a vehicle entirely for yourself, you should come to Geyzing and then reserve a vehicle for Siliguri.

Stay over at a hotel or Homestay in Siliguri after a long and tiring drive.

 

 

Day 10 : Fly out from Gangtok/Bagdogra

On the 10th and last day of your trip, fly out from Pakyong or Bagdogra.

Or you can even start your 7 Day Road Trip to Bhutan starting from Bagdogra.

 

 

10 Day Sikkim Travel Itinerary – Summary

Day 1 : Arrive in Gangtok

Day 2 : Gangtok to Yangang

Day 3: Explore Yangang

Day 4 : Yangang to Kewzing

Day 5 : Explore Kewzing

Day 6 : Kewzing to Kecheopalri

Day 7 : Local Hikes

Day 8: Kecheopalri Lake to Yuksom

Day 9: Yuksom to Gangtok/Siliguri

Day 10 : Fly out from Gangtok/Bagdogra

 

Things to remember while planning this trip to Sikkim:

  • As this itinerary consists of places located in remote parts of Sikkim, there are not many options to opt for shared vehicles. The cost of the trip gets high for a solo or budget traveler as you’d need to reserve an entire vehicle on most of the days. Plan the trip in groups of 4 or 6 to cut down on your expenses by splitting the costs.
  • Your stay in all the places would be in home-stays run by local families. Do not expect luxury as they have limited resources to operate. You can expect a lot of love and warmth though, making your trip a truly unconventional one.
  • All the recommendations for accommodation made are of home-stays, which I believe is where you will experience an outstanding hospitality and learn about Sikkim. If you wish to put up in hotels during your stay in Gangtok, check this one stop travel guide for Sikkim.
  • Keep your luggage as light as possible as you might need to walk with your luggage at times to reach the homestay.
  • This Sikkim Travel Itinerary makes for a great road trip for bikers. North East being the hub of adventure activities, there are many bike rentals in Gangtok. The Bikers Hub is one of the best Bike rentals from where you can rent a bike and set out to explore the beauty of Sikkim.
  • The best time to visit Sikkim is March-April and October-November. The weather during these months is pleasant and the views of the snow capped mountain peaks are clear.

This itinerary covers East, West and South Sikkim. The only region that is left untouched and deserves a separate attention is North Sikkim. Check this North Sikkim travel guide to plan a trip to the land of high altitude lake and valley of flowers.

If you have not started traveling to the North East India yet, maybe this is the time to begin!

If you enjoyed reading this 10 Day Offbeat Sikkim Itinerary and Travel Guide, you might also want to check out some other Travel Guides and Itineraries, that you can take in and around India!

 

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13 thoughts on “Experience Community Tourism in Sikkim – An Unconventional 10 day Travel Itinerary”

  • It is good to see that you have given an offbeat itinerary of Sikkim and not the usual ones. This part of Sikkim is so beautiful, especially Kewzing. And Yuksom is also such a significant place in terms of history and heritage of Sikkim. Glad that you included these places. I would also recommend to visit Tashiding near Yuksom.

  • I have been to Gangtok twice, it’s a must-visit place. I am planning my third trip soon. You have written the details of how to plan 10 days travel to Sikkim in a very nice way. As it is nearby my city so in the coming months I am visiting Sikkim for a vacation with my friends. I will ping you if I will need any details regarding the place
    https://parilifestyle.com/

  • You have uncovered some of the beautiful gems of Sikkim in this itinerary. It seems to be a great way to experience the natural beauty of Sikkim. Reading the post brought back our own memories of Sikkim. We really loved the enchanting lake of Kecheopalri.

  • Thank you for this literal revisit to Sikkim. Reading your post, I want to visit again!

  • The itinerary spread over ten days seems so much better than rushed ones done in fewer days. You actually can explore and enjoy so much more about the region, ita culture, people, places and food. Your post took me traveling along with you.

  • That was such a detailed analysis of the places to visit in Sikkim.
    It was like a virtual tour for me.

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