I’ve travelled extensively in the North East Indian states of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, and Tripura. So, the first thing I’d say, especially when you intend to backpack, is that don’t plan too much. Just get hold of Inner Line Permits (ILPs) for three (Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Nagaland) out of eight states, buy a road atlas of the region and get there.
Read this piece to know how to get the ILPs, what to expect when on a shoestring budget, and how much do the budget guest houses or local food cost while in North East India.
Permits: The website of the Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (MDONER) provides information on ILPs for Indians and PAPs (Protected Area Permits) for foreigners. The process to acquire these permits is straightforward and easy.
I started off from Dibrugarh and then weaved my circuit on the go. But you may well start from Guwahati or any other city/town that you fancy along the train route. Here is a rough estimate of costs of transport, hotels and food. You may adjust it to the higher side (by, say, 20 per cent) for inflation and other changes.
Transport: Except Assam, most of it is a mountainous region without extensive rail connectivity. State Transport’s buses are available but shared taxis are the preferred choice for long distance travel. These are affordable, unless you venture into really remote areas. Stick with these shared taxis that generally cost between ₹300-900 for intercity travel.
Accommodation: Most towns have guest houses and may offer rooms in the range of ₹200-1500 per night (shared toilets, sometimes). In addition, you may find dormitories at hotels (usually rented by accompanying taxi drivers of business travellers staying in that hotel). Plus, sometimes religious places like Churches may offer a bed.
Featured Image: Shared taxi (that’s me) and Food Sample
Food: There’s plenty of choice available for both vegetarians and meat lovers. In general, rice scores over roti. I preferred to eat local food and a street side meal should cost between ₹50-150, based on what you eat.
You do have chances to further cut down the costs by
1) choosing to hitch hike instead of buying a shared taxi ticket
2) exploring home stays (as a courtesy, always carry some souvenir for the host or goodies for the family’s kids)
People in the region are incredible. They would make sure you take back the fondest of memories.
PS: If you have specific questions about planning your backpacking trip to North East India, please send us an email or simply comment below.
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