Meghalaya is a gem of North East India and there is so much to see and do in the state. We did not find any detailed articles before we visited, so we have attempted to include all the practical information we could in our article below. Here is how you can plan that PERFECT trip to Meghalaya.
How to get to Meghalaya
Getting to Meghalaya is quite straightforward. There are regular flights to Shillong Airport from most parts in the country. If you’re not fully vaccinated, you must carry an RT-PCR test (taken within 72 hours prior to departure). This is checked upon arrival in Meghalaya.
Upon getting to Shillong, you can opt for a cab with a driver to get around in Meghalaya. Having a local driver comes in handy, especially if you’re planning to go and visit the waterfalls and living root bridges as Google Maps is not very reliable in Meghalaya and you might get lost if you’re driving yourself. Having a cab with a driver will help with this – this costs b/w INR 3000 & 5500 per day depending on the car you rent and the places you are planning to visit.
When to go to Meghalaya
There is no correct answer to this as each season has its pros and cons but if you have to choose, we would recommend visiting during monsoon months (July-October) as the state is at its greenest best at that time. This is also the best time to see the waterfalls.
However if you want to go hiking or see the clear waters of River Umngot in Dawki (more information below) then winter months (November-January) are ideal
Monsoon Season: Pros
Lush greenery and gushing waterfalls
Monson Season: Cons
Hiking is difficult and River Umngot will not be transparent
Winter Season: Pros
Cherry Blossom in bloom (November), good weather for Hiking, River Umngot is clear
Winter Season: Cons
Most waterfalls are dry
Where to stay in Meghalaya
Upon flying into Shillong Airport, head to Shillong city. Spend an evening exploring the city and sleep in a hotel that is centrally located such as Polo Towers Shillong.
Next morning you can leave for Sohra (Cherrapunji) Choose a nice resort here for 2-3 days as it is a good base for exploring most of the famous attractions in Meghalaya. Some good options are Polo Orchid Hotel and Jiva Resort.
What to pack for Meghalaya
In addition to your regular clothes and shoes, we would suggest packing the following items for your trip in Meghalya
- A good quality gimbal for your phone helps in getting better photos & videos. This is the one we use right now – would definitely recommend it
- Good sunscreen that offers SPF 50 protection. Here is the link to the one both of us used on this trip
- Sturdy umbrella & waterproof boots, especially if you are going during monsoon months
- First-aid kit
- Snacks, some instant beverages, disposable plates and cutlery. There are many small restaurants in popular areas. However if you go offbeat, there are long stretches of road without a single shop, so go prepared
- An Airtel or Jio connection as those are the two services that work best in the countryside in Meghalaya
Itinerary for Meghalaya – Things to do and see
Day 1 – Shillong
It is easy to explore Shillong in a day. Absorb the vibe of the city, visit the Cathedral, absorb views of the city from Shillong Peak, and drop by Dylan cafe for a meal. If you’re up for a drive make sure you go to Laitlum Canyon for a drive at sunset. It boasts of gorgeous views.
If you’re in Shillong during Cherry Blossom Season (November), then we would suggest visit Ward’s Lake to enjoy the blooming cherry blossom trees and the Shillong Literary Festival. There are some huge trees, full of powdery pink flowers, here.
Day 2 – Drive to Sohra (Cherrapunji)
Cherrapunji, or Sohra is it is known in Megahalaya, is famous for being one of the wettest places on Earth. If you’re in Meghalaya during monsoon season, you’re in for such a treat on this drive. Lush green panoramas in East Khasi Hills and suspended clouds are everywhere. On this drive, stop at Elephant Falls, Wakaba Falls, and Seven Sisters Waterfalls as you make your way to Cherrapunji.
Days 3 & 4 – Double Decker Root Bridge & exploring Sohra
Cherrapunji is famous for its living roots bridges and there are many in the area. If you’re up for an adventure visit the Double Decker Root Bridge. This trek takes 8-10 hours and is approximately 8000 steps – about 3000 steps to the root bridge and an additional 1000 steps to the Rainbow Falls.
In case you’re travelling with kids or just do not have a day to spare for this, you can also visit the another one of the living roots bridges – we suggest an easy walk to the living roots bridge near Mawlynnong, the cleanest village in Asia.
While you are in Cherrapunji you should also drive to Wei Sawdong Waterfall – the three tiered waterfall has the bluest water on a sunny day! We also recommend going to the view point from where you can see all the 3 tiers before hiking down to the pools of water. Make sure you wear comfortable shoes as the path is uneven.
Do not miss the iconic Nohkalikhai Waterfall. You can also trek to the bottom of the fall but the view point which is reachable by car is one of the best Meghalaya has to offer. Legend has it that a woman named Likai jumped from the top of the cliff upon realising she had unwittingly eaten her daughter who was murdered and cooked by her step father. The lady’s jump resulted in this waterfall – don’t you find local folklore so fascinating?
Day 5 – Exploring Dawki and drive back to Shillong
On the fifth day of your trip in Meghalaya make sure you drive to drive to River Umngot in Dawki and visit Mawlynnong, the cleanest village in Asia. However do keep in mind that River Umngot is like this between November & February. It will not be transparent during monsoon months. Try to get there in the morning before most tourists make it to Dawki. The river is at its most beautiful on a sunny day – expect green and transparent waters. A 1 hour boat ride on the river costs around INR 1200. You can spend the morning here and start the drive back to Shillong.
On the way, you will also see the India-Bangladesh border and some other waterfalls such as Borphil Falls. Go for a gander in Mawlynnong village and visit the living roots bridge.
As you make your way back to Shillong and the airport, make sure you stop at Umiam Lake to drink in the views before boarding your flight back.
Extending your trip in Meghalaya
This 5 day itinerary is ideal for anyone who is planning a short trip to Meghalaya. However if you are planning to spend longer in the state here are a few experiences you can add onto your trip. Pick some based on your interests
- Spend some days in Garo Hills and learn more about local myths and legends. Garos believe in spirits and have a lot to share on the subject. While in Garo Hills, you can camp in Daribokgre, visit the tea gardens of Chandigre, or explore Balpakram National Park, famous for being the ‘land of perpetual wind’
- Jakrem is a hot water spring known for its medicinal properties
- Nongkhnum River Island is one of the biggest river islands in Asia and boasts of waterfalls and lush greenery.
- Krang Suri Waterfall is absolutely gorgeous. Do put it on your itinerary if you are in Meghalaya during monsoon months.
- Meghalaya has an elaborate cave system, including the longest sandstone cave in the world. You can book a caving tour in Siju Village to explore this.
- If adventure sports is your thing, then you can also go kayaking in Shillong Whitewater Village or mountain biking in the countryside
That’s it. We hope you have everything you need to plan that perfect trip to Meghalaya for yourself. Leave us a comment if you enjoyed reading it or if you have any questions at all.