Sikkim & Northeast itinerary; please help!

#1 Dec 2nd, 2010, 01:37
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#1
Hello IMers,

We are planning a tour of Sikkim and Northeast states starting 1st week of December. We would like your help in finalizing a proper itinerary.

Here's what we plan to cover starting the trip from Darjeeling:
Sikkim:
- Pelling.
Visit Pemayangste Monastry, Rabdentse ruins, Tashiding Monastery
- Gangtok
Visit Rumtek Monastery
- Tour of Northern Sikkim (Labrang, Phodong, Mangan-Shingik, Lachung, Yumthang)

West Bengal
- Kalimpong (is this worth visiting?)

Assam
- Guwahati
Visit Pobitora National Park
- Tezpur
- Nameri National Park (is this worth visiting?)
- Kaziranga National Park

Arunachal Pradesh
- Do a loop of Ziro to Pasighat and back (how can this trip be arranged?)
- Tawang Monastery (is this trip possible in Dec?)

Nagaland
- Kohima
Visit Kisama and Khonoma
- Mon (how can this trip be arranged?)

Manipur
- Imphal
Visit Loktak Lake

Mizoram
- Aizawl

Tripura
- Agartala
Visit Neermahal Palace & Udaipur

Meghalaya
- Shillong
- Cherrapunji

So the route we hope to follow is this:
Darjeeling - Pelling - Gangtok - Kalimpong - Siliguri
Siliguri - Guwahati - Tezpur - Kohora - Tezpur
Tezpur - Itanagar - Ziro - Pasighat - Itanagar - Guwahati
Guwahati - Kohima - Mon - Kohima
Kohima - Imphal -(flight)- Aizawl - Silchar - Agartala
Agartala - Shillong - Cherrapunji - Shillong
Shillong - Guwahati

- Is this doable?
- How are the security conditions in these towns?
- Except for the flight between Imphal & Aizawl, we hope to take buses or shared jeeps or private taxis - is this a safe option?
- Is there any must-see place that is missing?

Please help!

Regards,
10yearitch
#2 Dec 4th, 2010, 19:43
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#2
Even if someone's able to help with just a particular state in the Northeast, we'll be grateful! Please help !
#3 Dec 4th, 2010, 20:29
It's all Greek to me, but Benglish will do
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#3
Hi 10yearitch,

I visited Arunachal Pradesh for three and a half weeks in 2009. You may read about our adventures here:

http://www.indiamike.com/india/other...adness-t78512/

Scroll down for the Ziro section.

We also visited Tawang, during the same trip:

http://www.indiamike.com/india/other...tawang-t79076/
and
http://www.indiamike.com/india/other...ghtful-t79120/

I think that IndiaMiker Swapnil has visited Tawang in January. You may like to check with him.

Everyone needs special ILPs or RAPs for Arunachal Pradesh. Ours were obtained through the travel agent who organized our tour. We initially wanted to travel independently, but after several months of research, decided it would be better to have some professional help. You can apply for your Inner Line Permits at Delhi. They cost something in the region of 50 US $. I have argued at length that they are also available for free (since it was reported here by another IndiaMiker, Mike-in-Cairns, who wrote a fantastic trip report about Meghalaya). But I am no longer up to date with the procedures, which in any case are slightly different for foreigners and for Indian nationals.

Mike's post is here:

http://www.indiamike.com/india/other...ridges-t62959/

and my Trip Report from earlier this year in Meghalaya is:

http://www.indiamike.com/india/other...hills-t107734/

I will let you digest this post first then if you want me to answer any questions I am more than happy to do so!

N.B. Fellow IndiaMiker K.S. Bluechip has also visited Arunachal Pradesh.

Check out the Other Areas Forum for many more useful threads.

This looks like a super itinerary you have planned!

Will your stay in Nagaland coincide with the Hornbill Festival?

Is your trip for 2011 or is it starting now? How many days do you have in hand?
#4 Dec 4th, 2010, 20:37
It's all Greek to me, but Benglish will do
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#4
My trip report from Sikkim visited in spring this year:

http://www.indiamike.com/india/sikki...sited-t110214/

Please also check out this useful and informative thread:

http://www.indiamike.com/india/other...iences-t70497/
#5 Dec 5th, 2010, 15:54
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#5
Quote:
Originally Posted by theyyamdancer View Post My trip report from Sikkim visited in spring this year:

http://www.indiamike.com/india/sikki...sited-t110214/

Please also check out this useful and informative thread:

http://www.indiamike.com/india/other...iences-t70497/
Wow! Thanks so much for pointing me to the right links!

Sounds like you went through a travel agency to tour Arunachal. Do you mind sharing which agency and whether you would recommend them? How long was the tour?

Will look up KS' links too.

Thanks again!
#6 Dec 5th, 2010, 16:00
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#6
Quote:
Originally Posted by theyyamdancer View Post Hi 10yearitch,

I visited Arunachal Pradesh for three and a half weeks in 2009. You may read about our adventures here:

http://www.indiamike.com/india/other...adness-t78512/

Scroll down for the Ziro section.

