Bangkok shop shop until you drop!!

Bangkok the city of sky scrapers, massage centers, shopping destinations, night markets and much more. This city never sleeps, streets are always full of people, food and colourful tuk tuks moving around. Bangkok has a glorious palace and beautiful temples to visit. On my three day trip got massages, did shopping for 2.5 days and a half day sightseeing tour of Bangkok.

Places to shop in Bangkok

This is the most difficult part to decide as the options are too many and time is so little. Pack compact and less as when you will return your bags will be full, may be you may end up buying new bags as well.

Day 1 of shopping

Palladium night market

This was the best night market in Bangkok, tons of shopping options. Great clothing, good quality, superb prices, full value for money. I got t shirts, party tops, pants, shoes, shorts everything from this place. There was a time I couldn’t carry the bags in my hands. Its a must go place if you love street shopping. An important tip always carry a small bag and water bottle, wear flat sole footwear when you are visiting a night market.

Opening hours: 6 pm to 11 pm

Day 2 of shopping

Indira Square

This place is a three storey complex with variety of goods. On ground floor you will find shoes, luggage bags, accessories, clothing for men. I got an incredible bag pack from here which you can carry in three different ways, good quality, very stylish and super comfortable in handling.

First floor also has luggage but more of it is women clothing, shoes and souvenirs section. People do bargain here at some shops, you can try your skills. For buying shoes and flip flops this place has the best variety.Second floor is a food court where you get all the cuisines

Opening hours: 10 am to 9 pm usually lot of shops close after 5 pm

MBK Mall

Its a multi storey, air conditioned mall which is huge in terms of area.There are close to 2000 stores in this one mall you can imagine the number of things you can get here.

MBK is an excellent choice for buying handbags, shoulder bags, clothing, accessories, souvenirs. Fourth floor is only for electronics and mobiles you can get every possible electronic item from selfie stick to under water cameras.

I got amazing bags, shoes and souvenirs from this place I really wish to go back again. It’s a paradise for shopping. Top floor is best for bags. Food courts are at fifth and sixth floor.

You can get here by BTS Skytrain or Tuk tuk or taxi everyone in Bangkok knows where MBK mall is, as it is one of the most popular tourist attractions.

Opening hours: 10 am to 9 pm

Day 3 shopping

Pratunam Market

This is a wholesale market it is mostly for clothes and accessories. There are lot of shops at this place, it is true that it appears like a maze. We found a store which had superhero stuff, amazing good quality t-shirts, there price was higher compared to other shops but the stuff was really good.

There are dozens of shops here, you can get cheapest rates here, more you buy in bulk lesser the prices are, great value for money.

I got t-shirt of wolverine and batman, super stylish belts, beach dress, t-shirts for my dad, leggings, pants and lot more.

Opening hours: 24 hours open best time to visit is 11 am to 8 pm as lot of retail shops close after that

Patpong night market

This is a pretty cool night market, located in the red light district of Bangkok. You get lot of first copy goods here and nice printed t-shirts. Another attractive thing is photo frames with quotes and characters which is quite a collection, I must say. Beautiful lamp shades and home decor stuff.

There are go go bars at the other end of this busy shopping street music makes this place more lively, bargain hard to buy stuff the quality is good they don’t come down easily.

You have many eateries and spas nearby shop, eat and relax, that’s what Bangkok is all about.

Opening hours: 6 pm to 1 am

Half day sight seeing in Bangkok

There are lot of attractions in Bangkok worth visiting but due to my crazy shopping schedule just got half day’s time to see few places.

Chalong boat tour

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Chalong boat tour is an experience in itself but it is equally expensive but the best part is, it is less time consuming if you wish to go to Wat Arun temple for a visit. You will get a personal boat for yourself to go to Wat Arun which will take you back after an hour from the parking to the stop for Bangkok Palace.

Make sure you return in an hour, the parking guys are very strict they will make you wait for a long time till your boat finishes the next turn. If you don’t wish to be time bound then a taxi is a better option.

Wat Arun temple

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Wat Arun is a temple located at the bank of Chao Phraya river, it is spread across a vast area and has spectacular sites. It is also known as temple of dawn.

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There are beautiful portraits of Buddha and paintings on the ceiling adding to the beguiling views of this temple.

