North East India Travel Tips - The Dialogue Diaries

North East India Travel Tips – The Dialogues Diaries™

India’s North East is opening up to host an increasing number of travelers. The Dialogue Diaries™, an interview platform by Backpacking Series, is delighted to feature early explorers who have ventured inside the region. In this interaction, Devesh Joshi from FootLoose Dev shares his experiences and the essential North East India travel tips and hacks for anyone to follow.

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What stands out for you about North East India?

I’ve been to Meghalaya, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim and Assam. It’s the hospitality and the uniqueness of the region that struck my eyes and inspires me from visiting it again and again. It’s amazing to see how various states are different from one another.

And then, the unbounded beauty of Northeast India: If you think you’ve seen the rainforests of Western Ghats, you need to visit the rainforest of Meghalaya. The beauty is unparalleled.

To name a few places: visit Eastern Khasi Hills in Meghalaya, Majuli Island in Assam, Ziro Valley in Arunachal Pradesh, and Pfutsero and Mon region in Nagaland.

What’s your favorite destination in North East India?

Though there are a few places I’d love to revisit in Northeast India, given they’re all very unique and different from each other, if I were to name just one place, it would be Majuli Island in Assam. I’ve been to Majuli Island a few times and it doesn’t fail to behold me every time.

I remember back in the summer of 2015, I fell in love with the Majuli — about 350 sq km of an untouched land that appears to have been forgotten by today’s new-age influence and of any technology. People pedaled to work, hand-maneuvered boats were preferred over the motored ones. What is often termed as India’s largest river island, Majuli, at least to me, revealed itself as a no-man’s-land where simmering mat of yellow rice fields and water meadows bursting with hyacinth blossoms outnumbered everything else.

How to get to Majuli Island, your favorite destination?

It’s easier to get there (than you think). If you are coming in a train, the nearest train station is Mariani Junction, from where you can get an auto rikshaw to Jorhat. If coming in a bus, you can find direct buses from Guwahati to Jorhat. From Jorhat, there’s just one way to get to the island – a public ferry, costing no more than 20 Rupees for a 1 hour ride.

The ferry drops you inside the Majuli Island. The island is quite big, so find a shared taxi at the harbour to get to your hotel in the island.

What are some culinary suggestions from North East India?

It’s easy to find vegetarian options. However, if you’re a meat lover as many people in Northeast India are, you must try different delicacies of fish in Assam, meat momos when visiting Arunachal Pradesh, or when in Meghalaya, don’t forget to try the traditional dish of Jadoh – pig’s brain/intestine served with rice cooked in pig’s blood!

What’s the culture and lifestyle of North East India like?

Northeast culture isn’t only different from the culture in other parts of India, but it’s diverse within the region of northeast too and this is because of a strong influence of regional tribes in the area. For example, there are over 16 tribes in Nagaland itself – each one significantly different from the other. So classifying the culture of Northeast India under one umbrella is not possible.

Backpacking Series – Here’s something more to read about dos and donts in North East India.

What are your recommended travel planning hacks for North East India?

There are a lot of homestays in northeast India: particularly in Arunachal, Meghalaya and Nagaland. Try homestays to not only save on money but also to get closer to the families there, and thus, to the culture.

Also, note that many places in northeast do not have a bus service, so try to find shared taxis. Transportation is quite lacking in the region, so be prepared to have a hard time backpacking inside the region: unless you’re ready to pay for private taxis (which can be quite expensive).

What are your North East India Travel Tips for Visitors?

Don’t be afraid of visiting Northeast India. One thing, I repeatedly tell people in other parts of India, is that people in Northeast are very friendly. And one should not feel scared of traveling to this beautiful part of India. Try to speak to locals, smile and you will be taken aback with the kind of hospitality this region has to offer.

Secondly, it’s best to avoid visiting most parts in the northeast India during monsoon as regular landslides, and heavy rainfall can make things challenging.

Notes by Backpacking Series:

  • For more on the topic of safety, click to read North East India is Safer than You think
  • Monsoon is preferred by some to witness the majestic waterfalls of the region, especially Meghalaya. Besides, you might want to consider adventure activities such as The Bamboo Trail in the wet season.

What’s your new bucket list for North East India?

I would like to explore more of Meghalaya. Two places in Meghalaya I’d want to visit are (1) Dawki – for its crystal clear water and (2) Mawlynnong – the town that has edged out Cherrapunji as the world’s wettest place. Oh and, (3) I’d like to spend a night in Sela Pass – one of the coldest places in Northeast India on the way to Tawang Monastry in Arunchal Pradesh!

