Best time to go to Sikkim

Pack some layers and come in November – there’s quite a nip in the air, but the skies are dazzlingly clear and the views unforgettable.
The best time to visit Sikkim is when it’s dry and clear, which usually means from Oct-Jan or Apr-Jun, though the mountain views will be at their finest in Nov-early Dec. Don’t like it chilly? Then you might want to avoid the freezing temperatures of mid Dec-early Feb, and everyone should steer clear during the Jun-Sep monsoon season, when the heavens batter down on the landscape and some routes become impassable. Bear in mind, too, that Sikkim receives some of the heaviest rainfall in the Indian Himalayas, regardless of the season, so wet and misty conditions could descend at any time.

Sikkim Weather Chart

 
MIN °C
MAX °C
RAIN (mm)
JAN
2
17
16
FEB
2
19
20
MAR
7
22
37
APR
11
25
81
MAY
16
27
161
JUN
21
29
28
JUL
23
30
319
AUG
23
30
267
SEP
21
28
198
OCT
14
25
527
NOV
8
21
9
DEC
4
18
9

Sikkim month by month

The summer season of April, May and early June is a popular time to visit, as skies are clear and temperatures warm, though the weather brings with it an influx of tourists. Mid June, July, August and September are monsoon season, when road conditions are poor and landslides common, meaning that this is not the time to head for the hills. In October and November, the skies clear, views are wide ranging, and the cherry blossoms are in bloom. This is also the time of the Tihar festival, the Nepali version of Diwali, when houses are adorned with marigolds and lit up with twinkling lights. In December and January temperatures plummet, though it can still be a good time to travel – just watch out for road closures due to snowfall. Things start to heat up slowly In February and March, but fog can be an issue.

Our top Sikkim activities

Things to do in Sikkim…

Explore the local traditions though a cultural tour. This means not only visiting the many monasteries, stupas and shrines scattered throughout the mountains, such as Pemayangtse and Rumtek Monasteries; it also means staying in or visiting local villages, and exploring the tribal customs and daily life of indigenous minorities, such as the Lepcha and Bhutia, through activities such as cooking, crafts, singing and dancing. One of the best things about trekking in Sikkim is that you don’t need complicated equipment and well honed climbing skills; just good fitness, a head for heights and the requisite permit, which your operator will organise. The high altitude treks most commonly offered are along the Singalila Ridge, between Sikkim and Nepal, and the Yuksom to Dzongri and Goecha La route. Low altitude hikes often come without the restriction of permits and make Sikkim an alluring destination for quiet walks off the beaten track. The dramatic mountain terrain also offers plenty of excitement for mountain bikers. Respect the environment. Sikkim is incredibly environmentally progressive. In 1998 it was the first Indian state to ban disposable plastic bags; in 2016 it banned Styrofoam and thermocol disposable plates and cutlery; and the same year packaged drinking water was banned from government offices and events. However, only 20 to 30 percent of waste gets recycled and with increasing tourist numbers, it’s difficult to control the use of plastic water bottles. The government is considering banning plastic from the entire state; until they do, carry your own reusable water bottle (LifeStraw self-filtering water bottles are great) and never leave rubbish behind – this includes cigarette butts tucked behind bushes or in the sand.

Things not to do in Sikkim…

Underestimate the toughness of the mountains. If you’re going on a longer, multi-day trek, you’ll need a good level of fitness as trails can be tough and distances long, but even if you’re just going for a short stroll in the foothills you need to plan in advance. Always travel with an expert local guide who knows the route and tell people where you’re going before you set off. What’s more, the weather can change rapidly in the Himalayas, so always be prepared with the correct layers. A word of warning: don’t head off into forest areas without an experienced guide due to the risk of black bears.
Ignore cultural values. These are remote landscapes with rural villages where the religion and culture play important roles, so both men and women should dress appropriately. Don’t wear shorts or short skirts and women should keep shoulders covered if in a place of worship. And remember to be sensitive when taking photographs. Take your time to speak to people first and always ask permission before snapping away.
Expect luxury. Holidays in Sikkim are about trekking, wild camping, staying in homestays and simple hotels and getting a handle on the local culture. You didn’t come here to be sealed away in a generic plush hotel – you came here to work up a sweat in the mountains, take in some top temples and perhaps try a spot of tea. So forget about cocktails and room service.

Our top Sikkim Holiday

Sikkim & Kolkata cultural tour in India

Sikkim & Kolkata cultural tour in India

Cultural and rural tours in beautiful East India

From £750 to £950 9 days ex flights
Tailor made:
This trip can be tailor made throughout the year to suit your requirements
Helpdesk
Hello. If you'd like to chat about Sikkim or need help finding a holiday to suit you we're very happy to help. Rosy & team.

