How to plan for a trek to the Dzukou Valley in northeast India?

North East India is Safer Than You Think

Is it safe to travel in North East India? This question may be on the minds of those considering a vacation in the region. The short answer: North East India is safer than you think. Abhijeet Deshpande, author of Backpacking North East India: A Curious Journey, has traveled to all states of the region and encourages you to visit these, sooner than later.

Travel advisories for Northeast India?

Unless it is about a clear-cut combat-zone, or other life-threatening events such as a natural calamity, a travel advisory hides more than it reveals. While an official notice serves an important purpose, often the perception it creates about a place, outlives local conflict. You might want to take a travel advisory with a pinch of salt, especially when it targets a region, that is rapidly transforming and is largely peaceful, such as North East India.

For those who do not know what northeast India is like, it comprises of eight states – Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, and Tripura. The Himalayas and its waters define the region’s terrain, climate, rich biodiversity, and the peculiar indigenous lifestyles her people follow.

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That North East India is bound by Bhutan, Nepal, and Tibet to the north, Bangladesh to the south and west, and Myanmar to the east hints at the eclectic mix of cultural, ethnic, and linguistic diversity. This is where elements of Asia come together to do what they do best – cast a spell.

Northeast India is peaceful

A local argument rarely involves visitors to a region. That said, concerns that impeded travel to this glorious region are becoming a thing of the past. Concerns that used to be real are moving to the realm of mere perception. Strife that once plagued the region is quickly receding and, is limited to a handful of specific remote areas, especially along the international borders. Avoid them.

Though unlikely, but if at all, your travel might be affected by bandhs or peaceful shutdowns (resulting in nothing more than delay of a day or so). If tourism can flourish in Ladakh, despite a high-decibel political unrest in the neighboring Kashmir valley (both in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir) and an absence of all-weather access roads, there is no reason why the largely peaceful North East India should lag.

Northeast India is fun

A sporting culture

The region boasts of a unique sporting culture. It is common to see arenas packed to capacity – be it local, state, or national and international events. You are likely to find folks rooting for their favorite team in pretty much every city. So, when you are in the region, look up the calendar for Indian Super League’s NorthEast United FC or catch a game of polo. Feel the energy. Its different!

North Sikkim Travel Guide

Did you know that North East India has gifted the sport of Polo to the world? If you follow the country’s sporting action, you would know that North East India is home to many iconic achievers – be it archery, combat sports / martial arts, gymnastics, soccer, or others.

Manipur Travel Guide

Enjoy nightlife

The region offers venues to party, loud sporting action under the floodlights, or even quiet dining experiences in the lap of nature. If you want to include any of that in your vacation, you are indeed spoilt for choices. Besides, North East India is a well known destination for music festivals and events.

Travel Guide to Ziro

Whoever says North East India sleeps early probably does not know the time it wakes up! A common Indian Standard Time (IST) has a peculiar impact on region’s lifestyle and most of North East India follows the sun. So, if you plan to go out drinking, it is recommended to start relatively early in the evening. Visit pubs in Shillong or experience the karaoke-culture in Gangtok. There’s more to the region than meets the eye.

Go shopping

Who doesn’t like bagging a few souvenirs on the way back home? Well, North East India invites you to indulge a tad bit more than just in souvenirs. Explore the world’s only market run exclusively by women in Imphal or walk the classy Mahatma Gandhi Marg and its local shopping neighborhoods in Gangtok.

The region is well known for colorful motifs and for setting fashion trends. North East India is also a hub for handicrafts such as products made from kauna or water reed. Pick up stunning accessories, trendy bags, clothing, footwear and more.

Northeast India is safe for tourism

North East India is declared safe for tourism and is hosting an ever increasing number of footfalls every year. The arrivals, both domestic and international, have roughly doubled over the past decade or so (estimated from: 1 and 2). If you delay that visit, you lose. You lose out on the near exclusive access to some of the greatest marvels on earth and some of the best places that the country offers.

Solo Women Travelers in India

So, the next time you come across a travel advisory or a naysayer, just remind yourself this – North East India is a collection of eight highly diverse states – not just two, three or four, and that it is safe to visit. North east India’s innate charms have remained under-explored for far too long. Travelers, who overcome their hesitations, might find gems such as Dzükou Valley, Chhabimura, or Blue Mountain National Park all to themselves! Importantly, the incredible hospitality of the region makes sure that visitors take back the choicest of memories.

Planning to travel in this least explored region of India? Look up How to backpack North East India?.

Northeast India is safer than you think

Need anecdotal evidence? Pick up a copy of Backpacking North East India: A Curious Journey. It covers over two dozen places and attempts to answer the question – what is it like to travel in the region? Give it a read and make your own choices. Buy now!

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Have you been to or live in North East India? If yes, share your experience and stand to win a free book! Click to Learn More.

