A Detailed 7 Day Itinerary to Tawang [A Complete Guide]

Arunachal Pradesh is a place which had always enamored me, even though i had never set foot there before. I always pictured it like a mythical land, snow clad, and with monasteries hidden in the mists. Eventually I grew tired of hearing stories from the few who had ventured. Not that it was a secret, but as with all of northeast, it wasn’t well trodden. So last year, when most of the world was welcoming the New Year with a hangover, i decided to take the arduous road trip to Tawang, the land of the rising sun.

True to my numerous dreams, it did turn out to be the remote fairytale land that i had imagined. And gladly, i was the only one around to experience it.

Here is a comprehensive 7 day Itinerary that i followed for my Tawang Trip.

1. Day 1: Arrive in Guwahati

If you are traveling to this side of Northeast, chances are, you will land mostly in Guwahati. It is well connected to Tawang via roadways.

From the airport you should go to Paltan Bazaar, from where you can get shared cabs to Tawang. Remember that these cabs leave early morning, almost by 6.30. So ensure you book them the day before.

A shared cab is probably the cheapest way to get to Tawang. But if you have a group of 8-10 people, then you can opt for a private cab. Otherwise they can turn out to be pretty expensive.

But before you even start the journey to anywhere in Arunachal Pradesh, you need to get an inner line permit (ILP). You will get it at Arunachal Bhawan in Guwahati. You can refer to the website for the documents needed. It’s a hassle-free process for Indians.

Note: Ensure you don’t land in Guwahati on a day Arunachal Bhawan is closed. I did that and had to wait for an extra day to get the permit.

Where to stay: Hotel SJ International

2. Day 2: Guwahati to Bomdila

Doing 500 kms on the mountains in a single day is no easy task. So it’s better to break the journey to Tawang in 2 phases.

On the first day, the cab takes you half way to Bomdila. But even to reach half-way, you have to start pretty early in the morning. In fact throughout your Tawang trip, be prepared to sacrifice on sleep.

Arunachal Pradesh
On the way to Bomdila

The drive for the first part is pretty smooth, from the outskirts of Guwahati till you reach Tezpur. Once you cross Tezpur and start the ascent up the mountains, progress is slow and painful.

The terrain is rugged and your backside is going to get clobbered like anything. The views enroute are beautiful though.

The journey can take up to 10 hours. So you will reach Bomdila by around 4-5 in the evening, assuming you start at 6-6.30 in the morning.

Chillipam Monastery

Although most travelers look at Bomdila as a pit-stop, I would urge you to  stay for a day here. 20 kms away from Bomdila lies Chillipam monastery, a hidden jewel, which only the locals know of. It takes a good 2 hours to reach, but its worth every effort.

The Chillipam Gompa is as breathtaking as the views around it. There is a lawn leading into the monastery with pine trees on both sides.

Chillipam Monastery

A colourful prayer wheel adorns the entrance on one side while a golden coloured one with inscriptions lies on the other side. There is a certain grandeur about the whole monastery.

For one, it looks newly constructed. There is an artistic appeal to it. It has some exquisite Buddhist art work both on the outside as well as the inside. The chortens built next to the main monastery are splendid. There were stairways that allowed you to go to a higher platform.

View from Chillipam

The highlight though, are the views. The monastery is positioned in a place which offers a panoramic view of the valleys surrounding it. And once you go to the higher levels, the views get better. We could see Bomdila perched on the mountain opposite ours.

We went in the afternoon when the sun was in mood for some hide and seek. Greyish clouds flirted with the mountains nearby. It was a perfect natural setting. And views aside, it was a place that exuded a certain calm and luckily, we were the only one’s soaking in this experience.

Trust me after this experience, every other monastery that I saw later on this trip paled in comparison to Chillipam.

Where to stay: Lungta Residency

 3. Day 3: Bomdila To Tawang

Early morning, you will start the journey to Tawang. The journey is pretty uneventful till you start climbing Sela Pass.

Sela pass located at 4170 m (13700 feet) above sea level acts as the sentinel who guards the eastern Himalayan ranges. It connects Tawang to the rest of India.

Sela Pass
Ascending on Sela Pass

Being at such high altitudes, it is covered in snow for most part of the year. So pray that the weather gods are in your favor, for Sela Pass can sometimes be inaccessible when the roads get deluged in snow.

