23 Things You Must Know For International Tourists Traveling To Northeast India

23 Things You Must Know For International Tourists Traveling To Northeast India

Are you a foreigner traveling to Northeast India? I would like to thank you for choosing Northeast India as your travel destination. Before you head to Northeast India, you might want to check the following list of 23 things you must know for international tourists traveling to Northeast India. You might know some of it already or you may be surprised after seeing it. Real the full article and do not forget to share this if you like it.

In this post, you will know some of the unique things you need to know before going to Northeast India if you are an international tourist. If you have any other points you wish to include in the list, do not hesitate to ping an email so that I can have a look and include them in the list. This list is not about things you don’t know about Northeast India but rather a list of things it will help in planning the trip which will make most of out it. If you are looking for why Northeast India is famous, then I have already written an article about it. You can check it out by clicking here to by following the link below:

23 Things You Must Know For International Tourists Traveling To Northeast India

Enough of introduction, let’s head to the 23 things you must know for international tourists traveling to Northeast India. This list will keep growing based on user suggestions. Don’t be discouraged with the below points, it is just to make you aware. Again, I would like to stress that I am not discouraging you from traveling to Northeast India but I am gently reminding you of the basic cautions you might need to take. Also, I am offering some unique points from a different angle that will help you. Note that if you are an experienced traveler, all these things may be easy and part of your plan but for a casual traveler, these things might mean a lot.

Nykaa Beauty [CPS] IN

Northeast is full of beautiful tribal people but they are not what you are expecting

When you hear the word “tribal”, most of the international tourists immediately grab the idea of Amazon tribes, the sentinel tribes where very limited contact with the outside world is observed. However, tribes in Northeast India enjoy the full modern lives and also have their own customary norms. Sometimes, they even enjoy special provisions in the Indian constitution including but not limited to: tax relaxation, reservations in education, jobs, etc., protection of their lands and natural resources, etc. The closest similarity may be the Indian tribes in the USA.

A tribe in Northeast India. (Photo courtesy: nenow.in)

The road conditions in small part of Northeast India are tough rough

I am NOT saying that all the roads in Northeast India are in terrible conditions. What I am saying is that some of the roads are just very bad. Now, you might be thinking, I have traveled to some of the very tough road conditions but believe me, you will be surprised if you choose to travel to a place with such road conditions.

I suggest you kindly talk thoroughly with your tour guide if you are on a guided tour. This way you will know what to expect. Since most of Northeast India are hilly regions, during the monsoon, a perfectly nice road today might turn into a nonexistent road the next day due to a landslide.

Not so good condition road in Imphal-Jiribam Road, Manipur, India. (Photo courtesy: kanglaonline.com)

Check out if there is any foreigner restrictions currently

As you probably know that Northeast India is a sensitive area due to many insurgent groups in India. Frequently, specific countries announce travel advisories to specific regions of Northeast India due to some specific reason at different times. However, this doesn’t mean that Northeast India is like some countries in the Middle East or Africa where, there is widespread lawlessness, bombs and gunshots left and right. Life in Northeast India is just like life in any other part of India and this also means, you must know where you are going and the risk of going there. For example, if you are going to Brussel, Belgium, you should know the districts of NO-GO zones. Similarly, if you are going to a far-flung area of Northeast India, you are more likely to meet insurgents and other non-state actors.

Never miss to enjoy the local foods and cuisines

You heard this time and time again that do not miss local foods and cuisines and it is right. You will find hundreds of local dishes and wherever you go in Northeast India, you should try at least one local dish.

Photo Courtesy: nativeplanet.com
Photo courtesy: swantour.com

Northeast is not lively at night except in metro cities

If you are from western countries, you might think, the gas stations, the fast-food stores, and other essential services will be available 24*7 wherever you go. But, in Northeast India, you might want to get your requirements before nighttime. However, cities like Guwahati are buzzing cities and you can expect most of the modern facilities like food delivery and other emergency services. However, after midnight all services tend to stop till early morning.

Having said that, if you are traveling at night across state lines, there are certain places that remain open the whole night only to offer these essential services for the tourists.

Visiting Northeast India is not about experiencing a city and comfortable vacation rather a unique experience of nature and diverse people.

I wouldn’t plan a honeymoon trip in Northeast India. But, I will plan an adventurous journey to Northeast India. However, I am not saying that you can not have a honeymoon trip to Northeast India. You can definitely plan with an adventure angle. It’s the unique experience of nature, hard-living, difficult terrain, friendly people that make your holiday a unique one.

