Have you ever been to a border area where you can see another country from your own? among the top places to visit in East Sikkim, you can see the Indo-China border close enough to see Chinese soldiers guarding their land. Even if you are away from the border areas, East Sikkim comprises of wonderful destinations. Whether you’re a nature lover or love trekking, you shouldn’t miss out on visiting the north-east. Here is a list of Top 23 places to visit in east Sikkim.
Which are the Top Places to Visit in East Sikkim that Need Permits?
There are 8 places in East Sikkim that are very close to the border:
The word “tso” means lake and “mgo” means head. Since the holy lake is surrounded by snow-covered mountains that have led to the formation of this beautiful water body it is named Tsomgo. It is situated at a height of 3,753 meters above sea level.
The water is so clear that it changes color every season. During monsoon, it is aqua-blue and in winter it is a thin, white sheet of ice. However, during summer it reflects the colors of irises, rhododendrons, poppies, and primulas surrounding it.
What to do: While photography and nature lovers love to relax here a bit, this is also a lovely spot for trekking. You can also choose to ride on the accessorized mules and yaks along the edge of the lake.
Best Time to Visit: Both summer and winter have their own beauty here. So, anytime between December to June is the best time to visit this place.
Nathu La Pass
Situated 4,310 meters above sea level, this pass is one of the most dangerous routes to travel in East Sikkim,. This is because the route from Gangtok to Nathu La is extremely steep and slippery. It is a part of the ancient Silk Road.
The place is right on the Indo-China border. You can even see the Chinese soldiers guarding their country across the border. Due to this reason, foreigners are not allowed to visit this place and Indians need a permit to come here.
What to do: You’re allowed to take pictures only 100 meters away from the actual border. On your way, you can visit Tsomgo lake, the Baba Harbhajan Singh Mandir, a hill that has “Mera Bharat Mahan” written on it and the Mandakini waterfalls.
Best Time to Visit: The only time you can visit is between March-October as it remains closed during the rest of the months. Moreover, you can plan coming here between Wednesday-Sunday as it remains closed on the other two days of the week.
Baba Harbhajan Singh Temple
Baba Harbhajan Singh was an Indian soldier who passed away in 1968, protecting the Nathu La Pass. He was fighting the Sino-Indian war and had drowned in a glacier while leading a few mules that were carrying supplies.
Situated at a height of 4,000 meters before the Nathu La Pass, this holy place is honored in his name. Mysterious events taking place at the temple have led many people to believe that his spirit still protects the Nathu La Pass.
What to do: This temple is very close to the Nathu La Pass. If you have taken the permit to go ahead, you can visit the Indo-China border.
Best Time to Visit: Since it is very close to the Nathu La Pass, you should ideally visit this on the same day as you visit the pass – that is between March to October but not on Monday or Tuesday.
In Tibetan, “Jelep La” means the lovely level pass. It is termed so because in spite of being at a height of 4,267 metres, it is an easy route to travel. This pass lies between India and the Tibet Autonomous Region of China.
There are two ways by which you can get to this pass after acquiring a permit – either from Kalimpong or from Gangtok. If you take the latter, you can also visit the Changu Lake and the Nathu La Pass nearby.
What to do: The place has beautiful rhododendron forests that bloom in spring and the Menmecho lake flowing below. It is located very close to Nathu La Pass, Changu Lake, Baba Harbhajan Singh Mandir and other locations on the ancient Silk Route.
Best Time to Visit: Since the rhododendron flowers bloom in spring, the best time to visit would be between March to May.
Thambi View Point
Located at a height of 3,414 meters, this zig-zag route is a fun drive and beautiful to look at if you don’t get any fog. In order to get here, you need to pass through Zuluk, which is an army base close to the Indo-China border.
This view point is also located on the Sikkim Silk Route. The panoramic view of the Kanchenjunga mountains is breath-taking from here. If you go in the evening when the night is supposed to have a full moon, you’ll love to camp there.
What to do: Since it is located on the Silk Route, you can visit other locations such as Jelep La Pass, Nathu La Pass, Changu Lake and Baba Harbhajan Singh’s Mandir. There are two silk route treks available also – one towards Lapokhari Lake and one towards Premlakha village.
Best Time to Visit: There are two seasons that give you spectacular views of this road. The best is in monsoon between May to July when the rhododendrons bloom on both sides of the road. Else, in winters between October to February you’ll find snow.
