When I was planning my trip to the less explored North East of India, I was skeptical as to how to travel to this place? Is there an airport? An Uber?
Now that I have “been there and done that” I know better and here is my guide on how to travel from Guwahati to Shillong and Cherrapunji.
In this post I am trying to answer most commonly asked questions based on my experiences.
Does Shillong have an airport?
The Shillong Airport is not actually within the city. Instead, it is located 30 km from the city, in Umroi. This is the reason that the airport is often called Umroi airport. However, the flights to the airport are still very limited and frequent flights from Kolkata is something that is being worked on.
Sandwiched between the Brahmaputra river and the Shillong plateau, Guwahati is said to be the “Gateway” of the North East Region.
Whether you are heading to see the One-Horned Rhinos of Kaziranga in Assam or the Tattooed Tribes of Ziro in Arunachal Pradesh, Guwahati is your major connecting city!
Guwahati is also your gateway to Shillong and Cherrapunji in Meghalaya.
If you are in Guwahati waiting for your connecting train or flight, click here to read about a couple of destinations you can cover in those few hours.
I like planning every minute detail of all my holidays and some of the most important information to know about the place is the travel time. Once you know this it becomes easy to factor in travel time and plan the rest accordingly. So here are some quick facts that will help make planning your trip easier-
- Distance between Guwahati and Shillong- 99.6 km
- Distance between Guwahati and Cherrapunji- 148.1 km
- Distance between Cherrapunji and Shillong- 53.3 km
- Distance from Guwahati to Cherrapunji to Shillong- 152.9 km
After exploring Guwahati thoroughly and experiencing the culture of the place, our next stop was ‘The Abode of Clouds’, the state of Meghalaya.
As unreal as it may sound, people in the village of Kongthong in Meghalaya, India do not have names. So how do they address each other? Read more in this awesome post about this mystery village in India.
How to get from Guwahati to Shillong
Hired or shared taxi services are available from the Airport as well as from Paltanbazar Railway station. The shared taxis (sedans) charge around ₹ 300- ₹ 400 but you need to wait for the cab to fill up before you can leave. The wait can be a long one if the number of passengers are more, but generally it should not exceed 30 minutes.
There are shared Sumos available at the Sumo Stand at Khanapara bus station, that will take you to Shillong in about 2 to 3 hours and will charge anything between ₹ 200 to ₹ 250. Ola/ Uber outstation cabs are available as a comfortable and convenient option at around ₹1700.
Meghalaya is still untouched by too much of touristy crowd and if you want to experience off beat India, I would highly recommend the bamboo bridge U Mawryngkhang Trek, the double root bridge, the village where people don’t have names and the rock capital Shillong.
How to get from Guwahati to Cherrapunji
Being a small town, Cherrapunji does not have an airport and nor does it have a railway station. The most convenient way of traveling between Guwahati and Cherrapunji is by renting a car or taking a share cab. These are available at the airport itself and also at some places around Guwahati city where you can book the cars through agents.
The roads are safe and well-maintained and the view during the journey is stunning as one goes through the mist, past waterfalls, and rolling meadows.
An affordable option for tourists while traveling to all the tourist spots within Cherrapunji is the state-run city buses. However, caution must be taken for those who are not used to crowded buses.
Below, I have answered a few of the most commonly asked questions that are bound to pop up in your mind, too, while planning your visit to this beautiful part of the country.
These answers will hopefully solve all your queries regarding how to get to these places and make your trip a pleasant one.
Click on this link and Explore Meghalaya Tourist Places with this awesome guide: Best places to visit, the best time to visit, things to do, offbeat places in Meghalaya so that you plan less and travel more.
Do Uber and Ola work in Guwahati and Shillong?
Uber and Ola services are available in Guwahati but not in Shillong or Cherrapunji. You can use Uber and Ola within Guwahati and also travel to Shillong in it. It will cost you approximately ₹ 1500 to about ₹ 2000 to go from Guwahati to Shillong.