I went in winter and as we moved higher, it started getting misty and the visibility dropped to a few 100 feet. Patches of snow started appearing on the road. Icy winds blew outside and our fingers froze as we tried to take quick photographs. The change in weather was quite drastic.

A massive gate at the Sela top welcomes you into Tawang region. Nearby lies Sela Lake, also known as Paradise Lake for its ethereal beauty.

Sela Lake
Image Credits: https://www.instagram.com/sushobhanr/

From Sela Pass, Tawang is just 40 kms, which is another 2 hours’ drive. So you should reach Tawang by afternoon.

Note: If you take a shared cab, they will not stop at the lake. They tend to stop at least km ahead. So if you want to take photographs of the lake or walk around it, just check with the cab driver before, or else take a private cab.

Jaswant Garh Memorial

Having a private cab means you can visit the Jaswant Garh Memorial also the same day. It is one of the popular attractions in Tawang, and rightfully so.

It’s a memorial dedicated to Jaswant Singh Rawat, a rifleman who displayed extraordinary bravery while fighting the Chinese.

Where to stay in Tawang: Hotel Dekyi Pelbar

4. Day 4: Tawang Local Sightseeing

Today you can do sightseeing around Tawang. But before you start anything, arrange for permits for Bum La Pass and Sangetsar Lake, which you will be doing the next day.

Note: There are two permits needed for this region. One is the ILP (Inner Line Permit) to enter Tawang. The second one is the special permit to travel from Tawang to Sangetsar Lake and Bum La pass (The Indo – China border). But don’t worry, any travel operator in Tawang can get it done for you in a jiffy.

Places to see in Tawang

Tawang Monastery

Tawang Monastery

This is the second largest monastery in the world, if you need any convincing. Perched on the edge of a cliff, from afar, it looks beautiful. Though personally, I din’t find it that great, especially since I had seen Chillipam monastery earlier.

Tawang Memorial

It is a memorial constructed in honor of soldiers who gave up their lives in the Indo-China war. I got goose bumps, just reading their stories. It’s definitely worth a visit.

In the evening, they also have a light and sound show. I wouldn’t recommend it though. They could have done a much better job of telling the story.

Nuranang Falls

Jung Falls
Image Credits: https://www.instagram.com/sushobhanr/

Also known as Jung Falls, Nuranang is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Arunachal Pradesh. Surrounded by lush greenery, the sight of the powerful cascade of water tumbling down the cliffs is a breathtaking one.

If you are a nature lover, or not, you should add Nuranang falls to your bucket list.

Tawang Ropeway

Tawang has a cable car ride across the mountains. It wasn’t working when I went, but the views looked stunning.

There is also a statue of massive golden Buddha at the centre of the town.

5. Day 5: Trip to Bum La pass and Sangetsar Lake

If you ever think of taking this arduous road trip to Tawang, then it should be for the trip to Bum La Pass and Sangetsar Lake. Not that the journey to Tawang is not beautiful, but these two destinations are journey’s themselves.

Bum La Pass:

Bum La Pass is the Indo- China border, located at a staggering 15,000 feet. A remote army-post surrounded by snow-clad peaks, it seems like a world away from Tawang.  Although just 2-3 hours away, the landscape is starkly different, with green mountains and greyish clouds giving way to a land of snow.

Yes, everything from roads, to rocks to mountains are draped in snow. And on a clear day, fluffy clouds float above your heads.

From the border-zone at Bum La pass, with the help of binoculars, you can see the Chinese radar system. Near the border lies a rock symbolizing peace between India and China, and there is a point where you can actually stand on the Chinese end.

Sangetsar Lake:

Sangetsar Lake

In my years of traveling, I have seen my fair share of high altitude lakes, but none as unique as Sangetsar.

Wedged between two mountains, with pine trees half submerged in the water, it is just sublime. When I went, it was winter and the lake was completely frozen. You can imagine my delight when I set my eyes on this sheet of ice.

If you have acclimatized to the high altitude (12000 feet), take a walk around this lake. If not, then you can sit by the army owned tea-stall and gape in awe while munching on some steaming momos.

Note: The trip to both these places will take the entire day. So leave early in the morning, so that you can return by early evening.

6. Day 6: Tawang to Bomdila

The next day you again catch a shared cab from Tawang. On the way lies a picturesque town called Dirang. You can choose to break your trip here. Or else, you can continue all the way till Bomdila.