Located at a height of 3,962 metres in the Ancient Silk Route, this valley was once a war zone. The war took place in 1988 between the British and the Tibetans. A war memorial here commemorates the British soldiers who lost their lives in the war.
Since it is close to the Indo-China border, you will get permits only to visit a certain portion of the valley. The rest of the zone is restricted for civilians. You can view the Chinese water towers from the point you’re allowed to go till.
What to do: This place also offers a spectacular view of the Kanchenjunga range. It is closest to the Jelep La Pass and Kupup Lake. You can also visit the war memorial built here.
Best Time to Visit: The most beautiful view of this valley is obtained in September-October, when it blooms with rhododendrons and orchids. It is snow-covered in winter, which has its own beauty.
Located at a height of 3,000 meters, this village is an important part of the Old Silk Route. If the roads are clear, you can see a panoramic view of the zig-zag Jelep La from here itself. In spite of being a restricted army-protected zone, it does have a population of 700 people.
The village is surrounded by forests that are home to the red panda, Himalayan black bear, wild dog, deer, blood pheasant, snow pheasant and many other rare species of fauna. While winters are cold and snowy, summer witnesses the blooming of rhododendrons.
What to do: Zuluk is the point from where tourists usually visit the Jelep La, Thambi View Point, Tula Valley, Nathang Valley, Baba Harbhajan Singh Mandir, Kupup Lake and Memenchu Lake.
Best Time to Visit: Summer isMarch to Maywhen Zuluk is colourful and blooming with flowers. Winters are snowy and can be foggy and slippery too.
Falling in the middle of the Ancient Silk Road, this valley is simply heaven on earth. Located at a height of 4,115 metres, it was originally home to Tibetan yak herders. Before the winter, you’ll also find some migratory birds coming in.
The village is simple with wooden houses here and there. The breath-taking beauty lies in the colourful rhododendrons blooming in the monsoon and the golden grass just before winter.
What to do: This is an excellent sunset point and apart from the surrounding snow caped mountains, the river stream below also looks gorgeous. This is also a common place covered by trekkers.
Best Time to Visit: The valley loos different all year round but always beautiful. From June to September, it is colourful with flowers. From September to January it is golden and between January and April it is snow-covered.
Which are the Best Places to Visit in East Sikkim that Don’t Need permits?
The following places in East Sikkim are away from the border and hence free for anyone to visit:
Situated at a height of 2,195 meters, this beautiful temple is made exactly on the spot where Lord Hanuman rested when he was carrying the Sajeevni Booti for Lakshman. The holy place is maintained by the Indian Army.
When you enter the temple, the soft, divine music soothes your ears. However, this temple is not just visited for its serene atmosphere, but also for the beautiful view of the Kanchenjunga mountains from here.
What to do: Apart from praying in the temple, you can also visit another small temple of Saibaba nearby. The cremation ground of Namgyal is also present here along with several stupas and chortens.
Best Time to Visit: You’ll like coming to such a place when it is really pleasant. So, March to June is the time you’ll enjoy the most.
Also known as the Dharmachakra Centre, this beautiful monastery is situated at a height of 1,500 metres facing Gangtok. The place is considered holy as the head of the Karma Kagyu order of Tibetan Buddhism, His Holiness Gyawla Karampa was once seated here.
This place has an interesting story behind it. The 9th Karmapa was performing a ritual where he had to throw some grains of rice. This monastery was built on the place where just one of these grains fell. The rest had fallen on Sikkim.
What to do: This is one of the few areas on the hills where you’ll find paddy fields. The four-storeyed monastery has many beautiful paintings to see apart from praying in the spiritual atmosphere.
Best Time to Visit: A monastery can be visited during any time of the year. However, you need to be particular about the timings as the monastery is open between 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM.
Namgyal Institute of Tibetology
Established in 1958, this institute made to promote Tibetan culture and Buddhism. Its foundation was laid by the 14th Dalai Lama a year before its inauguration in 1957. The institute is a stupendous creation of Tibetan architecture worth a visit.
The museum in East Sikkim that displays Tibetan art and traditions. It also has some ancient manuscripts written in 4 different languages. The library and publications of the institute have extensive literature and knowledge of Tibetan history and Buddhism.
What to do: You can visit the institute against an entry fee and visit the museum and library over there.
Best Time to Visit: While the institute is open all year round, you can actually visit the place only between 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM.
Tashi View Point
Located at a height of 1,859 metres, this view point gives a stunning view of the Kanchenjunga and as well as the Siniolchu peaks. You can also see the Phodong and Labrang monasteries across the mountains.
