Sikkim monastery circuit trek in homestays:

The “Sikkim monastery homestay trek” is intended for travellers who wish to visit Sikkim and experience local culture and tradition while staying in simple homestay accommodation and eating as locals do.

The itinerary is designed so that you can get an idea of rural Sikkim and its existence. Most of these Nepalese and Tibetan ethnic people once settled in Sikkim, following Buddhism. It has profound influences on the local culture and traditions.

The circuit we follow is within west Sikkim. The tour selectively caters to places and monasteries that are not popular with tourists but are traditionally important to local people. This one-of-a-kind Sikkim homestay trek will undoubtedly satisfy travellers who want to witness and experience vibrant Sikkimese tradition in a simple and down-to-earth way.

Yuksom: First capital of Sikkim established in 1642 AD
A prayer wheel
Our route from Khecheopalri to Tashiding (click on the photo for a larger image)

Our Sikkim monastery trail homestay trek circuit starts from Khecheopalri village. A picturesque village that is located on a small hilltop beside the sacred lake from which the village gets its name.

Idyllic village and homestay at Khecheopalri
Monastery at Khecheopalri village

The boot-shaped lake derives its name from Kha-Chot-Palri (meaning the heaven of Padmasambhava/Guru Rinpoche). According to folklore, it is the thorax of the human body, with the other three being Yuksom (the third eye), Tashiding (head), and Pemayangtse (heart).

Khecheopalri lake from Tara cave (a day hike from Khecheopalri)

From Khecheopalri, we start our walk  and head to Yuksom, a quaint small town. Historically, this was the first capital of Sikkim, established almost 400 years ago. This is also the start and end point of the most popular trek in Sikkim, i.e. Goecha La Trek. This place has also has a lake, a coronation throne site and monastery to check.

Easy walk
Kathok Lake at Yuksom
Around Yuksom

On our walk amidst the forest, we will visit Dubdi monastery, the oldest monastery in Sikkim, and at the end, Tashiding, supposedly the holiest of all. Also, we will look at Yuksom, Hongri, and Sunon monasteries, certainly not the “big ones,” (e.g. Pemayangtse or Rumtek) but indeed serene and mostly untouched.

This walk from one homestay to another is through low-altitude evergreen forest, valleys, and villages. Hikes are of a half-day nature on an easy, well-defined trail, yet they are pretty charming. At the end of each day’s hike, you will settle into a homestay until you move out the next morning.

Dubdi monastery: Oldest one in Sikkim
Hike to Dubdi monastery
Walking inside pristine forest
Lovely walk during spring
Inside Hongri monastery
Lovely walk from one monastery to another
Sunon monastery
Tashiding Monastery is considered the holiest of all in Sikkim

 Suggested Itinerary: 

Day 1: Reach NJP/Bagdogra (latest by 10 am) and drive to Khecheopalri village via Jorethang and Pelling – 150 Km – 7 to 8 hours. Homestay accommodation. Foreigners may also arrive Khecheopalri from Darjeeling via the shorter Nayabazar Jorethang route now (as you can get your ILP/RAP at Ramam Checkpost, West Bengal – Sikkim border).
Day 2: Hike to Yuksom, approx 4 to 5 hours. In the afternoon visit Kathok Lake, Coronation site and the local monastery at Yuksom. Homestay.
Day 3: Today we continue to Dubdi monastery (oldest in Sikkim) then to Tsong vilalge to Hongri  –  5 Km – 4 hours. Accommodation in basic homestay.
Day 4: Trek to Chongrong vilalge – Sunon monastery and finally to Tashiding monastery (holiest in Sikkim) – 6 hours. Homestay.
Day 5 : Drive back to NJP or Bagdogra  – 130 Km – 7 to 8  hours – Or continue your tour inside Sikkim-Darjeeling.


  • You need to reach NJP/Bagdogra latest by 10 am on Day 1, if travelling directly to Khecheopalri. Similarly you will return to NJP or Bagdogra by 4 pm on Day 5. Arrange your tickets accordingly.
  • This itinerary is for those people who wish to leisurely walk half a day from one village to another and visit the monasteries on the trail. This is a no luxury, simple and authentic way to spend your holidays in traditional villages of Sikkim.
  • You may extend the tour, take additional side hikes to Tara Cave or Pa Hongri top or stay at Sunon and so on.

