12 Tips to Remember Before Visiting Northeast India

Visiting Northeast India

Northeastern India is becoming a popular destination for unique vacations. Despite being largely unexplored for decades, the northeast region is gaining attention from travel enthusiasts and globetrotters due to its rich history and stunning beauty. The region is distinct from the rest of India due to its unique lifestyle, food, language, and culture. To make the most of your trip, here are 12 tips to remember before visiting Northeast India:

1. Do Your Research Before You Visit

Before visiting the Northeastern region of India, it is important to do extensive research on the destination. This includes information on how to get there, places to stay, and local customs and traditions. This can help you plan your trip better and avoid any cultural faux pas.

headhunters of nagaland
Credit: Peter Bos

To start, you can look up information online, read travel blogs and guidebooks, and reach out to local tour operators. This can give you a good idea of transportation options, cost of living, and popular tourist destinations in the area. When it comes to the culture and traditions of the region, it is important to understand that each state has its own unique identity, with its own distinct language, customs, and festivals. Researching the local culture and respecting their traditions is a key aspect of responsible tourism.

2. Acknowledge the Inner Line Permit of Northeast India

An Inner Line Permit (ILP) may be required for travel to certain Northeastern states in India, including Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Manipur, and Nagaland. Domestic tourists need an ILP, while foreign tourists require a valid India visa. ILP is not required in Assam, Tripura, or parts of Sikkim.

However, foreign tourists must register with the Foreign Registration Office (District Superintendent of Police) within 24 hours of arrival in each state. ILP serves as a way to keep track of visitors and assist in emergency situations. No special permits are needed in states like Assam, Tripura, Manipur, Meghalaya, and parts of Sikkim.

(More details on how to obtain an Inner Liner Permit has been discussed in our earlier article.)

3. Get Updates of the Constant Weather Changes and Pack Clothes Accordingly

A holiday in the North East of India can be challenging due to the unpredictable rainfall patterns in the region. To be prepared, it is important to carry an umbrella, extra comfortable shoes, and warm clothing, including thermals for layering. If trekking is part of your itinerary, make sure to pack sturdy clothes and gear.

Cherrapunji rains fb
Courtesy: Skymet Weather

Before traveling, it’s advisable to research the weather conditions to be aware of potential roadblocks or landslides. Keep in mind that the Northeast is known for its rainfall and rapidly changing weather, so it’s essential to always be prepared for rain and to pack a warm jacket, even in the summer, as frequent rainfall can bring in a chill.

4. Book Tickets in Advance

As the North East region is a popular tourist destination, ticket prices can be high and bookings can fill up quickly. To avoid this, it’s best to plan your holiday well in advance. Aim to book your travel and accommodations 4 to 5 months ahead, especially during the peak holiday season. Additionally, if you plan to visit multiple states, be sure to book inter-state travel ahead of time.

5. Opt For Staying in Homestays

Staying at a homestay is an excellent way to immerse yourself in a country’s culture and language. With its charming architecture, delicious food, and friendly locals, homestays offer a unique travel experience. To truly engage with the culture, it is important to learn about its customs, traditions, and language.

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Gayboo’s Traditional Lodge Menchukha, Arunachal Pradesh

Homestays offer a wonderful opportunity to immerse yourself in a rustic setting while still enjoying the comfort of a homely environment. If you’re interested in experiencing a homestay, many organizations offer small-group vacation packages centered around this type of accommodation.

6. Learn Something About The Locals of the Northeast

The people of the Northeast are often perceived as shy and timid, but there’s no reason to be intimidated by them. In fact, they are quite humble towards tourists and tend to become friendly once you engage with them. This is a great advantage for travelers as the more local friends you make, the more you will learn about their culture, habits, and traditions. You will get to explore their history and dining customs, and taste their local cuisine, wine, and brew. Additionally, Northeasterners are very accommodating and will do their best to ensure a pleasant stay in the Northeast.

7. Learn about Northeastern Cuisines

The states Sisters of North East India are renowned for their breathtaking natural beauty and divine wonders. However, one aspect that is often overlooked in travel advertisements is the diverse and delicious cuisine they have to offer.

Assamese dish
Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons | Creator: GOSWAMI RANJIT

North East India is a melting pot of different cultures and communities. Their flavors and dishes are as diverse as their lively way of life. Many of their dishes feature simple and flavorful ingredients such as bamboo shoots, Bhut Jolokia peppers, and local greens. While meat is a common ingredient, the dishes are surprisingly light and bursting with flavor. Mustard oil is used to enhance the taste in most recipes.

8. Speak the Language of Northeast

The Northeast region of India is comprised of a variety of tribes, traditions, cultures, and languages, and its isolation has resulted in a limited familiarity with other languages among the locals. To ensure a smooth experience, it would be beneficial to learn some basic phrases in their language, such as asking for directions.

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Courtesy: traveldiaryparnashree.com

The Northeast consists of 8 states, each with its own unique culture and environment. Although some states may have similar habitats, they are all captivating and deserving of exploration. Knowing a few language basics, including greetings, will not only assist you during your travels but will also be appreciated by the locals.

9. Know their Festivals

The festivals of Northeast India showcase the region’s rich cultural heritage. Many of the festivals celebrate agriculture, Buddhism, or the start of a new year and often involve folk dances and music. These festivals also serve as a way for members of different tribes to come together and bond. With delicious food, unique costumes, soulful music, warm hospitality, and a lively atmosphere, there are many reasons to participate in North East India’s festivals.

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Courtesy: Instagram | Creator: @needlessnomad

The best time to visit the Northeast is between September and April when you can not only enjoy the region’s beautiful landscapes but also immerse yourself in its vibrant festivals. To fully experience these extravaganzas, it’s advisable to research the festivals beforehand and get a closer look.

Learn about the popular festivals of Northeast India

10. Inconsistent Mobile Connectivity

Unfortunately, fast internet and Wi-Fi services are not readily available in all areas, especially in remote interior and forested regions where mobile connectivity is weak. However, city areas generally have decent network coverage. This is a great opportunity to disconnect and enjoy the stunning beauty of one of India’s loveliest places without distractions.

11. Be Prepared For Challenging Road Conditions

Road conditions in some states in Northeast India can be challenging, with some roads not even marked on maps. Independent travel is feasible in Assam and Meghalaya but more challenging in Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland due to the mountainous terrain making road construction and maintenance difficult. While state highways offer some relief, mountain roads can be bumpy and dangerous, especially during the rainy season when landslides are common.

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Courtesy: www.downtoearth.org.in

For foreign tourists, flying into Guwahati is the easiest option, or flying into Delhi or Kolkata and entering the Northeast by road or rail. When traveling by road in the region, it is advised to take the route through West Bengal. Local taxis are widely available and can provide an effective mode of transportation. When traveling in the mountains, it is recommended to look for 4×4 vehicles for a safer and more comfortable journey.

1024px Jules Renard quotation on Himank BRO sign board in the Nubra Valley Ladakh Northern India e1675247837393

Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons | Creator: Malikbek

12. Bonus Tip:

Keep an eye out for Border Roads Organisation (BRO) signs along Northeastern roads for humorous and informative one-liners and safety tips. These can be a fun discovery while driving or climbing the misty mountains in the Northeast, known for their beautiful blue peaks. If you enjoy this blog, please consider sharing and checking out the author’s other blogs for insights into the people, traditions, and festivals of the Northeast region.

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