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Places For Shopping In Sikkim


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Sikkim is enveloped by the Himalayas and is a destination for all kinds of people. Nature lovers, adventure buffs, and spiritualists have come here to satisfy their longing to be with the most promising aesthetics of life and nature. The heave touching mountain range, serene lakes, crystal clear azure sky, pure hilly weather, ethnic population, and some of the best monasteries are what keep travelers drawn to Sikkim.

Sikkim, one of the best-kept travel secrets of the Himalayas, is a welcome diversion from all conventional notions of an Indian holiday. This tiny lonely planet on the earth is a serene and scenic destination, and one of India’s best hill stations, far from the city crowds and pollution. Sikkim is the least populated and second smallest among the Indian states. A part of the Eastern Himalaya, Sikkim is notable for its biodiversity, including alpine and subtropical climates, as well as being a host to Kanchenjunga, the highest peak in  India and the third-highest on Earth.  Sikkim'scapital and largest city are Gangtok. Almost 35% of the state is covered by the Khangchendzonga National Park - a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Sikkim itself is a pride of hilly Indian states. Sikkim, with its vibrant Tibetan Buddhist enunciations in a frame of quaint villages and rich tribal culture, is brocaded with rocky landscapes, lofty snow-capped mountains, and virgin alpine forests.

Also, this is the destination for shopaholics. Right from local gastronomic delicacies to indigenous clothing to some of the finest souvenirs which are available across Sikkim. We all know that shopping covers a major part of any travel or tour plan. But when it comes to shopping in Sikkim the region will not disappoint you if you are a street shopper who has an eye for cheap yet unique products and loves collecting knick-knacks.

Why shopping in Sikkim is fun: Sikkim is like a small happy paradise with only a small population. Therefore, here the market places are not so elaborate like we see in other metropolitan cities. Here there are regular markets that cater to local people and travelers every day, except weekends. Besides, there are some special weekly or weekend shopping hubs that especially meet the tourists’ needs with their broad range of local products.

Gangtok - The ultimate shopping hub: Gangtok is the capital of Sikkim. Not only the administrative headquarters of the Himalayan state, but it is the zone for all the primary civic activities, including shopping. It is a major reservoir of marketing for travelers. The place has witnessed the thriving of various new shopping joints alongside the old ones. Right from the famous religious scroll paintings, locally known as Thangkas, by the Buddhists from Tibet to Sikkimese cups, figurines of Lord Buddha, high-quality tea, praying flags, local ethnic clothes, various souvenirs bearing the local culture and art and crafts are available in this Sikkim capital.

Eating Paradise: You name an item and Gangtok has them all. According to locals more than 50 big and small shopping hubs are spread across Sikkim. If you are a fine eater then this is the place to be and also collect some incredible food items back to your hometown. You can collect the chhurpi which is basically fine cheese made of yak’s milk, a trademark item in Sikkim. Besides, local beer, dried fish and handmade noodles are some most relishing items to go for here in this hill state.

Now let’s talk about the best shopping hubs in Sikkim that can keep you coming back again and again.

Mahatma Gandhi Marg: MG Marg is the main market area in Sikkim. The entire stretch of the road is lined with big, small, and medium shops on both sides. A part of this MG Marg shopping center is also known as New Market. The shops at the MG Marg area open usually around 8 am and close by 7 pm in the evening. The entire hub is closed on Tuesdays. Here you can find a large number of stalls that sell local fabric and dress material for both men and women. Also, you can find shops selling shoes, gifts, trinkets, and unique souvenirs.

Sikkimese Cups: There is a huge craze to buy these ethnic art pieces of Sikkim. Travelers from across the globe collect them as souvenirs. The cups made of porcelain carry the traditional designs of Sikkim and are available in different colors and sizes. These are something you can give anybody and everybody.

Books and Jewellery: If you are a bibliophile, then MG Marg can be your own favorite corner. Here shops like Kandoika sell books on Buddhist ideas about life and living, Buddhist ideologies, and literature. A lot of books about Sikkim culture and tourism are also available here. Jewelry items such as earrings, dragon pendants, finger rings, and metal crafts are sold at almost all the shops at the MG Marg markets.

And, when it comes exclusively to books, the development area in Gangtok is the best place. If you are wondering which way to go, then it is just a few minute's walking distances from the MG Marg market. You can also board a taxi to reach the destination. Several bookstalls are located in this area. Besides this is a thriving place for cultural exchange among tourists. Old and young people flock here to have a good time in the evening. You can witness a live jazz band performing or be an audience at a film screening in this place. Also, poetry recitation and art and craft and photography exhibitions also take place in the development area. This is a very famous tourist hotspot. The book stores here sell books on Sikkimese history, philosophy, travel, culture, heritage, literature, art and music, and children’s books as well.

