• Tawang's 9 Best Kept Secrets | More than Tawang Monastery

Tawang’s 9 Best Kept Secrets | More than Tawang Monastery

Are you thinking about visiting Tawang Arunachal Pradesh? Most likely you want to go because of the rich Tibetan culture and the famous Tawang Monastery, which are great reasons to go! They are the reasons I was excited, and I was happy to see there was so much more than just a monastery to visit in Tawang India.

Tawang tourism isn’t huge although it is one of the most popular places to visit in the state of Arunachal Pradesh and Tawang Monastery is one of the most historical places in India to visit, making the journey up to the far NE India well worth your time.

sela pass arunachal pradesh

animals gods NE IndiaI want to share some hotspots in Tawang and also the top hotels in Tawang with you so you can plan your trip. I went with Holiday Scout and if you’re looking for a Tawang tour, I can highly recommend them! Most of what we did and saw in Tawang wouldn’t have been possible going solo.

So first, the basics for visiting Tawang:

  • Where is Tawang? Let me just share the map here but it’s the NW part of Arunachal Pradesh and while you’re here you are only 30-40 km from both Bhutan and China.

tawang mapSmoojed in between Bhutan and China… then looked at the zoomed bit below to get the full idea of where it is in relation to the rest of India.

tawang map2

  • When should I go to Tawang? It’s actually one of the best places to visit in India in December since December is the peak season of tourism and other places like the Taj will be crowded. The season here is Nov-March
  • How’s the Tawang weather? The reason people come in the cold months of Nov-March is because the other months have monsoon rain. It is COLD. You have to plan ahead and pack properly! It was -2 celsius for us at night in November.
  • What about Tawang Hotels, are there any? There are hotels in Tawang but not many. Arunachal Pradesh tourism in general is still growing. The infrastructure isn’t great (roads are bad, hotels are few). We stayed at Tenzin Guesthouse which isn’t even on Tripadvisor but our guide says is the best guesthouse in town. The other top two options are: Hotel Zax Star and Hotel Gakyi Khang Zhang

tenzin guesthouse tawang hotels

Tawang’s Best Kept Secrets | What to do in Tawang

1. Tawang Monastery.

The most obvious of things to visit is this famous monastery. It’s the second largest in the world, after the Lhasa one in Tibet which is not longer in use due to Chinese laws. That makes Tawang Monastery the largest active monastery in the world.

tawang monastery

tawang monastery

tawang monastery

tawang monastery

tawang monastery

tawang monastery

tawang monastery

tawang monastery

tawang monastery

2. Craft Center and Emporium.

I love finding crafts and seeing how they are made everywhere that I travel. I wrote about the artisans I found in Mysore which people seemed to really like reading about so I’m going to write a whole article about the crafts in Tawang and combine that with what I saw in Ziro Valley, another area of Arunachal Pradesh. They make many types of hats, bags, paintings, hand-woven fabrics, and woven baskets, as well as knitting all kinds of things.

handicrafts arunachal pradesh

3. Indo-Chinese War Memorial.

A memorial for the war of 1962 where 4,220 Indians died fighting the Chinese for Indian territory.

Jaswant Garh Memorial

4. Tawang Town Center.

One of our favorite things to see where the soldiers holding hands and guns. It’s normal for men in India to hold hands as a sign of friendship and gave us a laugh to see them in military get up holding guns while walking hand in hand through town. As usual the cows tried to get involved in the veg market while the women shooed them away before they could steal anything.

tawang monastery

tawang monastery

5. Tsun Gon Thog Jee Choeling Nunnery.

We were greeted by the adorable Sonam who offered us tea immediately. Going into her room and sitting by the fire we met two other girls who were traveling the area. It was the warmest we had been since arriving in Tawang the day before, sitting by the fire inside. The nuns were having a lively debate outside and would clap when it was someone else’s turn to talk. I never knew there were “female monks” in Tibetan Buddhism so found all of this so intriguing.

tawang nunnery

6. Ugyenling Monastery.

Also called the 6th Dalai Lama monastery because he was born here. This is an older monastery (1487) that isn’t as visited and is often neglected by tourists who come to only see the Tawang Monastery. The 6th Dalai Lama planted a tree which you’ll see on the right of the entrance. People believe if you steep the leaves like tea, and drink, you can cure illnesses. It was ransacked in the 1700’s and now is a simple and small monastery.

Ugyenling Monastery

Ugyenling Monastery

Ugyenling Monastery

7. Thegtse Sang-ngag Choekhorling Monastery.

Th is the monastery of the Mon-yul kid-mo jong which means the “sacred land of happiness” located in a village in Tawang called Khin-mey, which comes from a Monpa (tribal) word Khi-ket Nyan-mey which means “place for listening to the dogs bark”. Legend has it, the villagers used to hunt and you would hear their hunting dogs from here, until a guru came and taught them Buddhism and not to kill.

