The most northern state of Myanmar and the capital of Kachin State is Myitkyina. Laying on the west bank of the Ayeyarwady River and enjoying a sub tropical climate, Myitkyina literally means ‘near the big river’ and is home to some wonderful opportunities for cultural explorations and exciting adventures.
Not known for its architecture, Myitkyina is only home to handful of pagodas and temples. A must see being the Hsu Taung Pye Zedi Daw Pagoda. Despite its lack of religious sites, this small, timber town is best known for hosting two of Myanmar’s most notable festivals, the Manao Festival and the Lisu New Year. What Myitkyina lacks in impressive architecture, it makes up for in rich, cultural offerings. One of Myanmar’s most multi cultural and ethnically diverse regions, Myitkina promises an enriching and educational visit to any visitors who pass through. Welcoming locals in this largely Christian town come together from a mixture of Kachin, Lisu, Chinese and Burmese backgrounds.
Don’t miss the daily local markets at dawn where you can take the opportunity to mix with locals and immerse yourself in everyday life here. Purchase fresh, locally grown produce and sample local cuisine. When the heat of the town gets too much, Indawgyi Lake can provide the perfect respite. The biggest lake in Myanmar, Indawgyi holds mystical stories of a long lost ancient city that lies beneath.
Myitkyina is the perfect hub in which to explore Myit-Son, the beautiful site where the Mayhka and Malikha Rivers collide, and of course, the incredible Putao.
The tiny, adventure laden town of Putao sits proudly in the foothills of the Himalayas and offers endless exciting opportunities for adventure and serenity seekers alike to experience Myanmar in a way like no other. From hiking, to mountaineering and even white water rafting, this stunning mountainous town is the place to let your imagination run wild.
Well known for its rich culture, Myitkyina is best enjoyed around festival times. The Manao Festival is held annually around the 10th day of January. During the Manao Festival, all six of the Kachin tribes come together to eat, socialize and dance around totem poles. Another interesting and fun festival to be a part of is held annually at the end of January. The Lisu New Year sees the Lisu people dressed in traditional dress and taking part in a variety of mind boggling, long-established acts such as walking over knives.
No visit to Myitkyina is complete without a visit to the impressive Indawgyi Lake. The idyllic lake is Myanmar’s largest and holds many mystical stories that make it sacred to the local communities. It is widely believed that underneath the lake lies the remains of an ancient, long lost city. It is said that the city was once flooded by a dragon, and that his shadow can still be spotted circling the lake by those who look closely.
The lake makes for a wonderful morning or afternoon trip from the town and visitors often enjoy hikes up the golden mountain or around the lake. You can even sit back, relax and enjoy a relaxing boat ride to Shwe Myitzu Pagoda. There are a number of small, local eateries in the vicinity, all serving up fresh Shan coffee.
If you’re an early riser then you’re bound to be rewarded by the dawn markets held daily in Myitkyina. Not only are they the perfect place to indulge in local produce arriving by canoe, but they also offer magnificent scenes of the stunning river at sunrise and endless photo opportunities.
This local beauty spot is a favourite for hikers and picnickers and marks the place where the Mayhka and Malikha Rivers collide and become the famous Ayeyarwady River. Located 25 miles out of town and home to a traditional long house, striking pagoda and many local teahouses, Myit-Son makes for a refreshing and tranquil afternoon get away.
Hsu Taung Pye Zedi Daw Pagoda
Sitting proudly on the banks of the Ayeyarwady River, the Hsu Taung Pye Zedi Daw Pagoda is the region’s most sacred and most dazzling of religious sites. Interestingly, both the pagoda and its enormous 98 foot long reclining Buddha statue were funded by a Japanese soldier who served in the area during World War II.
By far one of the most exciting towns in the region, Putao is located in the very north of Myanmar and although, can be accessed by long, dangerous roads in the summer, it is most frequently only accessed by air. Beautifully nestled into the foothills of the Himalayas, it is not hard to see why this scenic town has grown in popularity and earnt itself a place on Myanmar’s tourist radar over recent years.
Most famous for its vast opportunities for outdoor adventures such as trekking, climbing, kayaking and white water rafting, Putao truly offers visitors the opportunity to experience a unique side of Myanmar. Littered with flora and fauna, most commonly orchids and home to a vast array of rare bird species, Putao is the perfect place for nature lovers to revel in Myanmar’s breath taking countryside.
Food and Drink
Food in Kachin State perfectly reflects the regions rich culture. Fresh fruit, rice and meat play a big part in daily diet and steamed river fish, cooked in Kachin spices, tomato and wrapped in banana leaf is in abundance. Be sure to sample the local sweet rice wine made by boiling together sugar, milk and sticky rice.