Witness the Winter Wonderland of the North-East by taking a trip to Sikkim in December. Winter in Sikkim surely comes with spine-chilling cold, but the breathtaking icy landscapes and scenic delights it brings along are worth it all. The snowy peaks, frozen lakes, gray forests, and a chance encounters with those pretty flakes of ice drifting down from the heavens turn each landscape into a masterpiece of Nature. In fact, with the kind of paradise snow turns it into, Sikkim in winters is bound to give Kashmir a run for its money! The best part is that Sikkim at this time of the year is relatively secluded in comparison to other winter destinations in India.
Quick Links To Explore Sikkim In December
- Weather In Sikkim In December
- Best Places To Visit In Sikkim In December
- Best Things To Do In Sikkim In December
- Places To Stay In Sikkim During December
- Tips For Visiting Sikkim In December
Weather In Sikkim In December
December is one of the best months to visit Sikkim! The weather in Sikkim in December is suitable for your trip as the average temperature during this time ranges from 10 degree Celsius to 4 degree Celsius, even dropping as low as 0 degrees Celsius in the high altitude areas, most of which remain closed in winters. December may also bring never ending snowfall covering almost everything.
Best Places To Visit In Sikkim In December 2020
Sikkim during December is nothing less than the Shangri La of North-East with thick layers of ice covering almost all areas of the state. Though there are numerous tourist attractions in Sikkim at this time, we have put together some of the best ones.
1. Gurudongmar Lake: The Partially Frozen Wonder
Located at an elevation of 17,800 ft above sea level, the holy lake of Gurudongmar is among the highest freshwater lakes in the world. Though it’s a sight to behold in summers, it turns all the more enchanting in winters. What draws travelers to this lake in winter is the fact that part of the deep blue water never freezes completely even in sub-zero temperatures. The combination of white and blue on the surface of the lake is a vision you can’t afford to miss!
Where: Near Indo-Tibet border, Lachen
Average temperature in December: Between -5 to 7 degree Celsius
How to reach: Drive to Lachen from Gangtok (7-8 hours) and from there to the lake (3-4 hours)
2. Yumthang: A Sunrise Over Snow-Capped Peaks
At an altitude of 8,800 ft above sea level, Yumthang is the ‘Valley of Flowers’ of Lachung in North Sikkim. If you don’t find snow at Yumthang itself, go a little higher up till Zero Point which is always covered with layers of crisp snow in December. Here, you’ll be greeted with overwhelming white landscapes till where the eyes can see, which turn into a riot of colours during sunrise. Zero Point is also popular for experiencing snowfall in sikkim in December.
Other than the Yumthang Valley, the tiny hamlet of Lachung itself is a delight. If you visit in late December, you may get to see this mesmerising town covered in deep snow with the bright colours of huts, cottages, frozen streams, and bare trees popping out of the soft mounds of white. A trip to Lachung in December may make you feel like stepping into the magical land of Narnia from a rustic old wardrobe. So, head here if you want to experience snowfall in Sikkim in December.
Where: Yumthang Valley, Lachen
Temperature in December: -6 to 13 degree Celsius
How to reach: Drive to Yumthang from Gangtok (7 hours) and then further up till Zero Point
3. Zuluk: The Winding Roads To Heaven Itself
Located at an elevation of 14,500 ft above sea level, Zuluk is a small village located in a valley with eye-catching landscapes. Apart from the scenic beauty of the village, travelers also enjoy driving to this hamlet since it is accessible through the Old Silk Route, a remarkable icon representing the Indo-China border. Driving over the serpentine roads of Silk Route is nothing less than a roller coaster ride. The valley of Zuluk, apart from having alluring landscapes, friendly people, and a delightful culture indicating an empowering history, also gifts travelers breathtakingly closer views of the snowy Kanchenjunga peaks. The views of the sunrise and sunset from Thambi Viewpoint here at this valley are absolutely breathtaking. One can obtain permits for visiting Zuluk from the Tourism And Civil Aviation Department of Sikkim.
Where: East of Gangtok on the border of Sikkim and Tibet Autonomous Region (China)
Temperature in December: -6 to 10 degree Celsius
How to reach: Take a cab ride from Jalpaiguri Railway Station to cover the 91 km distance
Warning: Don’t drive in case of fog.