Founder , FootLoose Dev
My name is Dev and I've been travelling the world (after quitting my corporate career in 2015) for more than 3 years now. I'm into backpacking and exploring places on a normal people's budget and schedule. I've been to pretty much the entire India, other than exploring over 20 countries in Europe, Asia and Australia.

Think North East India

For those who do not know, North East India comprises of eight states – Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, and Tripura. The Himalayas and its waters define the region’s terrain, climate, rich biodiversity, and the peculiar indigenous lifestyles her people follow.

That North East India is bound by Bhutan, Nepal, and Tibet to the north, Bangladesh to the south and west, and Myanmar to the east hints at the eclectic mix of cultural, ethnic, and linguistic diversity. This is where elements of Asia come together to do what they do best – cast a spell.

The region’s innate charms have remained under-explored. Travelers, who figure out how to backpack in North East India, find gems such as Dzükou Valley all to themselves. Importantly, the hospitable people of the region make sure that visitors take back the choicest of memories.

Meanwhile, pick up a copy of Backpacking North East India: A Curious Journey. It covers over two dozen places and attempts to answer the question – what is it like to travel in the region? Give it a read and make your own choices.

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Have you been to or live in India’s North East? Come, let’s talk about your experiences and help someone follow your footsteps! Click The Dialogue Diaries™ for details and to get started.

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51 thoughts on “North East India Travel Tips – The Dialogues Diaries™

  1. I realised that tribal influence in India still existed when I visited Rajasthan, but I had no idea of the scope of the influence. !6 tribes in a relatively small area – wow what amazing cultural diversity.

    1. Thanks Janine. There are different indigenous segments in India and quite a few protected where others cannot venture. Preserving the heritage and uniqueness is what makes each state in India unique! The cultural diversity of North East India makes it really special!

  2. The North East part of India is definitely getting attention from travelers. One of my friends has been bugging me to visit Majuli Island and we’re planning of visiting early next year. Thank you for sharing these tips. Bookmarking your post for future reference.

    1. We are glad you are making the trip to North East India. Majuli Island is an experience. Since you are planning early next year, see if you would like to time it with Holi festival in India. The way it is celebrated on the island is very unique. You can read all about this and other insights to help you plan your trip in the travelogue – Backpacking North East India: A Curious Journey.

  3. I have not visited North East India and it is on my wish list since long. You have listed all the detailed information that we get vegetarian food there easily and also homestays are also common there. I would love to go for a homestay as you have said locals are friendly and loving. Going to Majauli island must be an interesting and fun thing to do here. Thanks for guiding us about how to reach this island. Great to know that it is the largest river island of India.

    1. Majuli Island is beautiful. Home stays are becoming popular in North East India and we were lucky to experience them when we were backpacking the region. The hosts are amazing, at the same time, its a chance to observe, respect and participate in local way of living.

    1. Hope you visit the region soon Chandni! You could look up our other featured posts to get ideas to plan your trip to the Least Explored North East India.

  4. Wow it looks amazing! I’ve never been to anywhere in India but after reading this I think if I ever go it will have to be North East India! Loving your tips on homestays, that would seem like a great way to meet locals and learn about the culture 🙂

    1. Thank you Becky 🙂 There are enough and more Reasons to Visit North East India sooner than later. Plan a trip soon. Cheers.

  5. I love hearing about mostly undiscovered destinations. Northeast India is the perfect place to enjoy home stays since there is so much cultural diversity. Thank you for sharing your bucket list as well as tips since it might influence us to change any planned itineraries to the area.

    1. We are glad you got to add new places in your list for visiting the region! Happy travels and hope you get to discover North East India soon! Cheers.

  6. Looks like North East India is one of those places that tourists ignore but are worth visiting. Thank you for the informative post that will inspire more people discover this beautiful hidden gem in india

  7. What an incredible region in India! Thank you for sharing! I love the vastness of the rainforests. Such a diverse ration rich in culture.

    1. We are glad you found this post insightful Kelly 🙂 Once you figure How to Backpack North East India, the exploration can be endless in the region !

  8. Thanks for the tips! I live in China and it’s so close to India and I’ve been wanting to go. Dawk sounds like a nice place to visit too. I like the sound of clear blue water.

    1. Thank you Aswathi! Happy travels to North East India! You could look up the post on Travel Permits to North East India and our other featured posts to plan your trip!

  9. I have never been to North East India. After reading this post, I’m really itching to rectify my error. Majuli Island looks amazing.

    1. Well, make a plan soon then 🙂 We backpacked the region for over four months and still have the hunger to explore more! Happy Travels.

  10. Nice interview, good to read more about North India and what it is about the region that makes Devesh so excited to visit. Good tip to book homestays for a closer cultural experience.

    1. Thanks Kavita. Devesh’s perspectives as a traveler to the region are really insightful and his tips to travel to North East India would help other visitors 🙂

  11. Such a wonderful compilation of best tips from this untouched part of India. I have wanted to explore Majuli but not able to find time.

