Tawang is the administrative headquarters of Tawang district in Arunachal Pradesh. It has a population of around 5,000.
Foreign Tourists in a group of 2 or more persons need to obtain PAP (Protected Area Permit) for a period of 30 days from the following offices
Govt. of India, Ministry of Home Affairs, New Delhi. The Resident Commissioner, Govt. of Arunachal Pradesh, Kautilya Marg, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi. Phone: 011-230113915/23013956/26880901
The Commissioner (Home), Govt. of Arunachal Pradesh, Itanagar- 791111.
Commissioner and Secretary (Tourism), Govt. of Arunachal Pradesh, Itanagar- 791111.
Foreign Tourist visiting Arunachal Pradesh shall have to pay USD 50 per head as Royalty to the Government of Arunachal Pradesh and application for PAP are to be applied through local approved tour operators only.
Tawang is 326 kms from Tezpur, 447 kms from Itanagar and 488 kms from Guwahati.
There are frequent buses from Bomdila . It is a 11 hrs journey and cost is around 120 Rs . From Guwahati you can take buses for Bomdila (11 hrs , 160 Rs ) and break your journey at Bomdila , then take buses for Tawang
The town is about a 16 hour drive from Guwahati. However, it is best to hire a Tata Sumo from Tezpur in Assam (4 hr. drive from Guwahati). From Tezpur you go to Bhalukpong (border of Assam and Arunachal) where Indian and Non Indian tourists have to show in permit (easily obtainable at either Guwahati or Tezpur) and proceed to a beautiful and rough drive up the mountains. It can take 12-14 hrs if you go at a stretch to Tawang. It is advisable to break your journey at either Bomdila or better still - charming little valley town of Dirang. Sela pass is notoriously difficult and heavy snowfall (during season) could force you to stay on either side.
The road after Balipara (where you divert from NH52) is in good condition to ride on. After Bomdila, BRO is widening the roads in some areas, so expect slushy roads. If you love your motorbike, travel by a taxi/bus from Tezpur.
Getting around in Tawang can be divided into two categories. First one is travel to local sites like Tawang Monastery, War Memorial, Emporium etc. This can be done by booking a taxi (mostly Maruti OMNI) for half a day. Second one is travel to sites outside Tawang which includes P T So lake, Shungetsar (Madhuri) lake and visit to India-China border at Bumla. A bigger vehicle like Tata Sumo or Mahindra Bolero should be hired for the same as roads are in bad shape. An entire day is enough to cover these sites.
Tawang is a much undiscovered Trekkers paradise, offering breath taking views, fresh mountain air, chill weather, and challenging or leisurely treks.
For a rigorous trek ( classified hard), take the Jang - Thingbu - Mago - Goi ichen Base Camp - Mago (Back) - Luguthang - Sena Chakra - RA-I route.
The softer trekking routes include the Mukto - Gongkhar - Gyamdong - Khet - Kharung - Bongleng - Kungba - Namsring - Kharteng - Lumla route, and the Tawang Gonpa - Gyangong Ani Gonpa - Bhramadongchung Ani Gonpa - Tawang routes.
You can also trek along the Namet Village - Zarmang Ani Gonpa - Khromten Gonpa - Geshila - Klimta - Bomla - Y. Junction - Tawang route, which takes you close to the Chinese border outpost at Bomla.
Trekkers are advised to come fully attired and prepared for the worst.
Take a walk around the charming town.
Pray at the 400 year old Tawang Gompa. Turn the prayer wheels dotted outside small gompas. Meet and chat with the friendly Lama monks. Take excursions around town to visit beautiful glacier lakes and smaller gompas with big histories.
Chat with friendly and beautiful locals.
Take a nap on a hillock if its sunny, be prepared to be awoken by a grazing Yak.
Tawang has a good range of tourist souvenir shops which sell Budhdhist prayer wheels in colourful wood, chadars (wrap skirts worn by local women), beautiful bags, shawls, brassware, Budhdha statues. Look for shops in Old Market as well as Tibetan settlement.
Tibetean delicacies like Thupka , momos or simple and delicious Paratha- Sabzi eaten hot from the roadside shacks on cold misty days are a treat !! Most restaurants in Tawang serve these. A small shack called Annapurna serves delicious alu ( potato) chips.
The traditional Monpa cuisine use a generous amount of chillies and fermented cheese which has a strong flavour and is not for the faint hearted.
Some traditional Arunachal dishes are, the famous Momo, widely eaten in the north east and other Himalayan regions. The Momo is made by stuffing minced Pork and Onions into a dough and then steamed in a three layer steamer, or fried.
The Thukpa is a soup filled with noodles, minced meat, and vegetables, also known as Der Thuk. Ashum Thukpa is made of Maize, beans and meat.
Zan is the staple dish of the Monpa tribes. It is usually made of Millet flour. It is usually had with vegetables or meat to which is added fermented cheese, soya bean or other herbs.
Khura is a pancake, had with tea.
Gyapa Khazi is a kind of Pulao made of rice, fermented cheese, small dried fish or shrimp, chillies ginger and other spices.
Like all places of travel, some of the best food is found at the small non descript, sometime not very hygenic, eateries, that serve authentic dishes at very affordable prices. They are sure to be authentic food of the region as they are most frequented by locals.
Alcohol is pretty cheap in Arunachal Pradesh because it is tax-free in this state of India. So drink with your heart open. There are many liquor stalls in old market area. Whisky, brandy, rum, beer, wine are easily available.
Unfortunately Tawang like most hill stations in the North East is far from developed, so finding good accomodation here may be a challenge. However the flip side is the lack of tourism leaves the place more virgin and unexplored.
Apart from Tawang Inn which is the most modern and comfortable option in Tawang- most other options are pretty basic. Hotel Tawang View has the best views from their second floor basic rooms- of both the Gompa and snow topped mountains. Most hotels are in the market area. It is worth to try your luck at the government rest-house, or if you are lucky the Circuit house.