Suggested Read: A-Z Guide To Make Your Honeymoon In Sikkim An Affair To Remember
4. Teesta River: A Soothing Blend Of Blue And White
Teesta is the lifeline of Sikkim and one of the best spots in the state to try adventure sports like river rafting. Though this shimmering river invites a great influx of rafters with its ferociously gushing water in Summer and Spring, it turns into a stunning spectacle of Nature in Winters. The point of Sangam between Teesta and its tributary Rangeet river in December is among the favourite spots for travel and landscape photographers. One must explore the frozen realms near this river while visiting Sikkim in December.
Where: Teesta, Chumthang
Temperature in December: 4 to 13 degree Celsius
5. Kaluk: Undiscovered Paradise Of Peace
Inhabited by the Lepcha tribe of Sikkim, Kaluk is an unexplored village located 2 km from Rinchenpong at an elevation of 5,300 ft above sea level. Kaluk is ideal for people who wish to take a break from the otherwise freezing temperatures of Sikkim. It is among the offbeat places to visit in Sikkim where one can luxuriate in peaceful and absolutely eco-friendly surroundings while also banking on majestic views of Kanchenjunga. While here, you can also embark on a scenic trek to the adjoining village of Rinchenpong through picturesque forests and meadows covered in snow.
Where: Hee Bermiok, Pelling, West Sikkim
Temperature in December: 2 to 16 degree Celsius
How to reach: Drive to Pelling from Bagdogra Airport / New Jalpaiguri Railway Station towards, and then to Hee Bermiok (1.5 hours)
Tip: Don’t forget to visit Gurung Monastery, a beautiful sanctum located on top of a hill in Kaluk offering stunning views of the village and surrounding mountains.
Suggested Read: 7 Scenic Tourist Places In Darjeeling
5. Darap Village: Alluring Beauty
Darap Village is one of the less explored stations in the state. It will mesmerize you with its scenic beauty and wonderful atmosphere. It is surely one of the best places to visit in Sikkim in December. There are many activities which you can engage yourself in like early morning village walks, sitting by streams, admiring the beauty of nature or hiking to nearby places. Your trip to Sikkim will surely be incomplete without visiting this place which offers cultural as well as natural extravaganza experience.
Where: 8 km from Pelling towards the road to Yuksom
Temperature in December: 7 to -10 degree Celsius
6. Kecholpheri: An Offbeat Location
If you like to explore offbeat locations, head to Kecholpheri. This place is not known to many tourists and but popular among backpackers and photographers. You can find the high altitude lake at its best in December, making Kecholpheri one of the best places to visit in Sikkim in December. Don’t forget to include this site, if you are planning to visit Yuksom and Pelling.
Where: Yuksom, Sikkim
Suggested Read: 13 Most Spellbinding Places To Visit Near Gangtok In 2020
7. Tashiding: The Famous Tashiding Monastery
Tashiding is a small Himalayan village and serves as the most famous religious sites in Sikkim. The place is visited by a lot of local devotees as well as foreign tourists visits the village throughout the year. Tashiding Monastery is one of the major attractions in the city founded in the year 1641. Cardamom plantations and orange orchards are popular places of interest.
Where: 25 km from Gyalzing, West Sikkim
Temperature in December: 7 to -10 degree Celsius
8. Rumtek Monastery – Find Peace And Spirituality
Famous for its brilliant architecture, this stunning Buddhist Monastery is among the finest places to visit in Sikkim in the month of December. The highlight of this entire monastery complex is its three-storeyed building that is home to some rare relics as well as religious Buddhist artwork on display. Tucked on a hilltop, Rumtek Monastery is an incredibly important tourist spot and serves as a vantage point for gazing at alluring views of the beautiful town of Gangtok below.
