Lachen means "big pass" forms the base to the Chopta Valley and Gurudongmar Lake

A comprehensive travel guide to Lachen, Sikkim

Apr 15th, 2024

Lachen, Sikkim is a small town in North Sikkim (Mangan District) of India. The name Lachen means "big pass". The town forms the base to the Chopta Valley and Gurudongmar Lake. Lachen is a less-populated beautiful holiday destination, also famous as the gateway to the sacred Gurudongmar and Tso Lhamu lakes. Lachen forms the base for expeditions to Chopta Valley, Lashar valley, Green Lake, Cho-Lamu, and Gurudongmar Lake.
The town is situated at an elevation of 2,600 m (8,500 ft) and is home to around 1,000 people. It has its own system of rules and regulations known as Dzumsa, with the heads of the Dzumsa being known as Pipon and Gyenbos.
Lachen is known for its natural beauty and serene vegetation, which are worth commending. The town is surrounded by lush vegetation that contains mainly grasslands and shrubs along with apple orchards. The pine-covered valleys and black cliffs of snowy-white hills of the Eastern Himalayas start from Lachen which makes it the base station for many trekking areas in the North Sikkim region including the famous Green Lake trek.

How to reach Lachen?
The nearest Airport is Bagdogra Airport in West Bengal about 150 kms that will take you roughly 10 hours driving time due to winding roads. Pakyong Airport in Sikkim is also there but many times flights get cancelled or diverted due to bad weather. You will have to spend one night in Gangtok to get permits for Lachen.
The nearest Railway station is New Jalpaiguri Railway Station, not far from the Airport which is about 152 kms and approximately 10 hours driving time.

Lachen Tourist Places:
Some of the most prominent sightseeing attractions in and around Lachen are Lachen Monastery, Gurudongmar Lake, Chopta Valley, Lashar valley, Kalapathar and Alexander David Neel Cave. The Lachen Monastery is a must-visit place if you are traveling to Lachen. It is one of the century-old monasteries in Sikkim established in the year 1858 by a Lama named Karchen Dorje Drak. 
Gurudongmar Lake: Situated at an altitude of 17100 feet, Gurudongmar lake is the second highest lake in India. Surrounded by snow-clad mountains, the place is a sight to behold. The lake is named after Guru Padmasambhava, a philosopher and a Buddhist saint known widely for his amazing skills in the practice of Tantric Buddhism and had visited this spot on his way back from Tibet. Naturally, the Buddhists, as well as Hindus, consider the lake sacred. During the winters, the entire lake freezes except for a small area. It is believed that Guru Padmasambhava had blessed the lake by placing his hand on a portion of the lake. It is that portion which never freezes, even during the coldest of winters. The water of the lake is also said to have curative properties. You will see hundreds of colourful prayer flags all around the place. Close to the lake, there is a temple named Sarva Dharma Sthal. It is a place for worship for all the religions.

Chopta Valley is a dreamy wonderland. Located just 2 km from Thangu at an altitude of 13200 ft, the place is a mesmerizing treat to the eyes. The majestic view of the snow covered peaks, meandering rivers and alpine meadows dominate the landscape and one can spot wandering Yak grazing in the colorful expanse.
During each season, the valley gets a new look. At the onset of spring it turns into a beautiful carpet of alpine flowers including Rhododendron, primula and other alpine flowers that last right through till August. The autumn months of October and November promise snowy peaks and clear blue skies which slowly give way to a winter wonderland December through till march where snow is the dominant feature and one can walk over the frozen rivers! One can visit Chopta Valley on your way back from Gurudongmar Lake.

Best time to visit Lachen:
The best months to visit Lachen are from March to June and from September to December. Summer is quite pleasant here when the temperature and the weather stay quite charming. Winter strikes Lachen quite hard and the temperatures in Lachen can sometimes plunge to zero degrees Celsius and below. You can expect heavy snowfall in Lachen in January and February. 
During monsoons, road to North Sikkim gets affected badly and it is best to avoid the roads from July to September. But if you are the adventurous kind, you may be interested to know that the annual Yak Race during the Drukpa Tsechi Festival takes place around July – August in Lashar valley (about 4 hours trek from Chopta valley). You can read more about it here.

Lachen Travel Tips:
•    Guests should stay one night in Gangtok, which is about 4.5 hours from the Airport/Railway Station. They need to get the permits made from their travel agent so that next morning, they can leave for Lachen. It will take about 5 hours to reach Lachen excluding lunch/tea break (preferably at Mangan/Rangrang)
•    You will require permits to travel to Lachen, so please get your permits made before hand from your local travel agent
•    If you are visiting Gurudongmar Lake, then you need to stay in Lachen and not Lachung.
•    It is a good idea to visit Lachen first and then Lachung. This is because many times guests want to return to Gangtok on the same evening and Gurudongmar lake is a much more tiring journey than Yumthang Valley.
•    It is best to spend two nights in Lachen and two nights in Lachung. It will be a comfortable holiday.
•    Please get warm clothes with you and you can expect some electricity problems in the winter. Hence check with your homestay/hotel for generator backup. 
•    Heaters are not allowed in Lachen due to transformer voltage problem. It is a good idea warm clothes and stay in good hotels/homestays in Lachen
•    In the morning you will be leaving around 6 am for Gurudongmar lake. Hence you would be getting packed breakfast from most hotels. You can get breakfast at Thangu, which is about 2.5 hours away from Lachen
•    It is a good idea to buy some chocolate and popcorn for the journey from Lachen to Gurudongmar Lake. You should not stay hungry. It only worsens the altitude sickness if you don't eat
•    When you return back from Gurudongmar Lake, you will probably be reaching back to Lachen only around 2:30 pm to 3:30 pm, so it could be a problem for the hotel/property since they need to clean and make the rooms ready for the guests checking in in the afternoon. So you may need to pack your belongings before you leave in the morning.
•    If you are looking for snow, it is a good idea to visit Kalaphahar on the way back from Gurudongmar Lake. You have to take a diversion from Thangu. Kalapathar is next to a glacier and you will get snow there all year round. But you will only be getting back to your hotel by around 3:30 pm and you will most probably be very tired and half sick. It is best to stay two nights in Lachen if you are looking to visit Kalapathar as well.
•    You are not allowed to carry mineral water bottles to North Sikkim so it is best to carry your own water tumbler which you should refill and get back with you to Gangtok.

Where to stay in Lachen:
1.    Lhakhim Homestay, Lachen is nice comfortable homestay in Lachen, North Sikkim with clean bedrooms and bathroom. The food is organic, homemade and delicious. It is run by Dathup Lachenpa (who is a local from Lachen) and his family. The hospitality is very warm and the rooms are comfortable making for a great experience.
2.    Khenkhim Regency is a comfortable hotel in Lachen run by local people from Sikkim. The hotel has good comfortable rooms with good views, attached bathrooms and geyser. The hotel also has a backup generator, which is very important and electricity supply is very erratic in Lachen.

To summarize, Lachen is a perfect destination for nature lovers, adventure seekers, and Buddhist pilgrims. The town offers a unique blend of natural beauty, cultural heritage, and spiritual significance. With its less-populated and serene environment, Lachen provides a perfect escape to the mountains away from the hustle and bustle of city life.
OurGuest arranges and manages Tours to North Sikkim  and also takes care of permit documents. For customized holiday planning, contact us at 7669503993, or email us at


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