Shillong travel itinerary is going to come in handy if you are planning to visit this beautiful capital of the northeastern state of Meghalaya. Meghalaya is a place where you need to be if you have ever desired to get close to nature and greenery fascinates you.
A well-defined Shillong travel itinerary will help you explore the best of what this place has to offer. The lush green mountains, lakes, waterfalls, valleys and picturesque villages embellish this place and make it a perfect destination for travellers.
Although many places in India’s northeast are surreal, some of them are quite harsh and inaccessible. Shillong is a place where people of all ages can easily travel and spend quality time. In my current blog, I will share with you a four-day Shillong travel itinerary based on my extensive visits to the region.
Shillong Travel Itinerary
The beauty of Meghalaya needs no introduction. Meghalaya meaning the abode of the clouds is an interesting as well as enriching place to explore. It is the wettest region in India, and Cherrapunjee (another visitor attraction around 50 km distance from Shillong) holds the record for the highest rainfall on the planet.
The beauty of Shillong was noticed by early European settlers who named it “Scotland of the East”. Shillong travel itinerary can give you a gist of the flavour that you might experience in the whole state. One can also think of it as the start of exploring the North-Eastern part of India
Although, you can spend countless days in Shillong amidst nature, here I will provide you with a 4-day Shillong travel itinerary. Below is a brief overview of my day wise Shillong trip itinerary.
Reach Shillong and visit Umiam Lake along the way
Go sightseeing in Shillong (Shillong peak, lakes, gardens, golf course, museums)
Feel closer to nature at the Davids Scott Trail or travel to Mawlynnong (along with the Riwai root bridge)
Witness the famous Nohkalikai falls and the Nohsngithiang or seven sisters falls en route to Cherrapunjee
The Complete Itinerary for Traveling to Shillong
In the following paragraphs, I will introduce you to the places to visit on your Shillong travel itinerary. This will benefit you and you won’t waste time charting a plan on where to go next.
Day 1 of My 4-Day Shillong travel itinerary
It is a good idea to start early in the morning from Guwahati. I travelled to Shillong from Guwahati, so I am taking that as my starting point. If you are starting an afresh trip, it will depend on your flight or train timings. In that case, I would suggest booking a transport option that reaches Guwahati in the morning. The approximate distance from Guwahati to Shillong is 100 km and it would take more or less 2.5-3 hrs.
Before entering Shillong, you will come across Umiam lake. The lake is also known as Borapani Lake locally. It is a man-made lake in the lap of the hills with a mesmerizing backdrop. The size of the lake will leave you awestruck.
There are opportunities for boating on the lake. There are also different water sports for adventure lovers like water skiing, high-speed boat and yachting. A Pedal boat ride on the lake is absolutely worth it if you want to enjoy the ambience in a leisurely way.
The rates of several water sports at Umiam Lake are given below. Note that these are approximate charges and can change with the season.
Cost per person: 200 INR
Duration: 5 minutes
Cost per person: 100 INR
Duration: 1 hour
Cost per person: 50 INR
Cost per person: 75 INR
Duration: 5 minutes
Cost per person: 10 INR
Duration: 10 minutes
Cost per person: 50 INR
Duration: 5 minutes
Cost per person: 20 INR
Duration: 30 minutes
After the break at Umiam lake, continue on your onward journey to Shillong. After checking-in, to the hotel (or hostel) the rest of the day can be spent exploring the locale and hiring a car (taxi fares given ahead) for the next few days.
I suggest you head out and explore the food junctions at Shillong. Food is something that connects you to the place and gives you a true feel of its roots. Wherever you travel, it becomes an important part of the travel experience and builds up a connection between you and the place.
As I had already mentioned, the North East has a different culture and flavour. As you enter Shillong, you will surely feel it. The bazaar areas have innumerable stalls of street foods, that sell local delicacies at a reasonable price. If you are a meat-lover, this is the place to be.
|While strolling the streets of Shillong, try a plate of Dohneiiong (pork cooked with black sesame), a bowl of Tungrymbai (fermented soybeans) or a plate of Jadoh (flavoured rice). They are simply amazing!|
Also, there are a number of restaurants, where you can go for a more conventional meal system. Use of bamboo shoots in cooking is a characteristic in this part of the country. You can try the commonly found Chicken with bamboo shoots. There are also several other conventional and vegetarian-friendly places available.