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The artistic touch at every corner of the temple is mesmerizing.

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Dress conservatively or you need to rent clothes in order to see the temple.

Opening hours: 8 am to 5.30 pm

Bangkok Palace

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Bangkok Place is magnificent and is a renowned tourist spot, its very crowded as tourists from all over the world come to see the glorious architecture. One important thing you must remember you cannot wear sleeveless and shorts when you go to visit it. Your entry will be forbidden.

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The palace is huge and beautiful corridors add to the beauty of it.

Opening hours: 8 am to 3.30 pm

Top tips before visiting Bangkok:

  • Look for the best commuting options BTS Sky train is great
  • Bargain with Tuk Tuk as sometimes they quote double the price
  • If you plan to shop a lot try and stay near the shopping area, will help you save money of commuting
  • Take care of your wallets at crowded places
  • Carry water bottle every where
  • Always ask what your are eating or drinking
  • Go Go bars are never free
  • Always book a spa in advance
  • Check the place and distance before you go anywhere
  • Dress conservatively for temples and palace as they don’t allow entry in shorts even for men
  • There is an entry fee to all famous tourist shops makes sure you carry enough cash

Phuket an ultimate place to chill out

Phuket is an assortment of tons of great activities, if you check on net things to do in Phuket, you will find hundreds of pages and activities. It’s not only about what the place offers but also what you are looking for from the holiday. I am putting down my list as for me Phuket was about chilling, eating, seeing around and shopping.

Things to do in Phuket

Patong beach

IMG_1102.JPGPatong beach is a beautiful place to relax and watch sunset. This beach was walking distance from our resort and extremely clean. There are several beach side cafes where you can sit, relax and enjoy the view.IMG_1088

Bangla road to see the nightlife

Its the most happening street in Phuket with lot of pubs and go go bars, you will find it very crowded. People displaying various activities on this street, guys and girls inviting you too their clubs.

You can see tourists from all over the world at this street. There are many choices you can enjoy watching girls dancing or you can choose to go in club where you can dance yourself. If you just want to sit and sip a drink and watch the crowd few places offer an outside arrangement as well.

This street is full of options you can choose to go, from Starbucks to Russian strip clubs to pole dancing cafes or normal pubs. It’s a must go place if you like to enjoy night life.

Thai Boxing match

This is another unique attraction if you enjoy boxing matches, you should book to watch a boxing match. It’s a good experience.

A day trip to Phi Phi islands

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Phi Phi islands is a good day trip option from Phuket. I have one full blog about what you can do at Phi Phi islands. You can also club Bamboo island or Raya island with your trip to Phi Phi, both are good for relaxing on the beach.

Bamboo Island

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Raya Island

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Don’t forget to take your towels and sheets other wise have to rent it.

A day trip to Phang na Bay and James Bond island

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This island is different than others as it offers canoeing, great beaches and spectacular views. This was my favourite day trip and you can read in details about Phang na Bay in my previous post.

Phuket weekend market called Naka Market

There are tons of shopping options in Thailand. Bangkok is the most famous but there are options everywhere. We hired a scooter and drove to see the old town in Phuket, did not find it much interesting but Naka Market was amazing.

Incredible food, juices and shopping options. I did loads of shopping from this place, you will not realize number of hours you spend here. The stuff is good quality, people do bargain and a great place to be.

Restaurants in Phuket

Thailand is a hub for all types of cuisines, all of it was brilliant. The best vegetarian restaurants which I loved were Tantra and Baluchi. These restaurants did not make me miss home as the food was delicious.

Spa and massage in Phuket

Phuket trip is incomplete if you don’t try the massages here. You will feel there are more massage centers than tourists. They are really cheap and do good massages. One quick check you can do is just keep a tab on time when it starts because some local shops will say one hour but they will finish in 45 mins. Never go for pedicure here because they just shape your nails and put nail paint which was worst pedicure I ever had.

There are amazing spas in Phuket, one of which I really like was Let’s relax spa in Patong. The massage was heavenly and very relaxing. I will recommend a Thai massage, Deep Tissue and Foot massage. These three are the must have if you go to Thailand.

