Sandakphu and Phalut Trek on Singalila Ridge:

The Sandakphu and Phalut trek, or the shorter Sandakphu trek, is a must to do trek for people looking to explore Darjeeling or Sikkim hills with breathtaking panoramas of Himalayan peaks. Our given itinerary follows the Singalila Ridge from South to North. For this reason, this trek is also called the “Singalila Ridge Trek”.

Sandakphu Phalut Trek: A trekker’s delight
On the way from Sandakphu to Phalut
@ Tonglu
Sandakphu Phalut Trek: Also called Singalila Ridge Trek

About our trail:

Our trail reaches its highest point, Sandakphu, at ~ 3636 m/11926 ft. This is the highest point in West Bengal, in the district of Darjeeling. Phalut is another tabletop on the same ridge that is further north of Sandakphu, almost at the same height of ~ 3620 m. Due to its northerly position, i.e., its proximity to the high mountains, Phalut offers somewhat closer mountain views of the Sikkim and Nepal Himalayas.

One of the finest ridge trek in the Himalayas – Mesmerising sunrise and sunset views

As already said, the trail follows the famous Singalila Ridge, a prominent spur that runs southward from the Kanchenjunga massif. This ridge is the border between India and Nepal in the Eastern Himalayas. The east side of the ridge is India, and Nepal is on the west side. Although not as interior as some of the Sikkim treks that we arrange, this trail is still among one of the most scenically rewarding in the Indian Himalayas.

Below is a satellite map image showing an aerial view of the Singalila Ridge. You can easily see how open the vista is when you are walking along the ridge.

An aerial view of Singalila Ridge walk
Trail following the Singalila Ridge

You will get spectacular panoramic views of Nepal Himalayas including Kanchendzongha range, Makalu, Everest, Lhotse, Janu, Chamlang, Baruntse and a host of Sikkim peaks all seen in one stretch. You may absorb the serene “Sleeping Buddha” formation from multiple vantage points following our trail.

Trekking inside the Singalila National Park – the forests of Eastern Himalayas:

The Singalila National park area has rare species like Red Panda and is a birder’s paradise. Flowering of Rhododendrons and Magnolia turn the forest with red, pink and white shades during spring and foliage hue during autumn-fall.

Evergreen forest walk
A stream on our way

Tea House trek, villages and local culture:

Gorkhey village

Suggested Sandakphu & Phalut trek Itinerary 2023:

Our route follows the Singalila Ridge, which is the border of India and Nepal. Due to stay restrictions, non-Indians, i.e., foreigners, can’t stay in Nepal homestays or tea houses anymore like the Indians do. So the Indians and foreigners will have different itineraries.

Day 1: Drive from NJP railway station or Bagdogra airport to Chitrey  (~ 2200 m, 7200 ft) – 90 Km – 4 to 5 hours. Shared homestay accommodation. Foreigners can’t stay here, but 3 Km down at Maneybhanjung (~ 1980 m/6500 ft).
Day 2: Trek to Tumling (~ 2900 m/9500 ft) – 9 Km via Meghma;– 5 to 6 hours. (Foreigners need to stay inside West Bengal, India at Tonglu GTA Trekkers Hut, shared dormitories ~ 3050 m/10000 ft.)
Day 3: Trek down to Gairibas (~ 2570 m/8430 ft) and up to Kalapokhri (~ 3100 m/10200 ft) – 12 Km – 6 to 7 hours. As there is no accommodation in this area inside India, foreigners need to trek directly to Sandakphu (6 Km further ahead) or else stay back at Gairibas GTA Trekkers Hut.
Day 4: Trek to Sandakphu (~ 3636 m/11930 ft) – 6 Km – 3 to 4 hours. Stay in a lodge/hotel/trekkers hut, etc. (For foreigners accommodation is at Sandakphu GTA Trekkers Hut)
Day 5: Sandakphu to Phalut – 21 Km – 8 to 9 hours at a moderate pace. Accommodation at GTA Trekkers Hut (shared dormitories) for ALL.
Day 6: Wake up early and hike (~ 15/20 mins) to Phalut Top  for the sunrise views. – After breakfast, trek down to Gorkhey – 15 Km – 4 to 5 hours. Lodge or a homestay accommodation.
Day 7: Trek to Srikhola bridge via Ramam – 12 Km – 5 hours; Drive to NJP or Bagdogra – 150 km – 6 hours or transfer to Darjeeling – 90 Km – 4 hours, etc.

