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Kalaw is a sleepy market town, sitting on the western edge of the Shan plateau at 1320 metres above sea level, and was once very popular with the British in colonial times. The town is a mix of old colonial and wooden Shan style houses sprawling out over this hilly town, where the diverse population includes Indians, Shan, Bamar and Nepalese (Gurkhas retired from British military service). The surrounding countryside with gnarled pines, bamboo groves and minority villages is a trekker's delight with walks to cater to all levels of fitness.
It is possible for those who wish to do a trek from Kalaw to Inle lake sleeping en route in a monastery and a village chiefs house. This is a very rustic trip but a beautiful way in which to experience the slow and tranquil pace of rural Shan life. An hours' drive from Kalaw are the Pindaya caves. The beautiful drive to Pindaya takes you through charming countryside not unlike rural England. You will pass groups of Pa-O in wide brimmed hats, resting under the shade of mature old trees. At Pindaya you will find a picturesque lake and an interesting local market as well as the caves containing over 8,000 images on Buddha. Northwest of Pindaya are the Padah-Lin-Caves which are perhaps more interesting and certainly more important than Pindaya. These prehistoric caves have early paintings dating back as far as 11,000 years which have been compared to the Neolithic cave paintings found in Europe.
Hsipaw is very much off the beaten track. Accommodation is rustic, the food is simple but good and the transport is functional. But do not let this put you off. For those wishing to really venture off the beaten track, in this world of heavily trodden paths then Hsipaw is a charming little town in the northwestern Shan state. The only way in which to reach Hsipaw is along the Burma Road from Maymyo as there is no airport.
Accommodation here in Hsipaw stretches to one option, Mr Charles Guesthouse which is clean, quiet and perfectly pleasant but not smart at all. Dining out in Hsipaw is not really a gourmet experience. Law Chun or Mr Food as it is sometimes called is the most popular joint in town serving curries with rice, noodles, Chinese food and cold beer with an English language menu. There are numerous small noodle stalls around town from which you can grab a snack.
Best time to be thereMyanmar (Burma) has three clear seasons: from March to May are the very hot summer months, the wet and humid monsoon runs from May to October and the cold dry winter lasts from November to February. The best time of year to visit is late November early December when the rains have gone, the landscape is lush and green and the skies are crystal clear. However any time from late November to March is a good time to travel.
Yangon (Thai Airways via Bangkok)
12 hours 55 minutes via Bangkok
GMT +6 1/2 hours
Required for UK passport holders
Yellow Fever certificate if arriving from an endemic area
Our experts can tailor-make the perfect holiday to suit your individual requirements, however, if you need inspiration or a starting point, below are some of our suggested trips and experiences:
Nights: 10 | from £4,595pp
Myanmar & the Irrawaddy, visiting Yangon, Inle Lake, Mandalay,The Irrawaddy River And Bagan Find out more
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I would also like to make special mention of Thida Win - she is an absolutely wonderful guide - very kind, patient, knowledgeable and a consummate professional in undertaking her job. She made sure that everything happened seamlessly without any hitches whatsoever - she is a great advert for A&K and for Myanmar.