Lal Bazar or Kanchenjunga Shopping Complex: If you happen to shop at the MG Marg then there is no reason you miss the chance of visiting the Lal Bazar. This market is located just below the MG Marg market line. This is a buzzing shopping center and located just a few minutes from the MG Marg stop. This is one of the oldest markets of Sikkim too. The place is the heritage and tradition of the state. The Lal Bazar was established in 1956. You will get a cosmopolitan atmosphere across the market as people with their varied backgrounds come here to shop and sell.

What to buy at Lal Bazar: You will get all sorts of diverse items here including electronic gadgets to incense sticks. The time to visit this market is on a Sunday. It is a haat day at the market. So, you get more shops and more vendors to buy your favorite items. If you want to know more about the ethnic culture of Sikkim, then come visit this market. You will see villagers in traditional Bhutia or Nepali attire managing their shops. Just soak in the atmosphere here. Buy organic vegetables, dried fish and cheese. Sikkim dairy products are extremely popular among the local people.

A melting pot of shoppers: Also you can get a variety of other items such as prayer flags.  Traditional curved Nepali knives known as khukri are also available here. Handicraft items made of cane or bamboo are another favorite among tourists. Lal market is also famous for selling pottery items. But remember, this market remains closed on Thursdays. So, when you plan to cover both MG Marg and Lal bazaar then try to make it on a Sunday.

A hub of furniture and woolens: Sikkim is the place to buy the beautiful and delicately carved choice furniture. These choktse are the very traditional type of furniture that is available in Sikkim. They are heritage pieces that can be collected as a lifetime signature item of the state which bears rich culture.

A lot of woolen garments are also available here at a very economical rate. You can purchase fine quality and locally produced woven dress materials, shawls, blankets, and also knitted garments. Woven carpets are also very popular in Sikkim. There is a local tribe that has the expertise of making these carpets.

Don’t forget to bargain: Sikkim markets are famous for their diverse products and sellers. It is an amalgamation of varied kinds of shoppers as well. So, if you are a domestic or international tourist buying your favorite items at the market, always make sure that you know the tricks to find your way to the best deal. All the shopkeepers at the Sikkim markets generally quote a higher price for their products. Therefore, it is always advisable that you buy the authentic items at their right price from the government-registered shops and emporiums. Also, don’t forget to bargain if you happen to buy random items from the roadside stalls.

 

Lachen market

Lachen is the sister village of Lachung. This is one of the beautiful and scenic places in Sikkim. Situated at an altitude of 8838ft, this place is around an eight-hour drive from Gangtok. Lachen market is located in the heart of the village and provides an interesting shopping experience to its visitors. A fabulous range of handicraft and handloom products is available here. All the items are locally manufactured in small-scale industries hubs. So, they carry the very essence of the Sikkimese culture and tradition. If you want to buy anything from this market then it should be either shawl, handbags, blankets made of sheep, and yak wool. In many of these articles, you will find designs on Buddhist culture and figures. But again, don’t forget to bargain with the shopkeeper as they usually overcharge tourists.

 

Geyzing market

Geyzing is located in the western part of Sikkim is a breathtakingly beautiful place surrounded by a lush green valley and snow-capped peaks. The marketplace of Geyzing was set up by a monk body for the benefit of the local villagers. The geyzing market has all kinds of shops. Since this is a commercial region, a number of shopping delights are waiting for you in here, right from local handicrafts, handwoven woolens, carpets. Besides, you can find a lot of handmade products that are native to the region in the shops of Geyzing. There is also a farmers’ market here that offers visitors to buy organic fresh vegetables and herbs.

 

Ravangla market

Ravangla is a small town in Sikkim that lies at the elevation of 7000 ft in the southern part of the region. The town is well connected with the other parts of the state with highways. Ravangla is situated between Gangtok and Pelling. Ravangla has a famous market that sells various types of items starting from stationeries, tailoring items, groceries, food items, and other things. The market is famous for various other utilities such as photocopy services, medicine shops. A lot of popular Chinese restaurants are also located here. The Kheunphelling carpet weaving center is also located in Ravangla. Several Tibetan migrants once came here to set up this carpet weaving hub. You can purchase good quality traditional Sikkim carpets at a very low rate at Ravangla.