7. Day 7: Bomdila to Guwahati

From Bomdila, it’s again a drive back the same way to Guwahati.

Ensure that you don’t have a flight or train to catch the same day. Since you’re traveling in the mountains, it’s better to keep a buffer of at least a day.

Best time to visit Tawang:

Recommended: April – May and September – October

My personal recommendation: Dec – Jan (It will be cold, but trust me you will be the only traveler at this time of the year, and you will get amazing deals)

Chiang Mai – The Backpacker Paradise of Thailand

It all happened in a short time. Cheap flight deals and a backpacker friendly destination were enough reasons to convince a penniless me to sign up for this adventure. Tickets were booked quickly, lest prices went up. The excitement in our whatsapp group could be measured by the number of “must- visit” places shared on a daily basis. Me and a friend of mine were headed for a 2 week trip to Thailand and were later to be joined by two more of my friends in Vietnam. As we were planning on cities to visit in Thailand, there was one place which we both unanimously agreed upon and that was Chiang Mai.

Located in northern Thailand, Chiang Mai is a 700 km. ride away from Bangkok. There are frequent buses from Morchit bus station to Chiang Mai. It took a good 12 hours to cover the distance.

Chiang Mai
Tha Pae Gate

I found the ride very comfortable and what I found surprising was that your bus tickets could be used to redeem free noodle soups at their pit stops.

We reached Chiang Mai at 12.30 in the night. There was no point in checking in to a hotel, so we just stayed at the bus stop till 5.30 a.m. It had gotten chilly by then and we decided to search for hotels. A tuk-tuk dropped us outside the Tha Pae gate.

Chiang Mai

A square wall encloses the old city of Chiang Mai and this old city, built over 700 years ago, is one of Chiang Mai’s most popular attractions. It is one of the best places to understand Thailand’s culture and history. It was once completely barricaded on all four sides and surrounded by a moat. Today, there still stands a square wall around the old city giving us a glimpse of the olden days.

The eastern gate is the Tha Pae gate and I would say the best starting point for a tour of the place. We were lucky to get a hotel, at a stone’s throw away from this gate.

When we walked in through Tha Pae gate for the first time, all we could see was a street lined with restaurants selling western food, bars, café’s, eating joints, fancy hotels etc. On first look, it felt like a commercial hotspot. Of course, this opinion changed by the end of the day.

Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai was a place which had embraced modernity for sure, but while still retaining its quaint appeal. From fancy cafes and swanky hotels to mobile food stalls and ancient temples, it toggled on both ends of the spectrum.

Just walking along the streets here will open the door to a wealth of local experiences – be it learning how to cook delicious Thai food, learning an intense martial art like Muay Thai or being an elephant trainer for a day.

A walk from the eastern gate to the other end is almost 2 kms and once you reach the other end, you can see a natural canal running parallel to the city, lined by lush green trees.  On the Tha Pae side lies a canal too and people often stop here to feed pigeons.

Chiang Mai

Life here is pretty laidback. It is exactly this vibe which makes it a paradise for backpackers from around the world. You will mostly find them exploring the city on cycles, mopeds and I even remember seeing tricycles.

The people here are some of the friendliest you will meet. They are genuine in their interactions and unlike the rest of Thailand, there are no travel touts who will pester you to buy their tours.

Chiang Mai

The landscape in this part of Thailand is blessed with lush green rainforests, mist covered mountains, gushing waterfalls and massive caves. The terrain and its close proximity to national parks lend itself to tonnes of adventures like jungle trekking, ziplining, rock climbing and river rafting.

It’s kind of overwhelming because you feel like doing it all. But you would never like rushing from one place to another. The relaxed ambience, which is so intrinsic to Chiang Mai, would make you want to just idle away in the company of nature.

The best part about Chiang Mai is its food though. Never have I been as adventurous with food as I was in Chiang Mai. There are a number of restaurants and eating joints, but the best food is always on the streets. You can literally conduct a food tour in this place for weeks and still miss out on places to eat.

Chiang Mai
Khao Suey

Chiang Mai was once under Burmese control and even today, you can see remnants of that influence in the cuisine. You only need to taste the region’s mind-blowing signature dish, Khao Suey, to detect the unmistakable Burmese touch.