Day 2 of My 4-Day Shillong Travel Itinerary
On day 2 of your trip, you can go sightseeing in and around Shillong. I started my day by visiting Shillong Peak. While most of it is motorable, the last few steps have to be walked through. It is not a difficult walk and people from all age groups can reach the place easily
Morning is the best time is best to visit Shillong peak. It is the highest point in and around Shillong and from this point, you can see the city from a distance. It is around 1900 metres from sea level and people go there to get a panoramic view of the place. You can also see the Bangladesh plains from up here. Sometimes you might find heavy fog at times, but I highly recommend this.
If you are a passionate photographer like me, you are in for a treat. Look for beautiful Himalayan birds on your way.
There are beautiful parks and waterfalls in Shillong which can be visited during the day. Lady Hydari Park, Golf course and Wards Lake are a few you can visit. One important fall around Shillong is the Elephant falls. It is a beautiful waterfall and it continues in several tiers. This is one of the most popular places around Shillong and you might find a number of tourists posing for a photograph in front of the falls.
The afternoon can be spent exploring the local museum and churches of Shillong. There are a number of museums in Shillong. Arunachal State Museum, Meghalaya State Museum and Wankhar Entomology museum are a few you can visit. There is also a beautiful church very near to the city centre, the Cathedral of Mary Help of Christians. The gothic style architecture along with lush green lawns particularly caught my attention.
Day 3 of My 4-Day Shillong Travel itinerary
On the third day, we headed to the David Scotts trail near Shillong. It is an easy trek only a few km away from the city, with amazing views of lush green nature. The hike, although easy, is quite a long one. It is a 16 km stretch with a gentle slope. Guides will be available from the hotel if you need one.
|Since the network coverage is weak here, you must have an offline downloaded map of the trail with you to help you navigate easily.|
There is a stream which needs to be crossed in between, so you need to be careful. Wear good shoes for the trek. Since I’d had a bad experience with shoes earlier, this time I carried along with trekking shoes that I got at a great deal. Luckily they turned out well too.
Also, be careful of undulating roads and leeches (more common in rainy seasons). Since the rainy season will make the stones and boulders slippery, it is better to avoid this time. Again, if you are an experienced trekker, you can opt for the same.
An Alternate Option for Day 3 of Shillong Trip Itinerary: Mawlynnong
An alternate option would be visiting Mawlynnong. Mawlynnong is a beautiful small village around 80 km from Shillong. Dubbed as the cleanest village in Asia, the striking aspect of the village is its women-centric society. The village thrives on the harvesting of betel nuts and almost all work is performed by women. While most tourists skip it due to lack of time, this can be an interesting activity on the Shillong travel itinerary.
Just before reaching Mawlynnong, there is a small village called Riwai. A small trek in Riwai can lead you to a wonder of nature, the Root Bridge. This is the only place in India where you will find living root bridges. It is the phenomenon of the roots of trees acting like bridges across the stream. The trek although not a very easy one, can be completed by people of all ages. (If you are going to Cherrapunjee as a next stop, you will also find root bridges there as well.)
When I saw the movie “Avatar” recently, I was reminded of the root bridges of the North East. Never in my wildest imagination, had I thought that only roots can make routes across a stream. To me, it signifies the flow of life, the flow of spontaneity. It denotes the spiritual connection that runs across all of Nature and within all its creatures.
Mawlynnong has several homestays and if you would like, you can spend a night here. One of the guesthouses (Llajong Guest House) also has a treehouse as accommodation which is a fascinating place and is worthy of spending some time.
Day 4 of the 4-Day Shillong Travel Itinerary
This was my last day at Shillong. We checked out of the hotel with a packed lunch and headed towards the Cherrapunji. There are going to be a few pit stops along the way. The first one can be a viewpoint for the valleys of Khasi hills. As far as you can see, there are overlapping green valleys. It is one point not to be missed and after returning from the trip, this one will be a treasured photograph.
Make your second stop at a famous waterfall – the Nohkalikai Falls. The falls have made it to the cover of many travel magazines. Although there is a conventional gate to enter the viewing point (for which you have to pay), the waterfall can be seen from quite a distance. It also has an interesting but unfortunate story associated with it.
|The Unfortunate Story of the Jump of Ka Likai
There was a woman named Likai (Ka being the Khasi tradition to address a female), who after the death of her husband had to remarry. She was herself a porter and had to earn money for her family. While looking after the kid, a little girl, she could not give attention to her second husband, who in a fit of frenzy killed the little one. After killing the child he cooked her flesh and threw away the severed head and bones. While Likai came back home from work, she couldn’t find the child. Famished by all day’s work, she decided to eat, before looking for the child. After the meal, when she proceeded towards her post-meal betel leaf, she discovered the blood-stained finger of her own child wrapped in betel leaf. Terrorised by the thought of eating her own child and struck with grief, she turned mad. With an axe in her hand, she ran out of the house and jumped off the cliff at the head of the waterfall.
