On the western edge of the Shan Hills at an elevation of 4,356 feet, Kalaw was built as a hill station during the British colonial period. The focal point of the town is the central market. Once every 5 days the local market cycle brings hill tribe villagers here to sell their produce. Most of the town’s restaurants are in this area, and much of the food on offer has a distinct sub-continental flavour; many of the restaurant owners and staff are descendants of Indian and Nepali railway workers and soldiers who settled here during colonial days. The hills around town are peppered with reminders of the British, with churches and cottages scattered around the area. A couple of these old buildings have been converted into boutique accommodation providing a very memorable place to stay.

The climate here is very pleasant and in spring and summer, the roads around town are lined with thickly flowering crocus. The cooler temperatures and scenic surrounding countryside, filled with ethnic hill tribe villages, makes this area the most popular part of the country in which to embark on a trek.

Trekking .

Kalaw is the most accessible, and popular location in Myanmar to trek and visit hill tribe villages. The beautiful and productive hill country supports many villages of various groups, including the Pa-O, Danu, Palaung and Taung Yo. Treks range from a gentle walk to a nearby village or viewpoint, to a full day or overnight trek delving deeper into the countryside, to the famous 3 day treks to Inle Lake and less known trek to Pindaya.

Many trails lead from this quiet country town, through valleys and past forested ridges to friendly hill tribe villages, pagodas and monasteries. Some of the villages cling to their traditions and people still wear traditional dress. Other villages have been linked to the electricity grid and have a higher standard of living. The scenery, ranging from forested ridges to tea plantations and lush farmland is just beautiful, and your guide can teach you about local customs and translate so that you can interact with the people you meet. Accommodation in the hills is in village houses and monasteries, giving you the opportunity to really experience village life. Below is a selection of recommended treks that we can arrange for you. Everything is taken care of – you just have to carry some water and enjoy the scenery and the hill country air.

Half-Day Trek. (3 hours trekking)

After breakfast, drive to the start of the trekking path and start walking towards the Palaung village of Pennibin. The main attraction of this village is the longhouse, where multiple families live together under one roof. You can observe some traditional hand weaving and the process of making cheroots. After taking in the panoramic views, return to your car for the drive back to Kalaw.

Full Day Trek. (6 hours trekking)

This trek starts in Kalaw and heads off through pine plantations, local villages and farmland to the village of Nyaung Gone. After a break here, continue through plantations of Sebastian leaves (used for making cheroots) to Tar Yaw. Here you can visit the monastery, primary school and Palaung longhouse. On the return to Kalaw we stop by a viewpoint for a panoramic vista of the Shan Hills.

Overnight Trek.
Day 1. (6 hours trekking)

Have breakfast at your hotel before departing along the path to Nyaung Gone. We then proceed to the Palaung village of Shwe Min Bon. After a break we continue to the village of Ywa Thit and finally to our destination, Tar Yaw, with its Palaung longhouse. Listen to the language being spoken here. It is from the Mon-Kymer language family and quite different to Bamar. Before nightfall we climb to a viewpoint for the fantastic view over the Nyaungshwe plain.

Day 2. (5 hours trekking)

After breakfast, trek to the Palaung village of Hin Kha Gone, then continue onto the Danu village of Kan Bar Ni. After a rest the walk continues through Myin Htaik, the Taung Yo village of Pan Tin Gone and finally the Danu village of Myin Saing Gone. This fascinating experience then ends with the approach to Kalaw.

Three Day / Two Night Treks.
Kalaw – Inle Lake.
Day 1. (6 hours trekking)

This morning we leave Kalaw for the Palaung village of Look Pyin and then continue to the Pa-O villages of Char Pin and Nantalete. After a break we continue to our destination for the day, Baw Nin Gone village where we overnight at a local home or the village monastery.

Day 2. (7 hours trekking)

After breakfast trek to the Pa-O village of Htut Khaung and onward to Kone Hla. Take a break, then continue to the Pa-O village of Pauk Tu and our destination, Hti Thein. There is a lovely view from here across the plain to Inle Lake. Overnight at a monastery or local home.

Day 3. (8 hours trekking)

Today we proceed to Kyauk Su and the Taung Thu tribal village of Ngue through beautiful scenery. After a break we continue onto the Intha village of Than Daung and finally to the jetty on Inle Lake itself. A boat meets us here for the final journey to your local accommodation.

Kalaw – Pindaya.
Day 1. (7 hours trekking)

Set off after breakfast for the Danu village of Myinkha and continue on from there to the village of Zaydigone. There is a panoramic viewpoint along the way offering views towards the Loikaw Dam in the east, and Yataung Hill to the west. The trek carries on to Shan Thaye village where we can stop at the cave pagoda with its Buddha images. After a break we continue to Naungye and Thityarbin village. Here we overnight in a monastery or local home.

Day 2. (6 hours trekking)

This morning our aim is to trek to Yepoke, Kyaung Soe Kong and Thitpok villages. After a break we cross the Aungban – Ywar Ngn road to Mintaingbin village where we can rest before the half-hour climb uphill to the Palaung village of Taungmyintgyi. Overnight in a local home of monastery.

Day 3. (8 hours trekking)

The last day takes through Palaung territory to Yasakyi. After a rest continue onto Menetaung and Pinseinpin. Take a break here before the next stretch, to Htinshugone and the Danu village of Taungbawgyi. After a look around the village we finish this enjoyable trek by completing the final stretch to Pindaya.

Myanmar Cycling Tours  can arrange visits to Kalaw from Yangon, Mandalay, Bagan and Kengtung by air, via the local regional airport at Heho. If you are touring Myanmar by car, Kalaw can be reached after a full day drive from Bagan, Mt Popa, Mandalay or Taungoo. Kalaw is about a two-hour drive from Pindaya, and a similar distance from Inle Lake. A popular option after arriving at the airport in the morning, is to visit Pindaya (famous for its cave pagoda) during the day, and then continue onto Kalaw in the late afternoon.

Kalaw boasts some very atmospheric and comfortable places to stay and many people stay several days, spending their time walking to various local villages and viewpoints. Overnight treks that return to Kalaw the following day are also popular. Kalaw is also the starting point for the famous and very popular 3 day, 2 night treks to Inle Lake, as well as the less well known, similar length trek to Pindaya. If you would like to arrive in Kalaw via these treks we can also organise the treks in reverse.

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