Their evening and night street stalls are some of the best ways to savour the local cuisine. Not to mention delectable desserts available on the streets. The icing on the cake (pun intended) is that the street food is extremely cheap. You can get an Egg Pad Thai for as little as 30 THB (INR 60/ USD 1).

Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai is a special place, sans the hype associated with the rest of the country. Its simplicity and old world charm will slowly but surely grow on you. Sadly, it doesn’t receive as many footfalls as the rest of Thailand.

Unfortunately during my Southeast Asia trip, I hadn’t budgeted enough time for this place. On our way back to India, we had already started making plans to visit Thailand again and both of us swore to spend at least a week in Chiang Mai.

Wat Rong Khun – The Fairy Tale White Temple of Thailand

We were cruising by the countryside at breakneck speed. The roads were spotless and it looked like we would cover the distance to Chiang Rai, the border town between Thailand and Myanmar, in no time. I was on a day trip which included a popular hot water spring, the famed golden triangle and a visit to the village of the long neck tribe. I wasn’t so excited about any of this though. The sole reason why I signed up was to see the Wat Rong Khun, or what is popularly known as the White Temple.

I am no fan of architectural works, but it’s hard not to be amazed by this temple. In fact if there is one temple you should visit in Thailand, it is this one (And probably Wat Arun).

White Temple Thailand

We arrived at around 11.00 in the morning, and saw a sea of tripod and selfie-stick toting tourists. Guys, here is a pro tip, arrive early if you want this temple all to yourself. Especially, if you want to take some dreamy shots, with no human heads.

After parking our vehicle, we were given tickets by our tour operator and allocated exactly 40 minutes to roam around. Well, here is another pro-tip, don’t go with a group tour, because you will surely lose track of time and you certainly don’t want to see this temple in haste.

White Temple Thailand

From the second i walked into the temple complex, I was left speechless.

An arched golden tower leads you into the premises. There is a neatly maintained lawn and a pond surrounding the white temple, teeming with colorful fishes.

The marble white exterior of the main temple is an architectural masterpiece, with a zillion statues and faces of demons, the eye for detail more than impressive.

And the white façade just stands out against the blue sky. A photographer can spend an entire day here. Having borrowed a DSLR from my friend, I went totally nuts.

White Temple Thailand

There was a long queue on the bridge that led you inside the main temple. We had to take out our shoes, wrap it in a plastic bag and take it inside with us.

If the exteriors of the temple make you gape in awe with their creative brilliance, the interiors will have your jaws dropping in no time.

Photography wasn’t allowed in the main hall and even though I saw some tourists flouting that rule, I din’t take out my camera.

White Temple Thailand

The moment I walked in, I saw artistic murals, of Kung Fu Panda, Batman, Superman, Michael Jackson, Terminator and Star war characters adorn the walls. In my sheer disbelief I almost missed the seated Golden Buddha inside.

I am all in for standing out from the crowd, but I couldn’t understand if these works were a result of creative ingenuity or meant to send a message to us. I guess only the artist knows better.

White Temple Thailand

As I wandered around, I saw there were other Buddhist towers nearby and all these structures were white. There was a wishing well with a huge bell hanging over it. There was so much more left to explore and I was just about to go to other side of the complex when I heard my name being yelled out.

I saw my friend frantically wave at me. I knew what had happened and rushed immediately. I was late by 15 minutes and every one was apparently pissed at me. Their looks when I entered the van made it very clear.

White Temple Thailand

My friend later told me some of the members of the group had subtly hinted at my lack of punctuality. The lady in charge however made no use of such subtlety.

She gave me a proper dressing down in front of everyone. It almost felt like being yelled at by a teacher in school. I din’t regret being late at all though. A place as beautiful as the white temple certainly deserves more time.

Entrance Fee: INR 100/ USD 2

Thailand – A Gastronomic Delight

Lights, music, an atmosphere of merriment and the constant whiff of delicious Thai food permeated the streets of Khaosan road on the night of 14th February. Valentine’s Day was being celebrated in high spirits in the bars that lined every street. There were so many people partying in these bars that there was no room inside and the revelry eventually spilled out onto the streets. It was a teaser of the mad nightlife that Bangkok is known for.

But what caught my attention was the ever present smell of barbecued meat and every time it entered the nostrils, my stomach responded with a growl. I don’t really consider myself as a foodie and while I enjoy a good meal and by most standards, have a good appetite, I am far from being a connoisseur of food. Thailand’s street food though had my palate going on an overdrive.

