A quick guide on how to get from Guwahati to Shillong and Cherrapunjee by public transport. All you need to know to travel the region cheaply.
Although Guwahati, the state capital of Assam, has a big Inter State Bus Terminal (ISBT), there were no buses from there to Shillong, the state capital of neighboring Meghalaya.
To save people from the same frustration we faced, here’s a quick guide on how to get from Guwahati to Shillong and Cherrapunjee by public transportation.
How to get from Guwahati to Shillong
Although both our Lonely Planet and the Meghalaya Tourism website state that regular buses to Shillong leave from the Inter State Bus Terminal, there were no buses to Shillong when we arrived there. Apparently, there are two private buses, one at 6:00 and one at 17:00, but these times are terrible. If you want to travel from Guwahati to Shillong outside of those times, you have to travel by Sumo.
Sumos are basically shared Jeep taxis. They’re the most common form of travel between cities and villages in the northeast. Sumos for Shillong leave from Khanapara bus stand. To get there, jump on a bus leaving from G.S. Road near the train station. Most buses going from here, driving away from the train station, will pass here. Just ask the hawker. A ticket to Khanapara is 10 Rs. per person.
At Khanapara, you’ll be accosted by plenty of Sumo hawkers. It’s good to walk around a bit, since Sumo’s don’t leave until full. So if you enter an empty Sumo, you might have to wait for a while. Some drivers will try to get you to charter the whole Sumo. Friendly but firmly decline their offer (unless you want to, of course).
Getting from Guwahati to Shillong by shared Sumo costs 170 Rs. per person. In our experience, drivers are honest about the fare, but this being India, be wary of shysters. 170 Rs. is the standard price. It takes 2-3 hours to get from Guwahati to Shillong.
Note: There might be Sumos leaving from Guwahati’s train station to Shillong. From here the price is 10-20 Rs. per person more. If bus services resume, a bus to Shillong from Guwahati should cost 100 – 130 Rs. per person.
How to get from Shillong to Cherrapunjee (Sohra)
From Shillong to Cherranpunjee you’ll have to take another Sumo. There are several Sumo stands in Shillong, making finding the right one a bit tricky. Taxi drivers aren’t helpful, since they’ll just want to drive you to Cherranpunjee themselves.
The Shillong to Cherrapunjee Sumo stand is located on the second floor of a dark parking garage. It’s marked on Google Maps. There will be a written sign saying Sohra (another name for Cherrapunjee) above two parking lots.
A ride from Shillong to Cherrapunjee costs 70 Rs. per person. The first driver wanted to charge us more to put our luggage on the roof of the car—which is BS—so we waited about half an hour for another Sumo to go. Sumos go when full. It takes 1.5-2 hours to get from Shillong to Cherrapunjee.
Not sure about heading to the Northeast? Check out our post on why you need to visit Northeast India!
Staying in Cherrapunjee and visiting Nongriat
Most people visit Cherrapunjee as a jumping-off base for visiting Nongriat and various root bridges. Nongriat is a small Kashi village in the jungle, home to several living root bridges, of which one is a magnificent double-decker. Nongriat can only be visited by walking for about 1.5-2 hours from nearby Tyrna, and the surroundings are absolutely gorgeous. We highly recommend it.
There are several cheap sleeping options in lower Cherrapunjee/Sohra, about 20 minutes walking downhill from the main town. By The Way Hostel charges 250 Rs. per person, and D-Cloud charges 300-350 Rs. per person. Accommodation is simple, and a little overpriced if you’re not alone, but you don’t have many other options. There are a handful of nondescript restaurants on the “main” street near By The Way.
To get from Cherrapunjee to Nongriat, you can take an early morning bus from near By the Way, which leaves around 9:30, or a taxi to Tyrna. A taxi should cost 250 Rs., but don’t be surprised if you have to pay 350-400 Rs. The owner of By the Way can give more information on how to get to Tyrna by bus. You can also walk to Tyrna, which will take a couple of hours. From Tyrna, it takes about 1.5-2 hours to reach Nongriat by way of 2,500 steep stairs through the jungle.
There are several basic sleeping options available in Nongriat, of which Serene Guest House is the most well known. It’s best to just show up. Even if they’re full, the owner, Byron, will arrange something for you. Serene charges 300 Rs. per person, and a scrumptious all-you-can-eat dinner is available daily for 130 Rs. per person.
So there you have it, a quick guide on how to get from Guwahati to Shillong and Cherrapunjee. Let us know in the comments if anything changes so we can update the post!