Solo women travellers, here’s why you must pick Shillong for your next trip

Meghalaya’s modern-day capital, Shillong, is ideal for women looking for a solo adventure — thanks to its safe locales, welcoming communities, and an array of experiences.

Speaking from experience, nothing feels more liberating to a female traveller than embarking on a solo trip. Destinations unknown, fresh faces, distinct cultures, and endless possibilities of making memories of a lifetime bliss! But along come the perils of travelling alone and encountering misadventures that can turn the whole thing around pretty quickly. Fret not though, ladies. Counted among the top safest destinations for women travellers in India, Shillong can be the answer to all your prayers.

Dotted with misty, moss-green mountains, rolling valleys, mythical legends, hidden caves, and beautiful natural cascades and lakes, the capital city of Meghalaya promises you limitless experiences and the dream solo trip that you deserve.

Safe localities, friendly locals

Shillong
Even the farthest corners of Shillong feel safe for women out on a solo adventure. Image: Shutterstock/explorewithinfo.

Solo trips are meant to let you experience what freedom tastes likes, and you can’t feel free unless you feel safe and comfortable in the new surroundings. Luckily, the lively capital city isn’t just the hub of experiences, but is also home to the friendliest folks who will go to great extents to make you feel comfortable. The Khasi community is one of the world’s last matrilineal communities where descent comes through the female line of a family. Properties belong to the youngest daughter of the house, and children even take up the mother’s clan name! Probably that’s another reason why women are respected immensely in the region and the city, along with the farthest nooks and outskirts of it, is considered safe for solo women travellers. Shillong is also a modern fashion hub, and you needn’t have to watch what you’re wearing every single time you step out to venture.

Myriad of stay options

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Ri Kynjai overlooks the serene lake of Umiam. Image: Courtesy Ri Kynjai.
A luxury suite at the ri kynjai resort,shillong
A luxury suite at the Ri Kynjai resort. Image: Courtesy Ri Kynjai.

From rustic homestays to royal retreats, the charming northeastern hill station has a long list of accommodations offering breathtaking panoramas, top-notch hospitality, amazing dining options, and unique experiences. Pick The Heritage Club – Tripura Castle if you wish to stay at what was once the summer palace of Tripura’s royal family! Complete with wood-panelled interiors, quaint accents, cosy fireplaces, and lush gardens, the hotel features spacious rooms and Rice Court restaurant that offers Indian and Chinese fare. For an uber luxurious experience, stay at Ri Kynjai overlooking the pristine Umiam Lake and shrouded by greens on all sides. Expect Khasi-style cottages with fireplaces and private sit-outs, Sao Aiom restaurant with local specialities, and a spa with Khasi-style massages and treatments. For a more humble and homely stay, base yourself at Cafe Shillong Bed & Breakfast, a cute little colonial-style B&B with all modern amenities. Feast on home-cooked meals, go on a trekking trail, admire the rustic knick-knacks of the 70-year-old bungalow, and spend your time exploring Lachumiere, Shillong’s most famous locality.

A happening street fashion scene!

Designer daniel syiem showcasing his collection created with ryndia silk at lakme fashion week summer/resort 2018,shillong
Designer Daniel Syiem showcasing his collection created with ryndia silk at Lakme Fashion Week Summer/Resort 2018. Image: Courtesy Daniel Syiem.

Shillong is a melting pot of trends and aesthetics that take inspiration from the global high-street fashion. Home to a thriving street fashion scene, it effortlessly blends rich sartorial heritages with a modern style sensibility. From edgy street style, youngsters donned in K-pop inspired attires, older women in traditional Jainsems, to traditional handloom industries, thrift stores galore, and heritage fabrics and jewelleries sold in tiny shops, the city is a Mecca of fashion, merging old and new. This unique amalgamation has also given way to budding fashion enthusiasts who are now taking the indigenous textiles and designs to newer heights. There is even a NIFT (National Institute of Fashion Technology) and Fashion Academy Shillong in the city today, and a lot of youngsters in the city are looking to fashion designing as a career now. 

Syiem with the local weavers of khasi tribe,shillong
Syiem with the local weavers of Khasi tribe. Image: Courtesy Daniel Syiem.

