Here’s why you need to travel in Northeast India

5 reasons why you need to travel in Northeast India, one of our favorite regions of India to date.


In case you haven’t noticed, we’re totally in love with Northeast India. That is, the seven “sister states” of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, and Tripura. We spent about 2.5 months there, and would’ve gladly stayed longer if monsoon hadn’t rained us out. We didn’t make it to Mizoram or Tripura, but we hear great things. Needless to say, we hope to visit these states soon.



Why you need to travel to Northeast India - Map of Northeast India - Lost With Purpose


The region is a dream, and not just because there are fewer honking horns than the rest of India (though that certainly plays a part). The relaxed pace of life is alluring to even the speediest travelers, and warm local hearts slow visitors down to their own steady beat. Birdcalls sang to us from the depths of lush tropical forests, and fresh Himalayan air nipped our noses as we crossed sky-high mountain passes. Friendships were forged over beers on the banks of rushing rivers, and stories were shared while scrambling up muddy mountains in the pouring rain.

Why you need to travel in Northeast India - Drinking beers on the riverside in Daporijo, Arunachal Pradesh - Lost With Purpose travel blog

Best of all, Northeast India is still well away from being a beaten tourist track. As tempting as it is to keep it a secret, the wonders of the Northeast are something to be shared. The region’s tourism potential is enormous, and could provide a steady source of income for many of its people. We can’t say no to that!

If you enjoy straying off the beaten track and into nature, are titillated by the possibility of adventure, or simply want to explore a new part of India you haven’t seen before, here are five reasons you need to travel in Northeast India.

Many people add Sikkim to their Northeast itinerary. Want to know more, check out this guide on Sikkim!

Love off the beaten track travel, outdoor adventures, and friendly local people? Maybe it's time to consider traveling to Northeast India! Read on for 5 reasons why you should travel to Northeast India, plus more inspiration, advice, and travel blog posts on the region.


5 reasons why you need to travel in Northeast India


Why you need to travel in Northeast India - Longwa culture at the fire in Nagaland - Lost With Purpose travel blog

Yaowang, an elder from Longwa, Nagaland who once represented his tribe as a headhunting warrior

1. There are more cultures than you can shake a stick at.

We reference Northeast India as one entity to make things easier. In reality, the region is wildly diverse, home to hundreds of different tribes. Travelers could explore the region for a lifetime, and still only scrape the surface of the region’s cultural offerings.

Fiercely proud Naga people live in bamboo villages in the hilly regions spanning several states. Calm Tibetans occupy towns and villages precariously perched on the edges of mountains in Arunachal Pradesh. Peaceful Khasi tribes act as forest guardians and protectors in wet Meghalaya.

Why you need to travel in Northeast India ASAP - Mask maker at Natun Samaguri Satra in Majuli island, Assam, India - Lost With Purpose travel blog

At the Natun Samaguri Satra, a sort of monastery-meets-art center on Majuli island in Assam, mask making and theater performances have been an integral part of life for the residents for centuries.

When people ask us if we ever grow bored of traveling in India, we always chuckle and give the same response. “In India, if you take a bus for two hours, you’ll be met by a different group of people with a totally different language, culture, and history from the place and people you just left.”

Northeast India is no exception.


Why you need to visit Loktak Lake, Manipur, Northeast India - Woman on boat - Lost With Purpose

Serene Loktak Lake in Manipur felt almost like a mirror image of Inle Lake in Burma, right down to the colorful longyi the women wear.

2. It’s completely different from the rest of India.

Despite being equally as diverse as the rest of the country, much of the Northeast couldn’t be further from “stereotypical” India. Aside from Assam, the places we visited felt much more like Southeast Asia… minus the mass tourism and backpacker pancake trails.

5 reasons to visit Northeast India - Sharing Manipuri yu rice beer with friends - Lost With Purpose travel blog

Forget the Chang towers or crates of Beer Lao—how about sharing some cups of homemade yu (rice beer) with friendly locals in Tamenglong, Manipur instead?

We often asked locals if they felt like they are a part of India, and the responses were overwhelmingly similar:

“Yes, I feel this is India. I am Indian. But we are not like other Indians.”

The difference is visible almost immediately. Gone are the massive throngs of loitering men, eyes staring incessantly as you walk past. Young girls stroll the streets without a care, and it’s totally normal to see groups of young girls and boys hanging out together in public in villages.


Faces are broader and fairer, eye shapes reminiscent of past Burmese or Mongolian ancestry. Time moves more slowly, and pace of life on the streets is more relaxed. Perhaps most importantly, people seem to understand honking your horn doesn’t make traffic move faster.

