Kalaw started life as a backcountry hill station, built by British colonialists escaping the tropical heat of lower-lying regions. It’s set at altitude of 1320 above sea level – where the air is cool and the atmosphere tranquil – and its old-world colonial charm never fails to beguile its visitors. Kalaw is the gateway to some of the best trekking trails in Myanmar.
With the British, came Nepalese and Indian migrants, and that mix of cultures still exists today. The way of life for the local hill tribes has remained largely unchanged and the colourful morning market is a rewarding cultural experience. It’s a great opportunity to find local crafts like cigars rolled from the leaf of thanatphet trees or photograph multicoloured heaps of chillies. If you’re interested in the local food, a bowl of Shan noodles is essential.
Holidays to Kalaw mostly appeal to trekkers and intrepid adventurers seeking that highly sought-after off-the-beaten-track experience. The scenery is breathtaking: undulating mist-shrouded mountains, thick rolling pine forests, winding rivers and bamboo groves. Crumbling temples and ornate pagodas pepper the landscapes, seemingly lost in time.
50km to the east lies Inle Lake, a placid fresh water expanse 22km long and 10km wide, fringed by swathes of tall reeds. Here, the Intha people going about their time-honoured way of life on tiny fishing boats.
The famous pilgrimage site at Pinadaya sits between Kalaw and Lake Inle, where thousands of ancient and intricate Buddha statues adorn the walls of its three caves.
When booking with Lightfoot Travel, our Myanmar specialists will tailor your Kalaw holiday to your exact requirements, while offering impartial advice on the most suitable accommodation for you.