Shillong Tourism and Travel Guide

Formerly known as Yeddo or Lewduh, Shillong is a wonderful hilltown and the capital city of Meghalaya with the typical Himalayan charm which can be best experienced at its cafes where most tourists can be found having their favourite food with rock music or football which forms the very fabric of Shillong tourism. Located about 1,500 metres above sea level, the erstwhile capital of colonial and post-Independence Assam until 1972, is home to unfathomable natural wonders, including the famous rolling hills that once made the British called it ‘Scotland of East’. And the British legacy is still alive and visible in the architecture and food habits of the people of Shillong. The Assamese-style houses with slanting roofs, more windows than usual, and wooden floors make the local houses look more like artwork. However, this artwork is necessary as Shillong is quite prone to earthquakes and landslides. Despite the rustic charm of Shillong tourism, the capital city has developed into a full-fledged urban hub that’s blessed with abundant natural beauty. There are luxury hotels, resorts, hostels, shopping centres, and high-end restaurants and bars which add to the attraction the Shillong has become now. Nevertheless, Shillong tourism is not just about the natural beauty and modern facilities but also the fascinating local culture and a vibrant heritage that keep the tourists mesmerised. On a normal day, take a stroll in Shillong city and enjoy sights of people visiting churches, relishing local food in cafes and at the street-side stalls, local artists playing music in the market. Youth engrossed in live football matches are quite common. Being the popular tourist destination it is, the demand for Shillong tourism has gone up in recent years, thanks to the popular tourist attractions in and around Shillong like the Umiam Lake, Lady Hydari Park, Elephant Falls, Shillong Peak, Butterfly Museum, Wards Lake, Mawphlang Sacred Forest, Mawlynnong, and many more. Besides, there are a number of adventure activities offered by Shillong tourism including river canyoning, cave exploration tours, trekking, and mountain biking which make holidaying in Shillong even more tempting. One can travel to Shillong by air, road, or rail. Guwahati Airport is the nearest airport to Shillong, which is around 120 kilometres from Shillong city. Guwahati railway station is the nearest railway station about 95 kilometres from Shillong. Taxis and buses are easily available to reach Shillong. However, it is recommended that you not travel to Shillong during monsoon as the severe weather conditions can cause disruption in transportation services. If your plan is to take a Shillong tour soon, don’t forget to check out this comprehensive Shillong travel guide which allows the tourists to know about this beautiful hilltown and get to know about how to best experience Shillong tourism, Shillong best time to visit, what to eat there, where to eat, Shillong tourist places, and of course, accommodation options as per different budget ranges, and more! Apart from this, Shillong tourism is also a very safe option for all kinds of travellers including couples, families, and backpackers alike.
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Best Time To Visit Shillong

With stunning views of the Himalayan peaks covered in snow, making for gorgeous backdrops, Shillong is a great place to enjoy a holiday. However, it is imperative that you refer to the Shillong travel guide so that you know climatic conditions the best time to visit Shillong. The weather in Shillong usually remains cool and pleasant for the most part, but if you want to experience the best of Shillong tourism, then it’s best to find out the best time to visit Shillong.

The best time to travel to Shillong is between September and April as this is when Shillong’s weather is at its friendliest. The temperatures are pleasant and rains are very moderate. This is the time when most tourists experience Shillong tourism and enjoy sightseeing and outdoor activities. Tourists can also visit during the monsoons when the beauty of this place is at its peak, but travelling would be difficult in such conditions. However, during the monsoon, even though waterfalls and rivers are at their full glory, it’s very risky to visit Shillong. This is one of the wettest places in the world and heavy incessant rains during monsoon can make travelling a little more dangerous than adventurous.

Top Attractions In Shillong

Who needs to travel to Scotland to see nature at its best when we have Shillong in India? Also known as Scotland of East, Shillong is home to some of the most stunning tourist places in India, both manmade and natural. No wonder Shillong is one of the top tourist destinations in India when it comes to experiencing natural beauty. Let’s check out top tourist attractions in Shillong.

