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Travel blog written by the Designs 4 Trips team, our customers and other travel enthusiasts. If you want to contribute to these Travelogues, please mail your own travel experiences to support@designs4trips.com with your name and email id.

  • The Mystery and Magic of Sikkim Unravelled

      The trip to Sikkim was a long awaited one and a long cherished dream come true. And there I was landing one fine morning towards the end of March, at the Bagdogra airport from Delhi with husband in tow.  We hired a cab from outside the airport and headed to Gangtok cutting through forests, long winding road up and down hills, Teesta river flowing alongside the road with people enjoying river rafting. The road climbing up the hill to reach Gangtok was lined by several resorts and hotels, the imposing gate and campus of the Sikkim Manipal University, several schools and multi-storeyed residences with beautiful Geraniums, Azaleas, Orchids and Lilies in different hues and shades in pots lining the balconies. After changing to a local cab at the main bus stand, finally we arrived at our hotel – the Welcome Heritage Denzong Regency located in the heart of the capital city on a hill overlooking several more misty mountains and amazing views of Mt. Kanchenjunga.  This is a boutique family owned resort. During our stay we had a chance to meet the owner, a charming gentleman belonging to one of the illustrious families of Sikkim. He makes it a point to chat with the guests and take their feedback.


      The city literally sleeps after sunset. The roads are deserted and the only activity one can see is on the famous M. G. Marg where there are shops selling souvenirs, daily needs stores, small hotels and lodges and several small restaurants serving everything from North Indian Naan and Paranthas to Chowmein. The next day was spent exploring the various tourist attractions within the city of Gangtok, which included the steep walk up to the Do Drul Chorten(Stupa) which is encircled by prayer wheels (we were told there were 108), the Namgyal Institute of Tibetology which is close by and has a large collection of books and rare manuscripts relating to Mahayana Buddhism and a short ride on the cable car to get a panoramic view of the city, the Enchey Monastery and the White Hall where you can view the permanent flower show comprising a large collection of Tulips and Orchids - the captivating sight of the flowers is a feast to your eyes. We made a customary stop at Tashi View Point, Hanuman Tok and Ganesh Tok. We were done for the day and decided to charge our batteries for the trip to Nathula Pass the next morning. We had already given copies of our ID proofs and photographs to the travel desk of the hotel for the required permits.


      The next morning we set out in an SUV to the Indo China border at Nathula Pass which is approximately 55 kms from Gangtok and at a height of 14,450 feet above sea level. The weather Gods were on our side and so with clear skies and no landslides, we had a smooth trip to Nathula Pass arriving there by noon. Nathula means the Whistling Pass. We made our way up the steps that lead  to the spot where flag meetings are held between the Indian Army and the Red Army. Standing next to the fence on the Indian side and taking pictures with the Red Army building behind us was a rare moment that will remain etched in our memory. On our return trip we stopped by like all other tourists at the Baba Temple built in memory of Harbhajan Singh, a sepoy of the Punjab Regiment of the Indian Army who went missing while patrolling the border. It is almost a pilgrimage centre now with people leaving bottles of water in the hope of fulfilling their wishes or to heal ailments. This memorable day had another beautiful experience awaiting us at the Tsomgo Lake, also referred to as the Changu Lake, a sacred lake, at an altitude of 12400 ft. This lake is frozen during winters. Do try the Thukpa, which is a popular meal of soup and noodles combined and a ride on the Yak at the local market near the lake.

      The next day was set aside for relaxing at the hotel and a visit to Rumtek Monastery, a must see on a visit to Gangtok, situated around 25 kms from Gangtok on another hill facing the capital city with its imposing and ornate buildings. We came across scores of playful young boys being trained to be monks.