    1. Anshul, thanks you for sharing your thoughts and we do recommend that you visit the region sooner than later. Except monsoons, plan your trip to Majuli Island and be ready to get amazed 🙂

  12. A fascinating interview, it’s always great to hear from experienced travellers! I hadn’t heard of Majuli Island, so will definitely keep it in mind for when we visit the area.

  13. I was born and brought up in Calcutta and the north east has always been somewhere we went regularly. It did earn a bad name in between due to safety issues but I’m sure its all ok now. the people are very friendly and welcoming. home stays are a great way to see these places where there are not so many large hotels and gives you a feel for local life and hospitality.

    1. Thank you for your insights Amar. Getting these perspectives are very helpful for travelers to Northeast India. We have shared our thoughts around safety concerns in our featured post “North East India is Safer Than You Think“. We loved backpacking for four months in the region and would want to go back soon! 🙂

  14. Reading this post makes me realize how ignorant I am about India especially the North East. I had no idea there were so many different tribes – fascinating! I’ve never even heard of Majuli Island, it looks amazing. I’m so glad I found this post, I can’t wait to get back to India.

    1. Indigenous heritage is special in India and especially in Northeast you get to see is through the festivals, lifestyle and day to day experiences! Hope you make a trip to come back to India soon and visit the Least Explored Northeast India!

  15. What a great read! I really want to travel India, and hopefully soon. So much info here that will definitely come in handy, hopefully soon:)

  16. I’ve visited Kolkata which is the north-east, yes? There is so much to India though, I only was in Kolkata and Pondicherry – beautiful places but India is so diverse as you say. Majuli Island does sound beautiful though – I love your descriptions of the rice fields and meadows. I would love to see those beautiful waters of Dawki! That sounds beautiful – any reason why the water is so clear there?

    1. North East India comprises of eight states – Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, and Tripura. Kolkata is part of another beautiful state – West Bengal 🙂 which you will have to cross when getting to any of the states in Northeast India. The magic and beauty of nature is clearly visible in the region and water bodies are clean and pristine!

  17. I have been to some parts of Assam, Meghalaya, and Nagaland. Arunachal and Sikkim are high on my list of places to visit but I am not very comfortable with the transport and that’s what holding me back 🙁
    I had tried the best pork in Cheerapunjee (A Khasi lady runs a hotel with her south Indian husband) and Assamese thali in Guwahati. I was recommended by many that I should eat pigeon in Assam, I did try but to be honest I don’t know what to say because it was all bones.
    I love to go back and explore more areas sometime soon.

    1. Its always a delight to hear from fellow travelers to Northeast India! We are so happy you had amazing travels in the region and tries out wonderful dishes 🙂 Thank you for sharing your insights Sapna.

    1. Val, Majuli Island is truly a magical experience. Feel free to pick up a copy of the travelogue Backpacking North East India: A Curious Journey for more insights to plan your future trip.

  18. Love this post! I haven’t been to India, but if I go- I’ll defnitley refer back to your guide. Thanks so much for sharing this!

  19. I’m been absolutely fascinated by NE India since seeing a tourism ad for Meghalaya on one of my internal flights in India. It just seems to be so far from “the rest of India” that it’s like a whole new country in itself, and I imagine everything being so different from other, more central or western states. Dev’s interview has really intensified my desire to visit the region, but I think I’ll pass on the Jadoh…

  20. I have been hiking around the Northeast and loved it. It’s an absolutely lovely and underrated region that doesn’t get a lot of tourists. That’s one of the reasons why I love it so much. Thank you for sharing, your post brought back a lot of nice memories

  21. Love using homestays for making friends and getting a better look at the local customs. I can only imagine how interesting it is in North India. It looks like such a beautiful region, I can see why you fell in love. Also love that it isn’t overran with tourists yet like so much of India which is a huge turnoff for me.

  22. This is a great post for me, as I’ve never been to India. I think north-east India looks stunning, and clearly has a rich and cultural tradition too. It’s good they eat meat there, as I do like my chicken and fish! Manjuli Island looks so pretty too!

  23. Being an Assamese girl from Assam, North East is Home. I love everything about this land. The unique culture and hospitality are the highlight of this region. Everybody should visit North East at least once. Great to know about Divesh’s point of view

  24. I haven’t visited India yet but when I do I will definitely go to the North 🙂
    It really sounds lovely and I had no idea India has tribes. Very interesting!
    Thanks for the tips!

  25. I can already visualize the beauty of the Meghalayan rainforests. What a sight they must be in the monsoons. And Majuli is so pretty just like a picture. I so want to visit the North East now.

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