This monastery is unique in that it is part of a different sect of Buddhism called Nyingma with a guru Nansid Zilnon where the monks can have long hair and can marry. It was the most colorful one we saw!

Thegtse Sang-ngag Choekhorling Monastery

Thegtse Sang-ngag Choekhorling Monastery

Thegtse Sang-ngag Choekhorling Monastery

Thegtse Sang-ngag Choekhorling Monastery

8. Crossing Sela Pass to get there.

Not actually in Tawang, but worth mentioning because this pass is quite famous in India and you have to pass by to get to Tawang. Getting to Tawang in itself is an adventure which I will write about!

sela pass arunachal pradesh

9. Tawang cable car.

Brand new attraction in Tawang. I didn’t go across myself because it was on the other side. It’s a half hour ride, so we would have had to wait half and hour for it, taken it half an hour, then half an hour back… and we had too much to see! If you have the time though, the views look stunning.

tawang cable car




About the Author:

Rachel Jones left a career in nursing and lived on the beaches of Goa, India for the five years. Now she lives in Mexico where she gives advice on the 40+ countries she’s visited in the last 10 years. She’s the author of two India travel e-books: Guide to India and Insider’s Guide to Goa. Her blog, Hippie in Heels, like its name, is a contradiction combining off-beat adventurous places with glamorous and bespoke travel. Hippie in Heels has been featured in ELLE, Marie Claire, Grazia, and Cosmopolitan magazines. She’s a writer for Bravo TV.


  1. roy January 20, 2016 at 10:15 pm - Reply

    my girlfriend and I are enjoying these posts a lot. We are planning a 3 month india trip in December 2016. However, a lot of information online really seems to scare us regarding traveling in India. We are trying to focus our itinerary on North East India. However, seems like Arunachal Pradesh is out of the question without a guide. Are the other states of North East India more accessible for tourists? we might backpack the other states and then get a guide for Arunachal Pradesh

    • Rachel Jones January 21, 2016 at 1:34 pm - Reply

      Hi Roy, I don’t think it’s any more difficult in Arunachal than anywhere else. I would say Arunachal and Nagaland are the most common to travel, and both would be best with guides. Check out my article that talks about the safety of each state “faq of northeast india”

    • Monalisa September 28, 2016 at 12:57 pm - Reply

      Arunachal is a beautiful state…no need for any guide at all….. you can safely travel there without any guide.

  2. veena January 21, 2016 at 12:23 pm - Reply

    these posts are making me itch to get back to ne india! i loved my time in kaziranga, shillong, and cherrapunji a few years ago, and now i’m dreaming of a trip to arunachal. keep these coming! xx

  3. sany January 22, 2016 at 11:44 pm - Reply

    Great blog with fantastic pictures and location

  4. Kubra February 15, 2016 at 7:32 am - Reply

    Do we need a special permit to get into this particular state? If yes, do you remember how much it cost? Thanks a LOT!!

  5. Nik October 1, 2017 at 1:20 am - Reply

    Thanks so much for all this information. I am visiting Arunachal (Tewang region) next week (am from New York) and was wondering if you have any recommendations for changing USD at a nominal rate anywhere? I added Sangti valley to my itinerary after reading your blog. Thannk you!

    • Rachel Jones October 2, 2017 at 12:36 pm - Reply

      Sangti is so beautiful, I hope you think so, too! For money check out this article

      • Nik October 30, 2017 at 6:09 am - Reply

        Sorry if I seem rude replying so late. I went to Sangti inspired by your article and your encouragement and it was one of the highlights of my trip. There are no words to describe the raw natural beauty of this region. I just returned to the states and I am already planning another trip to Arunachal. Thank you so much again. If you allow linking google pics, I’d be happy to share my pics from this travel.

        • Rachel Jones October 30, 2017 at 11:46 am - Reply

          Hey Nik so glad you had a good time and took the detour into Sangti – it’s such a beautiful little town!

  6. Rathin Shah May 23, 2018 at 2:06 pm - Reply

    hello rachel, its an awesome article of the many i came across about tawang monastery. I am an avid traveller and people like you are my real mentors. Actually i planning to do a solo trip to tawaan monastery in august for a week or so. So i wanted your advice and tips about what to do and not to do, Please spare some of your time and help me make this solo trip a success as this is my first solo trip. also i was wondering if you could advice me about some places where i can go as a solo traveller

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