Dawki used to be one of the hidden gems of Meghalaya that became suddenly famous a few years ago. Dawki is situated on the south-eastern border of Meghalaya, around 82 km south of Shillong. The small border town of Dawki in the West Jaintia Hills has the famous river Umngot which is a major tourist destination in Meghalaya. Dawki lies between India and Bangladesh and is the trade hub between the two countries. This small town is best known for the surreally beautiful Umngot river.
When you take a boat ride through the river, you will actually be able to see the bottom of the river even when it is around 15 -20 feet deep. River Umngot is so clean that with the reflection of the sun this otherwise deep green lake becomes a colorless and sees through river. The entire boat ride can take up to an hour or so with around 20 mins on the boat in the middle of the river and rest on a small island, where one will find plenty of smooth and round boulders and rocks. This makes a perfect setting for those wanderlust pictures you need for a trip.
Dawki Travel Guide
Sometimes people get confused between Dawki and Shnongpdeng. Dawki is a small roadside town while Shnongpdeng is a secluded village, an 8 KM diversion from Dawki. Both are located on the banks of the Umngot river, the crystal clear water of which is the primary attraction here. You can stay at either of the places.
Top Places to see in Dawki
Just to make it clear, here are the major “places” in the Dawki area.
Dawki is the main roadside town on the bank of Umngot. It has markets, shops, guesthouses for tourists, and the taxi stand that takes you to Shillong. The town is located a bit higher up but you can go down to the river bank, where there are camping sites and boating facilities.
It is around 7-8 KMs through a bumpy diversion from Dawki. You will find transport from Dawki and you can also walk this stretch if you have nothing better to do. As a secluded village, Shnongpdeng has everything that Dawki has and it is more scenic. Ideally, you should try to stay here instead of Dawki.
Here is a specific post on Shnongpdeng.
Darrang is a small village on the same road as Schnongpdeng. It is actually a couple of KMs before Shnongpdeng. It has a living root bridge and it is also slowly becoming a tourist destination.
Tamabil is the border crossing point for Bangladesh. There is nothing much here though. People just visit it for the sake of it.
How to Reach Dawki?
Now, there are two roads to Dawki (See the MAP above). First is the direct Shilong to Dawki road while the second option is If you take the first option, you will also find the diversion to Mawlynnong at one point. You take the second option only if you want to visit additional attractions in Jaintia Hills district including Jowai, Nartiang, Phe Phe, Krang Suri, etc. Only do it if you have one extra day and can stop somewhere in between.
Shillong to Dawki
You will get shared cars from Shillong to Dawki (82 KMs) costing around INR 150-300 (I have seen that some drivers raise the price depending on the situation).
Jowai to Dawki
You take the Jowai route only if you have more time, at least one extra day so that you can visit additional attractions on that route such as Krang Suri and Phe Phe. Shillong to Jowai share taxi is easily available. However, I have not seen too many Jowai to Dawki cars. In that case, you first go to Amlarem from Dawki (See the map). From Amlarem, you will get shared cars to Dawki. Amlarem is also the entry point for the famous Krang Suri Fall.
Dawki to Shnongpdeng
The village of Shnongpdeng is around 8 KMs from the small roadside town of Dawki. You will find local shared cars from Daki Bazaar to Shnongpdeng. You can also walk the whole stretch if you have light luggage. Ideally, the cheapest way is to find a shared car with locals. If you hire a car on your own, they will start with INR 400-500 but you can bargain and bring it down to INR 200-300.
Hotels and Homestays in Dawki and Shnongpdeng
Guesthouses, resorts and homestays are both available in Dawki as well as Shnongpdeng. They can be as low as INR 700 and as high as INR 4000, depending on where you end up in. I have found INR 700 single rooms with shared bathrooms in Shnongpdeng, along with INR 1000 double-rooms.
Camping in Dawki and Shnongpdeng
The cheaper option, if you are comfortable, is to stay at the tents on the river bank. Generally, there are single tents (INR 500), twin sharing tents (INR 700), Triple sharing tents (INR 1200). However, do note that some operators may try to extract more, especially if you look like a greenhorn. So, always bargain and if there are empty places and no other customers, you can even get a cheaper rate (I managed a double tent for INR 700 at Shnopdeng once).
If you go for camping, Shnongpdeng has a couple of community toilets that you will have to use.
Boating is the primary activity on the river Umngot, both at Dawki and Shnongpdeng. Boating rates can fluctuate here depending on the crowd. Generally, one boat fits 5-6 people and one ride last 30-45 mins can cost 500-800. If you are alone, you can try to fit into a group and share the cost. Also, someone may try to extract more money from you. So, always aks multiple people before finalizing.
Food in Dawki and Shnongpdeng
There are many restaurants available, however, the variety is somewhat lacking. All of them offer the same meal INR 100 for vegetarian one and INR 150 with chicken. Additionally, you can get instant noodles, omelets, tea, and other such usual stuff.
Best Season for Dawki
While you can visit this region throughout the year, generally the monsoon months between June to September are to be avoided. The river swells up in the rains, making boating impossible. Transparency and colour of the river is also affected during this season due to heavy flow and roads can also get damaged, especially the Dawki-Shnongpdeng road.
Phone and Data Connectivity in Dawki and Shnongpdeng
Phone and data, both were work perfectly fine at Dawki as well as Shnongpdeng.