Prior to traveling around Myanmar we already heard nice stories about the treks there and were very excited to join one of them as well. Exploring rural life in Myanmar and its local culture and nature while doing some exercise was definitely something we wanted to do while visiting the country. Myanmar’s trekking mecca is located in Kalaw, a colonial town located in the northern Shan state. We heard about a great trek going from here all the way to the beautiful Inle Lake, from which we already wrote about in our prior post on Discovering Scenic Inle Lake. Getting there was another great experience – and so our Kalaw trekking adventure began!
After surviving our adventurous 24-hour train ride from Hpa-An we finally reached the town of Kalaw. The town itself is packed with smaller hotels and guesthouses with many of them offering guides and treks to Inle Lake and other places. It was not that easy to choose from but we eventually opted for the guide offered to us by the guesthouse we stayed in called Golden Lilly Guesthouse – perhaps not the best place to stay but they offered nice treks. The entire trek would last for 3 days and 2 nights, taking us through rural hill tribe villages and beautiful landscapes. The cost was around $35/person and included all overnights and food, along with a guide. In total we would walk around 60 kilometers, so roughly 20 kilometers a day! Meeting up with our fellow trekkers we started our hike out of town and commenced on a great journey.
The first day took us through some great hill treks, offering us beautiful scenic views across the landscape of the Taunggyi province. We also passed by the village of our guide who introduced us to his family and home and gave us a nice insight into the rural life. More beautiful landscapes passed until we finally reached a small village on top of a hill which would be our stay for the night. Our overnight was a large house with many mattresses where the entire group would sleep in one big room. It was comfortable and we were happy to rest after a long day’s trek.
The second day started early with a quick hand-wash ‘shower’ and a great breakfast in the neighboring house. Interestingly, they have a fireplace inside the house where all the food is being prepared. It was delicious, home-cooked vegetarian food that gave us enough strength for the day. We passed by more villages, had a nice swim in the river and were able to see local handicraft being produced. The day ended at a monastery in which we would also end up sleeping in. We met with monks, played football with them and listened to their prayers. Our dinner was inside the monastery as well and we enjoyed every bite of it. It was a great experience and we really loved this part of the trek.
The third and last day of the trek took us past some more beautiful landscapes and sceneries and finally brought us to beautiful Inle Lake. It greeted us with lush green fields and waterways and perfectly concluded our amazing Kalaw trekking experience.
We highly recommend this trek and highly suggest you to experience it the way we did. As tourism is growing rapidly in Myanmar it will most probably also get more crowded in the years to come and perhaps lose its charm. We had a great time discovering local village life, living the rural culture and seeing some amazing Myanmar landscapes. The trek as such was quite tiring at times, especially during the hot and dry season. Yet, it was definitely worth the effort and we loved it. Make sure you wear comfortable clothes and proper shoes and bring some warm clothes along as it can get a bit cold during the nights. Do not expect much comfort and be prepared for some tougher hikes in between. We do hope to have given you some inspiration to go and discover this area by yourself and experience the beautiful rural side of Myanmar!