 TREK FEE: 21,500 (Khecheopalri to Tashiding) + 5% GST 

Important notes on tour:

  • Above TREK FEE is applicable for a minimum of 2 members and you can choose any date for your trip. If you are 4 people together, TREK FEE will be ₹ 18,500 + 5% GST per person. It is also possible to complete this trail solo with a guide. However, TREK FEE will be ₹ 30,000 + 5% GST for you in case you like to hike alone.
  • We can tweak the itinerary as you prefer, by adding more coverage around or we can shorten the days if you prefer to move in a faster pace.
  • TREK FEE includes homestay accommodation at Khecheopalri, Yuksom, Hongri, and Tashiding with all meals (B,L,D) .
  • Home-stay’s are basic and simple in nature, clean beds and toilets, no heating system inside rooms. Rooms are on twin sharing basis, attached bathroom, no geyser facility at Hongri and Chongrang.
  • An English speaking guide will accompany you, who will be a local and has understanding of the surrounding, both geographically and culturally/socially.
  • Organic food and local delicacies will be served. Normally home grown or locally produced vegetables are used.
  • Transportation or personal porters are not included.
  • For detailed inclusions and exclusions check the COST INCLUSIONS tab.

 Seasons for Sikkim monastery trail trek: 

You can walk on this trail throughout the year. It is better to avoid this circuit from the month of June to September during monsoon. However there is no restrictions as such for the permits.

Mid February to mid April is Rhododendron blooming season on this trail around ~ 2000 m. November to January remains dry along with clear skies.

 Why Sikkim monastery circuit Homestay trek?

If you are keen on local culture and tradition this is perhaps one of the most authentic ways to pay a visit to Sikkim. We deliberately omitted popular places like Gangtok Namchi, Ravangla or Pelling in the itinerary. This is particularly suitable for you who will be travelling Sikkim for a longer duration and adding this unique trail in your Sikkim visit or who like to get a feel of core Sikkim.

Apart from witnessing traditional villages and culture you will get ample chance to document, as you wish, be it through your lenses, in writing, sketches and so on.

Sikkim homestay trek: An authentic way to visit Sikkim
Smiling kids are common in the villages
Getting in some details of Buddhism in Sikkim
Simplest Hongri homestay
Tradition dish served in a homestay (P.C. – Sripradha Krishnan)
Simple and organic local dishes

 Buddhism in Sikkim: Roots & Route 

Buddhism is a subtle and perceptive philosophy that teaches a way of life that is based on human qualities of kindness, generosity and morality. Over the centuries many schools of Buddhist thought began with great teachers and monks and among them the three most important schools are – Theravada, Mahayana and Vajrayana.

In Sikkim, where Buddhism only arrived in the seventeenth century, from Tibet, all the monasteries belong to Vajrayana School, or the Thunderbolt Vehicle. At times called the Diamond vehicle, Vajrayana Buddhism is also practised in Ladakh and Bhutan. Vajrayana Buddhism initially absorbed the cult of ancestral gods and local deities which eventually became central to the performance of rituals that are currently held by both village lamas and shamans.

Prayers are a crucial part in a Lama’s life
Young monks learning rituals

Buddhism being introduced in Sikkim by Lhatsun Chenpo, who was a resident of Kongbo in the lower valley of the Tsangpo. His name means “the great revered god” with reference to his alleged power of flight. The oldest monastery founded by Lhatsun Chenpo is Dubdi at Yuksom, which was constructed soon after the consecration of Phuntsog Namgyal. Soon afterwards, another shrine seemed to have been erected at Tashiding. Waddell, in his book “Lamaism in Sikkim” (Oriental Publishers, Delhi, 1973, p. 18), has recorded the miraculous appearance of Lhatsun Chenpo in Sikkim and his meeting with two other lamas. These three lamas held a council and sent two messengers to the east in search of Phuntshog, as prophesied by Guru Rimpoche, or Guru Padmasambhava, as he was known in India. Subsequent to Lhatsun Chanpo’s death at the latter end of the seventeenth century, Buddhism steadily progressed in Sikkim.

