WHEN TO GO
Best season: March to late May and October to end-December
Climate: 14° to 22°C (summer); 4° to 15°C (winter)
Because of the terrain, Sikkim is not accessible by train. However, its proximity to Siliguri and New Jalpaiguri railway stations as well as Bagdogra airport, ensures there are no major access difficulties.
Bagdogra airport is 125 km (78 miles) from Sikkim’s capital, Gangtok. There are several flights by Indian Airlines to Bagdogra from Delhi (Rs2406), Calcutta (Rs939) and Guwahati (Rs629). In 1990 the Sikkim Helicopter Service was introduced and operated daily flights which took only 25 minutes, but they were withdrawn after one season and, at the time of writing, have yet to be reintroduced.
Siliguri (114 km; 71 miles) and New Jalpaiguri (125 km; 77 miles) are the railheads nearest to Gangtok. These stations are well-connected with Calcutta, Delhi, Guwahati and other major cites of India.
Sikkim Nationalised Transport (SNT) runs a Special Snow-Lion bus service from Bagdogra to Gangtok (124 km). Private taxis and buses also operate from Bagdogra, Darjeeling and Kalingpong to Gangtok. The Transport wing of Sikkim’s Department of Tourism has a number of cars, luxury coaches and jeeps for hire.
All foreigners intending to visit Sikkim must apply for an Inner Line Permit. This permit is issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, New Delhi and applications are to be routed through The Indian Diplomatic missions in the respective countries at least 6 weeks in advance of the visit. A copy of the application, endorsed to Sikkim Tourism, New Sikkim House, 14 Panchsheel Marg. Chanakyapuri, New Delhi-110021 will ensure speedy sanction of the permit. This permit allows visitors access to Gangtok, Phodang, Rumtek, Pemayangtse, Dzongri. Namchi and Naya Bazaar, and is valid for 15 days.
All of east Sikkim beyond Rongali and North Sikkim beyond Phodang are restricted areas for foreigners.