Things to do in Shillong | A Complete Travel Guide

Table of Contents

  1. About Shillong
  2. Things to do in Shillong
  3. How to plan a trip to Shillong
  4. Hotels and Resorts in Shillong

About Shillong

hillong

Sitting in the heart of the mystical land of Meghalaya, Shillong is a pure natural treasure. Although technically, it is a city and boasts quite an urban environment, its neighbouring areas are a delight for sore eyes. The ‘Scotland of the East’, the hilly town of Shillong is surrounded by rolling hills, deep valleys, sparkling lakes, and waterfalls. Shillong is also the 100th city to be planned as a “Smart City” under the Government of India’s Smart Cities Mission of 2015.

With our travel guide, you can discover the real charm of the state capital of Meghalaya.

[Also Read: Chasing India’s Monsoon? Here Are 7 Must-Visit Monsoon Destinations in India]

Location

The town of Shillong is located in the East Khasi Hills district, in the eastern part of Meghalaya, almost towards the centre of the state, about 97 KM from Guwahati, and 54 KM from Cherrapunji.

Weather

Shillong experiences a subtropical highland climate with pleasant weather most times of the year. Summers are cool and rainy, while winters are dry and chilly. The town also receives heavy rainfall during the monsoon months. The rainy season can last three to four months, from June to October, depending on rainfall volume.

History

Shillong was set up during the colonial era, in 1864, as a civil station of the Khasi and Jaintia Hills. In 1874, the town was declared the headquarters of the new regional administration, owing to its strategic location between the Brahmaputra and Surma Valleys, as well as the climate. Even after the independence, Shillong served as the joint capital of undivided Assam, and in 1972, the town became the capital of Meghalaya and the capital of Assam was moved to Guwahati.

Geography

Shillong

The town of Shillong sits on the Shillong Plateau. This plateau is a result of the 1897 Assam earthquake and is the only significant uplifted structure in northeast India. The main city lies right in the centre of the plateau and is surrounded by three hills, Lum Sohpetbneng, Lum Diengiei, and Lum Shyllong each of which is considered sacred in local Khasi traditions.

Interesting Facts

Shillong boasts the most enormous golf course in the Indian subcontinent. Also called the Glen Eagle of the East, these greens are the largest and the wettest of all, and are considered very rare since the moist texture of the grass is completely natural.

[Also Read: Cherry Blossom Festival in Shillong]

Things to do in Shillong

If you love outdoor adventures or are simply a nature-lover, then Shillong has a lot of activities in store for you –

Offbeat things to do in Shillong

Phea Phea Falls - Shillong
Phea Phea Falls
  • Visit the Sacred Forests of Mawphlang on the East Khasi Hills, known for being home to the ancient hill tribes of Meghalaya. There are ancient monoliths and a shrine of the local deity, inside the sanctuary.
  • Walk the Shillong food trail, lesser-known to many. From the streetside fares of Police Bazaar to the fine dining options on Laitumkhrah, Shillong has a flavour for every palate.

Adventurous Things to do in Shillong

Explore the crystal clear, green waters of the Umngot River in Dawki. The lake is famous for boating, fishing, rafting, kayaking, and swimming in the placid water. You can also explore the terrains of Jaintia Hills, on the borders of Meghalaya and Bangladesh.

  • Head to the East Garo Hills – the most scenic stretch of Meghalaya and is known for its natural caves, perennial waterfalls, and mountain streams.
  • Also visit the steep Rong’bang Dare, or the Rong’bang Falls and the Pelga Falls on the East Garo Hills.
  • Also visit the steep Rong’bang Dare, or the Rong’bang Falls and the Pelga Falls on the East Garo Hills.

Things to do in Shillong at night

  • For party lovers, Shillong has no shortage of bars and clubs, where you can enjoy music and cocktails.
  • You can walk around the Police Bazaar circle and shop from streetside vendors or established stores.
  • Check for weekly night markets where vendors sell Chinese and locally made goods, smoked pork, spices, etc.

Things to do in Shillong during the day

It’s best to explore all nature hotspots, like waterfalls, lakes, rivers, forest trails, etc. during the daytime, since most of these places become inaccessible after dark. So, practically, you can do all your adventures and explorations of the town and surrounding areas in the daytime.