After spending an hour at the place with a small snack, you can head to another place close by which is the Nohsngithiang or Seven Sisters falls. Although the name is ‘Seven Sisters’ you will not be able to actually find seven falls, unless you are visiting during the monsoons. If you want to see these waterfalls at their full roar, visit during monsoons.
As you enjoy the wondrous Khasi hills and the beauty of nature, evening approaches. Watch the sunset across the fields and crimson light enlightens the sky across the hills. It is time to enter Cherrapunjee.
Many people just visit Cherrapunjee like a sight-seeing on a to-and-fro basis from Shillong. It is actually possible, however, that the essence of Cherrapunjee will be better absorbed if you stay at the calm of Cherrapunjee Holiday Resort for a couple of nights.
I highly recommend that travellers should couple a 2-day stay at Cherrapunjee along with Shillong 4-day trip. You can also travel to Dawki if you have time- In case you can don’t know much about this place, check out this 2-minute video of what to expect in Dawki.
Places that couldn’t make it to this Shillong Travel Itinerary
There are certain other places, which couldn’t make it to this Shillong trip itinerary but are definitely worth a visit. If you have a couple of days more, you can add these to your Shillong itinerary as well.
This single stream waterfall lies in Happy Valley which is situated at about 8 km from Shillong. Although the road leading to it is a little rough, the place is worth a visit. During monsoons, it is a sight to behold when the brown waters gush through the top of the falls. Not many people visit this place and therefore it is very serene.
If you have one extra day, this place is a must-visit. On a clear day, you can easily see the beautiful canyons. They are about 9 km away from Shillong.
Approximate Shillong Trip Budget (for 2 people)
If I had to rate the budget aspect of my trip to Shillong, I would say that it was moderate. The important thing to remember when travelling in the hilly regions is that the costs of transportation are typically going to be high, owing to the difficult terrain and inadequate public transport.
I realized that we could have cut down on the costs way more if we were travelling in a group of four or five. Below is the breakdown of the costs we incurred on the trip.
Guwahati to Shillong TaxiFare: 2000 INR
Sightseeing in Shillong Taxi Fare: 2000 INR
Shillong to Mawlylong Taxi Fare: 3000 INR
Shillong to Cherrapunjee Taxi Fare: 2000 INR
Total: 9000 INR
1500 INR per day
Total: 4500 INR
1500 INR per day
Total: 4500 INR
1000 INR per day
Total: 3000 INR
|GRAND TOTAL: 21000 INR|
Frequently Asked Questions about travelling in/to Shillong
Now that I have discussed the detailed Shillong travel itinerary and budget, here are a few other frequently asked questions about travelling to Shillong.
How much time to spend in Shillong?
It would be best to have a plan of a 3-4 day Shillong travel itinerary. Places to visit in Shillong are easily accessible by car. For a few places, you might have to hike a bit. So, depending on your taste, you can choose to drop a few places from the list. Shillong also has the typical ‘laid-back’ ambience which makes it a wonderful travel-friendly spot. Whatever you choose, spending some quality time in the lap of Nature will make it worth the visit.
What is the best time to visit Shillong?
There is no particular “best” time to visit Shillong because the place has a high altitude with lovely weather. Winters can be a bit on the harsh side (from an Indian perspective) and summers are cool. It is best to avoid the holiday season when you might find each spot crowded and hotels running full. October-November (before the winters) and February-May (after the winters) can be a good times to make a Shillong travel itinerary. Having said this, one can plan to visit Shillong and adjacent regions in monsoons when the waterfalls are at their roaring best and lakes in their mesmerizing natural shades.
How to reach Shillong?
The best way to reach Shillong is through Guwahati, which is in Assam. Guwahati is a major city in Assam with good railway and flight connectivity. You can reach Guwahati through either of these transportation options. You can explore a bit of Guwahati and/or other places of Assam before ascending to the hills of Shillong.