 

 

 

Phang na Bay and James Bond island

The best day trip of Thailand tour! After Phi Phi islands for another day we booked this tour and it was an experience worth cherishing. There are many islands near Phuket you will find it extremely difficult to choose the tour. All are beautiful to relax, snorkel, see great marine life but this one is completely different.

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Phang na Bay has several islands but the major difference is the spectacular canoeing experience you will get in the caves . Let me take you through a virtual tour of our itinerary.

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We selected a big boat to go to Phang na Bay as that is the most convenient and relaxing option. The way you enjoy watching the sea in big boat is not comparable to speed boat.

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 Limestone cliffs and bat caves at Phang na Bay

Phang na Bay has these big limestone cliffs and caves which you can witness through canoeing. A kayak guide will take you from your big boat to the caves in the kayak.

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The experience is quite adventurous in itself the caves are dark and you have to lie down in the kayak and view these amazing caves. There will be places where you will see the cave so close that you might feel your nose is going to touch it.

Another great thing which we saw were bat caves and so many bats in it. Viewing an original bat cave looked so unreal but I am glad I witnessed it.

This place was by far the best, while coming out we got a chance to see a live Jelly fish in the sea. I think I was lucky to witness so much. Check out this video to see the Jelly fish.

Hong Islands canoeing

The second spot for canoeing was Hong Islands beautiful view coming out from the caves. There are lagoons on this island which can be seen only in low tide, unfortunately we were not able to see it because of unfavourable tide conditions.

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Breakfast and lunch were served in the boat as our tour had lot to show us. Check out the video of canoeing at Hong Islands.

James Bond Island

This island got its name from the famous James Bond movie “The Man with the golden gun” which was shot here. The island has a nice beach and a great view.

My sister and her husband at the James bond island…

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It an amazing photo spot, you can see so many people taking pictures at various places. Here are some of my favourite pictures from the trip.

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Signature pose at this place…

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Caves at the James Bond Island…

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Don’t go inside the caves a lot for pictures, as there are snakes at this place. We saw a green snake and there was lot of public commotion because of that.

An unknown island

This trip was full of surprises and enriching experience, the last spot on the tour was Lawa island to swim and relax. Our boat guys told us the tide conditions are not favourable so they are taking us to another island.

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This island was completely untouched, looked liked no humans came here before. Our boat was the only boat with around 25 people on the entire beach, the weather was becoming cloudy giving a serene feeling.

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I felt the joy of visiting a private beach, swimming relaxing it was great fun.

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While going back also witnessed the rain and eagles flying in the group to hunt. It was a cherry on the top to see after such a nice tour.

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Tips:

  • An extra pair of clothes
  • A water proof pouch for your phone
  • Sun glasses and sun tan lotion with high spf
  • Snacks to eat if your are fussy about the food

Phang na Bay is highly recommended on your visit to Thailand. If you love nature and have a sense of adventure this place is great for both.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Get sun kissed at Phi Phi island

Where the water is as blue as sky, sand as soft as petals of rose and sun shines likes the only star in the galaxy that is the place called Phi Phi islands. Surrounded by beautiful trees and gorgeous marine life this island is a must watch attraction on your visit to Thailand.

How to book a tour to Phi Phi islands?

We did not book it online, because there were too many options and it was confusing, we decided to go random. After reaching Phuket we realized that we did the right thing. There are so many tour booking companies to choose from and prices were lesser than online. You can discuss your requirements in person and customize a little bit.

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We booked a day tour for Phi Phi island via speedboat. I was very excited to go by speed boat. Usually the tour van picks you up at 8 in the morning and take you to the boat parking place where you can have your breakfast and coffee. There are lot of speed boats going to Phi Phi everyday.

You will arrive Phi Phi islands in around 40 mins, the first location was Maya Bay, its very popular because of the movie “The Beach” was shot here.

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You cannot wear your shoes on the beach that’s the reason beach is absolutely clean, the sand is as soft as powder. There is just one draw back of famous photo spots they are very crowded.

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I still enjoyed the crystal clear water, swam a bit, soaked in sun and clicked tons of pictures of this gorgeous location. Though finding a spot without people was a huge task, we managed few good shots.

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After Maya Bay we saw the viking cave and the lagoons, you cannot visit the viking cave inside as it is closed for bird conservation.

