Northeast India Travel Guide to Ziro - The Dialogue Diaries

Northeast India Travel Guide to Ziro – 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 Northeast India Travel Guide to Ziro, Nupur Das chronicles her recent visit to Arunachal Pradesh and offers recommendations that only someone who’s ‘been there and and done that’ can come up with.

What stands out for you about North East India?

North East India is truly a paradise unexplored! On my recent tour to this part of the country, I visited Ziro (Arunachal Pradesh) and I am absolutely spellbound by the hospitality, landscapes, and weather!

What’s your favorite destination in North East India?

Ever since I have returned from Arunachal Pradesh, I am unable to take my mind off of the experience I just lived through. Honestly, I was absolutely bowled over. So, I am going to talk about Ziro, one of the most fascinating destinations from Northeast India.

Northeast India Travel Guide to Ziro

Ziro: A Quick Travel Guide

Why visit Ziro?

Picture this: Miles and miles of paddy fields stretched across the Ziro valley with pretty bamboo houses everywhere with a backdrop of the majestic mountains. The views are mesmerizing, to say the least. The valley’s stunning landscape leaves a soothing impression. Importantly, Ziro’s warm, kind and welcoming people would instantly make you feel at home.

When to visit Ziro?

For best vibes, I recommend visiting the Ziro valley during the Ziro Festival of Music (ZFM) typically held in the last week of September. It is also the onset of harvest season when paddy fields turn to gold adding to the valley’s beauty.

How long to stay in Ziro?

You need at least a week in Ziro to soak up all that this magical valley offers. Go fishing Apatani-style, cycle across the Ziro valley and walk around the village, chit-chat with locals, and enjoy local food. Take your time to learn about the Apatani culture and history.

Where to stay when in Ziro?

If you are going to the valley specifically to witness the Ziro Festival of Music, look out for camping sites. We camped for 4 days under starry nights. The site, managed by Chalohoppo, had some breathtaking views. The folks at Chalohoppo did an amazing job hosting us and I am super happy to recommend them. I can easily call it the best trip I have taken so far.

PS: If you are concerned about toilets while camping, worry not. Camping grounds have restrooms made out of bamboo with 24×7 water supply. But, at times, you just might have to fill buckets for use:)

How to get to Ziro in Arunachal Pradesh, your favorite destination?

Unless you are already in Northeast India, the best way to reach Ziro is via Guwahati. First, we took a flight to Guwahati, followed by an overnight train from Guwahati to Naharlagun, and finally jumped in to a Sumo for a scenic 3-hours ascending ride from Naharlagun to Ziro valley.

Please note that instead of an overnight train from Guwahati to Naharlagun, you may also book a faster Shatabdi Express. However, the fast train is available only on certain days of the week.

And once you’re in Ziro, you can explore the valley on foot. In fact, a walk around the valley is totally recommended!

What are some must-try culinary recommendations from North East India?

India’s Northeast is a meat lovers’ paradise. You must try the local delicacies of pork curry or chicken cooked in lots of chilli with rice. And oh, when in Ziro, do not forget to try aphung, the local rice beer!

In certain remote places, the vegetarian menu can be slightly limiting but you do have some very good options otherwise:)

For instance in Guwahati, you must try the traditional Assamese thaali and the local fish fry at the Gam’s Delicacy restaurant. Yummm!

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

Ziro’s warm, kind and welcoming people would instantly make you feel at home. I was surprised how little I knew about this region when I found out Arunachal Pradesh has 26 tribes with 40 sub-tribes each with its own dialect!

The Apatani tribe of Ziro is one of the important tribes in the state known for their effective utilization of land, a practice known to attribute to their prosperity. The community follows a unique fish-cum-paddy farming style, one of the most advanced cultivation practices.

What are your recommended travel planning hacks for Ziro, Arunachal Pradesh?

First off, unless you are an Arunachali, you need a visitor’s permit to get to Ziro. Indians require Inner Line Permit (ILP) while foreigners need Protected Area Permits (PAPs). ILPs can be secured online now, and you just need your passport size photograph and a valid ID-cum-address proof. Note by Backpacking Series: For more on the topic, click to read Travel Permits to Northeast India.

Secondly, if you are headed to witness the Ziro Festival of Music, then besides your usual stuff, you must pack a raincoat and gumboots. It usually rains around this time of the year. I should add, we were lucky to dodge the seasonal downpour!

Lastly, carry enough cash on you. The nearest ATM is half an hour drive from the Ziro valley. Thank me later:)

What are your Travel Tips for Visitors to Ziro Festival of Music?

Take the safety measures and precautions which you generally would – don’t venture out alone, etc. I guess it’s the same everywhere. Note by Backpacking Series: For more on the topic of safety in Northeast India, please click to read North East India is Safer Than You Think.

As a first-timer to Ziro, I chose a guided tour ex-Guwahati priced at INR 18,500 per person. The price included transport from Guwahati to Ziro and back, 4 days of camping, breakfast and dinner on all days, festival pass for all days, and the cost of an Inner Line Permit (ILP).

If you have limited time and are going specifically to attend the Ziro Festival of Music, I am happy to recommend you the same. Just swing by www.zirofestival.com and choose a package that suits you!

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

Here’s a quick one: Dzouko Valley in Nagaland, Mechuka and Tawang in Arunachal Paradesh!

Traveler and Photographer , explorewithND
Traveller. In love with Sunsets. Nature walks. Beach bum. Always dreaming of Mountains. Bucket List: Volcanoes & Hotsprings | You can connect with me on Instagram via @explorewithnd

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.

