Travel tips for Nagaland will help you connect with this lone but extremely beautiful jewel of a destination. Nagaland is a North Eastern state of India adjacent to Myanmar (Burma). It is the only state with 16 active tribes and home to the last surviving head-hunters- The Konyaks.
In order to really connect with this region, its people, food and culture, it is important that you are aware of a few travel tips for Nagaland. This Indian state is perceived (sadly, this misconception hasn’t cleared out even now) as a backward and obscure destination with no connection to the rest of the world. But the reality is that the people of Nagaland are a lot more knowledgeable, friendly and open-minded than people in major Indian cities.
I had both awesome as well as some disappointing moments on my trip to this amazing destination but that’s true for any place. In my current blog, I will share some travel tips for Nagaland that I learned from my personal experience. Hope they’ll help you when you’re on a visit to the region.
9 Travel Tips for Nagaland – All That You Need to Know !!
The North-Eastern region of India comprising Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland, and Sikkim stands firm and pure even in this modern day and age. It is still untouched by the grubby paws of modern tourism. The sanctity of the destinations in these states is intact majorly because the native’s respect and care for the splendid natural beauty and so do their children.
Like any other destination, one needs some basic guidelines or travel tips for Nagaland for a smooth and fun trip. These essential tips will be helpful in making your visit to this beautiful state unforgettable.
The top travel tips for Nagaland based on my personal experience are listed below. Each tip and pointer springs from my personal experience. Had I known all of these before, I have no doubt that my trip would have been even more joyful.
I will now elaborate on each and every point separately. Nagaland is a state that is quite different from the Indian mainland. Hence it is extremely important that individuals visiting this part of the world for the first time have complete knowledge about the region. I hope my elaboration of the travel tips for Nagaland helps you form a better connection with this state.
1. Choose an Optimum Time of the Year to Visit Nagaland
Even though the weather is pleasant in Nagaland throughout the year, I’d say the optimal months to travel to Nagaland are between October and May. The heavy monsoons would have gone by till then and the chilly winter would slowly be taking root.
The famed Dzukou Valley and Japfu peak will be covered by lush green and dense trees almost like a carpet. You will come across many small waterfalls, streams and rivulets in case you decide to hike around. Also, the celebrated Hornbill and Aoling festivals are held in these months, so there are travellers pouring in from everywhere giving you the vibe of a proper travel destination.
2. Follow the Sun’s Time Table
In Nagaland, the early bird gets the worm. Being one of the eastern-most places of India, the sun rises and sets almost an hour and a half early than it does in the rest of the mainland country. Hence, plan your day and your travel accordingly.
This is one of the most essential travel tips for Nagaland as most people keep hugging their blankets till 10 or 11 in the morning and have little or no time left for exploration because the sun sets early.
This happened to me as well. Therefore, I’m sharing my experience as a means for you to learn and not repeat the same mistake. I left for Dimapur from Kohima at half-past four in the evening just before the sun disappeared in the mountains and before I made it halfway, it was pitch-black and everything suddenly went extremely silent.
3. Go Offbeat and Avoid Restricting Yourself to Exploration
While in Nagaland, do not restrict yourself to the capital Kohima and the large town of Dimapur only. Go beyond Kohima and Dimapur. Explore the village life, the tribals, the indigenous culture – everything. Kohima and Dimapur are surely beautiful but your trip cannot possibly begin or end there. You need to travel beyond fear.
Invest some time on your Nagaland trip and go tripping to places like Khonoma, Kigwema, Mokokchung, Kiphire, Benreu, etc. Discover the pristine quality and the purity of nature at these places. They are surreal and untouched.
True Naga culture can truly be discovered at offbeat places around the state of Nagaland.
4. Bond with the Natives
Don’t hesitate to reach out to the natives. Be open and free instead of being shy or reserved. The locals throughout Nagaland are friendly, barring a few here and there as it is with any place. They speak Hindi as well as English quite fluently. English is the official language of the state.
So just disregard the thoughts of a language barrier. Once you strike up a conversation with someone native to the place, you can really understand the culture, traditions, art, history and lifestyles of the people. Also, they can assist you on your journey in so many ways.