      Instead of returning to Delhi the next day, we decided to stay on and explore North Sikkim after we heard about pristine natural beauty of the area.  A visit to North Sikkim and back to Gangtok would ideally require 3 days. There are two major destinations or attractions in North Sikkim – the frozen Gurdongmar Lake and Yumtang Valley. We passed through narrow winding roads, dangerously narrow and treacherous at many places, passing through jungles and crossing many hills and stopping to admire several waterfalls along the way, including the Seven Sister water falls. From the small town of Chungthang, the road forks in two different directions – one leads to Lachen which acts as a base camp of sorts for the journey further up to Gurdongmar at an altitude of 17800 ft, the other one leads to Lachung which is close to Yumthang Valley and Zero Point.  Our night halt was as Lachen. There are several homestays and small lodges which are fine for a night’s stay.

      Starting early in the morning by 4.30 am, as we moved up to higher altitudes on the route to Gurdongmar, we came across totally barren landscapes punctuated with frozen hills and boulders of all sizes and shapes and a couple of locals with herds of Yak. When we finally arrived at our destination, nothing we read or heard had prepared us for the out of the world experience that we encountered there at the lake. There was an eerie calm about the lake and it looked as if a beautifully painted canvas had come alive to greet us. Since the water had thawed a little at many places, the army men on guard advised the visitors against walking on the lake. We stopped by a narrow stream of crystal clear and pure water flowing from one side of the frozen lake, which we were told was the river Teesta that originates from the Cho Lamu Lake located farther away and just 5 kms from Tibet border. General entry to Civilians is not allowed to Cho Lamu lake.  Other than army check points and bunkers there is no human habitation anywhere in the region and we were told that China is just a stone’s throw away.  It is difficult to remain in this area for a long time since the air pressure is very low and breathing becomes strained and one tends to get very tired easily. The night stay was at the other village of Lachung, again at a homestay.

       Lachung was more populated and just 25 kms from the Yumthang, the Valley of Flowers. The drive to the Yumthang valley took us through picturesque valleys and vast expanses of Rhododendrons in all colours, red and purple being the most common. April and May are the best months to visit this place to see the Rhododendrons in full bloom. Yumthang valley is surrounded by hills with the Yumthang Chu river cutting across the landscape and a carpet of flowers spread before you. We decided not to go further to the Zero Point and made our way back to Gangtok which took around 5 and half hours through the same route. After staying overnight at Gangtok, we retraced our steps of driving to Bagdogra and from there the flight to Delhi. The beautiful pink Azalea plant that we picked up from one of the nurseries in Rumtek managed to survive the harsh Delhi summer and the flowers remind us our beautiful vacation in Sikkim.


      Nearest airport to reach Gangtok is Bagdogra which is served by daily flights from all major cities to by AirIndia and Jet Airways. 4 hours by road or by Helicopter (weather permitting) from Bagdogra

      Nearest rail link is at New Jalpaiguri in Siliguri and from there around 3 and half hours by road.


      Enjoy Sikkim in all its glory in April & May

  • We Are Going to Ibiza

      We are going to Ibiza, we are gonna have a party...”A lot of us have wondered where this magical party destination is while tapping our feet to this song by Vengaboyz many years ago.  Ibiza is an island off the port of Barcelona in Spain and can be reached by a short, less than an hour flight from Barcelona and Madrid and is also accessible by ferry from the port of Barcelona. Ibiza is the name of the island as well as the name of the capital city/town of the island, locally referred to as Eivissa.

      The island has an area of 572 sq km and has several islets surrounding it as well and boasts of more than 50 beaches and coves. A first time visitor to Ibiza will be at a loss to find the best location on the island for stay. The hotel booking websites and travel review sites would dish out a long list of hotels and things to do. But choosing the location for your stay is the most important factor that would make your holiday unforgettable. You have to make a choice between a variety of locations: (a) Budget accommodations available near Ibiza Old Town Dalt Vila (b) Hotels lining the Les Figurettes beach (c) hotels and beach resorts at Ses Salines and Playa d’en bossa close to the airport (d) hotels near the Port and Talamanca area and (e) San Antonio on the western part of the Island which is the centre of clubbing. Each of these locations has its own advantages and your choice would depend on your budget and your interests, of course.