 

Umiam Lake 

It’s a beautiful lake located north of Shillong city resembling the 'Lochs', or lakes of Scotland. This man-made lake is also known as 'Barapani' (big water) because of its sheer size. It was created by building a dam on Umiam river in the early 1960s. You can relax at the Lum Nehru Park which is close to the lake. The lake also offers numerous water sports such as kayaking, water cycling, scooting, and boating for those seeking adventure in Shillong.

 

Wards Lake

Located below Raj Bhavan (Governor’s Residence), Wards Lake is a horseshoe-shaped artificial lake where boating facilities are also available. The lake is surrounded by a huge garden and also has a wooden bridge that adds to its charm. The winding paved path on undulating grounds around the lake offers an enchanting experience of witnessing rare flora and the fairyland-like lighting.

 

Shillong Peak

What’s the experience of Shillong tourism without getting to the highest point in the state? Hike up to the Shillong Peak, the highest point in Meghalaya (1,965 meters above sea level). Enjoy breathtaking views of the Shillong city from several viewpoints on the way. You can reach Shillong Peak from the Upper Shillong or Jowai Road. The peak is also home to a radar station for the Indian Air force and all tourists are advised to declare their cameras while reaching the viewpoint.

 

Elephant Falls

It is in the Upper Shillong area which also houses the Eastern Air Command of Indian Airforce. The scenic fall is not continuous but a collection of smaller falls. It has a footpath leading to the bottom of the fall where it reaches a small lake. Its name elephant falls was given by the British because there was a rock by the side of fall which resembled an elephant. The rock was destroyed in an earthquake.

 

Sweet Falls

Another waterfall located in Happy Valley that’s steep, beautiful and pristine. However, it is recommended that visitors remain cautious as there are no barricades and rocks are too slippery.

 

Butterfly Museum

Love butterflies? You must visit the Butterfly Museum which has a huge collection of different types of butterflies, some of which belong to the rarest species.

 

Lady Hydari Park

Named after Lady Hydari, the first lady of the state and the wife of the Governor of Assam, it’s a major attraction among kids and families park holidaying in Shillong. This park has a variety of local flowers and has a small zoo within as well. It is a famous picnic spot for the locals and tourists alike.

Activities And Things To Do In Shillong

Go boating in Umiam Lake: 

Umiam Lake is one of the most popular attractions of Shillong and always finds mention in almost all Shillong travel guides. It is a scenic place surrounded by lush greenery with a pretty lake sitting in the middle where tourists can enjoy boating far from the city’s hustle-bustle. Quite a place to be with your loved ones.

 

Visit the State Central Library

The ancient library was established at the time of the British Raj and holds many rare books and almanacs. It’s a gold mine for history lovers in the city.

 

Go shopping

Enjoy shopping for traditional items of art and craft usually made of wood in Lewduh, the largest open street market in northeast India. You can also buy the handmade woollen shawls and the items of bamboo furniture.

 

Enjoy the nightlife

Shillong tourism is an opportunity for tourists to be a part of the dazzling nightlife of this otherwise quiet and peaceful capital town. Visit the famous nightclubs and bars in Shillong including Piccadilly, Cloud 9, Rooftop Lounge Bar, Platinum, Hotel Alpine Continental Bar, Tango, Hotel Pinewood Bar, Fusion Bar, Astoria Bar and more.

 

Indulge in adventure activities

You can’t exclude adventure while trying to explore the best of Shillong tourism, can you? This hilltown boasts lush green forests that are home to many hiking and trekking routes and the most famous of all is the one that leads to Shillong Peak. Set out for an adventure in the wild as these forests are known to be home to a wide variety of rare and exotic plants including orchids, pines, and the famous insect-eating pitcher plant. Besides, Shillong tourism is also a great choice if you love caves. Go caving and satiate the adventure lover in you.

 

Relish the local food

You just can’t enjoy the charm of Shillong tourism until you have tried various local foods of the capital city. Apart from the obvious momos which are very popular snacks not just among the northeasterners but also the tourists, other traditional Khasi and Tibetan foods like jadoh, doh jem, doh khleh, and doh snam are some of the must-try foods for everyone who wishes to indulge in the culinary delights offered by Shillong tourism.