We also visited Tawang, during the same trip:

http://www.indiamike.com/india/other...tawang-t79076/
and
http://www.indiamike.com/india/other...ghtful-t79120/

I think that IndiaMiker Swapnil has visited Tawang in January. You may like to check with him.

Everyone needs special ILPs or RAPs for Arunachal Pradesh. Ours were obtained through the travel agent who organized our tour. We initially wanted to travel independently, but after several months of research, decided it would be better to have some professional help. You can apply for your Inner Line Permits at Delhi. They cost something in the region of 50 US $. I have argued at length that they are also available for free (since it was reported here by another IndiaMiker, Mike-in-Cairns, who wrote a fantastic trip report about Meghalaya). But I am no longer up to date with the procedures, which in any case are slightly different for foreigners and for Indian nationals.

Mike's post is here:

http://www.indiamike.com/india/other...ridges-t62959/

and my Trip Report from earlier this year in Meghalaya is:

http://www.indiamike.com/india/other...hills-t107734/

I will let you digest this post first then if you want me to answer any questions I am more than happy to do so!

N.B. Fellow IndiaMiker K.S. Bluechip has also visited Arunachal Pradesh.

Check out the Other Areas Forum for many more useful threads.

This looks like a super itinerary you have planned!

Will your stay in Nagaland coincide with the Hornbill Festival?

Is your trip for 2011 or is it starting now? How many days do you have in hand?
We are currently in Darjeeling and will be heading to Sikkim on the 7th. Unfortunately, since the Hornbill festival comes to a close by that day, we will miss it .

Since we have been backpacking for the past year or so we don't have any fixed itinerary. We took a break in Kerala for a couple of months this year and then started with Tamil Nadu during the 1st week of October. Have been on the road since, working our way north and east. Hopefully, if we don't feel the need for a break right now, we'll continue to the Northeast states as soon as we are done with Sikkim ... fingers crossed!

Thanks for all your help!
#7 Dec 5th, 2010, 16:01
It's all Greek to me, but Benglish will do
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#7
Yes, I wholeheartedly recommend:


Travel Agent: Mr. Basant Giri, Ren Tours, Treks & Expeditions, New Delhi, Telephone +91 98103 52728

who is actually from Bhutan, but based in Delhi. He could certainly help you with the Manipur/Nagaland/Mizoram parts of your trip too.

(I am sending you a P.M. )
#8 Dec 5th, 2010, 16:12
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#8
Pity about the Hornbill festival. (I am thinking about it for next year so was hoping for some tips!)

I think the only place on your route which is officially classed as "dangerous" is Manipur; though it really depends who you talk to. I would love to visit there myself.
#9 Dec 5th, 2010, 18:57
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#9
@10yritch: saw this thread after your email. So you are on to NorthEast now

You have pretty much covered everything in main areas of Sikkim/Assam/Arunachal .... but so much more in wild-East, that I have been yearning to do! ... so now you can tell me about that how to do that (Manipur, Nagaland, Tripura, Mizoram etc.)

Some comments (after seeing only the OP; may be you got some good answers meanwhile from others esp from Theyyam an expert on Arunachal):

Tawang will be biting Cold now. But you can't miss that place. Kalimpong I haven't been to, but have been missing not going there for long. You should perhaps go to Namdahpa way past Ledo. Its an awesome forest and wild country. Buses go upto Miao. I would have recommended Kibuthu (East of NE!) but thats way out and cold and has to be done in hired 4WD.

I didnt see Bhutan in your tour; that you simply can't miss. You will need a whole week for that and you can do cross-country; west to east. It will be well worth visit. Assuming you are going as Indians and not with Dollars.

I remember seeing a blog from two guys who went hitch-hiking in the wild-East areas; will add that link here later, when I locate it.

I may add some more comments after seeing entire thread properly.
.
.
#10 Dec 5th, 2010, 19:10
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#10
The link of North-East hitch-hiking blog by Inder & Ajay:

http://hitchhikingindia.com/

Quote from Blog: "Two city slickers go hitchhiking in India - with a limited budget and an ambitious plan. Spending just Rs. 150 ($3) per day, can they capture the essence of the North-East in the local music? And can they change the notion that adventure travel in India is not possible? Follow them as they find out for themselves"

Don't know if they have posted anything on IM? I have Ajay's Phone number, I think, and can PM that to you if you need it.
.
.
#11 Dec 5th, 2010, 20:33
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  • kshil is offline
#11
@10yearitch, once again bumping at your thread

Your situation is like mine, getting information on this region is really difficult comparing to other parts of India. I am also going to North East in December but my main focus is Assam and Eastern Arunachal. You can see my plan here. In original Plan Namdapha was included which might get replaced with Roing / Mayudia (Lower Dibang Valley) as Governor is supposed to visit Namdapha in New year . My major target in Arunachal apart from tawang would be Lower Dibang Valley, Lohit, Anjaw (Kibithu that KS mentioned) and Namdapha and Nampong (Stilwell Road) in Changlang.