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The journey was spectacular with great views, finally after sightseeing we got a chance to snorkel at Phi Phi Don. The clear blue sky, corals and beautiful fishes inside, the day was as amazing as it could be.

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After the beautiful snorkeling experience we were tired and wanted to eat. I was really worried about the food as we ticked in the vegetarian section. To my surprise they made special vegetarian food for us in Thai style which was delicious.

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The boat stopped at a beach facing open restaurant, where our boat was the only boat. Loved the serenity of the place. The view was mesmerizing.

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Our trip to Phi Phi islands was full of breathtaking views and wonderful memories.

Few tips if you are planning a visit:

  • Take a high SPF cream as you are going to be super tan
  • Wear your best swimming costume because you will swim at most of the spots
  • Carry a waterproof pouch for your phone otherwise you might need to buy one paying extra money
  • We bought fins but never used them for snorkeling, so choose if you find it convenient with or without it and don’t worry there are no sea urchins
  • Carry your own towels as you are not going to get any
  • Keep some light snacks if you like to eat at regular intervals
  • You can carry one extra pair if you have space
  • If you want to see less crowd you can book a sunrise tour
  • Choose the tour company wisely to have the best experience

 

A day in Matheran: The no honking hill station

Matheran is the smallest hill station in India located in Raigad district of Maharashtra. Lush green trees surround it from all sides making it so exotic that every few kilometers, there is valley view point marked for tourists. Matheran is an Eco-sensitive zone and there are no vehicles allowed here. People travel on their feet and horses here. There is absolute serenity and you feel so close to nature.

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Matheran is a place for people who enjoy scenic landscapes and wish to relax in peace. If you are looking for party destinations Matheran is simply not the place for you.

We reached Mumbai, then took a local train to Neral, closest station to Matheran, usually a toy train runs from Neral to Matheran. The toy train is a must try attraction as you can enjoy the spectacular views on the way.

Unfortunately when we reached there, toy train was not running, we took a taxi to reach this place. We reached around 6.30 am in morning, so there were no horses available to take us to the main area where our hotel was located. The main market was a 4 km walk, please pack light because you have to be ready to walk at this place.

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The morning walk was very enjoyable, weather was amazing, finally we finished our walk and reached our hotel. The air was so fresh, I was already feeling rejuvenated.

You can enjoy the local delicacies in small restaurants located across the street, they serve amazing food even though they don’t have great ambience.

At 4 pm we hired a guide to show around the place, we used a horse to commute because the roads were muddy and rugged and morning walk was already tiring. I got a beautiful white horse to ride, it was fun and we saw some really picturesque photo points.

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All the points are located in a small stretch it’s just a different angle. No matter what name they call the point, all the spots were very scenic.

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The chill breeze was worth enjoying, had a great time. After the sightseeing we returned to the market again, there are many small shops you can visit. We tried the Kokam sharbat which was delicious. Market has lot of small carts which serve maggi and some snacks which are best to eat.

The resort was equally beautiful we had a nice dinner, the environment was so serene. Matheran is a perfect place to relax away from city noise and traffic.

It was a beautiful day among simple people, if you are looking for spending a day in lap of countryside Matheran is your destination.

Gangtok a perfect destination to find solace

Gangtok the capital city of Sikkim is known for its naturally beautiful treasures. Its like opening the box and enjoying every treasure you explore. Ever since I studied in my geography class that highest mountain peak in India is Kanchenjunga, I always wondered how magnificent it will look. It was one of the biggest reasons to plan a trip to Sikkim. Tranquility blended with exotic views makes Gangtok an immensely suitable destination for an amazing holiday.

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We hired a car from NJP (New Jalpaiguri) station which took us to Gangtok, the route was spectacular and Teesta river flowing through this state makes it even more appealing.

Compelling reasons to visit Gangtok

  • Beautiful waterfalls

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  • Awesome Mountains

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  • Pollution free environment

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  • Unmatched cleanliness

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  • Mesmerizing flowers

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  • Historic places

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  • Amazing people

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I think I have given enough reasons why it’s a place to find perfect solace, let’s see what we can do here.