Where: 23 km from Gangtok in Rumtek Dharma Chakra Centre
Timings: 6 AM – 6 PM
Entry fee: INR 10 per person
9. Rabdentse Ruins – Take A Step Back In Time
Had enough of the snow and monasteries? Want to explore something mysterious and sombre next? Head to the famous former capital city of the kingdom of Sikkim that now lies in ruins – Rabdentse. It’s an extremely important avenue in the history of Sikkim that was found in 1670 by the then king of Sikkim – Tensung Namgyal. You will find the timeless ruins of his palace as well as the chortens that once exuded an unmatched glory situated right next to the popular Pemayangtse Monastery. All you have to do is climb the hilltop from the monastery to gaze at these splendid ruins as well as the snowy views of the city from this height.
Where: 2 km from Pemayangtse Monastery, West Sikkim
Timings: 8 AM – 5 PM
Entry fee: Entry is free
10. Pemayangtse Monastery – Revel In Buddhist Architecture
This is amongst the most prominent as well as the most beautiful Buddhist monasteries in all of Sikkim. It is situated at a distance of 110 km from Gangtok and just 2 km away from Pelling. This 300-year spiritual sanctum is a great place to visit in the winter season when it looks absolutely stunning and will teach you loads about the Buddhist culture along with imbibing in you a sense of peace. You’ll also find numerous paintings, ancient manuscripts, as well as old scriptures that have been preserved and stored here.
Where: Pemayangtse, 110 km from Gangtok
Timings: 9 AM – 6 PM
Entry fee: INR 20 per person
11. Ravangla – Gaze At Snowy Views
Ravangla is a rather famous tourist destination tucked in South Sikkim and full of endless surprises for travelers coming in from different corners of the world! Nestled at an elevation of 7,000 feet above sea level in the foothills of Maenam Hills, Ravangla is a year-round destination with the most blissful and soothing weather. And on top of that – it turns into a breathtaking winter wonderland in December when the views of snow-capped mountains all around you will leave you speechless for sure! Some of the best places you can explore here in winter include Shar Chok Bephu Cave, Maenam Wildlife Sanctuary, Ralong Monastery, and Ravangla Monastery.
Where: South Sikkim
12. Nathang Valley – Embrace Tranquility
Nathang Valley is an absolute delight for travelers who have an unconditional love for mountains and enjoy being in high altitude areas that are still untouched by commercialization. Set at a whopping elevation of 13,500 feet, Nathang Valley is situated along the Silk Route and is often called the ‘Ladakh of Sikkim’. This quaint and dreamy town in Sikkim was once the abode of yak herders who had come here all the way from Tibet and sought refuge in this tiny yet charming town offering tranquillity in its purest form.
Where: East Sikkim
Best Things To Do In Sikkim In December
December brings with itself a plethora of experiences for travelers to indulge in while at Sikkim. Some of the best ones are:
1. Dzongri La – Embark On A Stimulating Trek
The Yuksom – Dzongri La trek is a power-package of trekking in Sikkim in December for adrenaline junkies. The trek commences from the Dzongri in the Kanchenjunga National Park following the route to HMI base camp. It takes one through the densest forest cover in the Himalayas and the snow covered landscapes of Tsokha and rewards one with the most mesmerising vistas once the trek ends at an elevation of 4,170 meters above sea level.
The panoramas of 16 Himalayan peaks from Dzongri top, including Kanchenjunga, the gorgeous views of Oklathang Valley, and the enormous spiritual presence of Black Kabru up there, all make this trek an unmissable part of Sikkim tour in December for hard-core trekkers. Adding to the excitement is the opportunity to experience rich and vivid cultures of Lepchas, Bhutias, Subbas and Limboos on the way. The trek can be carried out in Summers, but its true essence and thrill lies in Winters, especially December.
Where: Starts and ends at Yuksom, Chungthang
Duration: 5 Days
How to reach: Drive to Yuksom from New Jalpaiguri railway station (150 km away) or Bagdogra airport (170 km away). Hire a taxi for the rest of the way
Temperature in December: -2 to 4 degree Celsius
2. Chhaang – Sip On To Keep Away The Cold
Chhaang is a popular Tibetan alcoholic beverage made from barley, rice or millet and is traditionally sipped via a narrow-bore bamboo tube called pipsing. No Sikkim tour in December is complete without experiencing a taste of this charging local drink. While it is usually consumed during festivals in Sikkim, one can also find them in local alcohol stores to beat the heat or take few bottles home as tokens of a delightful Sikkim holiday.