      The Old Town of Ibiza, the Dalt Vila is steeped in history dating back to several centuries from the age of the Carthagenians, the Romans and the Arabs. The castle and the Placa de Cathedral stand tall as imposing structures on the hillock surrounded by the city walls facing the Port or Marina and welcomes visitors to Ibiza arriving by sea. The area near the port and the main entrance to Dalt Vila is lined by narrow streets full of Pizzerias, cafes and small restaurants. The main Tourist information centre is also located here. The views of the deep blue Aegian sea and of the town from the pathways along the city walls on the hill are spectacular. A walk along the narrow winding streets up and down the hill in the old Town transports you into a bygone era. This area is well preserved and you can’t help but draw similarities of the topography and architecture with those found on the islands of Greece in the Mediterranean.

      Talamanca and Les Figurettes are beaches popular among the locals and tourists alike with plenty of options for stay.  These beaches are lined with beach bars and restaurants in season and is a good choice if you want to splash around in the waters of the sea and enjoy the beach. Ses Salines and Playa d’en Bossa has the popular Hard Rock hotel and Ushuaia beach hotel famous for their beach parties and a plethora of nightclubs both open air and underground with the best DJs from around the world and frequented by celebrities, on the longest sandy beach on the eastern part of Ibiza island.

      San Antonio is known for its sunset views and has the world’s best known nightclubs like Amnesia on the beach here with all night parties and fun and frolic extending to the early morning hours. So, if you are going to Ibiza to have a party, then one of the beach hotels at San Antonio or Playa d’en bossa is the place to choose for stay.

      One of the things to do in Ibiza if you are there for more than 3 to 4 days is to take a ferry from Marina Botafoch to the Formentara Island, called the sister island of Ibiza. The ferry ride would take around 30 minutes. You may choose to stay one night at Formentara or make a day trip from Ibiza. The ride itself is an amazing experience you will cherish. Once you arrive at Formentara, you have the option of renting a car from the port to explore the island or just walk along the path from the ferry jetty to Ses Illetes beach rated as the best beach in Spain and one of the top beaches of Europe and world.

      If interested, a visit to the caves, Caves of San Marca (Cueva De Can Marca) with stalagmites at San Miguel on the northern part of the island can also be included in your itinerary. You can either drive down or take a bus from San Antonio or Ibiza town.  If you are in a group or in the mood for some fun at sea then you can charter a boat from one of the many boat charter agencies.


      During season, there are several rent a car options at all locations and even the hotel can arrange or suggest one. You can rent a car and drive around and explore the length and breadth of the Island stopping by at isolated coves and pristine beaches at your own pace. Parking could be an issue in the old town area but there is no issue in the other areas. Other options are to hire a cab or walk as much as you can or use public transport.


      Summer months starting June upto September is the time to visit Ibiza. June, July and August are the most happening months and peak season. The island is one of the top summer destinations for Europeans and people from around the world. During winters the whole island wears a deserted look with most of the restaurants, clubs and beach bars closed. Many small hotels and homestays are also shut during this time. The sea temperature is low and hence you can’t venture into the sea and the strong winds make things worse. Come summer and the whole island is bustling with people, flea markets, beach bars and restaurants and not to miss the parties and nightlife. So, please book your hotels well in advance to avoid disappointment.


      IMS Dalt Vila venue, Boom ! Ibiza, Veto, Pacha & Lio at Ibiza town, Destino at Talamanca, Santos Ibiza Coast Suites, Sankeys, Bora Bora beach club, Tantra, Ibiza Rocks Dinner, Dunes, Space, Ushuaia at Playa d’en Bossa and Amnesia at San Antonio. Some of these have accommodation as well or you can stay at nearby hotels.

      So, are you ready to pack your bags for Ibiza !!!