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A guide to planning a trip to Arunachal Pradesh

Tucked away in the northeastern tip of India lies the vastly unexplored and staggeringly beautiful state of Arunachal Pradesh. Known for its magnificent Himalayan landscapes, ancient Buddhist monasteries, diverse tribal culture, and pristine natural beauty, Arunachal Pradesh is truly a hidden gem waiting to be discovered.

Planning a trip to this remote and mesmerizing state can seem daunting. From obtaining the necessary permits to navigating the winding mountain roads, it takes careful preparation and research to craft the perfect Arunachal Pradesh itinerary. This comprehensive 7-day Arunachal Pradesh travel guide will walk you through everything you need to know to plan an unforgettable trip to this lesser-visited corner of India.

When is the Best Time to Visit Arunachal Pradesh?

The optimal time to visit Arunachal Pradesh is from March to June when the weather is pleasant and mild. Winters can get quite cold with heavy snowfall at higher altitudes, while monsoons between July and September bring heavy rainfall that can hamper travel and visibility. Avoid visiting between December and February unless you are prepared for freezing temperatures.

The best season to visit major attractions like Tawang is in spring and summer. Time your travels to catch festivals like the Ziro Festival of Music in September, the Losar Festival in February, or the Tibetan New Year. Keep in mind that many monasteries and temples may be closed to tourists during important Tibetan festivals.

Top 7 Places to Visit in Arunachal Pradesh

1. Tawang

The birthplace of the 6th Dalai Lama, Tawang is famous for the magnificent 17th century Tawang Monastery, one of the largest Buddhist monasteries in India and an important seat of Mahayana Buddhism. Explore the old prayer halls, ancient library, and intricately painted walls. Hike high up to the Urguelling Gompa on the hilltop for panoramic views.


2. Ziro

The UNESCO World Heritage site of Ziro is home to the Apatani plateau and villages of the Apatani tribe, known for their sustainable paddy cultivation and pine groves. Don't miss seeing tribal homes with their unique wood and bamboo designs. September is a great time to visit the Ziro Festival of Music.

3. Bomdila

Stop at Bomdila on the way to Tawang to see Buddhist monasteries and temples like the Bomdila Gompa. The crafts center here sells beautiful local handicrafts. Visit the apple orchards and scenic viewpoints like the Buddhit Falls.

4. Sela Pass

The high-altitude Sela Pass connects Tawang to the rest of Arunachal. Crossing Sela Pass is an experience in itself with unbelievable views of snow-capped peaks. Sela Lake nearby is a stunning high-altitude lake surrounded by prayer flags.

Sela Pass

5. Dirang

Visit the hot springs at Dirang, and ancient monasteries like the Sangti Valley Gompa, and Kalachakrathe Gompa boasting intricate Buddhist murals. Yak research and breeding centers like the Nyukmadung are also worth seeing.

6. Itanagar

Itanagar, the state capital, houses important Buddhist temples and monasteries like the Ita Fort and the Jawaharlal Nehru State Museum. Ganga Lake is a nice spot for boating and picnics. Don’t miss the annual Itanagar Festival in April.

7. Namdapha National Park

Spot exotic wildlife like leopards, elephants, tigers, and hornbills at this biodiverse national park near the Myanmar border. Go on jungle hikes and river cruises for the best experience.

How to Get Permits to Enter Arunachal Pradesh

Arunachal Pradesh is a protected state that requires Indian citizens to obtain an Inner Line Permit (ILP) to visit. Foreigners need to obtain a Protected Area Permit. Here are the steps to get permits:

  • For Indians, apply online for the ILP through the Arunachal eILP website. It takes 1-2 days to receive via email. Carry printouts.

  • Foreigners need to apply for the PAP either through a registered tour operator or at Indian missions abroad. Approval can take 3 weeks so plan in advance.

  • Permits need to be shown at checkposts when entering Arunachal borders. Carry ID proof like an Aadhar card or passport.

How to Reach Arunachal Pradesh

The nearest major airport is Guwahati Airport in Assam which has flights from all major Indian cities. From Guwahati, you can reach Arunachal by:

  • Road: Drive from Guwahati through the cities of Bhalukpong and Bomdila to reach Tawang (450 km). Shared taxis are available.

  • Rail: Take a train to North Lakhimpur station in Assam and then drive 150 km to reach Passighat in Arunachal. Drive further ahead to reach other destinations.

  • Air: The airport in Tezpur, Assam has flights from Guwahati and Kolkata. It is just 80 km away from Bomdila. A new airport opened recently in Holongi, 15 km from the Arunachal capital Itanagar.

Best 7-Day Arunachal Itinerary

Here is a recommended 7-day itinerary to cover the top highlights of Arunachal Pradesh:

Day 1: Arrive in Guwahati

Arrive at Guwahati Airport by afternoon. Pick up your pre-arranged permits and transfer to the hotel. Explore local markets like Pan Bazaar in the evening.

Day 2: Guwahati - Bomdila

Start the early morning on the 8-hour drive from Guwahati to Bomdila. Stop at Bhalukpong for lunch by the Kameng River. Check into a hotel in Bomdila by evening.

Day 3: Bomdila - Tawang

Visit Bomdila Monastery and Crafts center in the morning before driving 3 hours to Tawang. On arrival, relax and acclimatize to the high altitude. Explore Tawang town in the evening.

Day 4: Tawang

Spend the day exploring the magnificent Tawang Monastery and surrounding attractions like the Tawang War Memorial, high-altitude lakes, and remote hilltop monasteries.

Day 5: Tawang - Dirang

Drive from Tawang to Dirang, visiting the paradisiacal Sangti Valley, hot springs, and apple orchards along the way. Stay overnight in Dirang.

Day 6: Dirang - Ziro

Leave early for the long 10-hour drive from Dirang to Ziro Valley. Camp overnight at Ziro to experience rich tribal culture and natural beauty.

Day 7: Ziro - Guwahati

Attend the morning prayers at Tarin Fish Farms. Visit Ziro Puto and hike around pine groves and paddy fields. Leave for Guwahati by late afternoon to catch return flights.

Tips for Visiting Arunachal Pradesh

Keep these tips in mind to make your Arunachal Pradesh trip safe, smooth and enjoyable:

  • Obtain permits well in advance and carry photocopies at all times.

  • Carry enough warm clothing as the region can get very cold.

  • Travel in a group or with a guide for safety and ease of getting permits. Avoid solo female travel.

  • Respect local traditions and dress modestly when visiting monasteries and villages.

  • Arrange vehicle travel in advance as public transport is limited. Share taxis ply on fixed routes.

  • Carry cash as ATMs are scarce. Stock up on fuel and supplies at Guwahati for the drive ahead.

  • High altitude areas can induce altitude sickness. Ascend gradually and drink lots of water.

  • Take motion sickness medication as the roads are very windy with steep falls.

Soak in the Pristine Beauty of the Northeast

Boasting stunning mountain vistas, ancient monasteries, rich tribal heritage, and abundant natural beauty, Arunachal Pradesh promises to be the trip of a lifetime. Follow this comprehensive 7-day itinerary to make the most of your visit to this magical and culturally vibrant region. With some preparation and research, you're sure to return with memories to last a lifetime!


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