Kalaw is a small hill town located in Shan State. Kalaw offers refreshing atmosphere, cool climate and beautiful scenic spots. The town offers pristine beauty, unspoiled by human intervention and is away from the mass tourist crowd. It is popular for trekking activities and has several trekking routes through the scenic Shan Hills. Kalaw exhibits the heavy influence of the colonial period. The colonial-era buildings with time-old train tracks take tourists back in time. Ethnic groups living in the surrounding Shan hills participate in the Kalaw market once every five days. During these days, the market becomes busy and vibrant.During colonial times, Kalaw was used by the British to escape the hot weather of the country. Kalaw hosts a heavy influence of the colonial era with British colonial buildings and train tracks that date back to that time.
HOW TO GET THERE
Kalaw is located about an hour’s drive from Heho Airport. Heho Airport is well-coonected with the rest of the country and taxi rental services are available outside the airport.
Buses are also available between Yangon to Taunggyi ( drop off service at Kalaw) and between Bagan and Kalaw.
Regular trains are available between Kalaw and Yangon. The train station is located only half a kilometer away from Kalaw city centre. Train services are Yangon to Kalaw, Mandalay to Kalaw, Bagan Nyaung Oo to Kalaw, Kyaing Tong to Kalaw, Lashio to Kalaw and Tachileik to Kalaw.
Kalaw is surrounded by stunning green hills on all sides which presents a spectacular view. The town itself is pretty small with a bustling city centre and market with the best food joints in the town. Ethnic groups from the surrounding hills participate in this market once every five days. On these days, the market transcends into a bustling place where fresh local produce is sold and purchased.Aung Chan Tha Zedi Pagoda is located in the city centre, which gleams in the daylight as it is covered in gold and silver-coloured glass. A 20-minute walk will take you to a temple with a 500-year old bamboo image of Buddha. You can climb up to the Thein Taung Paya Monastery to enjoy a panoramic view of the entire town.Kalaw is mostly used as a destination to enjoy treks through the Shan Hills. These routes vary in difficulty level and take from half-a-day to several days in length. The most common trek involves travelling to Inle Lake, which takes 3 days to complete. If you are not much of a trekker, you can hire a motorbike from the market and ride around the winding roads.
THINGS TO DO
As Kalaw is popular for trekking, it’s definitely a must-do activity ,if you are a nature lover. Several trekking routes are available from Kalaw with varios routes and difficulty levels and lasts from half-a-day to several days. On the routes, you will be able to visit tribal villages around Kalaw and Inle Lake. Sightseeing in the villages, trekking among villages, trekking among vegetable farms and forest mountains are the main attraction of this trip. All of the villages are situated on the high altitude and most of the trekking times are among the forest hills. You can enjoy the nice weather and gain unity along the trip. Home stay overnight at local villages is available in some trekking routes. Trekking at Kalaw can offer you the opportunity to immerse yourself in the cultures of some ethnic groups with extraordinary scenery.
Biking lovers can hire a mountain bike and enjoy a ride through the spectacular hills. The winding roads take you through the lush green hills, making it a fun way to explore and visit Inle Lake. Bikes are available for rent at shops in the market. Off-road motor biking service supported by fully safe biker wears and skillful guides is also available in Kalaw.
GREEN HILL VALLEY ELEPHANT CAMP
Located a 45-minute drive away, this ethical elephant camp is a fun way to spend your day. You can bathe, pet, feed the elephants and their habitat. The elephant camp also serves authentic and delicious traditional lunches. It is a good option for a day trip from Kalaw.
ENJOY THE SUNRISE/SUNSET
When the sun goes down slowly behind the green hills, Kalaw is transformed into a picture-postcard place. Adore the amazing sunrise or sunset from the Thein Daung Monastery located on the top of the hill, or the World Peace Pagoda. Both of these places offer a 360-degree view of the surrounding hills and town.