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66 thoughts on “North East India is Safer Than You Think”

  1. Absolutely one of the most peaceful and travel safe areas in India.
    Don’t be afraid of roaming on more off beat tracks n North East 🙂

    1. Thank you for stopping by! Completely agree with your thoughts. One of the reasons we wrote this and other posts related to North East India is to give readers a perspective, sometimes absent in the mainstream narrative. You might be interested to explore our book Backpacking North East India: A Curious Journey. It is a humble tribute to the incredible people of the region.

  2. Unfortunately, in mainstream media, it’s very often only the bad (which happens across all the world). Of course, the political situation is a bit more complicated here, but in terms of tourism – the biggest issue is lack of tourism infrastructure (especially outside of capital cities of states – home stays are kind of solution). I’m writing this from a perspective of a foreigner who lives in hill areas of Manipur since 2 years. It’s a paradise for those who want to explore still undiscovered part of the World.

    1. Thank you Radek, and yes, while most others are looking elsewhere, those who do venture out away from the capital cities, may find gems such as Dzükou Valley all to themselves 🙂 On another note, as a foreigner living in the region, how has your experience been with travel permits? We did a piece – Travel Permits to North East India. Only three out of eight states require permits and getting these is relatively easy. However, as rules change, it remains a living article, and we would be happy to happy to seek your views.

  3. I’m currently working also on a guide about NE India travel permits for my readers.

    Despite in Manipur, foreigners don’t need permits – there is a registration desk at the arrival hall in Imphal Airport (if you travel by air). They’ll ask you about a place of stay and date of your departure, which I always don’t know. After that, they’ll send right away info to the local Police within destination district. Usually, after 1-2 days, there is a visit from some kind Police officer (not in uniform) with a short talk
    and a cup of chai together with passport/visa check. Not to forget, they ask to send on WhatsApp info about the departure date when I’ll know it.

    As an expat, I had also gone through Residence Permit process at FFRO – which I plan to write about on my blog.

    1. Thank you for sharing your experience. Look forward to your guide on permits, which should be helpful to visitors. We need more such posts all over the internet! Cheers

  4. Nikhita Agarwal

    A very well written article.. truely inspires me to go an visit north east once!

  5. Meghna Chatterjee

    Very informative article and such wonderful pictures, I have so many friends from NE India, great to know more about the place, hope i will visit the magnificent states someday:)

    1. Thank you Meghna. Wish you get to visit the wonderful region and see your friends too! 🙂

  6. delusionsofparenthood

    The pictures are beautiful! I have been to India, but mainly to tourist areas. I would love to go back to explore some of the areas you talk about.

  7. Miss Know a Little

    I might consider putting this on my bucket list. It’s great that you shed some positive light on it.

  8. I’ve always wanted to go to India. I’ll definitely keep this in mind for the future!

  9. Blair Villanueva

    Thanks for sharing this news that North East of India is safe. I will consider visiting soon!

  10. Yes, that’s true. Most of the people have some doubts. I live in this region. Thanks for letting people know.

  11. Simply Nerdy Mom

    I’m not much for traveling, but this was a very informative and interesting article. It’s always a pleasure learning new things about the world around me.

  12. You described a market run exclusively by women in Imphal, North India and that is commendable. This is a demonstration of what women can do if allowed to. A visitor would have a good visual on what women empowerment looks like. The traveler may also be exposed to a slice of Paris in Imphal, the setter of fashion trends. Northern India then generates curiosity.

  13. It’s certainly a beautiful area and one I would like to visit some day! Thank you for sharing your information and assurances.

  14. familytalksweekly

    Did you take these pictures? They are stunning!!! I keep telling myself I will get a passport and leave the country but it’s so hard with little ones 🙁 great post! My parents will love this!

    1. Thank you so much! The photographs are a mix of ours and contributors. Hope you get that passport soon 🙂

  15. It looks like such a beautiful place! I hope I can make it there one day!

    Love,
    Claudia

  16. India is the one of most beautiful country that I really want to visit! Great pictures!

  17. Jayashree Sengupta

    Yes indeed it is the safest … And true depiction of Happiness and Nature and Culture

  18. Nice. You bring a good, detailed overview of North-east India. In our world, when bloggers make post from a short visit, I find in-depth reviews like yours very valuable.

  19. Wow, what exciting travel plans you have, and such gorgeous destinations as well. I hope I would travel to this place once a day and turn my visuals into reality.

  20. I’m so glad I saw this post. Very well written, All the images are very beautiful and eye-catching.
    Thanks for sharing such a wonderful article.

  21. North East India sounds like a beautiful place with beautiful people. I didn’t realize that only a few areas out of the 8 states, and even then limited areas, are the problem. Travel advisories really should be more specific. Time to explore this area of the world before everyone else discovers it. A sporting event sounds like a good way to do so.

  22. Jenny and Bradley

    Thanks for sharing this info! We’ve found that many places around the world with general “travel advisories” are actually quite safe and peaceful if you know where to go! India looks beautiful and we can’t wait to visit ourselves!

  23. Thank you for reviewing Northeast India as part of the safe place for tourism. Manipur is called the Gem of India. Shillong or Meghalaya is called the Scotland of the East.

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