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How to travel around Sikkim under ₹25,000?


Sikkim has a reputation as one of the most surprising and adventurous destinations to visit in the East with 28 mountain peaks, close to a hundred glaciers, countless high-altitude lakes, literally smoking-hot hot springs and landscapes for days. Currently, limited railway access to the region increases travel costs, as visitors must fly to Bagdogra Airport or take a train to Siliguri or Jalpaiguri and then a cab to Gangtok. But the upcoming railway station— announced after 49 years for which PM Modi recently laid the foundation stone—is expected to improve accessibility and economic travel to the state upon completion.

Currently, limited railway access to the region increases travel costs, as visitors must fly to Bagdogra Airport or take a train to Siliguri or Jalpaiguri and then a cab to Gangtok.

“The introduction of a railway station in Sikkim will increase connectivity for locals as well as travellers thus making it more accessible and cost-efficient to travel to the region,” says Daniel D’Souza, President & Country Head, Holidays, SOTC Travel. “The Government’s initiative to increase rail connectivity across 27 states and union territories under the Amrit Bharat Station Scheme will usher in a new era of rail connectivity in India.”

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WHERE TO STAY

When it comes to tourism, there is a cluster of cities in Sikkim where you can base yourself during your journey. The state capital Gangtok is the most popular choice because of its connectivity and metropolitan culture but for a budget trip consider Pakyong, Namchi, Jorethang or Rangpo for your stay. If you plan to arrive in Gangtok and then explore other destinations, consider hostels and homestays like Zostel ( 1,300 per night) or Backpackers Den ( 1,000 per night). You can find unique resorts like the Betel Valley Resort ( 1,500) in Rangpo or homestays like Ahladara ( 1,000) in Namchifor at almost the same cost.

WHAT TO EAT

There are two secrets to budget dining in Sikkim: street snacking and sharing a plate with a local. In whichever city you are in, you can find dumplings ( 100-200), thukpa ( 100-200), Sel roti ( 50-100), chhurpi ( 50-100), phagshapa ( 50-100) and more regional dishes that can take you on a culinary journey of their own all while being easy on the pocket.

WHAT TO DO

Among some popular, recommended activities are a trip to the giant Buddha statue at Ravangla Park (Free), Bakthang Waterfall (Free entry; 100 for rope sliding), a gondola ride ( 70 to 100) in Gangtok, hand-gliding in Yumthang ( 2,500), a short trek to the Kichipudi Lake in Pelling (Free) and more.

Monastery visits from Gangtok or Pelling will cost you 20-200 per monastery (like Pemayangtse in Pelling cost only 20) along with the cost of travel (local transport or cab) ranging from 500 to 1,000.

Hot springs like Yeshi, Borong and Yumthang popularly known for their therapeutic abilities due to high sulphur content can be accessed for (approx) 100-200 per person plus the cost of travel to and from your stay.



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