Important notes regarding the itinerary:

Altitude and distance profile graph for Sandakphu Phalut trek:


Infograhics on Singalila Ridge trek:

From the below image you will get a general idea about the Singalila Ridge trek in Darjeeling that includes different variants and possibilities.  Note that foreigners/non Indians must stay within India.

Sandakphu – Phalut trek through infographics (Click on the image to load a larger high res image)

Foreigners, i.e., non-Indians, must walk and nightstay on the Indian side of Singalila Ridge:

This is a teahouse-style trek that follows the famous Singalila Ridge, forming the border between Darjeeling (West Bengal) in India and Nepal. As a matter of fact, you can get better facilities and services in terms of accommodation, food, comfort, etc. on the Nepal side (homestay, lodge, and hotel).

Whereas on the Indian side, the area falls inside Singalila National Park and is a restricted area. Only basic government-made trekker huts are there along the trek route for accommodation at night. You will have more options for homestays and lodges once you are outside the core area.

Starting in December 2021, Indian authorities are not allowing foreigners/non Indian passport holders to stay in Nepal while walking on the Singalila Ridge. So for foreign nationals, the accommodation options are GTA-operated government huts within Singalila National Park. This is enforced on the spot by the Indian paramilitary personnel stationed at various checkpoints along the trail on the India-Nepal border.

You can’t stay inside Nepal, even if you have a Nepal visa. This is due to the fact that there are no “passport control” offices between India and Nepal along the trail.

So it is mandatory for foreigners to stay inside India and make a night halt at the GTA/Govt. Trekkers Hut while trekking inside Singalila National Park.

On the other hand, for Indian citizens, we arrange stays in Nepal teahouses, wherever possible, and their itinerary will be different than that of foreigners.

What are the accommodations during Sandakphu Phalut trek:

This is a “Tea House” trek, i.e we don’t camp inside Singalila National Park but stay in Homestay/Lodge available on the trail. As you should expect on a mountain trail, these are basic accommodation run by the local Nepali/Tibetan families. Rooms are dormitory bed type with triple/quad sharing or more. Beds and blankets are neat and clean. Don’t expect an attached toilet or running hot water anywhere.

Do we camp and stay in a tent?

No we don’t. As a matter of fact, none is supposed to camp within the boundary of Singalila National park. This trail inside national park is designed for years to run a Tea House mode trek, same as its neighbouring Nepal treks. If you prefer a pristine full camping trek, we do have more legitimate options for you. These treks lie further north to Phalut on the Singalila ridge inside Sikkim and  offer closer views of Sleeping Buddha and high mountains of Nepal and Sikkim.  Our less crowded Phoktey Dara or Singalila Pass Phalut trek will surely entice you for great camping experiences.

Regarding GTA/Foreigners accommodation on 

Phalut has only one accommodation option. The Trekkers Hut is operated by GTA (Gorkha Territorial Administration), an govt. administrative body in the Darjeeling Hills. This can’t be booked online neither you can check availability unless you drop in to their office, either at Gorkha Bhavan, Saltlake Kolkata (near City Centre, Salt Lake) or Darjeeling, Silver Fir building office. More over it has a maximum capacity of 20 beds, and they keep few on hold for guides/porters/staff accompanying trekkers. There is NO private accommodation/lodge at Phalut or vicinity. Due to heavy demand mostly this is full in the season.

Is this trek suitable for the beginners?

Also we have noticed that beginners/first time trekkers are often finding it pretty difficult to cover the 21 Km trail from Sandakphu to Phalut. So considering both we either keep you at Phalut Trekkers Hut or at Sabarkum/Molley, a place 14 Km from Sandakphu on the way to Phalut. This is decided case to case as per each individual group. However the itinerary remains same and you reach Gorkhey via Phalut in case the accommodation is at Sabarkum/Molley.