We found this to be the most convenient option while we traveled between the cities. It was comfortable and the cab drivers proved to be very helpful.
Shillong does not have these online booking services. There are no Uber or Ola cabs operating in the city. But an equally suitable option is the city cabs. You can either reserve the entire cab for yourself or travel by the shared cabs with fares that are about ₹ 10 per ride.
We personally found the latter to be a better option when we were not traveling to any remote destination and were instead just exploring the city or visiting the local attractions.
On our return journey from Shillong back to Guwahati, however, Ola/Uber was not the best option. The wait was, too, long. So instead we decided to rent one of the local cabs.
Click on this link for A quick itinerary and guide to the thrilling and chilling WahKhen trek in Meghalaya, India. This guide includes tips on how to get there and what to expect!
How can one go to Shillong from Delhi?
The most convenient way of travelling to Shillong from Delhi, or in our case Mumbai was a flight to Guwahati. There are no direct flights from Delhi to Shillong, therefore, one has to take a cab or rent a vehicle for themselves for the rest of the journey. Another good option is to take the Brahmaputra Mail to Digaru and then drive from Digaru to Shillong.
There are no direct buses from Delhi, however while travelling from Delhi you can take a State Transport bus to Dehradun then a flight from Dehradun to Guwahati and consequently a cab from Guwahati to Shillong.
For those who like to travel by road, it is a better option to take a train or plane to one of the major cities around Guwahati and then drive down one of the national highways to the well-connected city.
How do I get from Shillong to Cherrapunji?
The distance between Shillong and Cherrapunji can be covered in approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes, but that depends on the vehicle. The most common way for tourists to travel between the two places is to take a shared cab.
These cabs are generally Sumos and one can take such a Sumo from the Sumo Stand to Sohra, more commonly known to us as Cherrapunji. There is a fixed price per person of about ₹ 70 for the journey.
The Sumo drivers will hike up the prices in some cases but a little bit of hackling goes a long way in such situations.
The wait for the entire Sumo to fill up can get long and tedious but once the car departs from Shillong the destination is reached within the prescribed time itself.
Is renting and driving a bike safe in Guwahati, Shillong & Cherrapunji
Yes, it is safe to drive in Meghalaya. The hills in this area are mostly plateaued so very rarely is there the risk of facing difficulties due to steep slopes (don’t forget to wear your helmets please). Shillong is considered to be one of the only hill stations in India which is completely motorable and the roads have been engineered in a way that it makes the journey effortless and pleasant. It may not be advisable to take on this journey at night because of the lack of streetlamp in some areas, especially the Cherrapunji-Shillong-Guwahati highway.
Locals and other tourists I spoke to, highly recommend getting a two-wheeler- specifically the popular Bullet- to explore the area.
Not only does biking give you the convenience to travel as per your own whims and timings, but this also allows you to truly experience the scenery and view without restrictions.
On a motorbike, it takes about 2.5 hours to complete the journey between Guwahati and Shillong, it may, however, take longer to travel from Shillong to Cherrapunji because the roads are slightly narrower and winding when compared to the National Highway.
The month of December in these regions is accompanied by extremely cold winds and in some instances traces of frost on the roads which makes traveling a little more treacherous.
Therefore, it is advisable that only people who are well prepared with warm clothes and have prior experience take up this journey during this time of the year.
Since Guwahati is a city well-connected to most cities in the seven North-Eastern states in India, there are a plethora of options to choose from when it comes to renting bikes.
One of the easiest ways of renting a bike of your choice while in Guwahati is by accessing the services of bike rental sites like Quickr, Justdial or OLX at affordable prices.
There are also several local online rental sites like Seven Bikes, Awe Rides, NorthEast Guide and others that allow you to pre-book bikes for some advance planning.
Is Shillong a safe place for solo female and student travellers?
Shillong is an extremely safe place for solo female travelers. Being both a matriarchal society and a progressive state, local women are treated with respect and it is very rare for them to face any kind of harassment. The locals extend the same courtesy to tourists.
