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Sikkim is a state in East India in the Himalayan foot hills also bordering China (Tibet), Nepal and Bhutan.The name has been coined from the words 'Su','Him'i.e. beautiful home.Though it should be better named by abode of nature.The snow covered mountains & lush green valleys not only invigorates one's soul,it also leaves the spectators bewildered by the extravaganza of its natural beauty. Nearly 40% of the total area is forested.
The state official language of Sikkim is Nepali, which is also the primary language of most locals. Many other languages such as Dzongkha and Tibetan are also spoken by smaller numbers. However, Hindi is also widely spoken as a second language, and all educated people are able to speak English.
There are no airports or railway stations in Sikkim. The only way to enter Sikkim from rest of India is by road using bus or jeep from West Bengal.
As of April 2017, it is still necessary to obtain a Restricted Area Permit (also known as Inner Line Permit) for foreigners to travel in Sikkim. The permit is a piece of paper containing your passport data and dates you are permitted to travel (typically, 15 days). When entering and exiting Sikkim, your passport will be stamped much in the same manner as when crossing state borders. Obtaining a permit is a pure bureaucratic formality and usually takes a few minutes. You will need to fill in an application form and provide a few passport photos (1 and 2 have been reported).
The permit can be obtained when crossing the Sikkim state border by road in Rangpo or Melli. It is also available from Sikkim permit desk in Darjeeling located at the District Magistrate office after first securing the stamped application form from the Foreigner Registration (FRO) office next to the clock tower, and from Sikkim Tourism Center in Siliguri located at the S.N.T. bus stand (the place from which government buses depart for Sikkim, S.N.T. means "Sikkim Nationalized Transport") in the vicinity of Siliguri Junction railway station (different from New Jalpaiguri station, and can be reached from there by taxi/public shared taxi), the area is known as Pradhan Nagar. The web-site of Ministry of Home affairs states that permits can also be obtained at large international airports (Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata), but locating the relevant facilities proved difficult due to incompetence of the personnel. Permits can also be applied for at the time of Indian visa application, or at 14 Panchsheel Marg, New Delhi 110021 (011 26115346) and 4/1 Middleton Street, Kolkata 700071 (033 22817905)
For rented bikes, you need to get permits for your vehicles and the driver/co-drivers from the Secretariat office in Gangtok. This office opens at 10 AM and closes by 4 PM. It takes around 3-5 hours to issue the permits from the time of application. You need to submit the bike rental agreement on a stamp paper along with the RC, insurance, Emission certificates of the vehicle. Plus the Passport size photo, ID & Address proofs of the drivers and pillions. On the application form, you need to mention the number of days of travel and the route that you will be taking. Submit these documents along with the application form that is available from nearby photocopy shops. The office will issue 4 copies of the permit letters. One of them is to be submitted to the Police permit office located near MG Marg. One is for your reference. And the remaining 2 copies are to be submitted at the police check posts at the entry and exit points. Make sure you make 3 photocopies of the permit letters which will be collected at the check posts.
The police permit office near MG Marg open at 5 AM and closes at 8 AM. You need to submit the permit letter along with the documents mentioned in the above paragraph with a passport size photo and application form. Once they issue the permit you are free to go.
So, basically, you will need to spend 2 days in Gangtok for the permits. First get the permits from the Secretariat office and the next day from the Police department.
To experience the serene beauty of Sikkim, it is suggested to take a taxi. Not many taxi providers are available in Sikkim who are trustworthy and provide comfortable transportation. Vayu Travels is one of the only travel providers who offer online booking facilities for taxi services in Sikkim with an ease of multi-currency payments and comfortable transportation with supportive chauffeurs. They can also assist you with itinerary planning both within and outside of Sikkim. Local taxi providers are also an option, however, you need to bargain well with them and judge the right taxi provider to ensure your safety and avoid being cheated by them.
Nearest airport for Sikkim is Bagdogra, near Siliguri in North Bengal, which is 124 km and approximately four hours drive from Gangtok. Indian Airlines, Jet Airways, SpiceJet, Go Air etc. service Bagdogra linking it with other major airports in India (including Guwahati). Druk Air flys twice weekly from Bangkok, stopping in Bagdogra before continuing to Paro in Bhutan. You can also take a helicopter from Bagdogra to Gangtok.
Construction of a 50-km rail link from Sevoke, West Bengal to Rangpo, Sikkim started in 2009, but is not expected to be ready until 2015, and it'll take another few years until it reaches another 40 km to Gangtok.
Meanwhile, the nearest railway stations are Siliguri and New Jalpaiguri. Both of these have a number of trains connecting them to Kolkata. You should be able to get pre-paid taxis to Gangtok outside the railway stations easily.
The Sikkim government has fixed rate (and fixed schedule) buses plying between Siliguri and Gangtok.
Most travel in Sikkim is done by bus or jeep on road. Trekking is also a popular option.
It is better to contact a travel agent in NJP or Siliguri who will provide food, lodging, travelling, permits, but beware of the touts roaming in the station or bus stand. They will lead you to a travel agent and will obtain a commission of 15% of your whole travel package. As a result your package rate will be increased. Instead after reaching NJP or Siliguri, try to contact a travel agent by yourself. Many agencies are there and the hospitality is quite the same. Don't forget to bargain. The travel agent at first demands a very high price. If you are not satisfied with his package, don´t hesitate to step out and look for another agent.It is always advisable to contact tour operators who are registered with the Department of Tourism, Government of Sikkim and members of Travel Agents Association of Sikkim (TAAS). An economic package including Lachen, Lachung, Yamthang, Nathula, Baba Mandir, Tsomgo Lake, Gangtok local site seeing will cost around 3000 rupees.
There are many adventure activities possible to do in Sikkim. Tourists can go for Trekking, Rafting and Kayaking, Mountain Biking, Mountaineering, Yak Safari and many more.
You must eat delicious momo stuffed with meat (also known as 'Dumpling'). For vegetarians, veg momo is also available along with Thukpas (noodle soup). Phagshapa is a strip of pork fat stewed with radishes and dried chillies.