I have been asked numerous times that how do I afford so much of traveling. Did I win a lottery or something? Do I belong to a noble family? Or do I earn so much? None of the questions are true in my case. I travel and explore places as a traveler not as a tourist!! Rather than focusing on ways to travel, places to stay and eat, my more concerns are that how can I explore a particular place to its fullest.
Why book a packaged tour in this current era when every information is available over the internet? Gmaps, Wikipedia, Wikitravel, IRCTC, travel blogs are almost enough to help in planning your itinerary.
Before the start of the journey
The first and foremost thing I did was to plan my itinerary. I searched over the internet for the places of interest in the North East region and Bhutan and put them in Gmaps. It helps you to traverse effectively. By effectively, I mean to cover more places with fewer distances to be covered. You don’t want that you visit a place, come back and take the same route again to visit another place. I hope you got my point.
I just pre-booked few train tickets, in order to get confirmed berth. For stay, I didn’t book anything at all.
Note: All INR spent below are inclusive of everything (travel, food and stay).
Day 1 (Pune – Mumbai – Guwahati – Naharlagun) INR 3650 in total
- Pune to Mumbai bus (INR 250)
- Mumbai to Guwahati flight (INR 2900)
I rarely opt for flight but Guwahati being very far from my current city of residence(Pune) left me with little option. I wanted to save almost two days of train travel so that I could explore North East India and Bhutan more. Luckily, I got a very cheap flight from Mumbai to Guwahati (2900 INR) by the new Vistara Airways.
For more details, check out my post on Guwahati Assam – Largest city and gateway of Northeast India. At night I boarded a train going to Naharlagun which is near to Ziro.
Day 2, 3, 4 (Naharlagun – Ziro) INR 1000
Naharlagun to Ziro is around 100 kms. Regular buses ply from Naharlagun to Ziro (80 INR) which takes around 3-4 hours to reach Ziro.
For more details on Ziro, check out my earlier post Ziro – The Land of the Apatani Tribe.
Stay: Hotel Green Valley (INR 300/day).
Apatani Women at Ziro Arunachal Pradesh
Day 5, 6 (Ziro – North Lakhimpur – Dhakukhana – Majuli – Guwahati) INR 550
Ziro to Lakhimpur is around 120 Kms. Shared taxi costs around INR 150 and takes around 4 hours to reach North Lakhimpur. It was already getting dark before I get to Majuli, so I decided to stay at Dhakukhana which is around 50 kms from Majuli.
Majuli Village Assam
Day 7 (Guwahati – Shillong) INR 950
Guwahati to Shillong is around 100 kms. Shared taxi cost around INR 250 and takes around 2 hours to reach Shillong.
Stay: Marwari Basa Hotel (INR 400).
For more details, check out my post Shillong Meghalaya – A Journey through clouds to the Scotland of the East.
Day 8 (Shillong – Cherrapunji – Shillong – Guwahati – New Alipurdar) INR 1100
Shillong to Cherrapunji is around 54 kms. Shared taxi cost around 100 INR and takes 1.5 hours to reach Cherrapunji.
For more details, check out my post Cherrapunji – The Second Wettest Place on Planet Earth.
At night I boarded a train from Guwahati railway station (near to Majuli) to reach New Alipurdar.
Day 9 (New Alipurdar – Jaigaon – Phuentsholing – Paro) INR 850
New Alipurdar to Jaigaon is around 60 Kms. Regular buses ply from New Alipurdar to Jaigaon (50 INR) which takes around 2 hours to reach Jaigaon. From Jaigaon you can walk across the border area and reach Phuentsholing which is the border town on Bhutan side.
Phuentsholing to Paro is 160 kms. Regular buses/mini buses/shared taxis ply from Phuentsholing which takes around 5 hours to reach Paro (I took mini Bus INR 250).
Tiger’s Nest Paro Bhutan
Day 10, 11 (Paro) INR 1200
Wow!!Just the feeling you get when you enter this beautiful city. One of the best cities that I have traveled to.
Stay: Hotel Samden Norzin (INR 400/night).
Day 12 (Paro – Thimphu) INR 900
Paro to Thimphu is around 50 kms. Shared taxi cost around 200 INR and takes 1.5 hours to reach Thimphu.
Stay: Hotel Ghasel (INR 450).
For more details on Thimphu, check out my post Bhutan-Kingdom of Thunder Dragon.
