Here are nine of the most notable cities.
- Aizawl — capital and largest city in Mizoram
- Matabari — located near Udaipur, Tripura this town is home to the Tripureswari Mandir
- Tuensang — a district and town with a great view of Mount Saramati
- Kaziranga National Park — one of the oldest National parks in India with the largest habitat for Indian single horned rhinos
- Namdapha National Park — the third largest national park in India, known for its biodiversity and for being home to the northernmost rain forest in the world
- Nameri National Park — a national park located in the foothills of the Eastern Himalayas
With the possible exception of the state of Assam, which is famous worldwide for its tea, this is the least-known region of India. Most of these states are known for their hill tribes, who have often been proudly independent-minded and some of whom have fought long insurgencies against the central government, though peace has broken out in some of the affected states and political violence has died down. (See #Stay safe.)
This area of the country is different demographically from the rest of India, which is partly shown by the nature of its religious diversity. While the great majority of Tripurans are Hindus and most Assamese are Hindus or Muslims, Mizoram, Meghalaya and Nagaland are overwhelmingly Christian, Manipur is almost equally divided between Hindus and Christians, and Arunachal Pradesh has a very slight plurality of Christians, with Hindus in nearly equal numbers and the indigenous Donyi-Polo religion, which combines shamanism and Animism, close behind. There is also a Buddhist presence, especially in places like Tawang that are close to the borders of Tibet and Bhutan. Tibetan cultural influence extends far beyond the population of practicing Buddhists, for example by influencing local foods in some parts of the North East.
Geographically, again, Assam is a state apart, as it is centred around the valley of the broad Brahmaputra, whereas all the other states in this region are at least partly hilly, with some featuring tall snow-capped mountains.
While most people in the north-east understand and speak English, Hindi is not very common except in Assam and Tripura to some extent, so travellers here should pick up a few phrases in the local languages if possible.
The main entry point for any north-eastern state is Assam, if one is entering from within India. There are a few entry points from Bangladesh (Dawki in Meghalaya) and Myanmar (Moreh in Manipur) but entry is restricted to local traders/govt. officials.
Note that entry into the states of Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur and Mizoram requires a Protected Area Permit (PAP) for non-Indians and an Inner Line Permit (ILP) for Indian citizens. Permits are issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs, but the easiest approach is to get your Indian visa with a special endorsement allowing travel in the state you wish to visit. Individual travelers are generally granted 15 days (extendable once), but are allowed access only into major towns and sights; travels off the beaten track generally require a registered tour group of four or more people.
As of 1 Jan 2011, the Government of India has decided to exclude the states of Manipur, Mizoram and Nagaland from the Protected Area regime notified under the Foreigners (Protected Areas) Order 1958. This programme is being trialled for one year. However, it is advised that travellers still print out the relevant news articles from local news sources such as the Nagaland Post and Morung Express to show to border officials. Foreigners are still required to register with the FRO (Foreign Registration Office) of each district within 24 hours of arrival.
Assam (Gopinath Bordoloi Airport, Guwahati), Manipur (Imphal Airport), Nagaland (Dimapur Airport) and Tripura (Agartala Airport) have direct flights from other parts of India (Delhi and/or Kolkata). There are two other major airports serving upper regions of Assam and neighbouring areas - Dibrugarh Airport and Silchar Airport. There are helicopter services to Naharlagun (14 km from Itanagar, Arunachal Pradesh) and Aizawl (Mizoram).
There are good train connections from most of the major Indian cities to Assam. Incidentally, Assam is the only state in region with rail lines (barring Nagaland with one station-Dimapur). The important station in Assam are Guwahati, Bongaigaon, Lumding, Tinsukia and Dibrugarh. The fastest train from Delhi is Guwahati bound Rajdhani Express (28 hrs) followed by North-East Express (32 hrs) and Dibrugarh bound Brahmaputra Mail (42 hrs), while the fastest train from Kolkatta(Howrah) is Saraighat Express. Train track in Assam is not electrified and is single lane, so delays are a norm. There are narrow gauge trains to Arunachal Pradesh and Barak Valley area but they are very much prone to cancellation, delays and are not at all comfortable.
Improving the rail connections in North East India is a priority for the Central Government of India, and rail extensions are under construction.
All the states have good network of roads in urban areas. There are regular long journey buses from West Bengal to many north-eastern states. Self-driving is not a good idea as all roads pass through heavy forest reserves and areas infested by insurgents.
- Greener Pastures, ☎ . An eco-tourism company that promotes travel, conservation and sustainability in Northeast India. They provide tours that deal with tribal cultural exchange, wildlife viewing, extreme adventure sports, river cruises, history learning and tea stays.
- Kickstart Adventures. Adventure motorcycle tours covering the states of Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland, and Arunachal Pradesh. Visit not only popular places but also rural parts of the region to experience tribal cultures and traditions first-hand. The firm conducts tours all year.
- Vagabond Expeditions, Guwahati, ☎ . An adventure travel outfit offering adventure activities such as trekking, mountain biking, paragliding, caving, rafting.
- Kaziranga National Park. Famous for its one horned rhino found nowhere else in the world. Elephant rides in the park make for a thrilling experience. Has accommodation cottages and restaurants.
North East India is famous for its delicious and ethnic delicacies. The cuisine includes world famous vegetarian and non vegetarian dishes. North East has earned accolades for the various dishes prepared from local herbs and spices. Apart from local dishes, it is also equipped with restaurants and hotels serving conventional Indian foods (both North Indian and South Indian). So eating is no problem for tourists.
NE India is completely connected with the rest of the world with excellent communication facilities with all the major telecommunication companies like Reliance, Vodafone, Aircel and BSNL.
The North East is the most culturally distinct from the rest of India, and many separatist movements exist here; however, there have been no occasions where tourists have been attacked or have faced any disturbances.