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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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34 thoughts on “Northeast India Travel Guide to Ziro – The Dialogues Diaries™

  1. I was not knowing about Ziro before reading your post, but it is really worth visiting one. Miles and miles of paddy fields, enjoying with locals, eating their food, living in camps with toilet facility must be a great way of holidaying. Oh, they host a music festival too, then it must be great to visit this place during that time. Thanks for sharing another hidden gem from the North East.

    1. Yes, you must experience it Yukti! This is one trip everyone should take! Would love to connect with you for some more Ziro stories, you can find me on Instagram.

  2. Ziro sounds like a wonderful place to visit in North East India. I like your suggestion to book a package for the music festival that includes transportation and camping equipment. The landscape with all the rice fields is a plus. I’m so happy to hear that the food was delicious and I’d try the rice beer too!

    1. Thank you Annick. We are happy you liked the recommendations here for Ziro 🙂 Rice beer is a must try for sure. Happy travels.

  3. Interesting to read Nupur Das’ comments about Arunachal Pradesh and what drew her to the Ziro in particular. The beauty of the paddy fields and landscape are wonderful. I like the idea of attending for the music festival.

    1. Glad to hear you liked it, Kavita. Ziro has a lot to offer once you’re there. I attempted harvesting in the paddy fields, caught some fishes with my bare hands, cycled around the valley and spoke to the locals. Head to my Instagram feed to know more about their ways. I would love to connect with you! 🙂

  4. Ziro seems like a wonderful place to visit in North East India. Those paddy fields look absolutely stunning and the music festival sounds really interesting too. I love Northeastern food and I have no doubt it was delicious. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Lovely that you have tried the food in Northeast India Daniel. The cuisines are very different in each of the northeastern state and hence, it is worth to try is everywhere 🙂 Hope you visit the region again for Ziro.

  5. This was a great interview! I honestly hadn’t heard about Ziro before but I’m definitely interested in returning to India and venturing to new parts, after reading about Nupur’s experience it’s been added to my list. I especially love the idea of attending the music festival, camping under the stars and of course feasting on a spread as delicious as the one she enjoyed in that photo 🙂

    1. Yes, there are somethings that can only be shared by someone who has experienced it all! We are happy you discovered a new destination and added Ziro to your bucket list! We are sure you would have a great time following Nupur’s suggestions here 🙂

  6. The North-East is of course a treat for the visual senses with its pristine treasures waiting to be discovered. Ziro looks really enchanting. We have not explored much of the north-east but hope to be in Arunachal Pradesh shortly. So this post is really timely for us.

    1. Wow! We are excited that you would be heading to Arunachal Pradesh Sandy n Vyjay! There will be a lot to explore. Apart from this guide to Ziro, you could get cues for other unexplored areas in this state in our travelogue – Backpacking North East India: A Curious Journey. Happy travels.

  7. I’ve never heard of Ziro before but after reading your interview – it seems like one of those hidden gems that is a mist-visit for explorers! I’d also want to visit just to try out the chicken cooked in lots of chilli with rice as well as aphung!

  8. Very interesting to learn about Ziro Valley. I feel that backpacking around NorthEast India as a woman would be a great place to start given that it is not entirely on the tourist radar entirely yet and the place is relatively safer than other parts of India.

    1. You are right Arunima. In fact Northeast India is recommend in our travel blog on Safest Places in India for Solo Women Travelers. There are many hidden gems awaiting explorers to the region. You will get backpacking tips in How to Backpack North East India, one of our featured posts!

  9. I’ve never ever heard of Ziro but it sounds lovely. I would love to go especially for the music festival, what an experience.

  10. thank you for making me discover this Ziro. I do not know India but certainly have to add it to my bucket list. I love all the local things you did, this is the way to discover a place for sure. And as the Indians are so good on festivals, I believe a trip during their music festival is a must, thank you for your tips.

  11. I was not expecting to hear how beautiful Ziro is, with its fields and cottages. I was beginning to think it was very remote, but then you mentioned a multi-day music festival. I guess Ziro offers many surprises, especially the hospitality and friendliness of the residents.

  12. Ive never heard of Ziro before but this sounds like a very interesting place. I love culture and it would be interesting to see the diversity of the people there being bordered by a couple of countries. Would it be a practical way to go from there to Nepal? It would make a nice stopover if i go to nepal from india.

  13. India has always fascinated me in so many ways. Seeing this just makes me want to go more. Saving up and keeping this itinerary in mind 🙂

  14. Thanks for the introduction to this region in India. I didn’t know much about Ziro and I am glad to know that it has great food, music festival, and breathtaking landscape. Would like to visit there one day and see/experience it myself!

  15. When I did my last trip to India I visited the north and south however it now looks like I have missed a whole region. It seems after reading your post I am going to have to research Northeast for my next trip, especially for the food. Thanks

  16. I really enjoyed the question and answer format style of your blog post! It was really easy to follow along and you answered all of my question about traveling to that region. Thank you!

  17. I have never hear of Ziro while I was in India, to be honest. But it looks like a place with a stunning nature, so I would love to visit it. Also I love the music festivals, that sounds tempting.

  18. I was searching about this Ziro since last 3 weeks after seeing so many posts of music festival. Your blog gives a clear cut feature about ZFM. Thanks for this wonderful blog. Will plan my visit for the coming year 😃

  19. I have never heard of Ziro before but sounds like an interesting place to visit and I have found myself enjoying camping this year so sounds like a great place to go, so will look into planning a visit.

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