Yes, you read that right. I covered a few places in Meghalaya under INR 10,000 in 7 days!
Of course, this excludes flights (Mumbai to Guwahati cost me INR 8-9k return after using Citi card offers on MMT. The app has other card offers too)
Why should you visit Meghalaya?
If you love to relax in nature’s lap, look no further and blindly book your tickets to Meghalaya! Limestone caves, fossil prints, botanical architecture, treks, swimming under waterfalls has got you covered!
This newly born state (separated from Assam in 1972) is home to 3 tribes – Khasi, Garos, and Pnars or Jaintias. (You will meet 4-5 feet Khasi men at Nongriat village- excited?! )
Surrounded by mountains and gorging waterfalls, Meghalaya is also perfect for an adventure junkie. Activities like Cliff Jumping, scuba diving, snorkeling, and Zip Lining, etc are available in abundance!
Why should you travel to Shillong?
Often known as Scotland of East and the Rock Capital India, this capital city of Meghalaya has an abundance of greenery and houses loads of waterfalls around the city.
How to reach Shillong?
Shillong has a domestic airport. However, after speaking to the locals, they advised to not use this airport since the timings change anytime and frequently, thereby disrupting a lot of plans.
The mass prefers traveling from Guwahati airport or railway station since the frequency of flights and trains is more (making it cost-effective compared to the former option)
Where to stay in Shillong?
We stayed in the Pegasus Hotel which is in the city center and 10 meters away from Police Bazaar. Colloquially known as PB, it is a share taxi stand and you can travel to Guwahati airport, Anjali point etc.
Alternatively, you can also stay near Bada Bazaar or Anjali point. These again are center for a lot of places to travel to – viz. Cherapunjee, Dawki, Maysynram respectively.
You can also check out Airbnb / Goibibo / MMT for more options for your accommodation.
Things to do in Shillong
This beautiful city is where you can visit Elephant falls, Air force Museum, Ward’s Lake, Shillong Viewpoint (you can skip this since you will see a lot of deforested area on which now people stay), Don Bosco Museum, Lady Hydari Park, Rhino Museum, Umiam Lake, Laitlum Canyons, etc
You can eat at ML 05 Cafe, Dylan’s Cafe, Hoite Toit. Check out more food recommendations on Zomato since more cafes are popping up regularly. I would highly recommend ML05 over other places.
You can hire a scooter from Delphie’s ( +918415035771 ) which is 4 km from Police Bazaar (INR 150 in a cab).
They charge INR 500 for 5 hours, INR 700 for 24 hours by showing your driver’s license and depositing Aadhar card with him.
A petrol pump is just 100 meters from Delphie’s
I would not recommend self-drive since Meghalaya’s climate is unpredictable (wrt rains, fog, mist, etc) and hairpin roads are notorious at some places.
The cabs generally charge INR 2000 per day. You need not pre-book and can show up at the railway station or airport and there will be tonnes of cabs waiting for you!
However, if you still want to pre-book you can contact Mr. Parimal Pal – 9862102512 or Mr. Bij 06009275403
Cherapunjee aka Sohra
Why visit Cherapunjee?
- Sohra was the world’s world’s wettest place before Maysynram took over the title. There are two more places in Colombia which claim to be the world’s wettest place but unfortunately do not have any records of it.
- To witness the fossil prints inside the caves!
How to reach Cherapunjee?
54 Km from Shillong, Cherapunjee can be reached by a share cab too from Bada Bazaar (first floor) in Shillong for INR 80 / seat.
Alternatively, you can also take a private cab for INR~2000
Where to stay in Cherapunjee?
By the Way hostel is an amazing and affordable option. We just showed up (I tried booking but my email wasn’t responded and the numbers on the internet didn’t work) and got a bed for INR 250 per person.
In case you show up and the place is full, there are a few home-stays in the vicinity where you will get room to crash in.