The people there were friendly, approachable and helpful as far as my experiences went and that makes me certain that Shillong would provide a great tourist attraction to solo travelers and students, too.
One thing I noticed while I was there was that things tend to get quiet and close down for the night pretty early at around 8 since it starts getting dark in the city. Coming from a city like Mumbai where you can get stuck in traffic at 2 in the morning this came as quite a shock for me in the beginning.
How does one access the helicopter service available from Guwahati Airport?
Shuttles to Shillong take off every day of the week except on Sundays, at 9 am and 12:30 am, unless the chopper is grounded due to technical glitches. If the weather permits the trip can be made in 20 minutes but the official website states an approximate duration of 30 minutes.
The helicopter service from Guwahati Airport to Shillong is an experience that we missed out on due to technical difficulties, but it is supposed to be a beautiful journey over the green mountains.
Tourists traveling to Guwahati via airplane can access further information about bookings and the timings at the airport.
The information is also available on the Meghalaya Tourism Department’s website along with a helpline for all those who like to plan in advance like me!
The chopper services are supposed to be safe and without any turbulence as long as the weather is fine, despite the questions that had popped up after some unfortunate incidents.
The Tourism Department and the State Government have been taking steps to make the journey even more secure and enjoyable for the people.
At ₹ 1500 for a one-way trip, it is economical, convenient and time-effective.
For more details about the helicopter service from Guwahati to Shillong, you can contact
Meghalaya Helicopter Service MTC Bus Stand, Police Bazar Tel 2223129
The Meghalaya tourism website- http://megtourism.gov.in/howtoreach.html – has further details that you might need.
This is absolutely something I would love to try the next time we visit this sector.
How to reach Guwahati
Since I was on a short vacation and wanted to spend as much time as I had available exploring my destination, I opted for taking a flight from Mumbai. After a flight of 3 hours, the Assam land charmed us with its green cover.
Here are the ways you can get to Guwahati from major cities around the country-
By Air: Also known as the Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport, the Guwahati International Airport receives flights from almost all major cities in India, including Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, and Bangalore among others.
There are several international flights belonging to many major airlines to Guwahati like ones from Bangkok and Paro. Air travel is a convenient and time-efficient mode of travel, especially for shorter trips.
By Rail: The experience of traveling in trains is truly something special and reminiscent of the past. If you are traveling to Guwahati by train then Guwahati Junction will be the last stop. This station receives several trains from Delhi, Kolkata, Bangalore, Chennai, and Mumbai.
Some of them are Rajdhani Express, Northeast Express, Bangalore Express, Kamrup Express, and Dadar Express. The duration of travel depends on the train you select and the starting point.
By Road- For those who are more adventurous and love an exciting road trip every now and then, a road trip to Guwahati from the neighboring states of West Bengal, Jharkhand or Bihar could be just the right option for you.
The city is well connected by roads and major highways and the view while traveling is exquisite.
However, one thing to keep in mind is that this road trip is a convenient option only for those who are fine with long distance traveling and are well adjusted to the roads in hilly regions.
The following posts will be helpful for your travel to the mountains of India.
- 17 Curated Evergreen Hindi Melodious songs that will get you grooving.
- Driving 101: How To Drive In The Hills in India!
- 10 tips for trekking with children – The more you go on regular hikes or treks, the more the chances of your children bonding with nature! It doesn’t matter where you are located!
If this is your first trip to India you will find these posts helpful:-
- When is the best time to Visit India?
- 30 Breathtakingly Beautiful Destinations in India that you should not miss visiting!
- 15 Most Popular Festivals in India (with 2019 dates).
- Visiting India? Here’s What should tourists wear in India?
- Should you tip in India? Read when, whom & how much to tip.
- 13 tried and tested Safety Tips for Train Travel in India
- Curious about Indian Culture? Learn how to drape a perfect Saree – Step By Step Tutorial.
My trip to Guwahati and Meghalaya proved to be a great escape from the Mumbai heat for me. I hope this guide helps you plan your vacation better, whether it is a short one like mine or a longer, more relaxed one!