Sikkim is the second smallest state in India. It has dramatic Himalayan landscapes. This includes India’s tallest mountain, Kangchenjunga (8,586 metres). Sikkim is home to alpine meadows, glaciers and numerous types of wild flowers. There are hilltop Buddhist monasteries such as Rumtek which was built in the mid 1700s.
People and Language
Nepali is the language used by the majority of people in Sikkim. Most of them are able to speak Hindi too. You can survive with English in hotels, tourist areas and restaurants. It does help if you can speak a few words of Hindi.
Sikkim is a hilly region. Roads have ups and downs. There are no autorickshaws in the place. Buses are also hard to find. The main mode of transport is cars. Small taxis are everywhere. Parking space is limited in towns like Gangtok because buildings are built right on the edge of the roads.
Roads in Sikkim tend to be narrow. Two cars can barely pass each other. I found road widening work in progress in some areas. Still certain stretches of roads are in poor condition. Landslides can be a problem, particularly during the rainy season.
In the border areas, big army trucks and convoys are frequently seen. Because of the narrow roads, traffic slows to a crawl at times.
Inter-city transport can be costly since one has to depend almost entirely on cars. There are no trains in the state. The nearest railway station (New Jalpaiguri) is in Siliguri, Bengal . It is 120 km (3 hours 45 minutes) from Gangtok. Nearest airport is Bagdogra which is also in Siliguri.
Restaurants can be found only in cities and towns. In the city centre of Gangtok is MG Road which has several restaurants and bars. While there are numerous restaurants and bars on this road, some of the well known ones include Baker’s Cafe, Roll House, Parivar, Pub 25 and Rasoi.
While travelling between towns, the food fare is usually restricted to momos and noodles. These are available in small food stalls. It may therefore be advisable to carry packed lunches when you leave your hotel.
Souvenirs that can be picked up in Sikkim include Thangka paintings, prayer wheels, traditional dresses, classic jewellery, yak cheese and Sikkim tea.