Things to do in Gangtok

River rafting in Teesta

Teesta river has a sacred importance for people of Sikkim and it is also a famous spot for river rafting activity. The water is very cold and you can do rafting for a stretch of 11 km from Makha to Sirwani. Rapids are huge fun the rafting experience here is different, while rafting  you can also view fusion of two rivers. The location is picturesque and the rafters will offer a photographer, who will do the clicking for you while your enjoy rafting activity.

It will cost you close to 1000 INR per person for rafting, the cost differs from the place you book.

Flower exhibition

Gangtok has a flower exhibition at white hall, where there is a huge variety of different types of colourful flowers and flora.

Gangtok view from rope way cable ride

Rope way cable ride is a famous tourist attraction as you can see the entire city and a close look to the Kanchenjunga peak. Its a 1 km long cable starting from Deorali to Tashling lasting for about 7 minutes. The aerial view of city is amazing and looks like Kanchenjunga is calling you.

The ticket costs about 110 INR per person.

Historic Monasteries

Monasteries are pilgrims for Buddhists, Gangtok has splendid monasteries which are thousands of years old. The architecture is incredible, several lamas are been trained here. Monks and lamas are pretty shy people and they did not talk much but they were nice enough to allow us click some pictures. The atmosphere is serene giving these monasteries a divine touch. Most popular ones to visit are:

  • Rumtek Monastery
  • Tsuk La Khang Monastery
  • Lingdum Monastery
  • Pemayangtse Monastery

MG Marg

MG Marg which is named after Mahatma Gandhi is the busiest street in Gangtok, you have several options to shop and eat. You can get amazing shoes here, I got two pairs which everyone asked me about. It is clean and colourful because of the beautiful flowers planted near the benches. There are some really good souvenir shops, the entire market is worth a visit. Even if you are not fond of shopping you can visit this place to enjoy the Sikkimese delicacies.

A day tour to Nathula pass and Tsongmo lake

This tour is my personal favourite, Tsongmo lake or Changu lake is located at 12300 ft. It takes 1.5 to 2 hrs to reach this place from Gangtok. This was the first spot of the tour, I was spellbound by the surrounding and view of this beautiful lake. You’ll find a lot of people do Yak safari and even if you want to click a picture with them you’ll have to pay.

Next spot was Nathula Pass which is located at 14000 ft and serves as a India-China border, you can see soldiers from both the armies. This was my first time to see a border where at one step is one country and on the next step is another. It was fascinating to see how man has created boundaries so strong to build nations. I applaud all soldiers serving their country at such harsh conditions.

Last spot was Baba Mandir, this place is known as a wish fulfilling  temple, people specially come to here to pray and stay for a long time with a list of wishes.

You require permit to visit all these places, so make sure you get them before your visit.

Tashi view point

This point is known for its exotic views , usually tourists arrive at this place in evening to enjoy the mesmerizing sunset. Along with sunset you can also see how the sky changes its colours enhancing the beauty of the glorious mountains. If you are an early riser you can also enjoy sunrise at the same spot.

My trip to Gangtok was great fun and an experience of lifetime. You can also visit Gurudongmar Lake near Lachen and Yumthang valley near Lachung to enrich your experience of visit to Sikkim.

 

 

 

Yumthang valley of flowers covered in snow

Yumthang valley is popularly known as valley of flowers and is one of the most picturesque location in North Sikkim. This place is a renowned tourist location because of its scenic beauty apart from the flowers which are like cherry on the top. Yumthang valley was on my bucket list of my North Sikkim tour and was totally worth it.

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Yumthang valley is located at a height of  11800 ft. and a 6 hour drive from Gangtok. We already took our way to see Gurudongmar lake and in return stayed at Lachung which is 2 hours from Lachen. We took a night halt in Lachung. Yamthung valley is 1.5 hour drive from Lachung.

We started early morning and I was thinking maybe, I could see some flowers as we didn’t go in the best season for flowers.Our driver told us it snowed last night.

I was really excited to see the snow covered valley and believe me I was delighted to reach there.

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I was worried though how we were going in the snow without proper outfits and boots. As we reached near the parking there were many small shops to rent these things at a very nominal price. It was such a relief. During my entire Sikkim trip I admired the honesty and hospitality of the locals.