Thai Noodle Soup

We landed in Bangkok at 12.00 in the night after a draining 8 hour halt in Kolkata. Sleep deprived, we somehow kept ourselves awake till 5.30 a.m. when the bus service supposedly started. We got a bus at 6.00 a.m. and in what seemed like an hour were dropped off at Khaosan road. The hotel where we had made our reservation would let us check in only at 12.00 p.m.

By now, I was not just badly craving sleep but food as well. We dropped off our bags in the hotel lobby to get some breakfast. As we were walking on Soi Rambuttri lane, my friend Neeraj who had stayed here a year back remembered a stall where an old man sold noodle soup. We walked to that stall and it was the same person whom my friend had met a year ago. We saw the few who were sitting there having a delicious looking soup with meat balls on top. We ordered the same.

Thai Noodle Soup

The Thai pork meat ball noodle soup adorned with herbs and condiments was the perfect breakfast. The chicken broth was lip smacking and combined with noodles, sliced pork meat and tender meat balls completely satiated my hungry stomach. We usually washed away our breakfast with passion fruit juices or flavored milk available at any 7 – eleven store.

Dinner in Khaosan road meant Chicken or Egg Pad Thai with chili flakes, crushed peanuts and soya sauce as toppings. And when we ventured out in the night, a midnight snack of Grilled Chicken and Chocolate Sandwich was customary. If Khaosan tickled my usually indifferent palate, Chiang Mai drove it into a frenzy.

Khao Suey
Khao Suey

Situated in northern Thailand and close to Myanmar, Chiang Mai is a food paradise. One can literally do a food tour in this place for weeks and still miss out on places to eat. Once you enter the old city of Chiang Mai through any of its walls, you can see streets filled with cafes, restaurants, eating joints and bars. But like I had experienced in Khaosan, the best food was always on the streets.

A scrumptious breakfast in the morning was Khao Suey, a signature dish in Chiang Mai – noodle soup with fried noodles in chicken with a coconut curry broth. Google search led us to SP chicken, a famous restaurant serving Isaan (North-East Thai) style roasted chicken and they served it with delicious sauces. I could barely walk after gorging on a full plate of roasted chicken with sticky rice and Som Tam (papaya salad).

Roasted Chicken

On other days we had rice with traditional Thai red or green curry along with fried egg on top. But nothing could beat the evening street markets of Chiang Mai. With an array of delectable dishes laid out in front of you, there was no escaping its savory charm.

Dessert was the best banana chocolate crepe in all of Chiang Mai, said the newspaper clipping on their stall and I wouldn’t believe otherwise. On days we were a little less prudent, we had Banana & Nutella crepe and it was just mind blowing.

Thai Green Curry

The streets of Pattaya were as tempting with an assortment of grilled kebabs. While walking along the city, we found a lady selling chicken kebab by the beach. In a single bite of the mustard laced kebab, we had become her loyal patrons.

The stalls in Sukhumvit on the other hand catered to us with mouthwatering chicken noodle soups and Khao Man Gai – a traditional Thai dish of rice with boiled chicken, served with chicken broth and cucumber on the side. Sprinkled with spices, the Khao Man Gai acquired a taste of its own and became one of my favorite dishes.

I traveled for close to 2 weeks in Thailand experimenting and relishing a variety of Thai dishes. This was the first time that food was the constant thing on my mind during a trip. For the uninitiated like me, exploring the culinary world was a new experience. In my 4 years of travelling, I have been to many places and got an opportunity to taste a variety of cuisines, but never have I been as delighted as I was in Thailand.

[The Complete List] The Ideal 7 Day Meghalaya Itinerary

As a nature lover and an avid hiker, Meghalaya has held my fascination since ages.  Last year me and my best friend decided to bring in the new year from this scenic wonderland.  I don’t think I have ever had a better start to a year than this.

From the unforgettable living root bridge trek to the sight of numerous thundering waterfalls plunging from the skies to sparkling green rivers, turquoise blue natural pools and green villages in the heart of nature, it is a visual epiphany all the way.

Living Root Bridge Trek
The Living Root Bridge Trail

Although i packed all of this in 4 days’ time, here is a 7 day ideal Meghalaya itinerary that I highly recommend.

