What To Keep In Mind When Traveling to North East During Covid
The Northeast is a part of India that has always been relatively away from the tourist radar. But when you look at its hills that are velvet green in the summer and pristine white in the winter, the mighty Brahmaputra river and the many, many tribes that live in this world, you may wonder why don’t a lot of people talk about it? However, the Northeast being unknown to the mainstream tourist crowd can now work in your favour. It is because there’s still the threat of Covid in the air and you want to have a socially-distanced holiday.
Travel Restrictions In The Northeast
Northeast India comprises eight states: Sikkim, Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Mizoram and Tripura. Each state has its own rules and regulations pertaining to interstate travel and quarantine:
Sikkim has relaxed movement to and from the state to encourage tourism. There will be no quarantine restrictions or health screenings. However, if you display symptoms of Covid, you should get yourself tested at the nearest medical facility. There will still be restrictions on how many passengers can be in a vehicle.
In Assam, quarantine rules, particularly for air passengers, have been relaxed. The earlier 10-day quarantine norm has been lifted. It has been replaced with just a day’s quarantine to get the RT-PCR test results. You’ll have to download the VisitAssam app to fill up the necessary documentation pertaining to Covid safety.
Meghalaya has relaxed most interstate travel restrictions. However, you’ll have to get the RT-PCR at the state’s entry point and go into quarantine until the test results are out. It typically takes about 2 days. You can skip this quarantine if you have undergone the RT-PCR test beforehand.
Nagaland is still stringent on Covid norms. You’ll need to provide the Covid negative certificate and have the Aarogya Setu app on your phone. Mandatory 14-day quarantine for everyone is the norm in Nagaland. You can choose to be quarantined in an approved hotel, too.
Arunachal Pradesh has opened for tourists subject to Covid restrictions and interstate travel regulations. Meaning that you can only opt for pre-booked packaged tours through authorized operators. A Covid negative certificate and the latest version of the Aarogya Setu app on your phone is a must. Of course, masks and social distancing are compulsory. For flights, you’ll undergo the Rapid Antigen Test and if the results are asymptomatic and negative, all you have to do is self-monitor for 14 days.
Manipur has removed restrictions on interstate travel. Have the Covid-related documentation on hand with you. If your duration of stay in Manipur is less than 7 days, you can skip the 14-day quarantine provided that you have a Covid negative certificate that was taken during the last 48 hours. Aarogya Setu app is mandatory.
While Mizoram has opened interstate travel, you should possess a valid mPass (which is available on the state website) and for flights, you’ll be quarantined. You can choose home quarantine for 14 days, provided that you clear the Rapid Antibody Test.
Tripura insists on swab testing every arrival to the state. The test itself will be free and quarantine has been done away with. However, international passengers will be put under institutional quarantine. Aarogya Setu app is compulsory for every traveler.
Keep in mind that these regulations are subject to change, so make sure that you have the most recent information before setting out on a trip. Here are a few places that you can visit in Northeast India during Covid:
Roing, Arunachal Pradesh
Located in the east of the easternmost state of India, Roing is one of the last towns of the country. With its placid lakes and gorges nestled between the mountains, the place is sure to win the hearts of nature lovers. Snow-seekers could leave for the nearby Mayodia Pass and while on the journey, experience the Himalayas in their purest form.
Not just the natural beauty, Roing is also a place of historical and archaeological significance – the Bhismaknagar Fort most prominent among them. Also, the town and its adjoining areas are home to the Mishmi and Adi tribes. You can experience their culture and perhaps even try out their cuisine. Just keep in mind the social distancing norms so that everyone is safe.
Closest Airport: Dibrugarh Airport, Dibrugarh.
Gurudongmar Lake, Sikkim
At an altitude of over 5430 meters above sea level, this is one of the highest freshwater lakes in the world and considered holy by Buddhists, Sikhs and Hindus. This glassy, brilliantly blue lake somehow never completely freezes over even during the bitterly cold winters. You can choose to relax by the placid lake. Or if you’re seeking adventure, the lake is the base point for several treks. For those wishing to experience the culture and traditions of Sikkim, the town of Thangu Valley is also quite close by.
Considering the remote location of the lake and that you’ll be traveling from Gangtok, you should stay overnight at Lachen, a small village tourist town. The next day you may set out for Gurudongmar Lake. Keep in mind that the lake is at very high altitude. So if you have respiratory problems, avoid this trip.
Closest Airport: Bagdogra International Airport, Siliguri.
Located on the Indo-Bangladesh border, Dawki in Meghalaya is a town that has no dearth of fun things to do. Close to the town is the rather unexplored Umngot, a river so clear that you can see the rocks underwater. This also is the spot for a number of adventure activities. You can take up exciting stuff such as scuba diving, snorkeling and boating to explore the surface and the underwater world of the Umngot. If not, you can always camp by the riverside.
Dawki is also close to Mawlynnong, a village that’s regarded as the cleanest village in Asia and the locals are clearly proud of it. Also, if you’re brave enough, try crossing the suspension bridge across the Umngot in the village of Shnongpdeng.
Closest Airport: Umroi Airport, Shillong.
Unakoti in Tripura would undoubtedly be an absolute delight for the traveler who loves Hindu mythology and ancient architecture. The place is supposedly where Lord Shiva and 99,99,999 gods and goddesses spent a night en route to Kashi. Angered that none of them woke him up before sunrise as Lord Shiva asked him to, he turned them all to stone. And those are the sculptures we see now. The most prominent among these massive relief structures are the Unakoti Swarna Kal Bhairava – the head of the fearsome Kalbhairava – and the goddesses Durga and Ganga.
Closest Airport: Maharaja Bir Bikram Airport, Agartala.
Phawngpui National Park, Mizoram
Mizoram is a land full of lush greenery and huge tracts of places untouched by time. The backpacker wishing to enjoy the mountains can head over to the Phawngpui National Park. The rugged and verdant mountains in the park are mostly hugged by clouds and make them appear blue. So naturally, Phawngpui National Park is also known as the Blue Mountains National Park.
Also, the climate of the park is mild throughout the year, so it makes for a perfect haunt for those who want solitude — from people that is. Because this park is home to many animal and bird species — Asiatic black bears, leopards, slow loris, Mrs Hume’s pheasant and falcons are just a few of them. Of course, the park offers excellent trails for hiking and nature walks too.
Closest Airport: Lengpui Airport, Aizawl
The threat of Covid is still there. So the best idea would be to not go on trips just yet. But if you are going, practise social distancing and wash your hands regularly.
Always be updated on the Covid lockdown rules and restrictions of your home state and the place you intend to visit.
Look for hotels and accommodations that are Covid ready.
Prioritize cashless transactions.
As much as possible, travel in your personal vehicle to reduce risk of infection.
Those below 10 years and above 65 years of age are more susceptible to infection. So it’s best that they do not go on trips just yet.
Whether your destination state mandates it or not, install the Aarogya Setu app in your phone and carry any Covid-related documentation just to be on the safer side.
If you develop symptoms before your travel, cancel the trip. If you do during or even after the trip, get help and inform your accommodation immediately.