On the outskirts of Shillong, about 30 km away near a town called Barapani, is the local Umroi Airport. This small airport only serves a few weekly Air India flights from Kolkata and Jorhat. Upon landing, one can take local buses or taxis to the centre of Shillong.
The closest large airport in the vicinity of Shillong, is the Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport of Guwahati, located at a distance of around 130 km away. Still, with the connectivity it offers, most travellers opt to fly into Guwahati and then take a shared or private taxi to Shillong, as well as the state bus service. There are flights coming into Guwahati from all major cities across the country, including New Delhi, Bangalore, Mumbai, Chennai and Hyderabad, offered by national as well as international carriers like GoAir, Air Asia, Air India, IndiGo, Spice Jet and Vistara. Direct flights are common from most big cities, making your journey all the more convenient.
Just like air travel, rail journeys to Shillong can only take you as far as Guwahati Railway Station which is about 104 km away. The plus point is that the station is extremely well-connected to the rest of the country. Trains such as Rajdhani Express, Chennai Express, Guwahati Express, Karmabhoomi Express are popular options from other big cities of India such as Mumbai and New Delhi. Upon arrival, affordable taxis and buses are available for the road journey to Shillong.
For the adventurous or those who enjoy road travel, one of the best ways to reach Shillong is by road. The hill-station is well connected to all major north-eastern states, with National Highway 40 coming in from Guwahati and National Highway 44 to Tripura and Mizoram. The Shillong Bypass connects the two highways. Most travellers take the road trip from Guwahati, as it is a scenic 4-hour drive that can be taken via a host of transport systems including state run buses, luxury Volvos, private self-drive vehicles, taxis or shared taxis. The options offer varying levels of comfort to pick from. Assam State Transport Corporation (ASTC) and Meghalaya Transport Corporation (MTC) are the local bus companies, that leave from the Terminus in Beltota, Guwahati.
The most incredible way to get to Shillong from Guwahati is by taking a 20-minute helicopter ride, with flights available everyday, except Sunday. If you do wish to sample this one-of-a-kind ride with a brilliant bird’s eye view of Shillong and its surrounds, it is advisable to book as much in advance as possible. Seat prices for adults are around INR 1500 and INR 1000 for children, with morning and afternoon departures only.
By Foot / Cycle
With traffic congestion on the rise, many tourists prefer taking walking or cycling tours around Shillong. These include popular day trips to landmarks like Mawlongbna Village, Umden Village and Sohilya Village. These all-day journeys have you cycling for about 5 hours through amazing natural landscapes amidst beautiful cultural destinations of Meghalaya. Additionally, walking and cycling tours can also be done for Shillong’s sightseeing to spots such as Elephant Falls, Wards Lake and Shillong Peak amongst others. Trekking tours such as Smit Trek, Pynursla Trek and Living Root Bridge Trail are visitor favourites.
By Car / Taxi
The most popular means of getting around Shillong is hiring a taxi, be it a personalised or shared one. Of course, the latter is the more economical choice, with per person seats available. Do note that the drivers might stop along the way to pick up additional passengers to make a better fare. If you’re going to be sightseeing all day long, it is better to hire a taxi for the entire day, at a fixed negotiated cost. The normal black and yellow taxis can be waved down roadside, anytime of the day or night but they are always shared.
The other option for those who don’t wish to take taxis, is the local bus. There are two kinds — the City Bus and Bazaar Bus. City Buses are the appropriate option for tourists as they have routes all over town as well as the outskirts. The only drawback is that they can move slowly at times and get quite packed. But the fares are extremely cheap and the journeys can be an experience unto themselves. Bazaar Buses are for villagers bringing in supplies and products into Shillong, so should be avoided.
For the intrepid travellers and biking enthusiasts, there are plenty of motorcycle tours in and around Shillong that make for an incredible way to take in the sights and sounds of the beautiful hill station and its home state. Some of the most famous routes include Sohilya Village, Mewlongbna Village, Umden Village and Cherapunjee.
With all this know-how on the best ways to reach and move around Shillong, you’re just a step away from embarking on this much awaited North East adventure. Simply choose one of Thomas Cook’s amazing packages and you’re all set!