1. Day 1 – Arrive in Guwahati and go to Cherrapunjee

If you are traveling to this side of Northeast, chances are, you will land up mostly in Guwahati. It is well connected to Meghalaya. From the airport you should go to Paltan Bazaar, from where you can get shared cabs to Cherrapunjee.

These shared cabs don’t directly run till Cherrapunjee. They take you to Shillong and from there, you can take another one to Cherrapunjee (Also known as Sohra)

The total journey including breaks might take around 4-5 hours. So ensure you reach early morning in Guwahati.

Where to stay: Coniferous Resort

2. Day 2 – Mawsmai cave, Seven Sister falls and Nohkalikai Falls

Mawsmai Cave

Meghalaya is known for its numerous cave systems and the most popular amongst them is the Mawsmai cave. It’s one of the smaller caves in Sohra, but quite good to get a feel of caving.

Mawsmai Cave

The cave is spacious at most parts with only a few narrow passages which require squeezing and ducking. You can spot stalagmites and stalactites of various shapes and sizes at every nook and corner. The limestone formations inside the cave glittered when we beamed our flash lights on them.

The entire trail in the cave is well-marked and well-lit from entry to exit. If you are a little adventurous, you can go off track, crawl through tiny passages and discover massive hidden caverns. I did that, only to reach a dead end.

Don’t worry; it’s hard to get lost in this cave. And surprisingly i did not spot even a single bat in the cave.

How to reach: It is around 6 kms from Cherrapunjee. Since you would be visiting a couple of spots today, it makes sense to hire a private cab for the day. Also the entry to the cave starts only at 9.00 a.m.

Seven Sister Falls/ Nohsngithiang Falls

If you are traveling to Meghalaya in the monsoon time, then this waterfall will have your jaws touching the ground in no time.

seven sister falls
Image Credit: https://www.instagram.com/sushobhanr/

A cascade of multiple streams plunging down 1000 foot cliffs, this waterfall epitomizes the beauty of Meghalaya during rains. A sea of clouds swirling over the lush green valley below just makes it picture perfect.

Nohkalikai falls

While most waterfalls in Meghalaya are at their prettiest in monsoons, Nohkalikai remains majestic even during the winter months.

At 1,115 feet, it is India’s highest plunge waterfall, dropping straight from the top of the plateau to the emerald green pool below. While we admired the grandeur of the falls from a view point, I later came to know that there are stairs you can take down the cliff to get even closer to the falls.

nohkalikai falls

In the non-monsoon season, it’s possible to even trek to the bottom of the falls and swim in the pool formed underneath the fall. If you intend to do this, it’s better to take a guide with you.

The fall got its name from a tragic legend about a woman named Ka Likai who jumped to her death from the cliff. It is said that she was fed remains of her own daughter by her husband. The guilt made her commit suicide by taking the plunge. Hence the name stuck as Nohkalikai or “the leap of Likai”.

How to reach: The view point for Nohkalikai falls is just a 20 minute drive from Cherrapunjee.

3. Day 3 – Living Root bridge Trek

Like I keep saying, if there is one experience that perfectly encapsulates the beauty of Meghalaya, it is the living root bridge trek.

You will see an art of nature found nowhere else in the world. And to an extent it is man-made. Living root bridges are formed when massive roots are guided by villagers over a span of 15 years to mingle with each other and form sturdy bridges strong enough to support people. Over time, they get stronger.

Living Root Bridge Trek
Double Decker Root Bridge – The only one of its kind in the world

They were actually built to help locals cross raging streams in the monsoon. Today, they have captured the travel world by storm.

The village of Nongriat has a double decker root bridge – one bridge stacked over another, a unique wonder found only in this village. There are single root bridges in other villages too.

The trek itself is so fascinating that you are left with a question. Which is better? The sight of the root bridge or the hike itself?

Living Root Bridge Trek

Walking through lush green forests, crossing wobbly bridges suspended over electric blue pools and swimming in the transparent waters of Rainbow falls is bound to drive your senses into a frenzy.

It’s that beautiful.

If you have a day more to spend, you can actually stay in Nongriat Village. There are two guesthouses where you can stay for as much as INR 300 per night.

Now, here is a disclaimer, the entire trek from the base village Tyrna to Nongriat takes around 5-6 hours and requires you to descend 2500- 3000 steps one way. The climb back up is certainly daunting, especially if you are not an active person. It is doable though. You just need to pace yourself well enough and start the trek early.

