Meghalaya is slowly opening up to the rest of the country and people are also just now discovering its riches and beauty. For this reason, the state is not yet as developed as its other sister states. Nevertheless, it is high on the list of many Indian as well as international tourists who want to come here to see the rugged beauty of the state for themselves. Meghalaya’s only airport is in Umroi which is around 35km from Shillong.
Many visitors often make plans to arrive at this airport and then move forward to other destinations. There are taxis and buses that can take you to wherever you need to visit in Meghalaya. This airport is not very well-connected to other cities in India and you will typically find only Air India operating flights here.
Due to its poor connectivity, the other airport that people use to travel to Meghalaya is the Gopinath Bordoloi Airport in Guwahati which is 128kms from Shillong. From this airport, lots of people choose to take shared cabs to their destination. There’s also a helicopter service which is used to travel to Meghalaya and as it’s affordable, some people use this way to reach the state. It takes only 20 minutes to reach Shillong from Guwahati by helicopter and it’s quite convenient as well. The service does not work on Sundays.
There’s no train station in Meghalaya and subsequently, no railways lines as well. The closest one is in Guwahati. It’s roughly 100kms away from Shillong and can be used to arrive at the capital of Meghalaya. The Guwahati station is well connected with all the other cities in India and is often used as a conduit into the state of Meghalaya too.
Meghalaya Transport Corporation (MTC) is well connected to several cities within the state as well as neighbouring states. The highway that connects Guwahati to Shillong is NH40 and it is well-maintained and easy to navigate. If you want to go sightseeing, then you can book a cab to take you around. Travelling by road in Meghalaya during the monsoons however can prove to be a bit challenging because of slick roads, but otherwise, this is a good way to reach the state.
You can also drive down to Meghalaya if you have your own vehicle. If you are planning to come here from Guwahati, you’ll have to begin in Guwahati’s Bara Bazaar from where you will reach NH37. Following this, you will come across Kamrup District and then NH40. Another 65kms from here, you will enter Meghalaya through Nongpoh.
The drive to Meghalaya is stunning and most enjoyable and if you like the idea of going on an adventurous road trip, this is certainly the best way to reach the state.
Many people opt to travel by buses as they are convenient and economical, although not always comfortable. There are several tourist buses, both deluxe and regular which you can choose based on your convenience. However, these also tend to be slow and thus, many people prefer to hire cabs or taxis to take them to their desired location in Meghalaya.
Within cities like Shillong, you can travel using local buses. In Shillong, there are two kinds of buses that you will come across – Shillong City Bus and the Bazaar Bus. The former is for tourists and visitors while the latter is for villagers who are travelling from other parts of Meghalaya to come to Shillong. Local bus travel is cheap but also quite slow and not the most comfortable way to travel.
In most cities like Shillong, you can take a taxi to wherever you want to go for sightseeing. These are unmetered however and it’s best to ask your hotel or lodging employees to give an estimate of what rates to expect. Taxis are faster than buses and they can also be taken as shared cabs. If you want to rent a taxi for yourself for the entire day, that’s also possible.
Taxi rates on a shared basis are actually quite low, not going more than Rs. 15. Negotiating the fares will result in higher fares but that will also give you privacy as the driver will not stop to take other passengers. If you want to spend the day sightseeing, it’s always a good idea to hire a taxi for the entire day. Fix the fare before you begin your journey or haggling later can become quite troublesome.
Meghalaya is still a developing state and you might not find the infrastructure here to be very good or to your standards. Nevertheless, tourism plays an important role for the state and its people, so do be mindful of that. Don’t forget to enjoy the many bounties of nature here!