The state of Sikkim is one of the most visited places of India as the streets of its major cities keep bustling with people whole around the year, and there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be such a case. Sikkim is unparalleled for the experience that one feels when one visits Sikkim. Filled with grandeur art of nature, Sikkim has everything that one can dream of from a hill station. So when has so much to offer, it would be a real bad luck if you fail to latch on to this offer because of D-day’s weather. While the weather is in itself is a state of art by nature, it still can hamper the whole plan. So if one plans according to the season that will prevail a place during that time of travel, you can very experience what they expect to experience. In general, the best time to experience is said to be either the summer months or the winter months, quite opposite haa!. The summer months range from March to June, whereas the winter months range from November to February. In the summer months, the state of Sikkim blooms up. The weather is lovely with a mist of pleasure dissolved into the air. Reportedly said to be the best to spend in Sikkim. The temperature ranges between 5 to 25 degrees Celsius and the weather is moist. While the rest of the country is blazing with sunrays, while Sikkim in the lap of the Himalayas becomes the heaven to live in. The fogs are long gone as are the bone-chilling winds and now the sun shines upon the land blessing with a spring in the step. Nathu La, the Tsogmo Lake, and the locale in the higher mountains become accessible for visitors. The flowers of the Yumthang Valley have come into full bloom and are the reason why it is known Yumthang Valley of Flowers. The entire valley is home to poppies, primulas, the rare Rhododendrons in all shades. A trek through the Singba Rhododendron Sanctuary is perfect to bask in the bliss of summer. Other treks in Sikkim are also thrilling as one explores the beautiful Himalayan kingdom. The trails open up to truly breathtaking mountain scenery also making it possible to enjoy camping under the open skies in the company of million stars. The melting of snow also gives a very ideal opportunity for river rafting in the mighty river of Teesta. This season is great for trekking too. Almost all the visiting places; the lakes, the monasteries, and the treks are in their inviting mood.
In the other winter, months have something very different for you in-store. The winter in Sikkim is extremely cold with never-ending snowfalls. The winter temperature in the region averages between 4 °C (39 °F) and 7 °C (45 °F). Chilled winds fill the valleys, and it gets very hard to leave the blanket early morning. The views of snow-capped mountains become your constant companion in the background. The lakes get frozen lakes but its appearance adds to the entrancing beauty of Sikkim. It receives uninterrupted and immeasurable snowfall in winters. So for those who love snow, the Yumthang valley, Gangtok, Lachung, and Pelling appear to be heavenly covered in a blanket of white glistening snow. The mountains filled with snowfall give way to various types of snow sports events which can lead to a great adventure trip. And while the whole place is as beautiful as it can get, the people of Sikkim are in a different mood of celebrating different festivals which one can experience if they visit Sikkim during this time. Festivals like Maniram Bhanjyang Tourism Festival, Cherry Tea Festival, and the Red Panda Winter Festival. The streets of Sikkim are more alive than they are ever during the whole year. While monsoon is generally not suggested as a time to visit Sikkim as the heavy rainfall causes many landfalls around the state which makes it dangerous to travel. If traveling in the monsoon, it will be great to have prepared for a flexible plan as delays of days get common then. The rains start to set in from the last week of June, however, July faces the brunt of the precipitation the most. Rains are said to make the surroundings gloomy and not fit for setting out on a vacation. However the monsoon rains enhancing its beauty beyond words, monsoon is a good time to visit only if you do not mind getting wet. Temi estate with its lush tea gardens and Kanchenjunga Mountain in the backdrop is beautiful to enjoy the season. The Pang Lhabsol festival held around August or September has colorful celebrations with dances performed wearing colorful masks and costumes.
Unlike the neighboring state of West Bengal, Sikkim applies some restrictions on the tourists and makes it mandatory for permits of entry to be acquired by foreigners while permit to visit the protected areas by nationals of India for them to visit some of the protected areas of Sikkim. This is done as Sikkim shares international borders with China, Nepal, and Bhutan. Thus concerning national security, tourists need to have a permit to tour certain areas while some areas are completely restricted from a visit.
Each tourist that enters the state has to go through an entry formality, except Indian citizens. Indian Nationals have no formalities other than restricted areas. However, foreigners have to obtain the Inner Line Permit (ILP) to enter Sikkim.
Inner Line Permit is an official travel document that is issued by the Government of India. The ILP is not only considered to be a document but it is the efforts of the Indian Government to regulate movement to certain areas located near the international border of India.
The ILP for foreigners is free to obtain and getting one is merely a formality to follow. All you have to do is bring along a passport-sized photograph and photocopies of your passport and visa. There are checkpoints where you can submit these documents and acquire the entry.
Entry Checkpoint at Melli and Rangpo:Here the permits are issues between 8 am to 7.30 pm.
Bagdogra Airport’s Sikkim Tourism Booth:Here the permits are issues between 10 am to 4 pm.
Sikkim House in Kolkata or Delhi:It is open throughout the working hours of the day. The house is shut on bank holidays.
Sikkim Tourist Office in Siliguri:It is open throughout the working hours of the day. The house is shut on bank holidays.
Protected areas of East District-
Tsomgo (Changu) Lake and Baba Mandir permits are issued at the Police Check Post
Nathula: Permit for Nathula Pass is issued only to Indians while foreigners are not allowed here. It’s issued at Police Check Post as well as at Sikkim Tourism Department.
Protected areas of West District-
Dzongri Trek permit is issued by Adventure Cell of Tourism & Civil Aviation Department, Govt. of Sikkim
Singalila Trek permit is issued by Adventure cell of Tourism & Civil Aviation Department, Govt. of Sikkim
Protected areas of North District-
Yumthang permit is issued by Police check post for Domestic Tourist and for foreigners permit is issued by Tourism Department and Police Check Post
Thangu-Chopta Valley permit is issued by Police Check post for Domestic Tourist and for Foreigners permit is issued by Tourism Department and Police check post. Foreigners must apply through a Sikkim Tourism registered Travel Agent in groups of two people or more for visiting these areas.
Gurudongmar permit is issued by Police check post for domestic tourist and for foreigners permit is issued by Tourism Department till Thangu.
Green Lake Trekking Permit is issued by Tourism Department after obtaining a valid permit from the Ministry of Home Department, New Delhi.
Protected areas of South District-
Restricted Area Permit is a valid permit for trekking anywhere in the South District for Foreign Tourists.
Alpine Mountaineering Expedition permit is issued by Tourism Department after obtaining a valid permit from Home Department, Government of Sikkim, Gangtok, for the following peaks as per the Home Department Notification no: 25/Home/2006 dated 20/3/2006 TinchenKhang 5603 meters ( West Sikkim)Jopuno 5935m (West Sikkim)
National park and Wildlife Sanctuary entry permits are issued by Forest Department at Gangtok.
The state of Sikkim has a governmental website portal where the registered tour operators of the state are all listed in. Based on the compliance of rules and regulations and standard procedures being followed, the government has graded different operators ranging within Grade A, B, C, D, and General where Grade A operators being the most trusted and reliable operators in the region.