Living Root Bridge Trek

As the trek is long and tiring, it makes sense to carry some energy bars and 2-3 bottles of water with you. Of course, there are villages along the trek from where you can buy them.

How to reach: The base village Tyrna is a 30 minute drive from Cherrapunjee

4. Day 4 – Mawlynnong, Asia’s cleanest village

I had never heard of this village until I started researching about Meghalaya. Dubbed “Asia’s cleanest village” in 2003, Mawlynnong is like a breath of fresh air. Actually, most of Meghalaya is like that.

The first thing I noticed when I walked into this village were its tree houses. Made of bamboo, these charming houses rise over tree-tops to give you a sneak peek into neighbouring Bangladesh. It’s a great place to spend your evenings, gazing at the sunset while sipping a cup of coffee.

Mawlynnong
The Tree Houses

A walk around the village reveals why it’s so clean. There are bamboo made dustbins across the village. There are specific rules to be followed when it comes to dumping waste, and it’s posted on a board right at the centre of the village.

There are neat walk ways built throughout the village, along which lie traditional thatched huts. Most of these houses have small gardens with colorful flowers. Needless to say, it’s a paradise for nature lovers.

But scenic beauty aside, it is a place where peace and tranquility are always within touching distance.

How to reach: It is a 4 hour drive from Cherrapunjee along pretty winding cliff side roads.
Where to stay: Henry’s Guesthouse

Note:  Adventure freaks can try ziplining at Mawkdok Dympep Valley. It’s probably one of the best in India.

5. Day 5 – Umngot River in Dawki, Shnongpdeng and drive back to Shillong

Umngot River

Sometimes all it takes is an image to inspire you to travel. Ever since the unreal images of river Umngot took the internet world by storm, I’ve been swooning over its beauty.

The river flows through Dawki, a town on the Indo-Bangladesh border, which is a 2 hour drive from Mawlynnong.  Even the drive to Dawki through the forest is a visual feast.

Umngot River

True to its fame, the Umngot is as sublime as the pictures claim. But like any natural wonder, pictures or words will fail to do justice to it.

Although most people take a boat ride across the river to appreciate its beauty, I trekked along the river gorge and found a rock to sit on and admire its translucent waters. And when the sun shines over it, the river sparkles and you can see all the way to the bottom. Nature at its dazzling best!

Shnongpdeng

Umngot River
Image Credit: https://www.instagram.com/sushobhanr/

There is a village near Dawki called Shnongpdeng where the river is clearer and prettier. Unfortunately, I missed it on my trip, but hopefully you won’t. But then like all places I have been to, I have a reason to go back, yet again.

From Dawki, you can hire a shared cab to Shillong. The drive would take around 3-4 hours.

6. Day 6 – Elephant Falls, Umiam Lake  and Laitlum Canyon in Shillong

Shillong, in comparison to the rest of the places on this list will seem a bit touristy.

Umiam Lake

One of the popular places is Umiam Lake, also called “Bara Pani” or Big Water. It’s a pretty lake wrapped around lush green hills. And there are these small islands which pop out in between, which make the lake even prettier. You can try boating and kayaking on the lake.

Elephant Falls

Falling in multiple cascades, Elephant falls got its name from an Elephant faced stone at the lower most layer. Although I must say, I could barely identify an elephant face in the rocks.

Elephant Falls

There are three different vantage points from where you can view each of the three layers. There are stairs built along the entire route.

How to reach: It’s a 30 minute ride from Shillong.

There are tonnes of other places you can visit like Wards Lake, Shillong Peak and the Don Bosco Museum. You can also shop at Police Bazaar.

If you have another day to spare, you can check out Laitlum Canyons, a little explored haunt with views of stunning gorges and mist covered valleys. I highly recommend it.

Where to stay in Shillong: Eee Cee Hotel

7. Day 7 – Shillong to Guwahati

Take a shared cab from Shillong and head to Paltan Bazaar Guwahati. The journey will take around 2-3 hours. From Paltan Bazaar you can head to the Airport.

Best time to visit Meghalaya

Although Meghalaya is prettiest during monsoons, when lashing rains lend it a resplendent green avatar, traveling could get hit due to heavy rains. So the best time to visit is ideally between October to April.