Things to do in Cherapunjee and costs
You can keep your hostel as your base while you explore:
- Arwah Caves (you might need to squeeze in a lot of places to go to the other side, meanwhile do remember to admire the limestones around and check out some fossil prints)
- Masami caves (made of lime and sandstones, you can also see some fossil prints),
- Mawlynnong (if the idea of staying in Asia’s cleanest village excites you, you can contact Skyview Homestay +91 9612289359 )
- NohKaLikai Falls – the tallest plunge waterfall (height 1115 feet) in India.
- Seven Sister’s Falls – 7 waterfalls from limestone cliffs
The entry fees to most of the above-mentioned places are INR 20-50 per place. Some places will charge INR 100-300 extra for a camera/video camera.
Tip : If you have more time to relax, I would suggest staying at a breaktaking property- Sai – Mika for at least a night and 2 days to explore the unexplored around.
Nongriat – Living Root Bridges
Why visit Nongriat – Living Root Bridges?
Deep in the dense forests of Meghalaya, thrives living root bridges! These are present all over Meghalaya out of which 11 of them are in Sohra.
These are known to be a botanical architectural marvel! The Umshiang Double Decker Root Bridge is built by molding the elastic roots over 250 years by the Khasi locals!
The below bridge was flooded in rains most of the times and hence the locals built another bridge on top it!
Viola! Presenting a double Decker bridge to you, guys!
How to reach Nongriat – Living Root Bridges?
To reach the erstwhile Double Decker Living Root Bridge, you can take a private cab to Tyrna from Cherapunjee by paying INR 500 for a 40-50min ride. You can contact to Me Bij (06009275403) or ask your home-stay to arrange for one.
Once you reach the base, you’ve to climb down 3000+ steps which take about 2 hours. Climbing up is the only way out which takes ~3 hours.
Some people do it on the same day (1 – because they do not know there are housing options available there and 2 – some do not have the time)
Pro Tip- I suggest you have leg days daily at your gym or prep yourself in any form of exercise before this trek!
You can hire a porter to pick up your luggage. We paid him INR 700 while going down and INR 1000 while climbing up. Request to not bargain with them since this is one of the ways to run their economy and INR 100-200 does not make much difference to us as it does to them!
Where to stay in Nongriat?
We stayed in Serene Guesthouse and paid INR 250 per person. You can contact Mr. Byron on 8787570552 or write to him on email@example.com. He is quick to respond to your emails / WhatsApp messages.
You can also show up directly and I am sure you will find accommodation in many guest houses around Serene if not there, around the same price.
Pro tip: There are also traditional Khasi houses near Single Decker Living Root bridge around the same cost. I wish I had known this earlier, I would’ve definitely preferred a Khasi style house over a cement one!
Things to do around Living Root Bridge:
- All these guest houses are just 30 meters away from the Double Decker Living Root Bridge!
- Relax in the cool waters while the fishes come and pedicure for your feet
- You can also visit the Rainbow falls which is another 2-3 hours one-way trek away from the Living Roots
- We couldn’t do it because 1) Our legs gave up 2) It was pouring making the road to the Rainbow falls very muddy and slippery. Plus, you will need the sun to shine to see the eternal rainbow there.
Why visit Dawki?
The above photo answers this question and doesn’t need any further explanation.
How to reach?
You can take a private taxi like us from Tyrna (INR 3000 For 3-4 hour journey) after leaving from Nongriat. There are no share cabs from Tyrna to Dawki but are for Shillong.
You can do either one the caves in Cherrapunjee and / or stop by at Mawlynnong before calling in a night at Shnongpedong.
Alternatively, you also have share cabs from Anjali Parking Point, Shillong for INR 300 or 500 per person.
Where to stay?
We had plans of staying in tents right beside the Umnogt river with Pioneer Tours (9856006437 or 8787840554 / firstname.lastname@example.org) but thanks to rains, we had to shift to a guesthouse right opposite the river.
Things to do and costs in Dawki
Pioneer Tours have various options – check those our here.