 Reaching NJP Bagdogra and to tour starting point Khecheopalri, West Sikkim: 

We may arrange a pickup  from NJP/Bagdogra/Siliguri to Khecheopalri and drop to NJP or Bagdogra. A private pick up vehicle like Tata Sumo/Mahindra Maxx Jeep (accommodates 5/6 persons) charges ₹ 7000 for pick up from NJP/Bagdogra to Khecheopalri or from Tashiding to NJP to Bagdogra, one way. One such car can accommodate up to 5-6 people. This cost is NOT included in the TREK FEE and you pay directly to the driver.

To reach the trek base Khecheopalri the access is from NJP/Siliguri/Bagdogra. For details on how to reach nearest railways station/airport and move to trek base independently/public transportation check the details in GETTING THERE TAB.

 Permit requirements to enter Sikkim and trek (Indians & Foreigners): 

For Indian Nationals: No need of any special permits. Carry an original Photo ID card with address proof on it (Aadhar/Driving Licence/Voter ID/Passport but NOT Pan card) & 2 photocopies of the same.

For Foreign Nationals and OCIs:

All foreigners (with relaxation to Bhutanese citizens) will require Inner Line Permit (ILP) which is also called as Restricted Area Permit (RAP) to enter the boundary of Sikkim. This is issued free of cost at Sikkim check posts while you enter Sikkim by road.

This takes 15/20 minutes with the strength of your passport and valid Indian visa and 2 copies of your recent passport size photos. An Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) has to go through the same process as of a foreign national. Foreigners don’t require any special permit, e.g. PAP/Protected Area Permit for this trail.

  • You can obtain ILP/RAP on spot at Melli (from NJP/Bagdogra), Rangpo (if travelling from Gangtok side) and Ramam Check post (if you are travelling from Darjeeling) and at Bagdogra airport.
  • Nationals Pakistan, Myanmar, Nigeria and China can only apply for ILP or RAP through Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, New Delhi.
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Why treks with HT?

Highest Point2140 m/7020 ft
Trail Length20 Km

Tour Reviews

5.00 based on 4 reviews
December 19, 2023

I was fortunate to locate the Sikkim Monastery Trail when researching how to spend a week in West Sikkim. Himalayas Trekkers were terrific to deal with – going above and beyond the basics to facilitate this hiking trip for me as a solo traveller and at short notice. The trip was personalised as I wanted to spend 7 rather than 5 days and Sapta even provided urgent late night help with train ticket logistics for travel after the hiking.
Once I arrived on the ground in Pelling I met with local guide Bhaichung and instantly I realised that this was going to be a wonderful week. The pitch and atmosphere of the journey was exactly what I was looking for and my week in the hills of western Sikkim will remain in my heart forever.

March 11, 2023

We had the most wonderful time on our 5-day homestay trek through West Sikkim! Everything was perfectly organized and our local guide was super helpful and knowledgeable. We met lovely people on our way, enjoyed the stunning nature, had amazing food and learned a lot about the spirit and soul of the kind-hearted Sikkimese people. Thanks you so much to everyone at HT for creating these wonderful memories!

January 20, 2023

I’m a bestselling travel writer (“Turn Right at Machu Picchu,” etc.), who needed to assemble a somewhat complicated tour to Sikkim that combined serious trekking with deep cultural reporting–and to set it all up in less than two weeks, from a 10 1/2 hour time difference. Sapta at Himalaya Trekkers asked all the right questions, tailored the trip to my exact needs (including visits to hidden places even his team had never gone before), assembled an A-plus group of guides, translators and support staff (cook, driver, porters, etc.) and brought the whole thing in at a very reasonable price. Two months later, I’m convinced of two things: Everyone should see Sikkim once in their lifetime, and they should hire Himalaya Trekkers to handle the job.

October 22, 2019

We had a wonderful trekking tour, “Monastery-Trek“ in Sikkim with Himalaya Trekkers. Our guide Rhik was the perfect guide, very polite and prudently, very helpful and an interesting guy with a lot of knowledge about Buddhism and Sikkim culture. Service and safety standard was also very good. We enjoyed the tour very much and would book with Himalaya trekkers again.

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