You can spot some spectacular birds from here as well, especially if you have binoculars. What is most surprising about this place is that if you want access to their binoculars or telescope here, they charge a mere Rs 10/- for it! Else, entry is free for all in this spot.
What to do: This sight is perfect to visit with your camera during sunrise or sunset to see the colour of the peaks change. You can also enjoy refreshments and shopping over here.
Best Time to Visit: This place should ideally be visited between March to June, when the weather is pleasant. Moreover, the best time to come here is at 5:00 AM during sunrise.
The meaning of “Enchey Monastery” is the “Solitary Temple”. Indeed, this 200-year-old monastery is a unique creation of the Nyingma order of Vajrayana Buddhism. Today, it is home to 90 Nyingman monks.
The monastery has several deities and religious objects, the biggest ones being of the Buddha, the Loketeswara and Guru Padmasambhava. Other religious objects include paintings, murals and manuscripts.
What to do: Apart from worshipping Lord Buddha and other deities, you can see a stunning view of the Khangchendzonga range from here. If you come in the festive season, you can enjoy the Chaam dance.
Best Time to Visit: A monastery can be visited any time of the year, but the festive season is between December-March, with Sikkimese new year being at December/January and Tibetan new year being at February/March. It is open between 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM.
Do Drul Chorten
Built in 1945 by Trulshik Rinpoche, head of the Nyingma order of Tibetan Buddhism, this stupa has numerous religious objects. These include the complete mandala sets of Dorjee Phurba, a set of Kangyur relics and the complete Zung.
There are 108 Mani Lhakors or prayer wheels surrounding the entire stupa. There are also two huge statues of Guru Padmasambhava further surrounding the stupa. They’re known as the Chorten Lhakhang.
What to do: This place of worship is in Gangtok itself, where you pray as you turn each of the surrounding wheels.
Best Time to Visit: You can visit a stupa at any time of the year, but it is open between 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM. It is best to go in the daylight.
Jawaharlal Nehru Botanical Garden
Spread over multiple altitudes between 1,800 meters to 2,200 meters, this beautiful garden is home to 1.5 lakh varieties of ornamental plants and oak trees. It is 22 km away from Gangtok, located on the opposite hill.
Maintained by the forest department of the Government of Sikkim, this garden is a famous picnic spot visited by most travelers. If you’re a nature or photography lover, this place is an eye-candy for you. It also has a recreational zone for children.
What to do: A stroll around this place is very relaxing. Apart from that, you can visit the Rumtek monastery which is very close to the garden.
Best Time to Visit: A garden is to be visited when flowers bloom there. So, the best months are between March to May as well as October to Mid-December.
Sitting in a cable car in the hills is a different experience altogether. It is a total distance of 1 km that you cover, starting from Deorali and ending at Tashling. In the middle, you stop by at Namnang.
Apart from the entire town of Gangtok, you can also take a stunning view of the Kanchenjunga mountains and valleys. From a height of 1,067 meters, you can also view a river flowing below.
What to do: The ropeway starts from Deorali where you can visit the Institute of Tibetology as well as the market.
Best Time to Visit: You can go to the ropeway at any time of the year, but preferably when the sky is clear. So, spring and summer are the best options.
Built-in the year 1952 by Shri Appa B Pant, the former politician of Sikkim, this temple stands 6,500 meters above sea level. It is one of the most beautiful temples of Lord Ganesh in the state, with colorful flags hoisted on its way.
The route to this temple begins from Gangtok and is extremely steep. You need to go uphill on a 7-km long journey. However, the view you receive from the destination is totally worth it after the travel.
What to do: You’ll get an amazing view of Mount Khangchendzonga, especially if the sky is clear. Moreover, the Hanuman Tok is situated only 4 km from this temple.
Best Time to Visit: Since the route is steep and the view is panoramic, it is best to go there when the sky is clear and the roads are not slippery – in the summer.
Located on 31A National Highway, which connects North Sikkim and east Sikkim, this beautiful waterfall originates from Ratey Chu. Isolated from the city of Gangtok, this serene and peaceful place is a treat to the eyes and the mind.
“Bak” means forest and “Thang” means meadow. The name is given because the falls are located amidst the dense forests and form a pool below. Even on the rocks through which the waterfalls, you’ll find tiny green creepers beside.
