Kalaw is a hill station in Myanmar, constructed by the British in colonial times, at 1,3-0 meters above sea level.
The town still tastes like a high-altitude vacation resort – the air is fantastic, the atmosphere is peaceful, and the tree-lined streets still contain a smatter of colonial-era construction – while the neighboring hills are fine for easy day or overnight treks to Danaw, Danu, Pa-O, Palaung, and Taung Yo villages.
How to reach Kalaw?
If you are traveling from Bagan, you can get on a minibus that leaves at 08:00 Am, arriving in Kalaw around 15:00. Taxis headed towards Taunggyi depart Mandalay at 08:00 Am and arrive in Kalaw around 16:00.
Kalaw Trekking Guide
Kalaw offers a blend of trekking opportunities for the young audience. The town’s countryside is dotted with ethnic minority Hindu villages and agricultural lands growing oranges, ginger, cauliflower, tea, and other produce. Limited uncultivated, wild regions exist in the area surrounding the Kalaw’s water reservoir catchment. Trekking to Inle Lake is especially popular, with 2-day/1-night and 3-day/2-night options commonly available. Loop treks around the Kalaw region of diverse lengths are also possible. If you only have three days, it is a decent idea to go trekking one day about Kalaw and do the 1-night, 2-day trek to Inle Lake as it will give a wider variety of adventures, and you can enjoy the lovely mountain views from the hills around Kalaw.
Many trekking companies, which provide suitable treks through multiple regions with warm English-speaking locals, compete for business in the city. Many are connected with a guesthouse and will gladly visit you at yours to illustrate possible options. Better firms will make flexible itineraries, tailoring your memorable trip based on the level of hassle you can handle and the kinds of sights you’d like to see. Some guides are even able to make adjustments to your route during the trek, depending on conditions. Treks can be organized on-site, for the next day, or the same day easily.
Professionally guided treks in the Kalaw area are of excellent value. Expect to pay around 36,000 kyats for a group of three, 30,000 kyats/day for a group of two, or 40,000 kyats for four, including accommodation, all meals, and endless tea with meals. As most guests to Kalaw plan to trek, it is normally not difficult to meet others to form a group and thus suppress the per-person price.
Forwarding bags to a guesthouse in the Inle lake region should cost around 3,000 kyats per bag. You can reroute your luggage to the jetty at Inle lake, so you will be free to shop around hotels there.
During the high season, more than 150 people trek to Inle Lake daily. Those people will all have to homestay in the small villages. So be understanding when locals don’t want their pictures to be taken. Show them proper respect and dress in a polite way during the trek and in the lovely villages.
It is feasible to trek independently in the region. Most paths are not too challenging to carry a backpack on—natives usually use them to haul large amounts of farming produce on foot! If you own a GPS device, you can follow the trekking trails on one of the many websites and many mobile Apps like OsmAnd, MAPS.ME, etc. Generally, the main route is going south from Kalaw and then turning east slowly, reaching the lake’s southern end. Finding accommodation may be somewhat tricky if trekking independently. English speakers are rather uncommon in the villages surrounding Kalaw, but signaling you may want to sleep should not be too difficult.