The place also has a lot of foreign liquor and local liquor shops. In terms of transportation, Ravangla is a very useful location as you can get a taxi and private vehicles from this point up to anywhere across Sikkim. If you want to go straight to the airport or get a customized tour of your favorite place, everything can be managed from Ravangla.

 

Tea shopping 

Sikkim is the place from where you can purchase the finest quality tea for yourself and your near and dear ones. Golden Tips is the famous tea shop in Sikkim where you can find a large array of teas to select from. You can seek discounts for bulk purchases as well. Unusual CTC and orthodox tea everything is available here. You can be sure about their quality.


 

Gangtok Weather and The Best Time to Visit

Winter (December to February): Winter has its own charm in Sikkim but however the temperature can go down below the freezing point between December and February. Most of the tourists and local tour operators and guides believe that visiting Gangtok during the monsoon could be a little tricky and risky because of heavy rainfall and slippery road conditions and landslides. The Winter temperature in the district lies between 4 °C (39 °F) and 7 °C (45 °F). Snowfall is very uncommon in the locale, and freezing is likewise uncommon. In winters, the temperature achieves least at 4°C. It is likewise considered the best time to visit Gangtok. 

Spring (April to June): Spring is the populist choice of visiting Gangtok. In this season you will get a moderate climate with the advent of spring in March and it ends in June. The average temperature during this time remains around 22 degrees Celsius. So, you can understand that you can plan a nice family vacation during this period when the Gangtok weather remains pleasant. Gangtok for the most part appreciates a moderate sort of atmosphere all around the year. 

Autumn (October to November): Between October to November first week is the time when you feel the slight chill in the air but still a very pleasant atmosphere to schedule your visits to all the tourist attractions in Sikkim and Gangtok. The temperature starts falling further from November's end. So, you can easily visit this northeastern hill state during autumn and avoid the extreme chill.

Monsoon (July to September): Monsoon in Gangtok sets in July and ends in the month of September. In this time, the place, including several tourist spots, witnesses heavy rainfall triggering landslides in many places. As a result, roads remain blocked for days, causing a complete shutdown of the transportation and tourism business. Sometimes, a complete area remains cut off for days because of such weather-related issues. Hence, it is advisable that you do not plan to visit Gangtok during the monsoon. The general Gangtok weather remains misty and dull during this time.

 

Mode of Reach to Sikkim:

Sikkim Helicopter Service: Bagdogra is also connected with Gangtok by daily helicopter service operated by Sikkim Tourism Development Corporation, and it takes only 20 minutes to reach Gangtok from Bagdogra. The 5-seater helicopter makes traveling to Sikkim easier, along with being an incredible way of witnessing the majestic state, like never before. The passengers on this helicopter are awarded a Certificate of Participation by the Sikkim Tourism Development Corporation.

Road: Siliguri is more or less the main gateway to Sikkim. National Highway 31A connects Gangtok to Siliguri. The scenic lush green forests on the banks of river Teesta on one side and the Eastern Himalayan range on the other side make the drive worthwhile. As stated earlier, public vehicles including buses, shared jeeps and auto-rickshaws are available from Siliguri to Gangtok, Kalimpong, Kurseong, etc. at frequent intervals. You can also opt for a private cab from Siliguri to travel further.

 

Railway: Sikkim does not have a proper train network. The nearest major railway station is New Jalpaiguri (NJP) which is about 6-7kms from Siliguri and 130 km from Gangtok. Very few selective trains pass through Siliguri, which is approximately 114 km from Gangtok. Onward journey from Siliguri or New Jalpaiguri railway station is possible by road.

 

Air: The nearest accessible airport to Sikkim is in Bagdogra which is approximately 124 km from Gangtok, the capital city of Sikkim. Bagdogra airport has both public and private transport options for the onward journey. 50 meters away from the terminal building, the local taxi stand has both shared and private jeeps for Darjeeling, Siliguri, Gangtok, etc. Further down, around 700-800 m from the taxi stand there is good availability of public buses and shared autos for the same.

 

Conclusion: Sikkim is not just a tourist destination. This is a region where a visitor and also as a local resident, can lead a content stay with all the basic and primary amenities at your doorstep. The place is the ultimate example of enjoying a blissful life in serenity. It is away from the regular chaos of the city but has all the elements that you need to lead a city life. The Bengal government and also the Indian government are putting a lot of effort to boost business and trade in this region.

 

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