What to do: Apart from photography and relaxation, this place is fun for young hearts seeking for adventure too. There’s a short rope slide you can opt for in this green place. The Tashi viewpoint is also very close by.
Best Time to Visit: A waterfall is dense and beautiful during monsoons, which is in August and September here.
Also known as Lampokhari Lake, the boot-shaped water body reflects the color of the surrounding pine trees. It is 341 meters long and 73 meters wide, located at a height of 1,402 meters.
Apart from the dense forests, you’ll also get a breath-taking view of the Khangchendzonga mountains, paddy fields, and hidden lakes. This place is fit for both peace lovers and adventure lovers as activities are there for both.
What to do: While boating is the most common activity here, you can go for a trek to Mankhim Dara, visit the Aritar Gumpa, go for rock-climbing and try paragliding.
Best Time to Visit: The weather is pleasant here between March to May but you can enjoy the Lapokhari tourism festival between the end of March and the beginning of April.
Sikkim Himalayan Zoological Park
Spread over an area of 205 hectares, the zoological park is at ranging altitudes of 1,981 meters to 2,438 meters. It is a 6 km drive from Gangtok, after which you need to pay a small entry fee to enter the forest.
This park is home to rare species of the Himalayas which include red pandas, Himalayan black bears, snow leopards, yaks, porcupines, Tibetan wolves, golden pheasant, large Indian civets, barking deer, bharals and many more.
What to do: There is a watchtower here from where you can spot the animals and birds and also get a panoramic view of Mt Khangchendzonga. It is situated very close to the Ganesh Tok, which you can visit before or after the park.
Best Time to Visit: In order to enjoy the view of the animals, you can come either between Mid-February to May or between Mid-September to December. The entry timings are between 8:00 AM – 3:00 PM.
Located at a height of 1,829 meters above sea level, this village is very warm and welcoming to its visitors. You have a lot of residents belonging to the Nepali community here. For all foodies out there, you might be willing to try the local cuisine and Nepali cuisine here.
This villege in East Sikkim known for providing a stunning panoramic view of Mt Khangchendzonga. Apart from that, being surrounded by dense forests, you can also enjoy some bird-watching here. Short treks to the forest are very common in Yakten.
What to do: You can visit Jhandi Dara for the view of the mountains. At Budaang Gadi, you can visit the Bhutia Fort. Trekking and hiking in the forests along with bird watching are also common here.
Best Time to Visit: Anytime apart from the monsoon would be pleasant to visit. This is because the monsoon is slippery here.
Situated on the border of West Bengal and Sikkim, this town is only 200 meters above sea level. The town is named after the river which flows here. The source of this river is Rangpo Chu, but it is actually a tributary of the Teesta river.
While no permits are required to visit Rangpo, if you are a foreigner, this is the point where you collect your permit to visit Sikkim. You will mostly find people originating from Nepal and Bhutan residing here.
What to do: Rangpo is supposed to be a starting point from where you can go to Lachung, Pelling, and Yuksom. If you have permits, the Tsomgo Lake and Nathu La Pass are also nearby.
Best Time to Visit: Summers are pleasant here and the best time to visit. That is generally between March to May.
Located at the foothills of the Old Silk Route as well as the border of West Bengal and Sikkim, this town stands at an altitude of 610 meters. It gets its name from the river Reshi since it is situated at its banks.
This is a soothing place situated away from the cities and is enjoyed by nature and peace lovers. It is closer to Kalimpong, at a distance of 37 km from the town in West Bengal’s Darjeeling district.
What to do: People enjoy fishing and swimming in the clear waters of the River Reshi. Apart from that, you can also visit Pedong and Aritar Lake nearby.
Best Time to Visit: Any time apart from the monsoon is brilliant here at Reshikhola. So, you can visit anytime between November-May.
Do You Need Motorcycle Permit for Road Trip to East Sikkim?
You might be a pro at riding a bike, but the roads in the mountains are a lot different from that of the city. They are steep, narrow, slippery and at a great height. If you ride in the winter, there’s fog too.
Apart from your driving license, you’ll have to provide ID proof, motorcycle insurance, pollution certificate, photographs, and the motorcycle RC. On the basis of their verification, you’ll get a permit provided you’re an Indian.
However, it is still recommended to ride a bike only if you are experienced at riding in hilly areas.
East Sikkim has a bunch of some beautiful destinations. Among the top places to visit in East Sikkim, you shouldn’t miss the Indo-China border if you’re eligible to receive its permit. Which place do you wish to visit first?