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The valley was fully covered in snow and the place looked beautiful. Some of my favourite pictures…

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Playing in the snow was absolute fun, valley was gorgeous but what next, I was hungry. We returned to the parking and had breakfast at the same place where we rented the boots, gloves and jacket.

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Best part is you get to eat with locals not in the fancy restaurants. Everything is very affordable and special thanks to Maggie, it is like the staple food here.

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Seeing so much beauty and satisfaction around makes me think life can exist in the most beautiful forms even at extremes.

We skipped the Zero point tour as we already saw the snow in the valley, but if you go and see the flowers and wish to see snow as well then you can definitely go to zero point.

Best season to go if you wish to see flowers is February to June and to see the snow covered valley is September to December.

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Gurudongmar Lake a glimpse of paradise

Beauty upholds itself hiding in the serenity dwelling between the laps of mountains, kissed by the blowing wind, shinning like a mirror gazing at you is the Gurudongmar Lake. This lake is situated at an altitude of 17100 ft. in North Sikkim second highest in India and in top 17 highest lakes of the world.

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It is popularly known for its immaculate religious importance and a belief in lot of people, that the water has healing powers. Near the lake you will see a place called “Sarva Dharma Sthal” it means a place for worshipers of all religion. I loved the name, as I truly believe religion should always bring us closer to God and not divide us through boundaries.

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Before you start the journey there are important pre requisites for a hassle free journey:

  • Permit needed to visit this lake as it is close to Indo Tibetan border
  • Bring your identity proof
  • Carry glasses with Polaroid and UV protection lenses to withstand heavy sun rays
  • Take some light food and water as journey is quite long
  • Sunscreen with high SPF
  • Medicines for nausea or any other frequent illness you have

Now that you have everything ready, let’s get started.

Most important of all cover as much as you can yourself, its really cold out there.

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How to reach Gurudongmar Lake?

At this height humans can’t possibly survive for long, so the residence nearest to this place is Thangu village which is located at 14000 ft. but this is again a very small village to take a stay.

It takes close to 9 hours to reach this place from Gangtok, which would make the journey tiresome, the best staying option is Lachen a town located at 10000 feet, you can reach the lake in 4 hours from here.

We took a night halt in Lachen and started early around 4.30 in the morning for Gurudongmar Lake. You can sleep in the car for some time but don’t sleep for long otherwise you will miss the most spectacular views of this adventurous journey.

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We stopped at Thangu for breakfast, please use the washroom otherwise you won’t get any till you reach and come back. You get Maggi and coffee in breakfast and have to pay for using washrooms. I was amazed to see people put locks to their washrooms as they are located outside of their house.

Locals are really welcoming and nice people, haven’t seen such hospitality anywhere. I was astounded by seeing so much of contentment with so less. In a one room house the entire family stays happily.

The day we visited there was slight snow on the roads that morning resulting in a jam. Our car got stuck, drivers were helping each other, our driver also tried a lot of times but the tyre was stuck in snow. That moment, I was wondering will I be able to make it, I didn’t want to go back empty handed.

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Kudos to our driver he managed to get the car out and we made it but lot of others were still stuck, we reached our final passing, which was the highest military base camp. Salute to all soldiers who are protecting the country and staying at such extreme locations.

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As we passed the gate, I was flabbergasted by the view, saw landmines for the first time in my life and finally reached to this dazzling Gurudongmar Lake which was partially frozen at that time and sparkling like a mirror.

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It is not recommended to stay here for more than an hour as oxygen is scarce and you might feel dizzy after sometime.

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Wind blows so high and loud shows you the power of the nature, you feel so tiny standing in front of these huge snow covered mountains. I was spellbound by the charismatic lake and enjoyed the silence, the view is still in my eyes and one of the best experience ever.

I returned with this awesome memory which I will cherish for life. The adventure was not over yet, the roads are really tough to drive and for miles you will not see humans. Always check with your driver that he has a spare tyre you might need one in the journey as we did.

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Just look at the poor tyre but thanks to God our driver was our lifeline, he fixed it quickly and we came back enjoying the beautiful way.

Several waterfalls and greenery adds to the beauty of the journey.

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Best season to go

As you read there could be odds like snow or storm it better to go in a favourable season well, November to June is the best time to go.

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