Lachen is the sister village of Lachung in North Sikkim and is the base for tours to Gurudongmar lake and Chopta valley. Situated at an altitude of 8838 ft, the small town is a good 6 to 8 hours drive from Gangtok (depending on road condition) along the North Sikkim highway.
Lachen stands on a grassy and bushy flat land separated by deep gorges of river Lachen-Chu from where rises the pine clad mountains with their snowy peaks and black cliffs. The village comprises of nearly 250 houses, earlier inhabited only in winters by the owners who spend the summers on the alpine pastures along the Tibet border tending to their herd of yaks.
Today most of Lachen is converted into hotels and resorts. Both sides of the single road passing through the town are dotted with hotels of different sizes and budget.
The town is 121 km from Gangtok through the North Sikkim Highway. The road from Gangtok travels through Phodong and Mangan before reaching Chungthang. Here the road bifurcates, the road on the right leading to Lachung and the one on the left going to Lachen about 26 km away. The road from Gangtok to Lachen is most of the time very rough. Be prepared for a rough ride.
What to See
Lachen is the base for tours to Gurudongmar Lake and Chopta valley. You will have to stay here one night before going to Gurudongmar day tour. The Gurudongmar lake is just 67 km from here. However, the travel takes about 4 hours as it entails steep climb of about 9000 feet and driving through high altitude unpaved mountain roads. You have to start very early as the weather around the lake starts deteriorating as the day progresses.
If you have some extra time in hand, we would recommend you visit the Lachen Monastery. The Ngodub Choling monastery overlooking the village is one of the oldest monasteries of Sikkim being constructed in 1858. The monastery follows Nyingma sect of Tibetan Buddhism. There is a large ground in front of the monastery which offers a panoramic view of Lachen village and surrounding hills.
The Handicraft center in the main market area is also a common tourist attraction; you may find local girls weaving carpets from yak wool at the center.
Where to Stay
Lachen offers a number of tourist accommodations. However, a hotel here cannot be booked directly. As per government rule, you can visit North Sikkim only by booking a complete tour package. However, you may check the hotels available here and ask our executive to provide you with a specific hotel in your tour package.
People and culture
The original inhabitants of the area are called Lachenpa. Since tourism in the area flourished, people from all over Sikkim as well as from other states have been staying here. There is a large military base in the neighborhood.