There are several options for reaching Shillong from Guwahati. I have elaborated on each one of them below.
The government also provides a 30-minute helicopter ride to Shillong from Guwahati. The Guwahati to Shillong helicopter fare is about 1500 INR per person. The first ride starts as early as 9 am and goes up till 1.30 pm.
I also spotted several shared taxis (including Tata Sumo), which charged between 300- 400 INR per seat. There are also government and private buses travelling from Guwahati to Shillong but I heard that they took a lot of time. The tickets can be booked at Meghalaya Tourism Information Centre, Guwahati Airport/ Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport, Borjhar. You should call the office beforehand to check the availability. Contact number- 0361 284 1909
I suggest starting from Guwahati (either as a fresh trip or as a continuation trip from Guwahati) early in a taxi. A small car would charge a price of 1800 INR while a Guwahati to Shillong Tata Sumo fare would be around 2000 INR. SUVs generally cost double. Depending on your nature of comfort level and the number of people you will be able to book a cab. There are several online portals for booking such cars.
I would suggest choosing a taxi option. It would be much more convenient if you wish to make stops in between like I did at the lake
Should I take the Guwahati-Shillong Tour Packages?
You will find several travel agents advertising customized trips to Shillong from Guwahati. Since these are part of packages, these will always be a bit expensive. So, if you are on a budget, best avoid these. You can easily explore Shillong and places nearby on your own.
Where to stay in Shillong?
Shillong is one of the top tourist spots that attract visitors all the year-round. It accommodates a number of hotels which range from budget to luxury. Common booking websites will show you a number of options.
I would suggest you book before reaching Shillong, especially between October to March, when the number of travellers increases manifold. It is also a good idea to stay in the city centre so that transportation is not a problem.
Based on my own experience, I would suggest these two places to stay:
|Lightup Bed & Breakfast
Price starts at INR (two people)
|Live Inn Guest House
Price starts at INR (two people)
What are Transportation options in and around Shillong?
While in Shillong, you will need to have a car along with you if you want to enjoy the places in their true sense (that of course if you are not bound by a budget). Hiring cabs or small cars for the whole day is a good way to deal with it. There are a number of taxi rentals available. The best option is to just walk to the taxi stand and bargain for a few quotes.
This table below will give you a brief idea of the taxi fares in and around Shillong:
Full day: 2000 INR
Half Day: 1300 INR
|Shillong to Mawlylong
Both ways: 3000 INR
|Shillong to Cherrapunjee
one way: 2000 INR
whole day package: 2500 INR
How much will a 4-day trip to Shillong cost?
On average, a Shillong trip for 4 days (from Guwahati) will cost you around 8000-10000 INR. I have given a breakdown of my costs above. Also, as I said, you can cut down on the costs if you travel in a group.
Is Shillong safe for travellers?
Yes, Shillong is a safe place to travel for all kinds of travellers including solo female travellers. The main reason for this is that their society is matriarchal. However, I would advise you not to be late out at night. This is because the majority of places are deserted by 9 pm and you won’t find most places open.
Is Monsoons a good time to visit Shillong?
Monsoons are a wonderful time to visit Shillong. During monsoons, you can witness the waterfalls in their full force. The rainy season brings out the best in Shillong.
Few Interesting Facts about Meghalaya
Before I end this blog, here are a few things I found pretty interesting about Meghalaya. I couldn’t resist adding them here.
|Meghalaya meaning the abode of the clouds was previously united with Assam, Shillong being its capital of the united state. Only in 1972, Meghalaya and Assam were separated.|
|The wettest region in India, recording an average of 12,000 mm of rain in a year.|
|About 70 % of the state is covered with forests accommodating excellent biodiversity.|
|Unlike other Indian states, Meghalaya has a traditional matrilineal system where the youngest daughter inherits all wealth and she also takes care of her parents.|
|The main districts are Khasi, Garo and Jaintia hills. All these three tribes (Khasi, Garo and Jaintia had their individual kingdom until British administration in the nineteenth century).|
Shillong is a place that embraces you with all its natural affections. The lush green mountains, the running waterfalls and the lovely weather all symbolize the celebration of life. As in Khasi tradition, people express a lot of respect for womanhood giving her an important role in family and society. By the same tradition perhaps, they respect Mother Nature. It is very easy to fall in love with this quintessential hilly ambience; however, it is difficult to get rid of the addictive affection of Shillong.
Happy Wayfaring 🙂