Local designer Daniel Syiem’s label Ethnic Fashion House has not only left no stone unturned in the revival of the traditional and eco-friendly ryndia silk, but also brought in a revolution in Shillong’s fashion industry. The main objective of his brand, for the past 10 years, has been to safeguard and promote this heritage fabric hand-spun by the Khasi women of Ri-Bhoi district. Another upcoming designer from Shillong, Rupert Lynrah showcased his creations in London Fashion Week 2016. He has his own label RWL Designs and uses natural fabrics like eri and muga silk for his fusion collections. If you are interested in getting your hands on vintage collections from high-end brands, drop by Rebecca’s Thrift Store on Jail Road. From Armani, YSL, to Pierre Cardin, and early editions from Commes des Garcon, you’ll find everything at this secret paradise of style. The nearby OB Shopping Mall is the biggest shopping arcade in Shillong. Or find your way to Police Bazaar and Glory’s Plaza for a shopping spree.

Plenty to see and experience

A view of umiam lake,shillong
A view of Umiam Lake. Image: Shutterstock/Debangshu Chakraborty.

In the far east, Shillong will surprise you with its unique offerings, from cultural displays, to music bars, rock bands, and everything in between. When in the city, take idle strolls or enjoy a fun boat ride at the Ward’s Lake, spend time with your book at one of the cutesy cafes at the Don Bosco Square, nerd it out at the State Museum or Don Bosco Centre that beautifully depict the cultures of Northeast India, and relish on local Khasi dishes at Police Bazaar. For sighting excursions, visit Umiam Lake, Shillong Peak, Elephant Falls, Lady Hydari Park, Shillong Golf Course, and the Cathedral of Mary Help of Christians. In case you are looking for some adventure, bookmark Laitlum Canyon and the David Scott Trail.

The nion music band of shillong performing live
The NION Music band of Shillong performing live. Image: Shutterstock/AP Club.

Famous as the ‘Rock Capital of India’, the city is also an electric hub, vibrant with its hipster cafes, live music concerts, and a number of cool bands of all genres from metal, rock, to goth and punk. Of course, you cannot miss the Shillong edition (whenever it happens next) of Bacardi NH7 Weekender that brings to you both local talents and international stalwarts of folk, country, blues and jazz, rock n reggae, grunge and metal music. Attend Shillong Autumn Festival in November for an amazing musical line-up and happy mayhem. Pick Sohra’s Shine A Light Festival for reggae, blues, and jazz vibes.

Shake a leg to the beats of a live band at the rooftop lounge bar, cloud 9,shillong
Shake a leg to the beats of a live band at the rooftop lounge bar, Cloud 9. Image: Courtesy Cloud 9.

There’s no dearth of dining options and a vibrant cafe cultural either. Royal Enfield-inspired ML 05 Cafe and Dylan’s Cafe (named after Bob Dylan) must definitely be on your list. Café Shillong, with live music, delicious food, and a cosy setting is the city’s most famous hangout. If you wish to dance the night away, sing karaoke, chug freshly-brewed beer, and basically let your hair down, — bookmark Cloud 9 in Hotel Center Point, Club Tango, and Mikado Lounge in Police Bazaar, 

A year-round destination

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Come monsoon, Shillong’s waterfalls turn into brimming cascades, perfect for a solo trip. Image: Shutterstock/explorewithinfo.

Home to glacial lakes, imposing mountains, clear waterfalls, and abundant natural beauty — Shillong is practically a place for all people in all seasons. Since the state of Meghalaya receives the maximum amount of rainfall in the world, arrive here during the monsoon to see waterfalls coming to life from June through early August. Followed by heavy rainfalls, the later half of August till September aren’t excessively wet and have a pleasant, balmy weather. Adrenaline junkies can visit during winters lasting till January when the crisp mountain air and below 10° Celsius temperatures make it the ideal destination for caving expeditions, riverside camping, and water sports. Add to it the festive spirit (Meghalaya is a predominantly Christian state) that turns the city into a Christmas wonderland in December. February to April is the ideal period if you wish to see spring blossoms in full bloom and nature’s beauty at its best.

Easy to get around

Shillong has a regional airport, but the nearest international airport is the LGBI Airport in Guwahati, Assam. However, a number of regular buses, shared cabs, and private taxis are available at all times to take you to Shillong. Inside the city, hire a private taxi or Sumo to take you around. Expect to pay somewhere between INR2,500-3,000 a day for a private vehicle with driver.

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