A solo trip to North East India and Bhutan (30 days – expenditure 21,000 INR)

home at majuli river island assam

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.

fishing time majuli river island assam

Majuli Village

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.

Let me put forward my entire journey to North East India and Bhutan as an example.

Before the start of the journey

The first and foremost thing I did was to plan my itinerary. I searched 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.[

This is how I traversed starting from Guwahati and ending at Darjeeling.

north east India and Bhutan Trip

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 Ziro Valley Arunachal Pradesh

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.

Check out my blog on Majuli – The World’s Largest River Island for more details. At night I boarded a train from Jorhat town railway station (near to Majuli) to reach Guwahati.

Bamboo houses at majuli river island assam

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 Bhutan

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).

For more details on Paro, check out my posts Bhutan-Kingdom of Thunder Dragon and A Hike to Tiger’s Nest – Bhutan.

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.

Rinpung Dzong Paro City Bhutan

Thimphu Bhutan

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

Mount Kanchenjunga view Gangtok Sikkim

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 .

onacheaptrip

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.

Goechala trek route Yuksom Sikkim

Goechala Trek 

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 from Pelling Sikkim

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…..

Are you looking for some essential travel gear? Check out my post on What’s in my Backpack.

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68 thoughts on “A solo trip to North East India and Bhutan (30 days – expenditure 21,000 INR)

  1. Hi Abhishek
    That’s a pretty detailed and an inspiring post. 🙂 🙂
    I wish I could travel like you did. Unfortunately, that’s not possible as we don’t have that many days.
    I want to take a trip to north east India with my family (5 adults) for 7-10 days and we’ll be travelling from Chandigarh. I could see quite cheap flight options to Bagdogra and Guwahati from Delhi which is approximately 5000 (return) per person. We do not have any particular location preferences in mind as of now.
    Can you please help me plan an itinerary.

    1. Hey Manmeet, thank you so much for the appreciation. In which month are you planning to travel? Do you wish to travel to Bhutan? Do you want an itinerary which covers more or you would prefer slow and easy traveling? Adult age group? Please let me know about these queries so that I can come up with an itinerary for you. 🙂 Waiting to hear!!

      1. We are planning to travel either in end of August i.e. 28th Aug or 1st week of September. We are a family of 5 people with 3 youngsters (25-28 years of age) and both of our parents in age group 45-50. I am very keen in seeing Bhutan as it would be a completely different culture, but only if time allows. I don’t want to rush things and make the trip tiring and uncomfortable. We have never been to north eastern part of the country so we are open to all kinds of suggestions/advice and would like to make the most of it without exerting.

        1. If you have 10 days, what I would suggest you is to have a visit to Bhutan for 6-7 days covering Paro, Thimphu, and Phunaka. You can fly till Guwahati and start the trip covering Shillong and Cherrapunji. After Cherrapunji you can head for Bhutan. Let me know if that sounds good to you so that I can come up with an itinerary for you!! This plan won’t be tiring 🙂

  2. Hi Abhishek, very helping post. I want to explore Bhutan and near by places in October. I will have 7 days to do so. Request you to help me out to an my trip

  3. Hi Abhishek,

    Amazing article and pictures too. It does help people looking to go on a solo travel with a budget.

    I’m planning to the north east for around 20 days sometime in august.

    I’d really appreciate if you could help me plan my itinerary. Pretty messed up when it comes to planning on a budget.

  4. Hey Abhishek! Thanks alot for this wonderful post.
    I guess, it’s quite late to comment and expect for a response but your post makes me believe that you can really help.
    I was looking up for the hotels that you mentioned and they were quite costly compared to what you mentioned. Should I book beforehand or book on counter. I am planning a trip in July. Is that the right season to be there? And I have 10 days in total. What places would you suggest out of these and what should be my itinerary?

    1. Hey Gargi!! Thank you so much 🙂 Which hotel exactly are you talking about? On my entire trip to North East, I hadn’t done any pe booking and I would advise you to do the same. Just go out there, search for the one I have mentioned, if that turns out to be expensive, check 3-4 more hotels and I am sure you will find a cheap one. I would suggest a 5-6 day trip to Bhutan and a 3-4 day trip to Nort Sikkim( Gangtok – Zero point – Lachung -Yumthang valley). Let me know if you have more queries. Happy traveling!! Cheers, buddy 🙂

  5. Hey Abhishek!
    This is a great article to begin with, quite helpful. I am an Architecture student and I am planning to conduct my design dissertation about the seven sisters of North-East India. It will be a study about the arts, crafts, cultures, lifestyle and architecture of the same.
    1. Please can you guide me regarding what locations/states should I be visiting to get the most information in limited time and budget(considering I am a student and I won’t get multiple chances to visit the same places again within my academic year.) 10-15 days at max. is what I can spare.
    2. Is it safe to visit the places alone, or with a friend?
    3. What kind of official documents/permissions are required to visit the states?
    4. My time of visit would be somewhere in between May-July?
    5. Also, I am from Mumbai, so any kind of help regarding travelling options would make me thankful to you.
    Any other relative information will be of great great help! I am dying of anxiety thinking about my dissertation.