British officers used to stay at Shillong at a summer home during the British occupation of India.

Apart from Darjeeling, Shillong is also another city where British officers used to run away from the summer heat in Kolkata. When you visit Shillong, you will know why. I won’t say anymore and will keep it in suspense for you.

Traveling in villages? Don’t be intimidated by the earger looks from the locals.

Most of the villagers have never met a foreigner in their lives. It is human nature to inspect or stare at things they see for the first time. So, it is common that you will be stared especially by the old people. All the kids will be very friendly and will most probably wave and say Hi! to you. Be generous in returning the gestures.

Hindi is not necessarily the most widely used language in Northeast India but English may be.

As you may already know that India is a diverse country and most states have their own languages. However, most people in mainland India will know Hindi. You may be thinking that knowing Hindi will help you a lot while going to Northeast India. You are definitely right as long as you stay in major cities. But, once you start roaming in the countryside, you will notice that fewer and fewer people speak Hindi and people will know basic English. Having said this, most of Assam, Arunachal, Tripura, Sikkim, you can expect that people will speak Hindi even if you are traveling to a very far outskirt place. In Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, Meghalaya, chances are high that they won’t understand Hindi but little English.

Manipur might be the most diverse state in the Northeast India

Remember I use “might be” so don’t count on me but you will find that in the hilly region of Manipur if you go 3-5km from one village, you will find another tribe. In the valley part of Manipur, you will find all kinds of people settling including the mainlanders. In the hilly region, you will find mostly tribal. As an international tourist, you may not be able to distinguish them but chances are high that they belong to different tribes and cultures. The government of Manipur has listed some of the major tribes on this page. Click here to check it out.

Northeast is the victim of negative media coverage

What do you think when you heard of Syria, Iraq? Let me guess all the kabooms and shootings? Similarly, Northeast India has the same kind of media coverage. For decades, the media hardly covered any positive news towards Northeast India. Yes, the region was (and still is) affected by the militancy and unrest due to many factors which I won’t discuss here. However, most of the unrest is settled and most of the region is very peaceful. Don’t believe the excessive negative coverage amplifications but do consume the raw news. Having said this, lately, the news coverage has been positive and the image of Northeast India has improved significantly. You can get a glimpse of the news coverage of Northeast India by following this link, even though it is an old article.

Planning a hitchhiking in remote areas? A backup plan is highly recommended.

This may not be the most important thing but for some adventure tourists, it may be. You might be well aware that sometimes, the distance between two villages or places in the hilly places may be hours of distance. Traffic in such places is very sparse. Hitchhiking in such places may find a little hard. Just keep this in mind and make sure you have a plan if you fail. However, I am not saying that this is not possible. In fact, watch Nomadic Indian’s video about hitchhiking in Manipur below.

Hiking and staying a night in the mountains? Animals, insects, and mammals are abundant in Northeast India.

As an international tourist having a holiday in Northeast India, you may be thinking of a hiking trip in the most popular hiking spots in Northeast India. In this case, this is completely safe to plan a hiking trip with the basic precautions that you have been following. But if you are planning a hiking trip to some lesser unexplored regions, you might want to inquire the locals first if there is any danger. Most of the Northeastern states are covered in deep forests and this sub-tropical climate attracts all sorts of dangerous insects, animals. Follow the local instructions and respect local traditions.

Be ready for completely different foods (different from mainland India).

You will still find your favorite mainland Indian foods but the real taste of foods in Northeast India are different. Ask the hotel waiter or your tour guide for something indigenous yet simple and try it. If you are a foodie and can handle some extremes, you can ask for it. The taste will depend on your experience and interpretation. Remember, the foods are very good to them even if you find the taste strange.

Don’t go randomly to inner mountains without knowing or with no local guides.

This is not to discourage you from exploring the unexplored region. But, this is just a warning to gather basic information from the locals if the area you are going to is in a very remote location. There are very thick areas of forest where the wild animals rule. There are very remote areas where militants rule. Some are areas where dangers are there in terms of natural disasters like landslides, flood depending on the season you are traveling. Don’t be discouraged but just be cautious. A local guide will be very useful in such cases.

Sometimes, you won’t even believe you are in India.

