Have you been dreaming about backpacking north east India? I went on a solo northeast India trip and absolutely loved it, the landscape, the food, the people, and the road journey – all made it a great experience.
With my research what I found out was that there is so much to see, it is difficult to pack everything in a short north east india itinerary. If you can find more time, I would recommend a trip of at-least 2 weeks.
And as there was a shortage of info or guides I decided to create and follow my own guide to backpacking north east India.
As this was my very first solo trip to north east India, I decided to stick to the highlights of the region. It will be one more reason to come back to this beautiful region.
In this northeast India travel guide, I carefully considered the prices, including the airfare – the cheapest airports to fly in and out, cheap places to stay, cheapest way to travel around and so on.
As I researched on the internet I came to know some of the best places to visit:
- Loktak lake Trip in Imphal
- Double root bridge in Cherrapunji, Meghalaya
- Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh.
For your help I have put together all the collected info on this north east India travel blog.
Note, that my north east India solo trip itinerary is divided into two, depending from which direction you want to start. Also, in building this I have assumed you are a regular office goer or a college student, hence the travel starts on a weekend and just after a weekend.
Without further ado, I present you my plan.
Backpacking North East India Itinerary
- North East India Day 1 – Sat – reach tezpur/bhakulpong
- North East India Day 2 – Sun – reach tawang in evening
- North East India Day 3 – Mon – Tawang
- North East India Day 4 – Tue – Tawang
- North East India Day 5 – Wed – reach tezpur in evening
- North East India Day 6 – Thu – reach cherapunji in evening
- North East India Day 7 – Fri – reach double root bridge, stay the night.
- North East India Day 8 – Sat – leave for shillong early morning
- North East India Day 9- Sun – Shillong to guwahati
An alternate North east India trip itinerary:
- North East India Trip Day 1- Sat – reach cherapunji in evening
- North East India Trip Day 2- sun – reach double decker root bridge, stay the night.
- North East India Trip Day 3- mon – leave for shillong early morning. reach shillong by evening.
- North East India Trip Day 4- tue – reach tezpur by evening.
- North East India Trip Day 5- wed – leave tezpur, reach tawang in evening.
- North East India Trip Day 6- thu – tawang
- North East India Trip Day 7- fri – tawang
- North East India Trip Day 8- sat – reach tezpur in evening
- North East India Trip Day 9- sun – Tezpur – guwahati
If you can add a few extra days, you can start it like this:
- North East India Trip Day 1 – Thu – Reach Imphal, travel to Loktak lake
- North East India Trip Day 2 – Fri – Visit Loktak lake
- North East India Trip Day 3 – Sat – Catch the flight to Guwahati, Travel from Guwahati to
Tips | Backpacking North East India
So, here’s the detailed step by step account of my Backpacking trip to North East India:
Loktak Lake – Spend 2 days
My north east india solo trip began from Imphal, the capital of Manipur. I had carefully planned the trip as my leaves were quite uncertain, I could be called back to duty anytime (No, I am not in the armed forces! Guess where do I work?).
Though Imphal was little out of the way, I added Imphal to my trip for one and only one reason… To see the beautiful Loktak Lake!
From the Imphal airport, I traveled to Moirang which is the nearest town to Loktak Lake area. I spent two night in Loktak Lake, A must thing to do around Loktak lake is watching the sunrise and sunset. The place is so magical that I just felt like just staying there for whole of my North East India backpacking trip!
How to get to Loktak lake from Imphal Airport
Take a shared tuk-tuk from outside of Imphal airport to Imphal city. Cost to get to the winger stand is 20 INR and takes about 10 minutes to reach there.
From Winger stand to Moirang cost is 60 INR. Note that Winger can be bit uncomfortable as 18 people sit in it. I was lucky to be the last person but unlucky because I sat on a seat which was barely there.
How to get to Shillong from Imphal
On my way back I took the flight from Imphal airport to Guwahati airport, and from Guwahati airport I found a shared cab going straight to Shillong. It is also possible to get to Shillong directly from Imphal by road.
But it is only meant for budget conscious as it takes hell lot of time. From the winger stand you can find a bus to Shillong. It leaves at 09:30 am and reaches 3:30 am next day! Bus to silchar and aizwal are also there.
Take Arunachal ILP from Guwahati airport
You might be surprised to know that one needs an ILP (inner line permit) to enter Arunachal. I got the permit at the airport counter of Arunachal tourism in 15 minutes flat. No photograph was required.
Total Fee for the ILP was INR 450/- The Arunachal tourism office in Guwahati airport is located near belt 3 in departure. The lady asked for photo but I said I don’t have and she was okay with it.
From Guwahati airport to Shillong | Backpacking North East India
There is no need to get to Guwahati city if you are planning to go to Meghalaya. Just outside the airport, on the parking lot you can easily find a shared cab. This direct cab from Guwahati airport to Shillong costs 500 INR/-.
Guwahati airport to Paltan bazaar
If you are looking to get to any other town or just the center of Guwahati, take the bus to Paltan bazaar. There is a scheduled low floor a/c bus which drops you to paltan bazaar at a fare of 130/- INR. On the other hand, Uber shared to Paltan costs 260 and Uber reserved costs 450/- INR.
Things to do in Shillong
As beautiful as Shillong is, it is still a big town, and which I decided to skip without regrets. If you are short in time but still wants to some Shillong sightseeing, I’d strongly advise you to hire a taxi for the day.
A taxi for a whole day of Shillong sightseeing would typically cost you 1500/- INR. Call 9612473778, Robin Rai, he was a sweet taxi driver I met on my way.
From Shillong to Sohra
I reached Sohra from Shillong around 02:30 in the afternoon. I got held up as there were less shared sumo on holidays – including Sat and Sun. The Sohra Taxi stand is near the Bara Bazaar.
I got a shared cab with 150 inr/ person, there were 6 of us, all packed in a good old Maruti 800. For 900 bucks he was willing to take me alone, but what the heck, I wanted an adventure.
In the evening I strolled by the restaurants, most of them already closed, and it was only 19:30! In the end I had to settle for vread omlette in Gemis restaurant. Though, the same evening, a little before I ventured out to find food, I did enjoy milk tea at one of the small one room shop. They make it really well and it costs only 5 INR/- Of-course I had two drink two cups!
Get to Shillong from Sohra | Backpacking North East India
I started early or at-least I tried so. It was all misty all around as I walked briskly to the circle. Oh, I wish I could live here forever, but alas it was time for me to leave. I got a shared cab from the lower Cherapunji circle, though I had to wait a bit to let it fill up.
It takes time for cabs to fill, so reach early. The Cabs starts as early as 6 AM. Took me 45 minutes of wait to get the taxi filled and get started. The cab finally started at 7:20 from lower Sohra.
There is also a bus between Sohra and Shillong, but apparently it doesn’t run on Sundays and other holidays. While I was there I got a tip to avoid Tura as it was considered not a safe place for tourists.
Getting from Shillong to Tezpur
Tezpur is where I needed to be get a shared sumo to Tawang. There is a direct bus from Shillong to Tezpur but that’s earlier in the day. When I asked around in Shillong, how to get to Tezpur from Shillong directly, I was told to take the Guwahati taxi and get down at Jorabat and take a minibus there. This is exactly what I did and reached Tezpur late in the evening. As I descended from clouds to humid air, I tried to make sense of the change once again.
I didn’t get a chance to explore Tezpur, primarily because of lack of energy and not because of lack of interest. But did I tell you the excellent Kachori I had in Tezpur?
Getting from Tezpur to Tawang
Last bit of travel (or so I thought) on my north east trip was no less adventure. It was raining when we started, I was squeezed in with 10 co-passengers, the only thing we get to eat on the road was maggi, the roads were washed out at places and so on… Boy oh boy, did I not pray for having super powers to just zap in to Tawang?
From Tawang to Guwahati
And I came back, having found the only shared cab and the very last seat on it. Thanks all to my procrastinating self who didn’t reserve the seat in time. While going interesting thing happened, my Arunachal ILP was finally checked.
One of the guys in our shared Tawang-Tezpur sumo didn’t have the Arunachal Inner Line Permit and hence was taken away (by men in black ;)). I knew better and didn’t go all the way to Tezpur which was on the opposite direction to Guwahati.
So I got down at a junction, it was around 8 in the night, not to mention hot and humid. I kept on flagging every damn cab or bus that passed by, and in the end a traveler (sort of mini bus) stopped and I hitched a ride in a jam packed bus to Guwahati. I was sleepy but I stood on bravely.
Is Backpacking North East India safe?
Though, I will be honest it was little tricky to plan the whole thing as I was little apprehensive about safety. I began by researching on places to avoid and then finally built a list of places to visit in north east India. I concluded that barring a few pockets (e.g. certain areas in Manipur) NE India is one of the most safe places in India for solo trip.
So, that’s all on my north east India backpacking trip. Hope you enjoyed reading this travel blog as much I enjoyed writing! Namaste!