A lot of effort is being made to promote Meghalaya as a tourist destination by Government agencies and private tour operators. I have hiked and roamed all over the hills of Meghalaya, but of course I have not covered all the places worth visiting, simply because there are too many. If you know the right places to go to, everything is absolutely beautiful and easy to reach, there are travellers who are more adventurous and who take the not so common paths and they are rewarded with experiences that they can only describe as totally unexpected, stunning and even surreal.
how to get there
Getting to Shillong is pretty easy and it is accessible any time of the year, Shillong itself does not have an airport and the nearest one is Guwahati Airport or the 'Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport' (its a very small airport). After you land in Guwahati if you have already not made arrangements for the journey to Shillong, there are a number of taxis operating on a daily basis, these are mainly taxis from Shillong who have come to drop passengers to Guwahati Airport or taxis from Guwahati going towards Shillong to pick up passengers for Guwahati. You can opt to go by a shared taxi, this is essentially a small car (like a Suzuki Swift, Suzuki Alto, Suzuki Wagon-R or a Hyundai i10 you get in the UK) with a seating capacity of 5 including the driver, the going rate is Rupees 400 per person or you can book the entire taxi for Rupees 1600, there is even a possibility of bargaining if you book the entire taxi. The moment you step out of the airport you will find quite a few taxi drivers pulling you in all directions. It would be wise to arrange for a taxi prior to arrival. From the airport the journey is around 130 kms and will take around 4 hours with one stop for food, that the drivers normally make at a place called nongpoh, about 60 kms away from shillong. There used to be a helicopter service, but at the moment it has been suspended after a series of helicopter crashes in north-east India, the helicopter ride is less than 25 minutes to Shillong and costs just a litle over Rupees 1000, but I would not recommend it, as it is considered unsafe, Once you are in Shillong getting around is pretty easy, with the local taxis operating on a shared basis and the going rate is around Rupees 10 to 20 per trip depending on the distance but everything is also within walking distance.
(* 1 INR = 45 USD approximately, currently 1 INR = 53 USD, 1 INR = 80 GBP, 1 INR = 70 EUR for realtime rates go to http://www.xe.com/)
where to stay
Travellers to Meghalaya almost always make Shillong their first destination and usually the base of their travels. Shillong is the capital city, there are a number of hotels and privately run guesthouses that you can stay in but its advisable to book in advance before going, since they are pretty much fully booked during the peak season which usually is from March to November. Basic accomodation tariff starts from INR 800. There are quite a number of hotels in Police Bazar or Khyndai Lad area which is the main city centre, with basic facilities, cleanliness levels will vary with the price you are paying. Laitumkhrah area which is another commercial centre in the town has some hotels and guest houses. There are also many guest houses located in different areas of the town, some of them are in Lachaumiere which is pretty close to the city centre and most of the guest houses are of a very good standard with tariff ranging from INR 1200 upwards for a double room. Police bazar or the Khyndai Lad area is a good place to stay for business travellers, but if you want a more relaxed and peaceful stay opt for the guest houses in Lachaumiere, all these areas I've mentioned are easily accessible.
If you need advice on where to stay depending on how much you are willing to spend you can ask your question in the comments section and I will try to direct you to a good place. The majority of visitors are domestic tourists from other parts of India, this is because international travellers are not aware of the north-east in general and Meghalaya in particular as a tourist destination. Shillong is well connected with all the major tourist attractions and it would be a good place to make your base. but, like any other Indian town, rapid urbanisation is also taking over Shillong and to my mind Shillong itself, is living on its past glory as a hill-station set up by the British. It is congested with a lot of migrant labourers moving in from other parts of India and sadly it has also become increasingly dirty with endless traffic jams adding to the woes of the local population.
where to eat
Almost all the hotels and guest houses in Shillong have their in house kitchen and they can prepare anything from breakfast to lunch and dinner on advance notice. However, there are so many good eating joints in and around the city, do not stick to the in-house food, go out and explore, you will be pleasantly surprised. Restaurants will serve typical north-indian food like roti, naan, dal, chicken, etc. and Shillong is one place where you should not forget to taste the chinese food, almost all the restaurants will serve chinese food, but there are some where the food is really very good, sadly there are not too many restaurants serving local khasi food, although there are shops that do have local food on their menu, but you have to know which one is good and hygienic before venturing inside. Personally, I have eaten in almost all the places worth going to and I intend to cover the food joints in another page when I get the time.
getting to the places of interest
For trips outside the city you can hire a tourist taxi and you can find out the going rates from the place/hotel where you are staying. The last time I enquired, a trip to Sohra/Cherrapunjee and the surrounding places cost around INR 1200 by tourist taxi, alternatively you can also opt to travel the way the locals do, using the shared taxis and jeeps called sumos and it will work out much cheaper. If you want further information on any particular travel destination and how to get there, please leave a comment with your question and I will be happy to give you specific information.
There is an excellent blog written by a guy named Timothy on how to get to the living root bridges click here for the blog, and here is another blog by another visitor with lots of pictures of mawlynnong