Why you need to travel in Northeast India - Tibetan homestay host in Mechuka, Arunachal Pradesh - Lost With Purpose travel blog

Our beautiful homestay hostess of Tibetan descent in Mechuka, Arunachal Pradesh

If you’re a traveler in need of a vacation from the rest of India, or simply want to appreciate how diverse the country truly is, time to pack your bags and book a train to the Northeast!


Why you need to travel in Northeast India - Guide walking through the hills of Dzukou Valley in Nagaland and Manipur - Lost With Purpose travel blog

Dzukou Valley in Nagaland and Manipur is a popular destination for local tourists… but hardly any foreigners ever make it to this far-flung reach of India!

3. No matter where you go, you’re traveling off the beaten track.

Bar parts of well-developed Assam, virtually all of Northeast India qualifies as off the beaten track. There simply aren’t many tourists visiting this part of the country!

Take 2015, for example: in that year, 118,644 foreign tourists visited the Northeast region, only 0.5% of total foreign visitors in India. That same year, 1.43 billion domestic tourists visited other states, but only 7.2 million of those were in the Northeast. That’s nothing!

Why you need to travel to Northeast India ASAP - Sebastiaan and army men in Manipur state - Lost With Purpose travel blog

Army bros on the border of Manipur gettin’ all excited to see the white man rolling in

You might run into the occasional tour groups in the most popular destinations in Assam or Meghalaya, or need to share the view with selfie squads at Tawang monastery in Arunachal, but that’s about it. No need to worry about streets lined with souvenir stalls, or untrustworthy touts on a quest to part you from your money.

Why you need to travel to Northeast India - Riding on top of a Tempo taxi near Loktak Lake, Manipur - Lost With Purpose travel blog

Lack of space down below? No problem, I’ll ride on top!

Tourism in the Northeast is still finding its feet, and we assure you, any Northeast India destination you choose will feel like an offbeat adventure.


Why you need to visit Northeast India - Views in Mechuka - Lost With Purpose travel blog

Enjoying the awesomesauce that is every single degrees of view in Mechuka, Arunachal Pradesh

4. You can see what unspoiled Indian nature looks like. 

Yes, such a thing exists in India, which can be hard to grasp given the state of many sights and natural areas in the rest of the country!

That’s not to say the region is spotlessly clean—there are plenty of people who like to use nature as a trash can rather than respect it—but there are still a good number of places where you can roam without tripping over bottles and cans. or tangling feet in plastic bags and kite strings.

Why you need to travel in Northeast India - Hills of Dzukou Valley - Lost With Purpose travel blog

The rolling hills of Dzukou Valley aren’t spotless, but the locals running the only guesthouse in the valley have installed trash bins and pick up litter in a grassroots attempt to keep the area clean.

The offbeat and untraveled status of the region is part of the reason so much of the nature is unspoiled, but in some areas, the credit belongs to the people. Many of the tribes in Northeast India worship nature, particularly the sun and the moon, which leads to a greater respect for their natural surroundings.

The Apatani tribe in Ziro work together with the land in a fascinating fashion. One example: they raise fish in the water of their rice paddies, maximizing their food outputs every season.

The Khasi tribes in Meghalaya are the perfect example. A Khasi village named Mawlynnong is famous for earning the moniker of “Cleanest village in Asia”. Aside from the fact that this is a slightly absurd and very unfortunate competition, it’s a clear case of the Khasi tribes’ devotion to respecting their environment. Even outside of Mawlynnong, it’s not uncommon to see Khasi adults and children picking up trash from the ground… something we never expected to see in India.

Why you need to travel in Northeast India - Khasi girl by root bridges in Nongriat, Meghalaya - Lost With Purpose travel blog

A young Khasi girl running by the famous double decker root bridge in Nongriat, Meghalaya

Instead of taking my word for it, come savor the nature yourself. More importantly, be inspired to action by the cleanliness of the Northeast’s nature and people.

(And please, for the love of god, clean up your trash while you’re there.)


Why you need to visit Northeast India - Flower market woman in Imphal, Manipur - Lost With Purpose travel blog

A woman selling seasonal flowers outside the women’s bazaar in Imphal, Manipur’s capital

5. The people.

We came to the Northeast for the nature, but it’s the people we met who left the most lasting impressions.

On Majuli river island in Assam, a friend led us all over the island. He acted as a guide and translator, helping us better understand the place and its people, hoping we’d share our experience with others.

Why you need to visit Northeast India - Monk at a satra on Majuli island, Assam - Lost With Purpose travel blog

This monk studying at a satra in Majuli insisted we sit for a chat… and tea, and fresh apples, and biscuits!

In Imphal, Manipur’s capital, our homestay host and friend took us around the city and the surrounding areas (despite proclaiming there to be nothing for tourists in Imphal). He showed us everything from local hangout spots to ladies at the city bazaar secretly selling weed!

