Q. Will a trip to Nathu-La be possible in December or the routes get closed due to snow?
A. A trip to Nathu-La is possible in December, the routes are open. However, as the Sikkim Government Website informs us “Nathula is open only for Indian nationals on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays. The visitors have to get the permit to visit the place by applying to the Tourism Department through a registered Travel Agency.” For the Indian nationals, the trip is possible. On my visit (December 30, 2006) there was no need to wear snow boots in the area.
Q. Can foreigners visit Nathu-La, the India China border?
A. If you look at the Sikkim governemnt website link above, it says as of now Nathu-La is open only to Indian nationals on specific days (look under the Nathu-La section).
Q. Will the Tsomgo lake (also known as Changu Lake) be frozen in December?
A. Tsomgo/Changu Lake is on the way to Nathu-La and the tourist jeeps make a stop here for lunch (even otherwise). On my trip (December 30, 2006) it was not frozen. However, a friend who visited Sikkim in February said it was frozen then. I had my lunch here on my way back from Nathu-La, and I found it really cold but bearable. Also, while going we made a brief stop and the weather was clear. On the way back, a thick fog had developed and I could not take anymore pictures of the lake due to the fog.
Q. Can foreigners visit Tsomgo/Changu Lake in Sikkim?
A. Again, quoting from the Sikkim government website, “Foreign visitors have to be in a group of two or more and have to apply for the visitors permit through a registered travel agency.” (look under the Tsomgo Lake section).
Q. Do I need to book al the tours before reaching Sikkim in December?
A. That depends on your comfort level. We did not pre-book hotels, or tours for Yumthang and Nathu-La (December 2006) and had no problem with anything. But we are backpackers. So, if you do not want to pre-book from your city, it is OK. We asked for a trip to Yumthang for next day and we had no problem in getting the permit.
Nathu-La is op
en only on specific days,so the trip requires a little bit of extra planning. For example I booked my 30th December tour to Nathu-La on 27th December and got the permit.
If you have any other question for going to Sikkim in December, please leave a comment. I would try to answer it as soon as possible.
Also, the information above should be treated with caution, as the guidelines and rules of the Indian government could change.
The weather is a fickle thing and what is true in 2006 may not remain the same in other years. Also, what is reasonably cold for one person may not be so for another. I have tried to give you my impressions an hope that it may help you for planning a trip to Sikkim in December.