Alternate shorter and easy Tour – Sandakphu trek:

Though the trail ahead of Sandakphu is Easy considering the terrain, but adding Phalut involves total 6 days of trek covering around 80 Km. Often it can be strenuous if not prepared well. Also beginners as well as experienced trekkers can find it exhausting to reach Phalut, 21 Km from Sandakphu in a day.

However we have started arranging a smaller version of this trail omitting Phalut from the itinerary. This is the shortened version of Singalila ridge trek and called Sandakphu Trek. The wonderful walk along the ridge is ideal for the beginners/first timers, who want to explore Darjeeling/Sikkim Himalayas. This essentially retains almost all the flavour that the Sandakphu and Phalut produces, certainly the not scenic walk to Phalut! However this is not a showstopper considering the trail is same (initial 3 days of trek) till Sandakphu. Sleeping Buddha, Famous trio (Everest Lhotse, Makalu), and numerous Sikkim and Nepal high Himalayan ranges can be observed.  The descent from Sandakphu to the beautiful village of Gurdum is similar in beauty that of  Phalut to Gorkhey trail. Finally the Sandakphu trek also ends at Srikhola same as the longer duration Phalut trail. Advantage of Sandakphu trek is this trail requires 4 days of trekking and can be done year long apart from the monsoon (June to September). The walk is not strenuous like Phalut and covers around 40 Km in 4 days which is indeed an Easy grade trek and can be completed comfortably by anyone who has got basic physical fitness and will to walk.

We strongly advice to check our “Sandakphu Trek” itinerary, who want a shorter and easier version of this trail without losing much.

A note on the motor route from Maneybhanjung to Sandakphu and Phalut and its impact:

Access to Sandakphu Phalut trek base (Chitrey or Maney Bhanjung):

We may arrange a pickup by a private vehicle from NJP railway station/Bagdogra airport/Siliguri city to our usual trek basecamp, Chitrey, if you require so. Similarly, we can arrange a drop from the trek’s end point Srikhola, to NJP/Siliguri.

You pay directly to the driver, sharing equally with your other team members; this is NOT included in the listed TREK FEE. The cost is as per the following by a Tata Sumo type of car:

NJP/Bagdogra/Siliguri to Chitrey: ₹ 4500 (plus ₹ 500 forest toll)
NJP/Bagdogra/Siliguri to Maneybhanjung: ₹ 4000
Darjeeling to Maneybhajung: ₹ 2000
Srikhola to NJP/Bagdogra/Siliguri: ₹ 7000
Srikhola to Darjeeling: ₹ 4500

Route map to reach basecamp from different places
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Why treks with HT?

Highest Point3636 m/11925 ft
Trail Length75 Km
Sandakphu phalut trek

Tour Reviews

5.00 based on 6 reviews
November 4, 2023

Himalayan Trekkers is a fantastic tour operator that I highly recommend. They had provided an experienced and knowledgeable guide who will take you on the adventure of a lifetime. The treks are well-organized and the food is delicious. I especially appreciated the company’s commitment to sustainability and ethical tourism.

In short, Himalayan Trekkers is a great choice for anyone looking for a safe, enjoyable, and sustainable trekking experience in Sandakphu – Phalut trek route.
Special mention: Dawa Drukpa is an awesome guide and Robin is an awesome porter, even better as people.
Thanks Himalayan Trekkers.

October 7, 2023

We booked a 7D6N trek to Sandakphu & Phalut, and a driver for the following days to take us to Sikkim. The communication in advance was clear and swift. We had a great guide (Amar) and driver. We can recommend booking your trek through Himalaya Trekkers, but be aware of the more than basic conditions in the GTA huts run by the government, which are mandatory accommodation for foreigners.

May 2, 2023

Overall great. Amazing that everyone showed up and knew how to get me from place to place. Lucky to have a clear day from Sandakphu to Phalut. Experienced a range of weather and topography, a full experience. Amar was professional and pleasant. Thanks for guiding me through the process.

April 9, 2023

We had the Sandakphu trek with them during our Lunar new year and it was great. We enjoyed the scenery and overall, just the food is different from ours so some members were not get used to and had to eat the food we brought from home.

November 28, 2016

My first trek was Sandakphu & Phalut with HT. Everything was mesmerizing. Thanks HT for giving a wonderful experience.

May 5, 2016

It was great time with HT. all arrangement was superb. Thank you

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