Sikkim travel advice

When to go to sikkim

When to go to Sikkim

Amit Khadka, the Indian Subcontinent specialist at our supplier Wild Frontiers, shares with us his top Sikkim travel advice:
“There are two major seasons for visiting Sikkim. October to November is ideal as it starts to get cooler as winter approaches and, most importantly, the views of the mountains get clearer. The other option is the beginning of spring, from mid February to April, as it gets warmer every day. The best part is that the hills are colourful and full of wildflowers, especially the rhododendron which makes it a lovely time to travel.”
Andrew Appleyard, from our supplier Exodus:
“I went in late March and early April of 2018 and the flowers were just coming out in hills after a hard spell of cold weather. This is also a really good time to view the area’s varied birdlife around Martam.”
Lesley Clark, from our supplier Imaginative Traveller:
“Winter in Sikkim is a snowy wonderland that lasts from October till March. During this time temperatures will struggle to make it above freezing. The roads and mountains are draped in snow and are a sight to behold. Enjoy the mystical view of the beautiful surroundings during this time, but make sure you pack plenty of warm clothes. It is possible to go skiing and snowboarding in the winter season here. Flight connections into the region are prone to delays and cancellation during the winter.”
WHERE TO GO IN SIKKIM

Where to go in Sikkim

Amit Kahdka, from our supplier Wild Frontiers:
“I think that Sikkim as a whole makes an excellent travel destination, as it’s a combination of Buddhist and Hindu sights, spectacular scenery made up of mountain views and monasteries and a slow and laid back pace of life. But if you do have a few extra days I would recommend spending time in the Yumthang Valley, otherwise known as the Valley of Flowers, way up in North Sikkim.”
Lesley Clark, from our supplier Imaginative Traveller:
“Yuksom is my favourite place in Sikkim .. This charming and still relatively unspoilt village is a great place to relax for a few days but more importantly it is the starting point of the Khangchendzonga Trail, Sikkim's epic trek to Goecha La. Over the course of this multi-day hike, the route showcases the very best Sikkim scenery; massive peaks, waterfalls, hanging bridges and breathtaking valley views. The trek is only possible between late March and early June and it must be organised through a registered agency who provide the permit and guide.”
Cultural highlights

Cultural highlights

Amit Kahdka, from our supplier Wild Frontiers:
“It is the combination of experience throughout the region which is different from mainland India. This part of India has a unique history and the people that live here are a mix of Nepalese, Lepcha and Bhutia and it shows in the languages spoken and in the local cuisine – after all, Sikkim only became part of India in 1975. So, if tea estates, Himalayan vistas, spectacular scenery, remote monasteries and Buddhism are your thing then you will certainly enjoy this part of the world. What’s more, there are no major hotel chains in Sikkim and most of the hotels are traditional, simple affairs, which allow you greater insight into the culture.”
Lesley Clark, from our supplier Imaginative Traveller:
“It is the combination of experience throughout the region which is different from mainland India. This part of India has a unique history and the people that live here are a mix of Nepalese, Lepcha and Bhutia and it shows in the languages spoken and in the local cuisine – after all, Sikkim only became part of India in 1975. So, if tea estates, Himalayan vistas, spectacular scenery, remote monasteries and Buddhism are your thing then you will certainly enjoy this part of the world. What’s more, there are no major hotel chains in Sikkim and most of the hotels are traditional, simple affairs, which allow you greater insight into the culture.”
What to
pack

What to pack

Amit Kahdka, from our supplier Wild Frontiers:
“Pack for the season. Carry layers and a warm jacket in winter and nice, easy lightweight clothes in summer. But sturdy shoes with ankle support are certainly a must as there are always walking and hiking options when visiting isolated rural areas and monasteries.”
Andrew Appleyard, from our supplier Exodus:
“Make sure you bring a water filter or other convenient way to use tap and other local water supplies. You should also bring a camera, walking boots, waterproofs and kit for walking in Himalayas where weather conditions can change suddenly.”

SIKKIM TIPS FROM OUR HOLIDAY REVIEWS

At Responsible Travel, we think the best people to advise our travellers are often... other travellers. They always return from our tours with packing tips, weather reports, ideas about what to do – and opinions about what not to.
We have selected some of the most useful Sikkim travel advice that our guests have provided over the years to help you make the very most of your holiday – and the space inside your suitcase.
“Don't worry about getting ill from the water. They are trying to reduce reliance on plastic bottles and have filtered water which is fine. It's warm in the day but cold at night, so you need a good fleece or padded jacket. You don't need much spending money – eating lunch out is about £3 per head and supper about £8 - 11 per head.” - Philippa Barton
Driving on the roads was also either thrilling (the views) or terrifying (the conditions). Luckily our driver was highly skilled. Don’t always expect seat belts by the way…
– Katherine Van Haeften
Written by Nana Luckham
Photo credits: [Page banner: Ko Backpacko] [Mountain: Sangay Lama] [Monastery - young monks: Giridhar Appaji Nag Y] [Spring - rhododendron: Ankur P] [Whiskered Yuhina: Yathin] [Snow - couple: Ankur P] [Yumthang Valley: Sayan Bhattacharjee] [Yuksom: Sourav Das] [Landscape - yaks: Sharada Prasad CS] [Namchi: Stefan Krasowski] [Hike - Himalayas: airFreshing] [Backpack - hike: Danka & Peter] [Travellers - Rumtek: Akuppa John Wigham] [Car - mountains: Ankur P]
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