Kalaw Complete Travel Guides

Kalaw is a highland town, an old hill station in Western Shan State that has a quiet atmosphere, fresh climate, original colonial-era buildings, and picturesque scene. This is the place for adventure and trekking lovers and even known as Myanmar’s trekking mecca.

It takes about 8 hours to transfer from Bagan to Kalaw, and 26 hours train journey from Yangon included 5 hours resting stop in Thazi at night. 

The nature is perfect with the landscapes mixed of not only green rice paddy fields, pine forests, tea plantations but also bamboo groves with rolling hills and a beautiful lake surrounding by green forests where the best spot for an unwinding swim.

In general, the climate in Kalaw has 3 seasons and is similar to the whole of Myanmar’s. But it is somehow different because of its high altitude and makes the weather here cool, pleasure, and comfortable all around the year. The average temperature is only 19 degrees Celsius brings your trip clear sky, warm days and cool nights. Please remember to bring your warm clothes at the time from Nov to Feb. You would catch the showers in the rainy season from May to Oct that sometimes make the going a bit tougher. There is no rain in the dry season from Dec to Jan but it is not hot as other areas of Myanmar. We might avoid the Aug as there is daily rainfall.

Late Oct and early Nov is the time of the Tazaungman Full Moon Festival with fireworks, music, and features street parades.

Kalaw Travel Guide 1

A farmer in Kalaw

The land is home of ethnic minority groups and you can easily meet Shan, Danu, Palaung and Pa-O people when trekking here. Go into the town, you would also explore the culture here through the local life and people. The central market is the best place to see a lively and colourful local life with villagers come to trade their products from surrounding areas. The locals here are quite familiar with foreigners so you are welcome to join the hustle and bustle markets and town. Next to the market, you will find the Aung Chang Tha stupa, which glitters with silver and gold glass mosaics.

Kalaw Travel Guide 2

A Pa-O Old Lady in Kalaw

The most popular trekking trail is from Kalaw to Inle Lake. It will take from two to five days depending on the typical route you choose.

If you don’t have much time or not yet being the professional trekker, you can try the trekking tour in 2 days and 1 night with ten kilometres. Taking your time with your rhythm to admire the nature, live with local people, explore the calm and peaceful life of the area, which is such a fantastic experience. More than that, the end of this trekking route is Tonle, a village at the foothills of the mountain surrounds Inle Lake, from which you will sail through numerous floating villages in the grass before into the centre of Nyaung Shwe. You will have a chance to watch another corner of Inle Lake which is most of the one-day-boat-tour in Inle will not pass by.

For two days one-night route, hiking toward the Inle Lake and overnight in homestay or monastery is one of the best choices. The longer route will give you more immersive experience by being a part of the local life of Danu, Pa-O, Palaung and Taung Yo ethnic groups.

Please be aware that the villagers are unlikely to speak any English. And you are recommended to have the phone with GPS enabled. It is so great if you have a Myanmar mobile network sim card, if not, do not forget to pre-load the maps when you have Wi-Fi.

Trekking is exciting but not an easy activity. It will take off your energy, especially with the noon passages, up hills constantly, hot weather or the time of changing from hot to cold weather in the late afternoon. To avoid being tired and lose your power, please well prepare:

- Bottle of water and snacks.
- Thin cotton clothes for day time and the warm for the colder afternoon.
- Digestive medicines.

The toilets in the mountainous areas have a limited standard. If you can, use the better ones in the town at foot of the mountain or schools.

Besides the main trekking routes here, there are few surrounding places you ride a bike and explore in a day trip in the beautiful nature.

Heading up to the Thein Taung pagoda and monastery, you can get an excellent view of Kalaw, the markets and the surrounding hills.

Hnee pagoda and the Shwe U Min pagoda are at the end of your pleasant walk, southwest of the central market. You will see a 500-year-old bamboo Buddha and a cave filled with golden Buddha statues.

You can recall the British colonial times on these walks and the ways in surrounding hills such as restored cottages, religious monuments of Christ the King Church. You can see the mixing between Buddhism and Christian here.

That is not all this land has, about 40km far from Kalaw, there is a spectacular elephant camp that founded to protect the ageing working elephants in the area. You can find the well-managed ecotourism here, and of course, you take a one-night-trek to the camp and overnight in a local village.

With the marvellous beauty nature, numerous religious sites, hill tribe villages, and multi-routes that are not always possible in other regions, Kalaw is worth being the most popular trekking destination of Myanmar.

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