Where: Restaurants, bars, and local alcohol stores across Sikkim
3. Festivals – Feel The Vibe
December is the month of merry-making in Sikkim. And no, we are not talking about Christmas! Sikkim plays host to a myriad of festivals and cultural events at this time. Those visiting in December will come across a plethora of engaging sights on the streets every day after 5 PM – traditional food stalls with local alcoholic beverages like Chhaang being distributed like water, magic shows, bike stunts by professional bikers, and dancers performing freestyle numbers next to loud DJ setups.
Some of the prominent festivals of Sikkim during December include-
- Gangtok Winter Festival: Cultural folk dance and song performances are the highlight of this festival organized by the Tourism Department of Sikkim. It’s the best time to taste some of the most delicious local Sikkimese cuisine
- Mangan Music Festival: This is a three day music festival held at Mangan from 12th to 14th December every year. Bands from all over North-East come together to entertain the massive music-loving crowds of locals and travelers alike
- Losoong: This is the Sikkimese New Year celebrated inside the Phodong and Rumtek monasteries. The highlight of the carnival is the Black Hat dance
- Losar: The Tibetan New Year, or Losar, is a three day celebration with prayers, chanting, folk music, dance drama, and many more performances
- Kayged Festival: This is an excellent opportunity for travelers to witness the famous ‘Cham’ dance of masked monks in the monasteries
4. Yumthang Hot Springs – Take An Intoxicating Dip
The Yume Samdong Hot Spring at Yumthang Valley is believed to possess healing powers and is a favourite spot for couples celebrating their honeymoon in Sikkim in December. Yume Samdong Hot Spring is located near the Yumthang village and requires one to cross the pedestrian bridge on River Lachung to reach it.
The water from the natural spring is diverted into two pools here where travelers can soak in the natural jacuzzi and rejuvenate their senses. Visitors can also bathe in the flowing hot water (though carefully).
Where: Donkia-la Pass base, near Yumthang village, Lachen
Suggested Read: 15 Bewitching Places To Visit In Pelling And Its Vicinity
5. Tsomgo Lake – Walk Over The Frozen Land
Some of the most amazing experiences in Sikkim is walking on the frozen Tsomgo Lake in December. Though there are other fun things to do in Sikkim around Tsomgo Lake, like taking a yak ride, the thrill associated with treading on the thin layer of ice is matchless. The Tsomgo Lake is a sight to behold in December when it is in its most pristine state. While standing on the frozen water with your heart in your mouth, you will clearly be able to see through this crystal clear lake right down to its bottom.
The deep blue sheet of ice of Tsomgo acts like a mirror in winters, reflecting the ever-changing faces of the sky. You can acquire a permit from the Tourism And Civil Aviation Department of Sikkim for visiting Tsomgo Lake.
Tip: While here, you can take a ride on the recently inaugurated and India’s highest altitude passenger ropeway!
Warning: Be extremely careful and slow while treading on the thin layer of ice.
Places To Stay In Sikkim During December
There is a range of budget to luxury accommodation options in Sikkim in all the major cities. Check some of the popular ones here:
1. Hotel New Castle In Gangtok
Tucked amidst a sea of lush greenery, the New Castle Hotel offers luxury and premium hospitality services to its guests, along with panoramic views of the hills. The hotel is conveniently located with some of the best Sikkim sightseeing points nearby, like the Do-Drul Chorten, Namgyal Institute of Tibetology, and the Cable Car ride. Some of the services provided by the hotel include free WiFi, free parking, restaurant, bar & lounge, and more. Do stay at the hotel, if you are visiting Sikkim in December as it is located perfectly amidst hills.
2. Norbu Ghang Resort In Pelling
The Norbu Ghang Retreat & Spa is a celebrated resort in Gangtok that offers luxury, class, and the best views to its visitors. Some of the prime attractions here include a well-manicured garden overlooking the scenic snowy mountains, traditional Sikkimese architecture, luxurious furnishings, a local handicrafts store called Khyom, a restaurant called the Himalayan Cafe, and a traditional hot stone bath and spa known as The Menchu.
