North Sikkim Permit Process
Sikkim is a paradise, and a must-visit place for all the souls too tired of carrying on with their regular average lives. It shares its borders with three countries, viz. China, Bhutan, and Nepal. Hence, for security reasons, one needs certain permits to explore some parts of it. It is widely believed that to obtain all these permits, you need to involve some travel agent, but that’s not true. You can get the North Sikkim permit done by yourself.
There are two types of permits needed to tour Sikkim: Protected Area Permit (PAP), and Restricted Area Permit (RAP). All the tourists and travelers need to obtain the Protected Area Permits to visit specific areas in Sikkim. Foreign Nationals, in addition to the PAP, are required to get a Restricted Area Permit for visiting Sikkim.
How to get a North Sikkim permit:
When you plan to travel to North Sikkim, you would need a permit for exploring all the areas beyond Singhik. Before Singhik, you can obtain a permit in Mangan, North Sikkim. To reach there, you can easily get a shared cab from Gangtok. The documents required for the permit are two passport size photographs and ID proof. You will have to fill a form with basic details along with the places that you would like to visit in North Sikkim. The permit can be obtained free of cost. The important point to remember is to take multiple photocopies of your permit (based on your itinerary) as there are various check posts along the way.
From Mangan, you can go to Chungthang where the path diverges for Lachung and Yumthang, and Lachen and Gurudongmar. If while exploring North Sikkim, you want to extend your permitted time or get any other changes done in the permit, you would need to come back to Chungthang and get it done.
If you are planning to tour North Sikkim on a bike, you need additional documents such as your driving license, pollution control, insurance and registration papers of the bike, an affidavit in case of a hired bike. With all the above-mentioned documents, bikers can get a special permit.
Certain considerations for Foreign Nationals:
- All the foreigners need a Restricted Area Permit to visit Sikkim with their valid Indian Visa. RAP or Inner Line Permit (ILP) is also free of cost. It can be obtained from Rangpo.
- For visiting the protected areas in North Sikkim, foreigners need to travel through a travel agent registered by Sikkim Tourism.
- Nathula and Gurudongmar Lake, owing to their location in the international borders, are not accessible by foreign tourists.
- Foreigners need to be in a group of at least two people and are to be accompanied by a local tour guide.
If you have plans of traveling to Sikkim, you might also like to read our Sikkim Travel Guide.
I chose to explore North Sikkim on my own rather than taking 2 or 3 days accompanied tours. Sure, they have their own pros, you can even get the permits done by travel agencies; but this is just my opinion as a traveler. Go out there and explore.