While most tourists start with East Sikkim first and move on to explore West and South Sikkim, very few make it to the north region of the state unless they are specifically visiting North Sikkim. Bordering Tibet, entering north Sikkim requires special permits, and there are only a few places that are open to tourists. That being said, a trip to north Sikkim offers a unique experience from the rest of the state and is worth the extra few days if it’s not already on your itinerary.
The scenic route to Yumthang
Lachung village is a small town in North Sikkim and is divided by the Lachung River. It is home to one of the oldest 19th-century Buddhist monasteries and is surrounded by apple orchards. The valley is also known for its wines, hot springs, and forests. Lachung is an epitome of scenic beauty peppered with tall dark mountains, gushing waterfalls, striking fruit orchards, and meandering glacial rivers. Anyone is bound to be taken in by its rustic magic in just a matter of seconds.
Blog post: Hot spring camping in Lachung
Yumesamdung (Zero Point)
At a distance of approx. 50 km from Lachung, Yumesamdong, otherwise known as Zero Point, is one of the most frequented tourist places in Lachung. During winters, the main attraction is a visit to Zero Point – a place where snow is available aplenty. There is no civilian route beyond Zero Point. The location alters between seasons. It is located about 15 km away from Yumthang and sits at a mind-numbing altitude of 4,724 meters. It takes around 45 minutes to an hour to reach Zero Point from Yumthang.
Yumesamdung (Zero Point)
The vicuna China border is just beyond Zero Point, though no tourists are allowed there. Despite the treacherous roads, Yumesamdong brings you exceptional rewards. Treat your eyes to the confluence of three magnificent rivers, flanked on either side by enormous, snow-clad peaks. While yaks often graze here, the land is nearly devoid of vegetation. The place sits beneath thick, powdery snow, and experiences extremely cold weather conditions. But there’s a great respite in the form of hot springs by the river Sebu Chhu. The route to Zero Point is very beautiful, similar to the Zuluk route in East Sikkim. As we gain altitude and take turns, a different perspective of the valley becomes visible. Soon, the green lands give way to the cold desert-like terrain that we often see in Ladakh. Once you reach Zero Point, the taxi will wait for an hour before heading back. It costs INR 2000 for the back and forth journey.
There are several make-shift shops selling tea and Maggie, which is a must-have at Zero Point. Enjoying the beauty of mountains against the clear blue skies while the cold wind brushes your face is something you will remember for a very long time. As this is at a high altitude, please make sure you do not over-exert yourself and take precautions for AMS.
The best time to visit is definitely during the summer between April and May. During winter, heavy snowfall makes this place almost impossible to reach. The same is the case for the rainy season.
Also known as the Valley of Flowers (not to be confused with the Valley of Flowers in Uttarakhand), Yumthang Valley is perched at a dizzying altitude of 3,500 meters and unmistakably one of the most scenic places to visit in North Sikkim. True to its assigned nickname, Yumthang Valley fosters countless floral species, which criss-cross all across its lush green meadows. The valley also houses the beautiful Shingba Rhododendron Sanctuary, hosting over 24 different species of rhododendrons! The Valley is the vantage point for the beautiful peaks of Panhunri and Shundu Tsenpa, which form an amazing scenic setting for the gushing Teesta River, which forms a crystal ribbon through the forested beauty of the valley. The grazing yaks amidst thousands of blooming Himalayan flowers and an astounding collection of rhododendrons entice visitors to stay for a little while longer.