My 2 cents on your plan would be

1. As KS mentioned, Tawang would be extremely cold and with horrible road condition, as far as the latest info I am getting, but still I would attempt it I get Sela Pass Open as this is simply irresistible.

2. Buddy when you are approaching from Sikkim/North Bengal, you may consider attempting Manas, which is an excellent place to go, Kaziranga is much more commercialized.

3. Kalimpong you can visit (I like it) but if you find weather clear try to stay in Lolegaon, you would be able to see a wonderful Himalayan vista on a clear day from there.

4. You may stay a few days in Dooars of North Bengal, really worth visiting specially like Forest Accommodations in Murti/Hollong, but again getting accommodations there is difficult specially on holiday seasons unless it's pre booked. You can check the availability at Hollong, Murti, Lolegaon in WBFRH here.

5. Ziro to Pasighat Loop would be extremely strenuous considering Arunachal's road condition and to me doesn't worth unless you attempt Mechuka from Along or Tuting from Pasighat, (mind, each circuit like Mechuka or Tuting needs to be mentioned in your ILP and in one ILP you get 14 days to cover whatever you can) those are the places where you actually get the touch of pristine Arunachal.
Even if you go till Pasighat, don't come back to Guwahati as that would be absolutely waste of time, rather Cross Brahmaputra to Dibrugarh and proceed towards Nagaland.

6. Get some information from as reliable source as possible on safety/security issue in travelling between Nagaland/Manipur/Mizoram/Tripura/Meghalay. Till Assam (Jorhat) tourist travels frequently and again from Shillong it's quite often visited, but for the in between states you may need to get the detail information and also the appropriate permits barring Tripura, Meghalaya and Assam, I guess.

4 points here:

a. Visiting Arunachal (except Tawang / Itanagar) is difficult because of lack of tourist infrastructure, you don't have much of public transport and even hotel, Govt CH/IB would be the options, so keep the DC/ADC/CO numbers handy with you.

b. Manipur and Eastern Arunachal Districts like Changlang and Tirap is disturbed and when applying for ILP, you may have troubles in getting into these areas.

c. Arrange your route as per the ILP you could get as ILP usually has a specific check gate to enter and you need to follow that.

d. Whole North East is extremely infamous for strikes and bandh, so keep ample time and flexibility in your schedule and prepare for unscheduled stop.

Wish you a safe a nice trip.
#12 Dec 5th, 2010, 21:19
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#12
Just one correction kshil if I may - thirty days is the norm for the ILP/RAP for Arunachal, not fifteen! (Unless the situation has changed since we went.)

I do not entirely agree with you about the lack of infrastructure in Siang Province. We managed pretty well, even in Mechuka, to find decent places to stay. As you correctly say, the effort is well worth the beauty of the scenery and the wonderful people you encounter on the road.
#13 Dec 5th, 2010, 22:26
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#13
@Theyyam, you are correct RAP (Issued for foreigners) are now given for 30 days and for ILP (issued for Indian Nationals) it's just 15 days. Currently I am holding 5 ILPs, 2 issued from Kolkata, 2 from Dibrugarh and 1 from Miao, all are of duration 15 days and it's clearly written in ILP form that for tourist ILP maximum validity can be for 15 days (For Work ILP it's more). RAP is still issued for 30 days.

I also came to know a particular thing called Inner Line Pass (not permit) from one of my friend working in Arunachal Govt, that is issued to Indians and can be used to roam around whole Arunachal, it's not gate specific which otherwise all the ILPs usually are. I am not sure if that is issued for more than 15 days (which logically they should give if it's a permit for whole Arunachal). But that only being issued from Itanagar, as per him.

I heard about the infrastructure issue but first hand experience I would be having only in this December. Has Mechuka had private hotels and accommodations? Or you stayed in CH/IB only? I would plan to cover Along-Mechuka and then Pasighat - Tuting in Oct 2011. So I might need a lot of help from you then
#14 Dec 5th, 2010, 22:32
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#14
As mentioned in my Trip Report Mechuka Madness (see link in post #3 above) we stayed at a Tibetan Guest House in Mechuka. I can find the address for you if you like, no problem. It was fairly basic but clean. The cook (very important!) was excellent - fresh veg food, picked straight from the garden and cooked to order. Not many people had stayed there. In fact we were the third and the fourth foreigners to stay there after one Israeli and one Russian. This route has only been open to outsiders since summer of 2008 and we visited in spring of 2009. There is also a CH but it was already occupied (and not very clean either!)


Here's a photo of Mechuka:

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#15 Dec 5th, 2010, 22:46
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#15
That's really a great news, CH/IB is so uncertain unless you have Govt connection, I am really scared on this part in my current trip to Anjaw and Lohit. It would be great help, if you can please provide me the contact number of the GH in Mechuka. I need similar contact of Tuting and Yingkiong as well. I hope there would be some private accommodation available in Along, Doparizo and Pasighat.

Actually not only your trip report, I closely followed all your postings in "Other Area" forums when you were preparing for the trip and gathering information on Arunachal. My Mechuka planning is inspired from your report. Thanks for such a nice report. I would start my preparation just after I finish my current outing

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