5. Meet the Last Surviving Headhunters at Mon Town
While in Nagaland, make sure to visit Mon district and especially a village called Longwa. It is home to the last surviving headhunters – the Konyaks. In times gone by, the Konyaks had a reputation for being brutal warriors who attacked nearby villages of other tribes, cut their heads off and hung them in the Morung – a bachelors’ dormitory.
Konyaks are still ruled by hereditary chieftains known as Anghs. Hence, when you arrive at Longwa you will be expected to first visit the Angh. This is the tradition there and must be followed.
There is nothing to worry about because these tribals don’t head hunt anymore. They practice a decent agricultural lifestyle for the last 3 decades now. They will greet you well. Once with them, observe their fascinating life which is quite different from ours.
Have a look at their very distinctive unique appearance. Their face is covered with tattoos that were traditionally symbolic of taking an enemy’s head. Also, glance at their adornments like shawls and jewellery.
6. Eat What You Can Rather Than What You Think You Can
When it comes to food, do not be picky in Nagaland. One of the very important travel tips for Nagaland as far as cuisine is concerned is not to overthink while feeding yourself.
While there are vegetarian options available at eateries throughout the state, I think vegans might find it a bit difficult to find unique choices other than basic fruits, vegetables and Indian cuisine based vegan dishes.
The non-vegetarians, on the other hand, will be in for a great feast because Nagaland essentially feeds on meat-based dishes. The pork stew or beef stew paired with local sticky rice and some bamboo shoot will definitely tingle your taste buds, give it a try if you’re up for it.
7. Don’t Freak Out by Insects on Sale
The native Naga people have some unique eating habits. When you stroll through markets across the different regions of Nagaland, insects and worms are a common sites on display.
Now there is nothing wrong with it because these are the choices that the natives have made. In countries like Ghana, Togo, Benin, and even our neighbour China, insects are a common choice of food.
We might think it’s weird to eat insects but in reality, it isn’t. In fact, an insect-based diet proves to provide a lot more proteins. So do not judge and get freaked out. It is quite ok.
8. Shop Indigenous Items in Nagaland
Commercial shopping opportunities are scant in Nagaland. Those who favour extravagant items or usually spend superfluously on a shopping spree can’t have their way here.
Local hand-crafted items made from wood, tribal paraphernalia like large knives, bird feathers, native attires and unique cooking utensils are a few of the things worth purchasing. These items are right up the alley of avid collectors who like to keep memorabilia from every place.
But, buying anything or everything that attracts you isn’t quite realistic here. Browse through the different options, think about how you will accommodate it in your luggage and only then go for it.
9. Attend the Hornbill Festival – Where Tradition and Culture Come to Life
While travelling, I often wonder “what is the best way to get to know a place and every aspect of its history and culture?” My answer lies in getting to know the local festivities better. Hence, I attended the Hornbill Festival in Nagaland. History, topography, art, culture, past and present lifestyles, worldviews – I got to know a lot about all of these aspects of their life straight from the mouths of the traditional Naga folks.
Commonly Asked Questions by Travelers about the Hornbill Festival
December 1st to December 10th every year.
Kisama Heritage Village, Nagaland, India
|Why ? :
The Hornbill Festival is held annually in order to protect and even revive the rich culture of Nagaland. Not to forget to display to the outsiders the rich traditions.
|Who should attend the Hornbill Festival? :
It is open to all but those interested in learning about various cultures, lifestyles, history and philosophies of the indigenous Naga tribes will feel enchanted.
|What does it have to offer? :
Enchanting performances by the people of the original 16 Naga tribes
A challenge as well a treat for your food palette.
A congregation of people from the entire North East region of India- “The Seven Sisters”
A rock concert/contest promoting rock bands from across the country
|What about accommodations? :
Homestays and camps are the most common and widely preferred options during the festival.
|Is anything worth Shopping at the festival? :
Tribal handiwork and paraphernalia, naturally grown herbs and teas.
If you’re interested to know more about the Hornbill Festival that is held annually in Nagaland, you can read my blog on it.
Procure an Inner Line Permit
An Inner Line Permit is required for visiting Nagaland under the Inner Line Permit (ILP) Regulation Act (Section III of the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation Act of 1873). This has been done to safeguard the interests of the indigenous people of Nagaland from exploitation by outsiders.
