The rural side of Myanmar in the beautiful town of Kalaw
If you like hiking in the middle of nature, through spectacular highland scenery and small villages inhabited by different ethnic groups, Kalaw is the right choice. In western Shan State, Kalaw is an old British hill station surrounded by green pine forest with original colonial-era buildings and a laid back atmosphere, refreshing climate and scenic views.
It also boasts an attractive central market where occasionally traders from nearby hill-tribe villages sell and buy their goods. Kalaw is very popular for offering the best trekking in the country with its several daily exploration routes through its hills and villages, especially for the multi-day “Kalaw to Inle Lake” trek.
We arranged our trip with a local guide choosing a daily route through Myinka and Peinnepin. It was a fantastic experience to see how the locals live in these remote villages, growing the fields and graze the cattle. We first visited a traditional Taungyo village, with a monastery, small school, and bamboo houses surrounded by green mountains all around. Continuing our hike, the landscape becomes amazing: the paddle fields were so green that it was hard to believe we were in Myanmar.
Here we could see how the farmers grow the terrain with rice, ginger, cauliflower, potatoes, etc. The first thing that stroke us was the contrast between the dark-red ground and the bright green of the cultivations. The second stop was at Peinnepin, a traditional Palaung village, where we had a tasty lunch with local food like fried noodles and vegetables. After lunch we spent half an hour walking in the village, then we went back to Kalaw having a stroll through the town.
The next day, before leaving to Pindaya caves, we visited the beautiful market with its many stalls. The best day to have a look and taste the daily life of the locals is during the ‘’5 days rotating market’’, where all the minority groups come here to sell and buy.
Need to Know
1. How to get there: the easiest way is by bus. The bus stop is on the main road next to the market. There are buses from/ to Yangon, Bagan, Mandalay and Inle Lake (Nyaung Shwe). Check our Myanmar itinerary to find out how to move around Myanmar and other useful information.
2. Where to sleep: Kalaw is a small town, and around the centre, you’ll find several budgets and mid-range accommodations. We slept at Winner Hotel. In the town centre, you’ll also find some good local restaurants. We ate at Thirigayha restaurant. Click here to see the restaurants in Kalaw.
3. Trekking: In Kalaw, you’ll see dozens of tour agencies ready to guide you for a daily exploration or to Inle Lake. Also, guest houses offer their guided hike tour too. If you need, for more information, you can contact in advance Ko Min Kalaw trekking service (firstname.lastname@example.org), Mr Aung trekking service (email@example.com), Ever smile trekking service (eversmiletrekking@