- Encounters with locals
- Hiking / Trekking
- Off the beaten track
Kalaw is a small town located at quite high altitude in Shan State, in the Burma's north. It's a destination to include in your tour of the country.
One of the main reasons to visit Kalaw is to go trekking to Inle Lake. My trek lasted for three days and two nights, during which I slept in a monastery along with the rest of the group and my guide. We were six people in my group, though you can opt to go with less people if your prefer smaller numbers.
During the trek I passed through a multitude of little villages inhabited by Shan tribes, each of with has its own dialect and traditions. I also passed through immense fields of rice, chili peppers and ginger. The landscapes are magnificent. Children came to greet me at the entrances to the villages. What lovely memories!
Kalaw is located in Burma's highlands and the trip by bus is quite spectacular, as long as you don't suffer from vertigo. In Kalaw, it is nice to relax out in the fresh mountain air, to watch the sun going down from the high bars lining the main street, or to visit the impressive central market.
However, for those visiting Burma, Kalaw mainly serves as an obligatory starting point for treks to Lake Inle. In my case, I chose a two-day trek. The scenery was incredible, the trek not too difficult, and it's also the chance to meet and interact with the locals. We got invited to a traditional marriage for example. Absolutely worth recommending!
The scenery around Kalaw is really beautiful. You walk through mountain landscapes and come across little tribal villages along the way. You can stop off in some of them for a bite to eat and a charming welcome from the locals. You must have a guide if you're trecking because the trails aren't marked out. Most hotels offer trekking in the region.
If you have time, it's worth visiting Pindaya as well as Kalaw, on the way from Bagan, before you reach Inle Lake.
Because Kalaw is in the mountains, the climate is relatively pleasant. Winter is chilly, so bring jumpers, and summer is relatively spared from the rainy season compared to Yangon.