We took 1N2D Package which includes – Riverside Camping, Boat ride + transfers from village to the campsite, tea and snacks, bonfire, barbecue (complementary and on availability during fishing season), dinner, breakfast, and lunch at price INR 2900/- per person
Adventure activities cost extra – Scuba diving: 3000/-, Zipline, Cliff jumping, Kayaking, Snorkeling, Trekking, Rock climbing/ Rappelling cost in the range of INR 300 to 1000 /-
- Dawki is a share cab away (INR 30-50) from Shongepdong where you can get iconic shots of boats over crystal clear waters and enjoy boating too (INR 500-1000)
- You can also visit the Indo-Bangladesh friendly border
- Shongpedang should be preferred since less people know of this place.
- October sudden rains had ruined our crystal clear water sights. Rains replaced it with muddy waters. What a bummer, right?!
Why travel to Mawlynbna?
A town that is 97 km from Shillong can be visited for a few hours, but I would highly recommend staying here for at least 2D1N (which was my earlier plan but thank you rains!).
Mawlynbna is not on the radar of usual tourists since it is an offbeat destination. The only number of people you’ll see when you travel are the locals and a handful of tourists.
You can have the entire waterfall to all by yourself and swim there till your heart’s content!
How to reach Mawlynbna?
I took a private cab from Police Bazaar to Anjali Parking Point (5 km INR 100 ) – you can also get a share cab for INR 20 – 10-15 mins –> then take a share cab from Anjali Parking point to Mawsynram INR 100 2-3 hours –> then another share cab from Mawsynram to Mawlynbna INR 40 40-50 min
All the cab stops are right next to each other
Please note: the last cab from Mawsynram to Shillong leaves at 1pm. I reached Mawsynram at 2 and no cabs were heading towards Shillong. You can hire a private cab in this case but I was lucky to have Mr. Ridor as my driver cum guide who took the initiative to make his car a share cab till Shillong!
Where to stay in Mawlynbna?
There are only a handful of homestays and Mawlynbna’s Traveller’s Nest (+91 8837046925) is one of them. They charge INR ~2000 for 2D1N for one cottage with 3-5 rooms. They have cheaper options of staying in tents too.
Things to do in Mawlynbna and costs:
The Traveller’s Nest will help you with the activities and cost too. The rates very reasonable (INR 300 for Kayaking, INR 600 for a guide for a day, INR 300 for caving, INR 100 Waterfall Trek – DO NOT miss this ), lunch and dinner INR 250 each, etc .
Tip: All these places are 3-5 km from each other. In case you want to hire a car for a day, I would highly recommend hiring Mr. Ridor. I was on a solo trip on this day and I felt extremely safe with him even in those places where there was no one!
Split Stone ( INR 30 )
You can rappel down or take a ladder down this split stone. You will get the ultimate experience of the movie 127 hours!
Fossil Park ( INR 100 )
This land was under the ocean millions of years ago. You will be able to see a lot of fossil marks on the Fossil Park trek
Pitcher Plant Garden
I was thrilled to see these plants in front of me. I had never imagined seeing them in its natural habitat other than the textbooks or a botanical garden.
These plants are carnivorous plants – yep, you read it correctly! Its juices allure the insects and then they eat them!
Why visit Mawphlang?
Mawphlang is 25 km from Shillong and it houses one of the 800-year-old sacred forests spread across 192 acres.
The East Khasi Hills and the Jaintia Hills District of Meghalaya are filled with sacred forests, all closely linked with the indigenous cultures and religious beliefs. Meghalaya earlier had 52 kingdoms and each kingdom had its own scared forest.
This is one of the few surviving Sacred Forest in Meghalaya. No one is allowed to pluck and take ANYTHING outside this forest. It is believed that the person will be followed by an ill omen if they take anything.
- To see the plants/trees which cures cancer and many other ailments
- To see monoliths where animals (esp bulls) were sacrificed in olden days
How to reach Mawphlang?
We hired a scooter from Delphi’s for a day. The roads are fantastic, and the drive was an extremely amazing experience. I would recommend self-drive for only this stretch.
Where to stay?
We went for a day’s trip and returned to Shillong to call in a night.