An Inner Line Permit for Nagaland is required if you wish to visit a place in Nagaland other than Dimapur. You can apply for the permit both online and offline. An important thing you need to remember is that the Inner Line Permit needs to be obtained individually for each person, even if you are travelling in a group.
|Note: Foreigners do not require a Restricted Area Permit (RAP) or Protected Area Permit (PAP) to visit Nagaland. However, they must register themselves online on Foreigner Regional Registration Offices (FRRO) e-portal.|
Inner Line Permit for Nagaland- Highlights
|Required by: Everyone except residents of Nagaland and children below 5 years of age.|
|Validity: 30 Days|
|Fee: 100 INR|
|Mode of Application: Online /Offline|
|Documents and ID’s required: Passport size photographs, Identity proof (Pan Card/Aadhaar Card/Voter ID).|
|Is an extension of ILP Arunachal Pradesh possible? : Yes|
When you visit a region for the first time, you should know which places to accommodate yourselves in and which to skip. Accommodation plays a major role when it comes to places you haven’t been to before.
Based on my personal experience in two of the major cities of Nagaland, I will suggest places where you can accommodate yourself with all your comfort without cutting down on your budget.
The hotels in Dimapur are quite sophisticated and provide all the basic amenities like television, hot water, parking space and yes, definitely Wi-Fi. A room on a twin-sharing basis will cost you around 900 to 1600 INR per night. The hotels are situated at the centre of the city in Dimapur and are at a 15-20 minute drive from the airport, bus depot and railway station.
Hotels in the mountains are usually expensive and so if you’re a backpacker or a solo traveler, at first a 900 -1600 INR might come across as a violation of your budget. Hence, do ample research before booking your stay.
Surfing on various mobile apps will certainly help you get a good deal. I got a great deal through Make My Trip and only paid 600 INR (No additional cost for accommodating 3 of us in a single room) instead of the standard 1350 INR.
I could have found even cheaper options can be found but those establishments came across as shady. Remember, it’s important to budget yourself but staying safe is paramount.
Budget favourable options for accommodation in Kohima are hard to come by. A proper hotel room with basic amenities will take at least 1400 INR per night from your pocket. These hotels are situated at the centre of Kohima city near the Commonwealth World War II cemetery as well as the road to Imphal.
Homestays and guesthouses are lighter on the wallet but might lack a few basic amenities and are located on the outskirts of Kohima. But feel free to pick these if they suit your needs. These will charge around 600 to 1400 INR a night depending on the season.
There are also campsites not far from Kohima near the Jakhama/Zakhama village where a 2-person tent will cost you 400-800 INR for a night.
A Recap of the Essential Tid Bits for Nagaland
Here’s a recap of the essential tidbits or let’s say travel tips for Nagaland if you are a first time visitor.
|When to visit? :
Between Mid-October and May
|Suggested time of the day for travel:
Due to early sunrise and sunset, plan to travel between 07:00 A.M to 04:00 P.M
|Best means of transport:
Roads are the best option but the road conditions are unreliable. Air is the second-best option followed by rail.
|Communicating with local people:
Be open and free. English and Hindi are widely spoken, the former being the state’s official language
Vegetarian and Non-vegetarian cuisine is easily available. I would advise you to taste the local meat delicacies- pork/beef stew.
|What not to miss?:
Definitely try Zutho – The locally brewed rice beer
Browse through the handcrafted wood items made by local tribal artisans.
Nagaland is beautiful, serene, culturally rich and inviting as a travel destination. Do not judge the region based on a few perceptions. Visit the region yourself to experience it first hand. I’m glad I took a trip to this untouched beauty. I hope you do the same as well soon.
Happy wayfaring 🙂
About the Author
Aniket has been a transfixed traveller since high school. He travels with the intention of becoming one with his destination and all of its elements. He likes visiting places where nature expresses itself to the fullest and leaves him spellbound. He shies away from photography even though he takes good pictures. Engineering dropout, Aniket is a freelance content writer and has made travel writing his priority. He wants to be a polyglot who can speak at least four languages. Lastly, he likes his coffee black and neat- just black, no sugar, and no cream.