3. Etho Metho Hotel In Lachung
A warm and cosy ambiance is what greets every guest at Etho Metho, an elegant example of fine architecture, luxury, comfort, and style. The hospitable staff of the hotel provides services like fishing and hiking tours, business center, bar, restaurant, banquet facility, free WiFi, a gift shop, and a cosy shared lounge area.
Tips For Visiting Sikkim In December
Though full of mind blowing scenic views, Sikkim during December can be a mess for travelers who do not prepare for the extreme weather conditions of the place. So, here are some guidelines for visiting Sikkim in winter to make your tour smooth and hassle-free:
- Make sure you wear heavy woolens or layers in all areas of Sikkim during December, and snow boots in specific areas that require it
- Do proper research on the weather conditions of Sikkim before booking a Sikkim tour in December. And when you are here, keep a regular watch on the weather forecast and road conditions of the places you’re visiting
- Do not venture out on the roads or drive in case of fog
- Instead of hiring cabs for commuting, opt for shared taxis or jeeps wherever possible
- Many places in Sikkim require special permits from state forest department, army authorities, and the Tourism And Civil Aviation Department of Sikkim owing to the close proximity of the state to the Chinese border. Make sure you acquire these permits before beginning your tour well in advance
Further Read: 20 Alluring Places To Visit In Gangtok
Ready for an invigorating trip to Sikkim in December? Start planning already so that you can enjoy the best of views and experiences on your holiday in Sikkim. So, if you can dare the biting cold for the scenic treats, then Sikkim is the place to be! Heads up – you must start browsing budget tour to Sikkim already because, Winter Is Coming
Frequently Asked Questions About Sikkim In December
Q. Is it possible to visit North Sikkim in December?
A. North Sikkim is accessible in the month of December. The road stays open until the first week of January.
Q. What are some of the top things to do in Sikkim in December?
A. Some of the top things to do in Sikkim in December are visiting monasteries, seeing the wildlife of Sikkim, shopping at the vibrant markets, trying different local cuisines.
Q. Can I visit Gurudongmar Lake in December?
A. Heavy snowfall starts in Gurudongmar Lake in December. Roads get blocked due to it but then again no one can predict the weather. It is advisable to have your plans ready and stay flexible with your travel itinerary.
Q. What clothes to carry in Sikkim?
A. One should carry heavy woolens with layers of clothing like a sweater, jacket, muffler, thermal, socks, caps. Considering it is the peak wintertime, the weather can be extremely cold at high altitude places.
Q. Is Nathula Pass open in December?
A. Due to bad weather Nathula might be covered in snow but the route usually remains open. You can rent snow gears from the stalls set up on the way.
Q. What is special about visiting the Teesta river in December?
A. Teesta is the lifeline of Sikkim and while on your trip to Sikkim in December, explore the frozen realms near this river.
Q. Is it a good idea to visit Sikkim during December or January?
A. Sikkim is beautiful in both December & January. However, you’re least likely to face weather-induced issues in December than in January. Also, Sikkim turns into a hub of festivities in December.
People who can resist the cold and wish to see the Sikkim in its most enchanting state flock to this paradise in great numbers. Since most regions in Sikkim are under army protection, the government and army personnel always ensure they are accessible at all times.
Q. Will a trip to Yumthang be possible in December or the routes get closed due to snow?
A. A trip to Yumthang is absolutely possible in December without any hurdle. In fact, you will not find snow at the Yumthang valley. If you want to see the snow you can go to the zero point. Also, remember both of these areas do not offer accommodation so one has to visit these places and come back.
Q. Will the Tsomgo lake (also known as Changu Lake) be frozen in December?
A. Usually, Tsomgo lake is frozen from December to January. However, it totally depends on the temperature during that particular year. If you are lucky you may find it clear during the month of December.
Q. Is it advisable to visit Darjeeling in December?
A. Yes, Darjeeling turns into a winter wonderland in the month of December. And the best part – there won’t be any crowd and the hotel prices will be at their lowest.
Q. Does it snow in Darjeeling in December?
A. Yes, it does snow in Darjeeling in December and the average daily temperature ranges from 2.5°C to 11.2°C.
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