Places to visit in Shillong

Shillong

Check out these popular tourist places for a fun trip –

  • Elephant Falls – The most famous waterfall in the northeast, this magnificent, natural torrent consists of three layers, flowing in succession. This site serves as a perfect picnic spot or a day hike in the area.
    • Entry Fee- Free
  • Shillong Peak – Sitting at 6449 FT, this is the highest point of Shillong and offers the most breathtaking views you will find in this city. You can avail of the telescope services for a panoramic view of the Himalayas, the valleys outside Shillong, the plainland on the Bangladesh border, and the waterfalls of Shillong.
    • Entry Fee- Free, INR 10 for telescope view.
  • Police Bazaar – The downtown of Shillong, this area is always bustling with tourists, shopping, dining, and party options. You’ll also find flea markets and weekly/night markets on certain days of the week.
    • Entry Fee- Free
Umaim Lake - Shillong
Umiam Lake
  • Umiam Lake – A man-made reservoir surrounded by the East Khasi Hills, this waterbody offers mesmerizing views of sunrises and sunsets.
    • Entry Fee- No charges for walking around, boating and other water sports are chargeable.
  • Laitlum Canyons – One of the lesser-explored corners of Shillong, this site offers a vantage point for stunning views of the hills and valleys, and is also a popular trekking zone.
    • Entry Fee- Free
  • Don Bosco Museum – This expansive museum is considered to be Asia’s largest Museum of Indigenous Cultures. Across 16 galleries and seven floors, the conservatory showcases the history and legacy of native lifestyle, language, art, culture, and more.
    • Entry Fee- INR 100 (adults), INR 50 (students)
  • Ward’s Lake – Also known as Polok Lake, this man-made water body is surrounded by beautifully landscaped gardens and offers picnicking and boating options.
    • Entry Fee- INR 10 (Adults), INR 5 (children, senior citizens, differently-abled)
  • Sweet Falls – One of the steepest waterfalls of Shillong, the ambience of this cascade is more appealing than the cascade itself. With lush greenery, flora, and fauna, this site is perfect for a serene getaway.
    • Entry Fee- INR 70 (For vehicle entry)

Places to visit near Shillong

Dawki
Dawki

Apart from your local sightseeing, you can also visit other places nearby. Check out these equally scenic locales near Shillong –

  • Dawki – A quiet town in southern Meghalaya, Dawki is most famous for the crystal waters of Umngot Lake. The bordering Jaintia and Khasi Hills are also popular among trekkers.
    • Entry Fee- NA
  • Kyllang Rock – This is a naturally-formed, huge, red granite boulder that sits on a hilly slope and is miraculously balanced by gravity. This rock is best known for rock climbing and trekking.
    • Entry Fee- Free
  • David Scott Trail – One of the oldest and most popular trekking routes in Meghalaya. This 16KM route stretches from Mawphlang to Lad Mawphlang, the heart of Khasi culture, and is dotted with rivers, forest groves, massive rock formations, cascading streams gushing down expansive meadows, and bridges.
    • Entry Fee- NA
  • Mawsynram – Said to be the wettest place on Earth at present, this picturesque town boasts perennial streams and waterfalls, ancient caves, and endless greenery, and is a must-visit place in Meghalaya.
    • Entry Fee- NA
  • Mawjymbuin Cave – These ancient, calcareous sandstone caves are a highlight of the Mawsynram district. The limestone formations are unique with some shaped like Shivalinga.
    • Entry Fee- Free

Places to eat in Shillong

Check out these popular eateries to sample the local flavours –

  • Lamee Restaurant
  • Qzine Restaurant
  • Café Shillong
  • Manipuri Restaurant
  • Bamboo Hut Restaurant
  • EC Restaurant
  • Dylan’s Café

How to Plan a trip to Shillong

You can also plan your personalized trip by selecting the mode of transport, the route, and more. Let us help you with the travel options to Shillong for a better idea –

How to reach

By Train

There is no railway station within the city limits of Shillong. The nearest railhead is in Guwahati, about 105 KM from Shillong city. Guwahati railway station is well-connected to all major towns and cities across North East India and other parts of India.

By Road

Shillong is well-connected to the rest of Meghalaya and other major towns and cities of North East India by NH6, NH106, and NH206, which have great accessibility by car. There are also regular state-run and private bus services available to Shillong from Guwahati, Agartala, Aizwal, Imphal, Kohima, Dimapur, etc. You can book a cab from any of these cities to reach Shillong comfortably.

By Flight

The city is served by Shillong Airport, located at Umroi, about 30 KM from the city centre. There are flights available from Kolkata, Siliguri, Guwahati, Agartala, Dimapur, and Imphal, as well as all metro cities and major towns across India.

Best time to visit

Shillong

Considering the conducive weather of the town, you can visit Shillong any time of the year. However, depending on your travel goals, it’s best to choose the right season. If you want to explore the natural wonders, then spring-summer might be the best time. Otherwise, early winters are also a good option, when the weather is much colder and lets you experience the season in its full swing. If you want to visit the waterfalls specifically, then visit after the monsoon, when the rainfall boosts the volumes of these natural cascades.

Hotels and Resorts in Shillong

Here are some of the best-rated places to stay in Shillong –

  • Café Shillong Bed and Breakfast
  • The Habitat Shillong
  • Pinewood Hotel
  • The Pear Tree
  • Hotel Woodland Hill Stay
  • The Arbour Inn
  • Tripura Castle
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Things to do in Shillong | A Complete Travel Guide
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Things to do in Shillong | A Complete Travel Guide
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Sitting in the heart of the mystical land of Meghalaya, Shillong is a pure natural treasure. The ‘Scotland of the East’, the hilly town of Shillong is surrounded by rolling hills, deep valleys, sparkling lakes, and waterfalls.
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I grew up sneaking away to read the well-worn travel magazines I found at my grandfather's house. Today I write stories of my travel experiences and adventures.

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