    1. Hey Ruhma,
      Thank you so much for the appreciation!! Good to see so many queries.
      1)The two places that you should miss for all these studies is Majuli in Assam and Ziro valley in Arunachal. I have written about these places and you will get a good idea reading those post. Also Mawlynnong, the cleanest village in India is worth visiting.
      2)Yes, it is absolutely safe to visit Northeast India. People are so humble and helpful over there. Just don’t roam around late nights, otherwise, it is perfectly safe.
      3)For Arunachal, you would need ILP which you can make online at 100 INR.(http://arunachalilp.com/)
      4)yeah May-July is a good time to visit these places.
      5)You can fly till Guwahati if you want to sage time other a direct train till Guwahati, but that would be a long journey. You can read more in my post about ways of reaching.
      Hope this clarifies your doubts. Let me know if you need any more info. Wish you a happy journey.

      1. Hey!
        Thank you so very much to take the time to reply. All this information definitely will help me have a better direction towards my research and trip. This honestly helps a lot. I should be troubling you further if I get stuck 😛
        Wish you luck for your endeavors!

  6. This post has been super helpful. I would have loved to do the entire goecha trek, however due to paucity of time, I can maybe cover the yuksom to tshoka (just like you did). Is a guide required for this? And can this be completed in 2 days? Are there any other beautiful 1 day treks around Sikkim which you are aware of?

    1. Thank you so much. In my case, I did it without a guide as it was not mandatory earlier. But I heard recently that guide is mandatory nowadays. Yes it can be completed in 2 days if you are extremely good with fitness level.
      You can give Yuksom Khecheopalri Trek a try.

  7. Great Article Abhishek.. Would need your help in planning my trip.. we have only 7 days in hand and would like to visit Bhutan and shillong as primary.. Since it is a family trip.. It would be of great help if u can guide on the stay and best places to visit.. We planning in the month of Oct ’18 starting from chennai.

    1. Thank You so much 🙂 So you can plan 5 days in Bhutan, 1 in shillong and 1 should be travelling from Bhutan to Meghalaya. There are lot of stay options which are available in Paro, Thimphu and Shillong. I dont do online bookings of stay options so cant suggest you anything in particular. I have written post on Bhutan and shillong which you can use as a reference for important places to visit. Let me know if you have more queries.

  8. Hey Abhishek,

    Firstly, congratulations on being the first result when searched “north east solo trip”. After reading your blog, I hardly got anything as useful in rest of the search. So coming to the point, I’m planning a solo trip (my first ever) to North-East in April end/May beg. I’ve done Bhutan (haven’t visited something so calm and pure) before with my fam, so Bhutan’s out. It’d be great if you could help me with the following queries. 😊

    1. I’m planning a 10-15 days (very flexible) trip, so what all places should I cover?
    2. Is it safe to travel solo in that region?
    3. How is the network connectivity throughout?

    I hope this isn’t too much to ask for. Thanks in advance.

    1. That’s great to hear that you are planning for solo trip. It is very safe to travel solo over there. People are really helpful in that region. Network connectivity is good. You will find BSNL and Vodafone almost everywhere. I didn’t get your 420 friendly point. Coming to places to cover, I would suggest you 4 days for Tawang and Ziro, 2 for Majuli, 4 for Meghalaya (Cherrapunji, Shillong, Dwaki, Mawlylong) and 5 for Sikkim ( Ganktok, Darjeeling and a 3 day north Sikkim tour). Let me know if you need to discuss more on this.

  9. Hi Abhishek, I am planning a 10-15 day trip to northeast in October-November this year, from Gujarat. please help me plan my itinerary.

  10. this post is all i need to plan my solo trip to north east and bhutan.
    please help me out to plan out my itinerary for the trip. i would highly appreciate that.
    i wanna visit all the important places. that too on a budget.
    let me know how can i contact you easily.
    thank you.

  11. Hey Abhishek,
    Guess what! I am planning a way too similar trip ( though ill extend it to Nepal :P) coming April and the entire planning process has gotten me so excited already 🙂 . I loved the post and will use it as a bible of sorts! . Could you please share more details about travelling from Zero to Majuli though? Is it possible to do this journey in a day if we start early? and what are the stops to change busses/modes of transport?