Day 13 (Thimphu – Phunaka – Thimphu) INR 1200
Thimphu to Phunaka is around 85 Kms. Shared taxi cost around 300 INR and takes 2.5 hours to reach Phunaka.
For more details on Phunaka, check out my post Bhutan-Kingdom of Thunder Dragon.
Day 14,15 (Thimphu – Phuentsholing – Hasimara – Siliguri) INR 950
Thimphu to Phuentsholing is around 160 kms. Regular buses/mini buses/shared taxis ply from Thimphu which takes around 6 hours to reach Phuentsholing (I took shared taxi – INR 500).
From Phuentsholing you can walk across the border area and reach Jaigaon which is the border town on the Indian side.From Jaigaon, shared autos are available for Hasimara (50 INR – 15 kms). From Hasimara railway station, I took a train to reach Siliguri (140 kms – 80 INR).
Stay: Dorm near Siliguri railway station (INR 150).
Day 16,17 (Siliguri – Gangtok) INR 1500
Siliguri to Gangtok is around 115 kms. Regular buses/mini buses/shared taxis ply from Siliguri which takes around 4 hours to reach Gangtok (I took a shared taxi – INR 200).
Stay: Dug Hotel (INR 450/night).
For more details, check out my post on Gangtok, Sikkim – A slice of heaven in the lower Himalayas.
Mt Kanchenjunga as seen from Gangtok Sikkim
Day 18,19 (Gangtok – Lachung –Yumthang Valley – Zero Point – Gangtok) INR 2000
It’s a two-day packaged tour from Gangtok which cost around 1800 INR. Food, stay and travel is included.
For more details, check out my post on Zero Point, Sikkim – Where Civilians Road Ends to Heaven .
Day 20, 21, 22 (Gangtok – Pelling) INR 1200
Gangtok to Pelling is around 110 kms. Shared taxi cost around 300 INR and takes about 5 hours to reach Pelling.
Stay: Ladhakh Guest house (200 INR/night).
For more details, check out my post on Pelling Sikkim – A peaceful town at the foothills of the Kanchenjunga.
Day 23 (Pelling – Geyzing – Yuksom) INR 550
Pelling to Yuksom is around 40 kms. But shared taxis directly to Yuksom from Pelling are rare. From Geyzing, (15 kms from Yuksom) direct taxis to Yuksom are available. It cost around 100 INR and takes about 2.5 hours to reach Yuksom from Geyzing.
Stay: Demazong Hotel (300 INR/night).
For more details, check out my post on Yuksom Sikkim – The gateway to the mighty Kanchenjunga Peak.
Day 24, 25(Yuksom – Goechala Trek – Yuksom) INR 1300
Sadly, I had lost my trekking shoes on the way to Yuksom and therefore decided to do just a part of Goechala Trek (Kanchenjunga Base camp trek). I did trekking up to Tshoka.
Day 26, 27, 28 (Yuksom – Jorethang – Darjeeling) INR 1100
Yuksom to Darjeeling is around 85 kms but there is no direct shared taxi available. You can catch a taxi for Jorethang (about 60 kms – 3 hours – INR 150) and from Jorethang another taxi for Darjeeling (about 25 kms – 1.5 hours – INR 100).
Stay: The Diocesan Guest House (100 INR/night – dorm).
For more details, check out my post on Darjeeling – Hidden Town in the Himalayan Beauty.
Day 29, 30 (Darjeeling – New Jalpaiguri – Kolkata – Pune) INR 1000
Last 2 days of my journey was all about traveling in train to reach Pune as flights were very expensive.
Total expenses – 3650 + 1000 + 550 + 950 + 1100 + 850 + 900 + 1200 + 1200 + 950 + 1500 + 2000 + 1200 + 550 + 1300 + 1100 + 1000 = 21, 000 INR
I could have reduced trip expenditure (may be up to 18,000 INR) if there was an option to travel in nights. What I generally do is, explore a place for a day, take a night bus/train to reach next destination and explore the other place next day and so on. It helps me to avoid taking a hotel/ lodge and thus save money. But since there is almost no transportation at night in the hilly terrains of North East India, I couldn’t save money on stay part.
Mt Kanchenjunga as seen from Pelling Sikkim
I hope this blog post gave you some idea on how to travel cheap and may help you in planning one such itinerary. Let me know if you have any queries or need help in planning your itinerary. Thanks for reading. Hope to see you travel soon!! Cheers…..
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