Where To Stay In Shillong

Shillong tourism is very popular among the travellers not just from within the country from all over the world as well. It’s no surprise that Shillong tourism has some luxurious resorts, high-end hotels, comfy homestays, and pocket-friendly hostels too. This suggests that Shillong tourism has everything for almost every kind of tourist. And even though the budget can depend on how and when you plan to experience Shillong tourism, we all know how important it is to know about the appropriate places of accommodation available before planning a itinerary for Shillong tourism so that you don’t end up blowing your budget. So, let's take a look at some handpicked accommodation options that are part of Shillong tourism:

 

Luxurious hotels in Shillong:

If you are looking forward to getting luxury treatment from your Shillong tourism experience, you will be surprised with the number of high-end hotels and resorts this quaint little hill town is home to. These super-comfy accommodations include Shillong tourism hotels that are specially designed for luxury-seeking tourists. Here are some of the best luxury resorts and hotels that are part of Shillong tourism. 

  • Ri Kynjai Serenity by The Lake
  • The Heritage Club - Tripura Castle
  • M crown Hotel
  • Hotel Grace
  • Hotel Polo Towers

 

Mid-budget hotels in Shillong

Mid-budget is the range which accounts for maximum Shillong tourism and that is why one can find a number of mid-range accommodation options on offer by Shillong tourism. This category of hotels and resorts in Shillong allow tourists to enjoy comfort without burning a hole in their pockets. If you are staying at one such accommodation in Shillong, you are more than likely to get the best of Shillong sightseeing within your set budget. Check out these mid-budget hotels that are part of Shillong tourism.

  • Hotel Barbareek Inn
  • Hotel Alpine Continental
  • Travellers Bed & Breakfast
  • Hotel Yalana
  • Ladybird Hotel
  • The Loft - Executive Inn

 

Budget hotels and hostels in Shillong

Not everyone is inclined towards spending a huge amount of money while holidaying these days. As the trend of backpacking and budget travel becomes more and more popular, Shillong tourism has gone on to mould its facilities for the travellers who love staying at low-budget accommodations and the most famous of these are the hostels where travellers from different parts of the world can stay together, gel with each other, enjoy more than basic facilities at a very budget-friendly cost. Therefore, Shillong tourism happens to be that option which welcomes budget travellers and backpackers with open arms. There are ample budget-friendly hotels and hostels that provide good accommodation facilities at very nominal prices. And don’t forget to check out the following budget accommodations in Shillong:

  • The Majestic Hotel
  • Shillong Club Guesthouse
  • White Orchid Guesthouse
  • Hotel Knight Inn Shillong
  • Hotel Rainbow Shillong

 

Some of the best hostels that are part of Shillong tourism are:

  • Youth Hostel
  • Shillong Dormitory Hostel
  • Silverbrook Hostel
  • Rockski Boutique Bed and Breakfast

Cuisine & Best Places to Eat In Shillong

Being the capital city of one of the Seven Sister States, Meghalaya, Shillong is well and truly famous among tourists. And it’s not just about the natural beauty, the breathtaking views, and the humble and warm locals, Shillong tourism also offers mouth-watering cuisine which attracts tourists, especially the foodies, from all parts of India and the world. The rich heritage of Shillong tourism is very well reflected in the dishes served at the restaurants and cafes in Shillong. Shillong tourism lets you enjoy the culinary delights which are bound to make anyone fall in love.

Besides, Shillong tourism is also known for exotic tea and coffee flavours, lip-smacking soups, and their own local alcoholic beverages, most popular of which is Kiad by the Pnar tribe of Jaintia Hills. And even though the list of must-try local foods in Shillong is quite long, here we are with some unmissable ones that will complete your Shillong tourism experience :

 

Momos

You might have had momos innumerable times in different parts of India, but you’ve got to try the authentic taste of these offered by Shillong tourism. Popular in the almost whole northeast region of India, momos taste best when eaten with spicy chutneys.

Such is the popularity of momos that you will simply have no problem in finding them as they are sold everywhere; streetside stalls, local eateries, and even high-end restaurants in Shillong. Even though pork and chicken momos are very popular among the locals, Shillong tourism cafes and restaurants serve vegetarian momos as well.