A young hotel owner in Daporijo, Arunachal Pradesh, loaded us up on the back of his motorbike one afternoon. We bounced and bumped over muddy roads for over an hour so he could show us a cave temple hidden amongst misty mountains.

Why you need to travel in Northeast India - Sebastiaan motorbiking around with a friend in Guwahati, Assam - Lost With Purpose travel blog

Zipping around Guwahati, Assam with some friends we met weeks before in Dzukou Valley, Nagaland!

To be fair, we admit this would not necessarily happen to everyone and anyone. Sebastiaan is a tall, white, blond foreigner who immediately attracts attention—usually positive—wherever he goes. It’s privilege at play, but if you’re a clear-cut foreigner, you’re likely to experience the same.

Why you need to travel in Northeast India - Making friends in Daporijo, Arunachal Pradesh - Lost With Purpose travel blog

Domestic tourists may face a different welcome. Bitterness towards mainland Indians is not uncommon in the Northeast. Many men from the Northeast study in other parts of India; they often face harassment, racial slurs and jokes, and general discrimination. Experiences not easily forgotten.

Domestic tourists, don’t let this deter you. Travel to the Northeast is an opportunity to learn more about the homelands of your distant brothers and sisters. It’ll encourage better understanding between the Northeast and the rest of India.

Many locals are excited to see domestic tourists. “Before we only saw them on television and in Bollywood films, and now they are coming in real life!” a man in Ziro Valley exclaimed over chai one evening. If you are kind to the local people and give them a chance, they will not disappoint you.


Why you need to travel in Northeast India - Sunset over tea fields in Assam, India - Lost With Purpose travel blog

The famous tea fields of Assam

Get inspired for your trip to Northeast India

So ends my list of reasons you need to travel in Northeast India. I’m assuming you’re all aboard the Northeast India train by now (if there were more trains through Northeast India).

Why you need to travel to Northeast India - Train travel in Assam - Lost With Purpose travel blog

Though select areas in some of the Northeastern states are connected by railway, Assam is the only state with a flourishing rail network. The fact that much of Assam is flatlands helps!

If you’re looking for inspiration on India’s Northeast, below are all of our blog posts on the region. Make yourself a cup of tea, get comfortable, and enjoy reading!

Our travel blog posts on Northeast India

Arunachal Pradesh




* For more travel advice and how-to guides, see our Northeast India archives.


Love off the beaten track travel, outdoor adventures, and friendly local people? Maybe it's time to consider traveling to Northeast India! Read on for 5 reasons why you should travel to Northeast India, plus more inspiration, advice, and travel blog posts on the region.

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Alex Reynolds

American by birth, British by passport, Filipina by appearance. Addicted to ice cream. Enjoys climbing trees, dislikes falling out. Has great fondness for goats which is usually not reciprocated.

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36 thoughts on “Here’s why you need to travel in Northeast India

    Shital Said says:

    This blog is very helpful for planning my trip… Can i get local ppl contact for travel guide n home stay details

    Sandip Raha says:

    Really This goes far beyond the commenting! It Wrote his thoughts while reading the blog amazingly.
    Travelling really can’t be taught; you can learn about other cultures, but you cant be fully taught unless you experience it.
    Scientifically, it is shown that travelling also gains you more confidence and a great way to develop cultural sensitivity.
    Thanks for sharing with us!! Keep it up!!

    DD Maheshwari says:

    Need your help to plan a North East trip
    Excluding Assam and Meghalaya where I have been twice

    Chetna Singh says:

    This is calming to read. To know that being a domestic, I’ll still be welcomed. The mindset and the places attract me so much ever since I became conscious of North-east India, it had a dream of literally living my each day there. Let’s say, to settle in North-east India has been my childhood dream that still lives on! Your blog has given every single spark and reason that I was missing for being just motivated enough! You guys do such great work that I am so overwhelmed rn, I can cry literal tears over why I was sleeping on this beautiful corner of my homeland! Boarding the train ASAP!

    Sebastien says:

    Always love your article. Can you name a few places in North East purely from a stoner’s point of view.

    Anupam says:

    It was disheartening to note that few people from both mainland India and NE India have some disapproving views of each other, which I don’t think is the general feeling of follow countrymen. I wish that mental divide is wiped out at the earliest. Nevertheless, NE India is nature’s bounty to India! So proud as an Indian. Visited Meghalaya way back in 2010 and it was fabulous. Most eager to explore remaining parts of NE.

    RashmiRekha Moharana says:

    Tnq so much,a great research u done.👍

    Abhi says:

    Amazing North East of India! We had just visited the Meghalaya and covered almost all the places you have listed here.

    Making a Vlog of the same- I hope you all like it-

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