A journey to Sikkim is not only challenging but equally exciting and memorable, especially when you are fully prepared for it. Seasoned tour operators organizing Sikkim Tour Packages keep travellers well informed on the requirements of each package tour. However it is better for you to know few basic facts about Sikkim so that you make the best out of your visit.
Here are some pointers worth a note while packing your bags.
- The road conditions in Sikkim can make travel uncomfortable, challenging and dangerous. First-timers will do- well to hire vehicles for road trips. Self-driving needs adequate precautions, vehicle in perfect conditions, all necessary documents, driving license, as well as a steady head and hand! Stay alert and watch out for landslides.
- Local weather can catch you unawares. It is important to be prepared for a sudden bout of rain or snow when exploring Sikkim. Make sure to pack your clothes in waterproof luggage, even if it means wrapping them in plastic covers, especially when mounting luggage on the carrier of the vehicle. Once wet, it may take a long while for clothes to dry up in the cold, damp settings.
- Picturesque waterfalls and placid lakes are an integral part of this terrain. There’s no denying that they make a great backdrop for a snap, but never get too close to the falls. Loose rocks, slippery boulders and ice-cold water can prove dangerous, should you lose balance.
- Rains and thawing ice tend to loosen the soil causing an occasional landslide capable of blocking the roads for days together. Carry enough drinking water and energy bars to tide you through such delays. Many travellers reportedly rely on Wai Wai noodles to satisfy their hunger pangs when stuck outdoors.
- Given the narrow, winding, mountainous roads, their condition and the likely dangers en-route, vehicle speeds must stay within 20-25 km an hour. A distance of 150 km covered in less than 2 hours on regular roads, can take an entire day to traverse in this hilly terrain. While the journey is definitely scenic, additional travel time needs to be factored into your itinerary.
- As for warm clothing, you may need several layers of them depending on the places you intend to visit on this trip, and when you plan to get here. North and Eastern part of Sikkim are relatively colder than the rest of the state. Several pairs of socks are a must. It is also possible for you to rent boots, gloves and coats whenever you need them.
- Permits are a must for visitors planning a trip to restricted areas close to India’s international border. Do carry your travel documents, ID proof (original and copies) and Passport size photographs to request permission, preferably the previous day so that you don’t lose precious time waiting for clearance before leaving on the tour.
- Photography may be restricted within monasteries. Request permission before shooting pictures.
- There a very few public buses that ply between major cities. Taxis are only mode of commutation to further explore the region. Shared taxi rides prove cost-effective for the budget traveller, however you may have to switch taxis to reach your preferred destination. It is possible to get to Gangtok from the nearest airport at Bagdogra in just 20 minutes via helicopters.
- Note that selected destinations can be reached only by using shared taxis. Tour operators offering Sikkim Tour Packages usually take care of the travel routes for their guests. If travelling alone, carefully plan your route to ensure you have a safe accommodation in case you need to get to the next town for transport.
- Almost all commercial establishments in Sikkim shut shop by 8 PM. In case you’re planning a late dinner, enquire in advance at the hotel or restaurant. It is best for tourists to settle down for a night’s rest before resuming their onward journey or local exploration the next day, lest get bitten by the cold.
- Tourists have experienced power outages during their visits, making it difficult to tide the night without electric heaters. Make sure you’re well protected from the cold. Request a traditional heater if required.
- The local people are reserved, proud, conservative and peaceful. Honour local sentiments. Avoid loud conversations or celebrations. Tip your service provider heartily as they hardly have any other sources of income. Use exact change if possible for large currency denominations are rare especially in small shops located in remote areas. Traveller’s cheques are safer, than carrying bulk cash.
- Remember to stock up on water purification tablets and essential medicines, especially to counter high altitude sickness. Anti-bacterial formulations and sunscreen lotions are a must.
- Sikkim is a no smoking zone. Travellers must refrain from smoking in public and not litter cigarette stubs en-route. The scenic setting and calm environment demands to be preserved, for people are here to enjoy what this serene, beautiful landscape has to offer.
There are several Sikkim Tour Packages available. Choose the one that best fits the time you have on hand, for you do tend to lose time on travel. When on short trips, it is better choose one destination and fully explore local attractions and those in the vicinity!