 

Tungrymbai

Just in case you find long queues of locals and tourists near a street stall in Shillong, it’s most likely to get their daily dose of tungrymbai. One of the most popular dishes offered by Shillong tourism, tungrymbai is prepared using fermented soybeans that are grown in Shillong. And just in case you think you have it somewhere else in India, like the momos, then you are mistaken. You’re unlikely to find tungrymbai anywhere else in the country other than northeast India. So why miss the most exclusive dish of Shillong tourism when you have the chance to relish it!

 

Jadoh

It is meat-based, usually pork, Khasi delicacy which also happens to be one of the specialities  of Shillong tourism. Jadoh is prepared by drenching rice in a flavoured blend of sour and spicy, topped with various kinds of herbs like mint leaves and ginger flower, which is eventually mixed with pork meat, for pork is the major ingredient of jadoh. It can be found easily at the roadside stalls and local eateries. 

 

Dohneiiong

This is another famous cuisine of Shillong tourism you shouldn’t miss out on when holidaying in Shillong. It is basically pork cooked with black sesame seeds and soya sauceand when had with putharo, tastes even better.

 

Dohjem

It’s a popular pork dish prepared by boiling and frying the chopped viscera which is then mixed with fried ginger, garlic, chilli, onion, black pepper, and turmeric paste in mustard oil.

 

Doh Khleh

You might have had many salads, but how about a pork salad which is everyone’s favourite here in Shillong tourism? Dohkhleh is made by mixing chopped onion, green chilli, and salt with small pieces of boiled pork. Later, beans, tomatoes, and carrots are added to it.

 

Tungtap

Tungtap is a famous fermented fish product offered by Shillong tourism. It is commonly prepared and consumed by the Khasi and Jaintia tribes of Meghalaya. Their practice of fermenting fish is similar to the traditional methods of preservation of fish in Southeast Asia. Tungtap is generally consumed as a pickle and also as a taste enhancer.

 

Putharo

Well, for all the vegetarians who thought that Shillong tourism might just not have anything on offer for them in terms of local food, Putharo is your saviour. Putharo is a cake made from steamed rice, powdered jaggery, and grated coconut, and is quite similar to the famous south Indian dish called idli. An earthen pot is used to mould the rice and then it is steamed and baked. Usually putharo is served with doh-nei-iong or dohjem.

 

Best places to eat in Shillong

Whether or not you have carefully gone through this Shillong travel guide, it is understood that food plays an extremely important role in making Shillong tourism what it is. Such is the popularity of Shillong foods that you will often find tourists bee lining outside most of the street-side stalls in the city. And if you are a foodie who loves to travel places to relish various kinds of food, all you need to do is go through a Shillong travel guide that can give you a detailed idea of some of the best restaurants and cafes serving all kinds of vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes to the travellers who come here to witness and experience the best of Shillong tourism. So here’s the list of some of the best places to eat in and around Shillong to get the best culinary experience offered by Shillong tourism

  1. Chef's Multi-Cuisine Restaurant
  2. Madras Cafe
  3. Munchies
  4. Bombay Bites
  5. Lamee Restaurant
  6. Cinnamon Kitchen
  7. Matter of Taste
  8. Dylan’s Cafe

How To Travel In Shillong

Like any other hilltown, the best way to go around in Shillong is by walking to the nearby tourist attractions. However, for those of you who would prefer more  convenient ways of witnessing the best of Shillong tourism, there are ample options, including buses and the local taxis.

For places within Shillong city, city buses are the best options. There are two types of buses that ply to and from Shillong: city bus and bazaar bus. It’s recommended that tourists use the city bus as the bazaar buses are for local villagers travelling to Shillong to sell their products. And while city buses are very cheap, they can be extremely slow and crowded and you might end up spending a lot of time travelling in those buses.

This is where taxis help you save time and see more of Shillong tourism with more comfort and, of course, more money. The un-metered taxis plying in the city are faster and are always shared. Their fares may vary from Rs10 to Rs 100. However, you can hire a taxi exclusively for yourself by negotiating with the driver for a certain amount of fare, which is usually a little higher than the shared fare. If you wish to visit various Shillong tourist spots, it is a good idea to hire a taxi cab for a full day. Besides, there are also bikes available for rent by local agencies in Shillong which allow you to explore the best of Shillong tourism in your own way.