    Thanks a ton for all the information:)

    1. That’s great to hear Mihir. I may say you would be very lucky if you are able to make it to Majuli from Ziro in a day which was not in my case. From Ziro, I guess the first taxi for North Lakhimpur is around 8:30- 9:00 am which takes around 5-6 hours to reach and the roads are really in bad condition. So probably the time you reach North Lakhimpur (around 2-3), most of the buses would have already left for Majuli. I could see on the map a possible shortcut to reach Majuli by ferry service(Khabolu ferry service), but I doubt its availability. What you can do is take a shared traveler/ bus from NOorth Lakhimpur to Dhakukhana which would take around 2 hours. If you reach Dhakukhana around 4-5, you will get a transport for Majuli which would take another hour to reach. But Majuli would have gone dark by the time you make it, so if you prebook stay option that should be fine. Otherwise stay in dhakukhana for a night( that what I did as suggested by locals), and catch a morning bus ( 7:00 am ) to reach Majuli. I guess that clarifies your doubts

  12. Hi, Abhishek you are truly inspiring, I am planning a 10 day trip to northeast and Bhutan in April this year, from Bangalore. please help me plan my itinerary.
    Thanks in advance

    1. Hi Vani, Thank you so much. I need little more info so I can help you with a 10-day itinerary. How much are you willing to spend? Are you comfortable with shared transports? 10 days is too short, but anyways can you extend the plan by 1-3 days? Are you thinking to fly until Bagdogra or Guwahati? Waiting for the response 🙂

    2. hi Vani i am also planning a solo trip, as all of my trip partners are busy in their life. As I am a travel freak I couldn’t stay at home or office for more than 3 months. I have to go. If you feel free then we can make this trip together. please respond.

  13. Really good information Abhishek… Me and my husband are planning to visit north east in Feb 2018. We do not have so much time in hand. I want to include Assam, meghalaya and arunachal in 10 days, is it possible? Please guide

    1. Thank you Mansi 🙂
      Yes, it is very much possible. Which places are you thinking of exploring? The few I would suggest are Majuli, Ziro, Shillong, Cherrapunji, Dwaki, and Mawlylong.

      1. Hii

        Really appreciate your help..

        Following are the places we are planning to visit..
        Guwahati
        Shillong
        Mawlynnong
        Dawki
        Kaziranga
        And Tawang

        All this is in around 9N/10D ,that too on a budget trip..

        Regards.

        Show quoted text
        Don’t spend much time at Guwahati. What you can do is on the day you reach Guwahati, if possible go to Shillong. Its just a 2-3 hrs drive and you can get a shared taxi. From there I would suggest you visit cherrapunji on a day tour, especially the root bridge( if you can trek a little). Mawlynnong and Dwaki can be covered in 2 days tour from Shillong. so that would be like 5 days. Come back Guwahati and head for Tawang. You can catch the train until Rangapara station. Tawang would be at least 3-day tour. Last 1-2 days you can visit Kaziranga.

        Regards,
        Abhishek

  14. It’s very informative and sounds exciting. I am planning for one during April next year. Can you please help me with the itinerary? Planning to visit all the 8 states and Bhutan if possible in 21 days.

    1. Thanks for your appreciation !!! Great to hear that you would be visiting northeast and Bhutan in 2018. 21 days won’t be enough for covering Bhutan and 8 states. You can follow the above itinerary and skip one or two places…Let me know if you need more help…

  15. Can you please share details of goecha-la part you did. I was planning for this trek solo. Please share the itinerary and what all to pack.

    Thanks

    1. Earlier it was allowed to do solo, but due to few mishaps in the recent year, you wont be allowed to do it solo. Also there is no lodge/tea houses in the whole trek so you will need to carry all your food stuff with you. I will share you my itinerary and all essential details on your mail.

  16. I think that is among the such a lot important info for me.
    And i’m happy studying your article. However want to commentary on some
    general issues, The website taste is great, the articles is in reality
    great : D. Excellent job, cheers

  17. My friends went for a North East trip and they have referred your few blogs ?
    This one is nice and very informative blog.. keeping writing

  18. This is so amazing! I never thought this would ever be possible to travel for this cheap. I would definitely love to learn more from you on planning a cheap trip. Keep going traveler. You are the best!

    1. Yes, it was very exciting indeed !!! Haha very curious 🙂 Right now I work in an IT firm in Pune and somehow managed a month leave. That’s only possible when an individual gives preference to travel over anything else 🙂 one month leave- let it be kept secret!! haha!!

  19. Hey Abhishek,
    Your blog is very informative and inspiring to explore the world. Which I like a most. I regularly check your blog for travel update. I will need your help to plan trip to Bhutan for a week.
    ??

    1. Thanks for reading regularly. I would be happy to help you in planning your itinerary for Bhutan trip. Let me know what exactly you are planning for?
      Keep travelling !!!

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