6 Budget Northeast Road Trips Via Public Transportation

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Photo of 6 Budget Northeast Road Trips Via Public Transportation by Varun Suchday

What comes to your mind when you hear 'Road Trip'? Goa, Ladakh, Spiti, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, Avenger, Bullet and maybe Mahindra Thar? How about a road trip in the Northeast? That too without cars or bikes. Well, why only one then? Let's embark on six road trips via public transportation two of which will also take us across the border.

Manipur-Myanmar

India to Thailand road-trip has been catching up some heat lately. But, this road-trip is by no means budget-friendly since you have to pay twice the value of your car when crossing into Myanmar. But, there is a cheaper alternative. Moreh in Manipur is the last town on this side of the border. From Moreh, you can walk into Myanmar with a valid tourist visa. e-Visa is invalid for this border crossing. There is one condition though, you have to exit Myanmar from this same checkpoint. An Imphal-Mandalay international bus is going to start sometime soon.

How to get there

By air: Imphal International Airport (109km) is the nearest airport with regular flight connections from major cities of India.

By train: The nearest train station is Jiribam, Manipur some 300km from Moreh.

By road: You can find shared and private cabs for Moreh in Imphal.

Best time to visit: October to June is the best time to visit. The temperature ranges from 10 to 35 Celsius. It is best to avoid the monsoon months from July to September.

Guwahati-Agartala Train Ride

Have you guys heard of Paul Theroux? He is an American travel writer famous for travelling to remote corners of the earth by train. India has the world's most extensive railway network and we are guilty of not utilizing it entirely. As you move east of Assam, the railway line passes through mysterious valleys, rolling hills, tribal villages and verdant forests. Hop aboard any one of the nine Guwahati-Agartala trains for a once-in-a-lifetime experience. You can get more information about Guwahati-Agartala trains here.

How to reach Guwahati

By air: Guwahati's Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport is well-connected to all major Indian cities.

By train: Guwahati is well-connected to major Indian cities by multiple trains including Rajdhani and Shatabdi express.

By road: Private and public buses connect Guwahati to major cities and towns of Sikkim and West Bengal.

Best time to visit: October to June is the best time to visit. The temperature ranges from 10 to 35 Celsius. It is best to avoid the monsoon months from July to September.

Where to stay in Guwahati: Ri-Sun (₹700 double), Hotel Lilawati Grand (₹1,872 double). For more, check here.

Agartala-Dhaka

Now that you have come all the way to Agartala, how about heading into Bangladesh? The Bangladesh border is barely four kilometres away. You can either walk or hire a rickshaw to drop you at the border. If you reached Agartala without a Bangladeshi tourist visa then you can apply for it in the Bangladeshi visa office in Agartala. After finishing formalities at border checkpoints on both sides, you can board a train or a bus to Dhaka. Travelling here will give you a sample of authentic Bangladesh that very few have seen.

How to reach Agartala

By air: There are regular flights from major Indian cities to Maharaja Bir Bikram Kishore Manikya Airport, Agartala.

By train: There are a few trains between major Indian cities and Agartala.

By road: Buses to Agartala are unreliable and it is best to either come by train or fly in.

Best time to visit: October to June is the best time to visit. The temperature ranges from 10 to 35 Celsius. It is best to avoid the monsoon months from July to September.

Where to stay in Agartala: Hotel Star (₹650 double), Hotel Ginger (₹2,879 double). For more, check here.

Dibrugarh-Aalo-Mechuka

Mechuka, a serene river flowing through the valley with houses on the banks and green hills surrounding them. Kids playing football, women tending to farms and men chatting over chai. The village of Mechuka and the road to get here both are from another era. Reaching this end-of-the-road village is not for the faint-hearted. It will take a train ride, a ferry, a bus and a shared sumo to get here. Get off at the Dibrugarh Train Station in Assam, cross the Brahmaputra in a ferry, board a bus to Aalo and finally take a shared sumo. Once you will get here you will know it was all worth it.

How to reach Dibrugarh

By air: Chabua Airport (DIB), Dibrugarh has regular flights to major Indian cities.

By train: Dibrugarh Town (DBRT) and Dibrugarh (DBRG) are the two railway stations with regular trains from other parts of India.

By road: You can find buses from Guwahati and Kohima to Dibrugarh.

Best time to visit: October to June is the best time to visit. The temperature ranges from 10 to 35 Celsius. It is best to avoid the monsoon months from July to September.

Where to stay in Dibrugarh: Bhaskar Homestay (₹1,000 for double), Hotel Natraj (₹2,300 for double). For more options, check here.

Guwahati-Jiribam

There is a certain romance in travelling in passenger trains in remote parts of India. Tribal people wearing traditional dresses carrying their harvest, pots of water and farm animals on trains. Such trains give you experiences that money can't buy. One such train route is Guwahati-Jiribam (Manipur) route. Take any Guwahati-Agartala train and get off at Badarpur Junction. From here take any passenger train to Arunachal Junction where you will again change trains for the final destination that is Jiribam. On the route, you will encounter virgin forests, soaring peaks, scenic vistas, time-forgotten villages and lots of tribal people. It is going to be a journey that you won't forget anytime soon.

How to reach Jiribam

By air: Imphal International Airport (300km), Imphal is the nearest airport from Jiribam.

By train: Jiribam is not connected to major cities by direct trains. You have to rely on passenger trains to get here. Arunachal Junction, Dharmanagar and Badarpur Junction are the nearest transit points to board express trains to Agartala, Guwahati and Delhi.

By road: Jiribam doesn't have reliable bus service, therefore, it is best to either fly to Imphal or rely on passenger trains to get here.

Best time to visit: October to June is the best time to visit. The temperature ranges from 10 to 35 Celsius. It is best to avoid the monsoon months from July to September.

Guwahati-Bhairabi

The train from Guwahati to Bhairabi (Mizoram) follows the same route as the Guwahati-Jiribam until Badarpur Junction. From Badarpur Junction, the train heads south into the heart of the Mizos. You will witness the colourful Mizo culture, innovative local dishes, whitewashed Catholic churches, traditional Mizo villages, surreal water bodies and tea gardens on this route. Bhairabi is the end of the railway line. From here, you can hire a taxi to get to Aizawl, the capital of Mizoram.

How to get there

By air: Maharaja Bir Bikram Kishore Manikya Airport (280km), Agartala is well connected to major Indian cities.

By train: Bhairabi is not connected to major cities by direct trains. You have to rely on passenger trains to get here. Arunachal Junction and Badarpur Junction are the nearest transit points to board express trains to Agartala, Guwahati and Delhi.

By road: Bhairabi doesn't have reliable bus service, therefore, it is best to either fly to Imphal or rely on passenger trains to get here.

Best time to visit: October to June is the best time to visit. The temperature ranges from 10 to 35 Celsius. It is best to avoid the monsoon months from July to September.

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