This hiking-based itinerary is the ultimate way to get off the tourist trail. Visit small village communities and discover the Myanmar that many others miss. From remote Loikaw and picturesque Kengtung to the rolling flower fields of Chiang Rai, this is a superb overview of Myanmar and Northern Thailand’s beautiful landscapes. Be part of an excellent community-based tourism initiative that educates travellers about traditional villages around Pemsong. Embark on an awe-inspiring two-day hike from Kalaw to Inle Lake, staying overnight in a local monastery or guesthouse
Venture via Yangon to the remote hills of Loikaw, your jumping-off point to the traditional villages and age-old cultures of a Myanmar less seen. Hike to the dramatic mountain-top location of Pan Pet and meet the charismatic and colourfully dressed Kayan people. Journey on foot from Kalaw to Inle Lake, through villages where the handmade and homespun still reign supreme. From the gorgeous village of Kyaingtong, travel through the Golden Triangle and on to Chiang Rai and Bangkok, where a world of Thai treasures await.
ITINERARY CHANGES IN 2018: Please refer to Important Notes for more information.
Breakfast Included: 11 Lunches Included: 4 Lunches Included: 1
Min Gala Ba! Welcome to Myanmar. Yangon is the country's biggest city and was the capital from 1885 until just a few years ago (the capital is now Naypyidaw). Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader. To get your bearings in this wonderful city, perhaps take a walk to Sule Paya, then down to the Victorian Strand Hotel to admire the colonial architecture and the bargaining madness of Bogyoke Market.
Departing in the early afternoon, fly to Loikaw (approximately 1 hour). Transfer to your hotel and settle in. With free time up your sleeve, perhaps visit the local museum. Later you will take a vehicle transfer to Taung Kwe Zedi, also known as the Broken Mountain Pagoda. Here you can take in a nice view towards the town and, if the skies are clear, enjoy a spectacular sunset.
After breakfast at the hotel, drive out to a local village (approximately 1.5 hours). Here you'll see a few sights and enjoy some tea at a Kayan house. After this, it's time for your day trek (approximately 5 hours). You'll be given a packed lunch for the journey. The trek is organised by an NGO-supported, community-based association which has sought to develop sustainable tourism in the area. Start by walking through lush and shady forest where edible plants and medicinal herbs grow (these are used by community members in a ‘jungle larder’). A highlight of today's trek is stopping in at the original settlement of Pan Pet, which is perched on a mountain top. After lunch, continue to Rang Ku village where your walk finishes up. Meet some fun-loving and artistic Kayan locals (popularly known as 'Long Neck Karen') and learn a few words of their language as you interact with them. There are also opportunities to buy local handicrafts. Drive back to Loikaw, stopping at Ngwe Taung Dam for a short walk.
Drive to Kalaw via Phekhone (approximately 4 hours). Along the way you will enjoy the sight of marvellous landscapes, and stop in at the unique Myin Mahti. This natural cave houses an interesting array of ancient Buddha images. At the entrance of the cave there are many stalactites, and cool water drips steadily. Many of the stalectites bear a likeness to things in life and have been named accordingly. After some exploring, continue your journey to Kalaw, a town known for its striking original colonial architecture.
Transfer by car from your hotel to your trek starting point. It takes about 40 minutes to get to La Mine Taung Yoe village. After walking (approximately 2 hours) from La Mine village, arrive to Pin New, the Pao village where you can see traditional hand weaving. From there it's a further stretch (approximately 30 minutes) to Pauke village, which is famous for bamboo basket making. From there you will continue to walk (approximately 1 hour) to the village of Kone Hla (Danu) for a lunch stop. In the afternoon, continue trekking (approximately 2 hours) to the final destination for the day, Pattubauk Village. Stay overnight in a village monastery or local house.
Enjoy some breakfast, then continue trekking to Inle Lake. Pass along beautiful, ambient trails and through different Pao villages. Stop to take in panoramic views along the way. Walk to Kyaut Su (approximately 1 hour) and take a short break, then continue to Nan Yoke Village (approximately 1 hour). From here, walk to Tone Le jetty (approximately 2 hours), or slightly further to Indein jetty (approximately 3 hours). At this point, transfer to a boat and cruise to the beautiful Inle Lake.
Start the day by heading out in a motorised boat. See daily life on the lake, including fisherman who use a distinctive leg-rowing technique on their boats. Cruise to floating tomato plantations and visit cottage industries such as silversmiths, weavers and cigar makers. If you’re lucky, you might even see the floating market which circles the lake every five days. Here you can buy traditional wares produced by the locals. For lunch you'll stop in at Phaung Daw Oo Paya, the most religious site in the region. Enjoy a bite to eat near the beautiful pagoda and take a quick look inside at the various images of Buddha. You can also see the golden barge used during the Phaung Daw Oo festival. Make a few more stops at villages to meet the locals, then head back to your accommodation in Nyaungshwe.
Fly to Kengtung and transfer to your hotel. The rest of the day is free time for sightseeing in Kengtung. Visit the standing Buddha at the place where Kengtung was founded about one thousand years ago. You can take the option of visiting the Roman Catholic Mission church, and see the sunset from the 'one tree hill' where a 245-year-old tree stands. This tree is believed to have been planted by king Alaungmintaya, the founder of the third Myanmar empire.
Start out by private vehicle (approximately 1 hour), into the Pintauk area with views of the surrounding rice fields. Visit the nearby Akha and Enn tribal villages. The Enn tribe live on the higher slopes and still hold different beliefs as well as having distinctively different costumes and sometimes black teeth. The walk today is approximately 4 hours in total. Return to Kengtung late in the afternoon.
Check out the Golden Triangle, the connection point between three countries – Thailand, Myanmar and Laos. This place is known for its history of opium growth and trade. Stop in at Tachileik and explore its huge and colourful market, then cross the border into Thailand at Mae Sai and connect with your arrival transfer. You will say goodbye to your Myanmar leader at this point, and meet your Chiang Rai local guide.You will be entering Chiang Rai, Thailand's northernmost province which boasts mountain ranges, flower fields and lush tea plantations. A boat ride at the Thai-Lao border, down the famous Mekong River, is a nice optional activity today. Arrive in the city of Chiang Rai and perhaps visit its downtown night market to sample some spicy local food.
Fly to Bangkok this morning (approximately 1.5 hours). Check into your hotel, meet your local guide, then enjoy some free time. Thailand's capital is awash with sights and sounds – perhaps do a little shopping, explore the tranquil canals, take an exhilirating tuk-tuk ride to Chinatown, wander down Khao San Road, or discover its pulsing nightlife. Visiting the Grand Palace is a nice optional activity, especially after dark when it really comes to life.
As your trip comes to an end, consider an Urban Adventure today – a great way to cut through the chaos and enjoy some of Bangkok's best.