However, you can stay in a homestay in Mayphlong for INR 1500 / room ( Mr Embor +91 8837437716 ) or Maple Pine Farm, Lyngkein, Hima Mawphlang, Mawmyrsiang, +91 098560 41205
and proceed towards Mawlynbna and Mawsnram the next day
Things to do in Mawphlang and costs:
Mawphlong’s Sacred Forest will take around 1-2 hours while you stumble upon rudraksha tree, pine trees, poisonous mushrooms (don’t worry, your guide will always be your chaperone).
I would highly recommend taking at least half a day for this place and taking a package of an hour if there are no elderly with you. The trail after half an hour is beautiful with a water stream following you everywhere! I would highly recommend an hour’s tour since a better part of the forest begins after half of the tour.
A guided 30 min tour costs INR 300 and an hour costs INR 500.
If you have time, you can stop by at the World’s wettest place while going to Mawlynbna and explore the 209-meter high cave -Mawjymbuin caves.
They are made of calcareous sandstones which has numerous stalagmites (formed as a result of calcium carbonate depositions, weathering and dripping of mineral enriched liquid)
Things to keep in mind while traveling in Meghalaya:
- The drivers will quote more than what I have mentioned in the blog. Be confident and tell them you know people who have just traveled recently, because of them you know the rates.
- I was lied at Police Bazar while leaving for Guwahati airport – The cab driver needed only one seat till 30km before Guwahati airport and he convinced me to drop me at taxi share stand near that point from where the cabs take people to the airport for INR 50. When I reached there, the tariffs were INR 300-500 and he had already charged me INR 400! Whereas the cabs from Shillong to Airport costs INR 500!
- Carry mosquito repellent. I did not need it anywhere on the trip, however, it is safe to carry one.
- Airtel worked in ALL the towns that are listed above. Vodafone did not work at Living Roots Bridge and Shongpedong. Jio worked only at Shongpedong and nowhere else.
- The share cabs fill in people to a level that is not comfortable for a 2-3 hour journey. Since the per person seat doesn’t cost a bomb, you can pay for two and have an almost comfortable journey.
- Many locals know English more than Hindi in Meghalaya. The local language is Khasi.
- The state practices Christianity and hence many places will be shut on Sundays (Living Root Bridge will be closed on Sundays from 2020). Ask around the place and align your plans accordingly if they fall on a Sunday
- Carry all your trash with you when you leave the Living Root Bridge since they do not have trash disposing processes. I was disheartened to see a zillion plastic bottles lying around the trail of Living Root Bridge!
- Carry back your bottles, sanitary napkins, condoms, snack plastic bags etc back to on top and dispose it anywhere in a dustbin.
- Please carry refillable bottles for water. I’d recommend LifeStraw – it purifies any water to 99.99% and makes it drinkable.
- The best time to travel is October to January if you want to see crystal clear Dawki. (Thanks to climate change, I witnessed rains in October end and ruined my Dawki and many other plans). Please note- avoid monsoon at all costs which is February to September
Day 1 – Landed in Guwahati around 9 am. Reach Shillong around 1 and Cherapunjee around 3-4 pm. After having lunch at 5, we called in a night at By the Way Hostel
Day 2 – Living Root bridges
Day 3- Started from LRB around 8 am, reached Tyrna around 11 am and Shongpedong around 4 pm. In retrospect, we could’ve witnessed either of the caves or Mawlynnong on the way to Shongpedong.
Day 4- Shongpedong / Dawki – thanks to rains we left at 11 am for Shillong and reached there at 5 pm.
Day 5 – Mawphlong and Shillong sightseeing
Day 6 – Mawlynbna and Shillong sightseeing
Day 7 – Leave from Shillong
The rains ruined our many plans. If you are reading this itinerary, please note 5-7 days are not enough for these places if you really want to enjoy the essence of each place.
I would recommend 2-3 days for each town and you can do the maths of the number of places mentioned above.
You can, however, put a tick to all these places in 5-7 days. It is upto you, the kind of travel experiences you prefer!
I hope you have a more fun trip to Meghalaya than I did.
Other blogs you might find blogs interesting :
Read the guide to Arunachal Pradesh here.
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