Located high up in the western hills of Shan State, sits the fresh, cool, colonial hill station of Kalaw. Once a popular weekend getaway from the intense city heat, today Kalaw is famous for its rolling hill views, stunning scenery, endless adventures and plentiful trekking routes.
Whether you’re visiting to explore the infinate trekking opportunities, or just to breathe the fresh air and soak up the old, colonial charm, Kalaw offers something for everyone. From multi day treks through unrivalled countryside and local tribe villages, to shorter strolls to Kalaw’s glittering Hnee pagoda. Head through bustling local markets to enjoy endless religious sites such as Shwe U Min pagoda. Learn about Myanmar’s Christian influences at the notable Christ the King Church or immerse yourself in Kalaw’s cultural richness and join the monks at Thein Taung pagoda and monastery.
The fresh air, beautiful surroundings and laidback atmosphere in Kalaw make it the ideal getaway for a few days and the perfect spot to either unwind or feed your inner adventure seekers after days of sightseeing.
By far the best way to explore this exciting region is by bicycle, you’re sure never to be at loose end in this exciting town.
Kalaw’s local market is a sight to behold and definitely worth a visit. Selling everything from dried fruit, to local handicrafts, the market is held every 5 days and sees visitors and locals alike coming together to enjoy a morning of browsing and shopping.
Thein Taung pagoda and monastery
If you’re an early riser and fancy a leg stretch, the stroll up to Thein Taung pagoda and monastery is a nice one. You’ll be rewarded with fantastic views over the bustling market below as well as having the unique opportunity to observe the few monks here going about their daily lives and morning rituals.
Just southwest of the market you’ll find Hnee pagoda. Hnee pagoda offers the perfect opportunity for a gentle, independent stroll and is easy to get to. On arrival, be prepared to be welcomed by an impressive 500-year-old, sparkling golden bamboo buddha.
Not far from the Hnee pagoda, so ideal to explore on the same hike lays the Shwe U Min pagoda. Somewhat different to other pagodas, Shwe U Min is a natural cave and littered with golden Buddha statues. This surprising and unique sight really is worth exploring if you’re hiking or cycling around the area.
A stunning colonial building, and a must see whilst in Kalaw. This breath-taking church is well known for having the very same priest for almost 70 years and is beautiful example of modern-day Christian worship and its activity in Myanmar especially prominent on Sundays.
It’s no surprise that trekking is so popular in this part on the country. Not only are the scenic views completely breath taking, but the climate is perfect. Apart from shorter, enjoyable strolls through local sights, Kalaw is becoming increasing popular for its longer distance treks.
A comfortable distance for trekking to the infamous Inle Lake which sits just 50 kilometres away, the terrain is not too rough, the countryside unrivalled and this 2-3 day trek requires an immersive stopover or two in a local village, most often in a home stay. There are several routes to choose from but all of them will see you passing through friendly villages to stop for delicious meals and refreshing tea, meandering through local agricultural fields where locals grow everything from cabbages to tea. Needless to say, the Inle Lake treks are by far the most popular amongst visitors to the region and offer a wonderful explorative adventure experience.
As well as these longer treks, there are an abundance of enjoyable one day hikes on offer. Promising to immerse you deep in the Burmese countryside where you can enjoy passing through tea plantations, fruit orchards and soak up nature’s wonders in one of the most beautiful parts of the country.
The trekking options really are endless in this laid back, adventure filled town and can be enjoyed any time of the year, although cool seasons are often deemed more comfortable.
Food and Drink
The cuisine served up in Kalaw tends to be quite eclectic. With influences from India, Nepal and Britain mixing up the local Shan dishes, restaurants and food stalls are in abundance. Typical Shan noodles are popular here, and of course, Red Mountain wine brewed locally close to Inle Lake.