Whenever foreign tourists think of and experience in India, it is mainly the hustle, crowds, chaos, street foods, temples, hot weather, etc. But if you are in Northeast India, you will most probably find a peaceful nature. From Sikkim to Mizoram, you will know your mind is very relaxed. The beautiful breeze, the breathtaking views while traveling from Imphal to Moreh, Darjeeling to Gangtok, the way to Tawang, etc. will steal all your life problems for some time. Enjoy the moments don’t think too much of the negatives.

Even in Northeast India, you will find extreme cold, real hot, and moderate climates.

Reached Guwahati in summer? Must be feeling really hot. Just hire a cab to travel to Shillong, you will feel like you are in Indian winter. Already in Tawang and you are frozen? Drive to Tezpur, you will be unfrozen again. Generally, Assam, Tripura is hotter than the other states in Northeast India. The northern part of Arunachal, Sikkim are extremely cold while Nagaland, Mizoram, Manipur, Meghalaya have a moderate yet little cold climate. Choose your destinations according to your desire and taste.

You will find unheard World War Two stories.

When you say WWII, the first thing you remember is D-day, Pearl Harbor, Normandy Invasion, the Atom bomb, etc. However, the same war waging in this part of the world even though it hasn’t been researched to the full extent. The real downfall of the Japanese empire started when it failed to capture the Imphal city of Manipur. According to many historians, the battle of Imphal is as much as fierce as that of the D-day and is as important as the major battles in Europe if not more. Not only the battle of Imphal, but you will also find many places if you choose to explore where the battle scares are still present to this day. Such stories will provide a different perspective from the locals. The basic infrastructures and infrastructural skeletons were set-up during WWII time.

Try to keep basic phrases in major languages of each state.

Yes, the basic phrases like food, directions, thank you, hi, help, etc. should be written in small paper so that you can use it later when needed. As a Manipuri, I will provide basic Manipuri phrases below. If anyone of you reading is from the Northeastern part and you want to help provide basic phrases in your dialect, feel free to comment down below or send an email. It will be appreciated very much.

Thank you (very much)!(yamna) Thagatchari
How much?Kayano?
Help me!Mateng pangbiyo.
Where can I get something to eat?Chak (or chanaba) kaida fangani?
Direction for XYZ?XYZ se karomdano?
You look beautiful.yam fajei
I am not interested.Ei yarani or tanle

Brothers and sisters from Assam, Mizoram, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Sikkim, send me the translations of the above phrases, I will update this post. Is there any other phrases you want to include? Comment down below or send an email.

Mizoram may be the only state that follows traffic rules the most.

As an international traveler, you already know that the traffic and horn in India is just out of control. As many famous comedians joke, you don’t follow the lanes but you create your own. The vehicles in India communicate with each other using the horn. However, you may find it very strange that the state of Mizoram in Northeast India strictly follow the traffic rules. Apart from many other amazing things in Mizoram, people visiting Mizoram point out the amazing traffic in Mizoram. Note that the roads in Mizoram are narrow and there is no unnecessary traffic jams. Check out the video below.

Learn to honk, seriously, this is how others will know you are there while driving.

I am serious about this. Most of the northeastern parts doesn’t have traffic lights or very good roads. People usually remind another vehicle in front of them that they are there behind by honking. When you are traveling in a curly hilly road, it is a good practice that you honk just to let your presence if any vehicle is coming from opposite direct in a corner.

After all, Northeast India is a sensitive area and certain places are forbidden to visit like unknown military installations.

You will find such places extremely rarely. You will be warned well before you reach such places. However, in the rarest case when you accidentally reach such places, try to leave immediately or if you are caught, just tell the truth. There shouldn’t any problems unless you stepped on a really top secret site which I don’t even know if they are there anywhere.

You won’t believe the level of quality sportspersons Manipur produces with the infrastructure provided to athletes.

If you happen to visit some stadiums or some sports infrastructures, you will notice that most are not even par with the national level. However, the output in terms of medals and international players is just out of belief. Manipur is frequently dubbed as the powerhouse of sports in India. Womens’ football is dominated by Manipur. Manipur has been consistently producing athletes in almost every sport. If you haven’t heard of Mary Kom, then I don’t know where have you been living.

Cash is king

Thinking of a credit card? Don’t bother about it except in major cities. Even though India is pushing for digital transactions, most people still prefer cash. They will only accept cash. It is better you take your adequate cash but also not too much from any ATM.

So, guys, this is it. If you think there should be other points that should be included in this list, comment down below. If you liked this post, don’t forget to share this article.


  1. Pingback: Trip To Jowai: 2 Nights 3 Days Itinerary - The North East India

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *