Kalaw is a gorgeous and appealing hill town in Kalaw Township, Taunggyi District, in the Shan State of Myanmar. Its setting offers the panoramic view of the rugged mountain scene which inspires every thrill-seeker and artist.
The town has an elevation of 1320m, around 50km from the idyllic Inle Lake, and 70km west of Taunggyi. The key of this hill town lies in the unique and exciting trekking, which also relates to the activity of photography and art. Kalaw itself is blessed with the laid-back vibe, the fresh air, and the picturesque landscape. While some appreciate the view of the colonial buildings along the trekking routes, the others admire the natural conditions for trekking with the forested hill, the challenging trails, and the primeval forest. In some points, the trekkers can see the traditional ethnic villages, the flower-lined streets, and the Buddhist temples, etc. And if trekking further, you reach the interesting Inle Lake – home to the unique leg-rowing style in Myanmar.
What to see and do
Walking tour to Kalaw Town
Besides groups of colonial buildings, Kalaw Town owns the bustling market in the center of the town for people around the hill to sell their items. Just a walk around the town, you will be interested in the local stylish food stall, café, and restaurant. Don’t miss the culinary chance to experience the local cuisine! There must be some dishes that you desire to taste.
Also, you might come across the sparkling Aung Chan Tha Stupa which is characterized with the silver-and-gold glass mosaics. Take pictures of the extraordinary and iconic stupa in the town, and then share with the world that you are here, in Kalaw, to capture the flashy Aung Chan Tha Stupa. Whether you’re keen on sightseeing or actual experiencing the local lifestyle, then a town tour is fun and knowledgeable.
Passing by the lively town, are you ready to trek? For exploring the ethnic lifestyle fully, it’s recommended to experience the long trekking of two or three days. The trekking trails might allow you to meet some ethnic people of Danu, Pa-O, Taung Yo, and Palaung. Perhaps, you’re the seasoned trekkers already, but the best trekking in Kalaw should go with the knowledgeable guides. They help point out the exact location of the hill tribe villages, the hidden pagodas, and the magnificent hilltop. You can reach out the good guides via the travel agents’ or the hotel’s support. Otherwise, it is possible to trek solo. But notice that most of the local villages are unlikely to speak English! Therefore, the safe trekking requires you to have GPS, the pre-loaded map, or the map in hand. In fact, trekking opportunities are boundless in the trekking mecca – Kalaw.
How to get there
By air: The flights arrive at Heho Airport, which is 26km southeast of Kalaw. The domestic flights to Kalaw can be from the locations of Yangon, Mandalay, Bagan, Kyaing Tong, Lashio, or Tachileik. From the Heho Airport, take a taxi to reach the town center or your booked hotel. For saving some dollars and cents, it’s advised to book the taxi service in advance through your hotels. Otherwise, there are choices of buses and pick-up trucks.
By road: Of course, people can drive to Kalaw. Just around 70km from Taunggyi to the west and 50km from Inle Lake, Kalaw can be reached smoothly by road. Check if you can find any motorbike or car rental service in your place to self-drive to Kalaw. Alternatively, buy the bus/coach ticket to get there.