Typical Costs In Shillong

Shillong tourism is the kind of holiday choice that never leaves any tourist disappointed, no matter the budget. The fact that Shillong tourism welcomes all kinds of travellers is the reason why this beautiful capital city is frequented by hundreds of thousands of tourists each year, which include families, luxury travellers, backpackers, and even solo travellers. But wouldn’t it be great if you knew the general daily costs per person before you plan a holiday in Shillong? Well, that’s exactly what this Shillong travel guide intends to do. So let's take a look at per day costs for all kinds of travellers in Shillong:

If you are a luxury traveller, you can expect to spend around Rs 4,000-6,000 per person per day while exploring Shillong tourism. This usually includes accommodation at a luxury hotel which may cost you around Rs 3,500 and more. If you eat out at upscale restaurants and bars, it will cost you approx. Rs 700 or upwards. Local sightseeing in private taxis and guided tours can cost around Rs 2,000.

According to this Shillong travel guide, mid-range budget travellers can end up spending around Rs 2,000 - 2,500 per person per day while exploring the Shillong tourism. This includes accommodation in mid-range hotels, which may cost you around Rs 1,500-1,800. If you wish to eat out, food in mid-range restaurants in Shillong typically costs about Rs 250-500.

Things are quite simple and basic If you are strictly a budget traveller wanting to explore more of Shillong tourism and expect a little less luxury. It starts with choosing cheap hotels and hostels over luxury resorts, travelling in shared taxis, walking to nearby places of attraction, and eating often at street-side stalls. For such a traveller, the daily cost of travel in Shillong tourism can be around Rs 800 -1000. Having food at street-side restaurants costs around Rs 100-200, while public transport or shared jeeps will only cost you around Rs 20-70.

 

FAQs

  1. How many days do I need to explore Shillong tourism?

Ideally, you might need around 3-5 days to get the best experience of Shillong tourism. But it also depends on the kind of experiences you are looking for and the budget.

 

  1. What are the things I should pack for a trip to Shillong?

Raincoat/umbrella, good quality shoes for moderate walking and hiking, cold cream, woollens as per the season and adequate cash are some of the must-pack items that are mentioned in almost every Shillong travel guide.

 

  1. Suggest three tips for planning a trip to Shillong?

Planning a holiday to experience the best of Shillong tourism might get tricky, especially considering the terrain and weather conditions of the region. Here are a few tips that will help you a great deal:

a. Be ready for a lot of road journeys during your trip as Shillong tourism doesn’t offer rail or air travel. The nearby areas are only connected majorly by serpentine roads which turn bumpy during monsoons

b. Carry an adequate amount of cash.

c. Shillong tourism has a lot on offer for tourists and planning a suitable itinerary as per your budget and duration can be a bit tricky. That’s why it’s recommended that you book a suitable tour itinerary and get the best out of Shillong tourism.

 

  1. Which are the offbeat places to visit in Shillong?

Shillong tourism has a number of offbeat places that offer unique experiences. Some of the best offbeat places in Shillong are Laitlum Canyons, Phan Nonglait Park, Mawphlang Sacred Forest, Spread Eagle Falls, Mawsynram, Jakrem and more.

 

  1. How’s the mobile and internet connectivity in Shillong?

Except for a few blind spots, just like in any other hill station, mobile and internet connectivity in Shillong is good. However, landslides and weather conditions may hamper the routine services, especially when it rains.

 

  1. When is the best time to travel to Shillong with families with kids?

Shillong best time to visit extends from mid-September to late March as per the Shillong travel guide. This is the time when the weather remains pleasant and favourable for most of the outdoor activities.

 

  1. Are there any direct trains to Shillong?

There are no direct trains to Shillong. However, if you only wish to travel by train, you can travel to Guwahati Railway Station which is about 100 km from Shillong.


Written by Anshul Sharma. He often suffers from extreme cases of FOMO whenever he doesn’t travel and write about his journeys for more than three weeks. On a normal day, he consumes cricket for breakfast, psycho thrillers for lunch, and air crash investigation videos for dinner.