Some wonderful scenery
Most trekkers in these parts are trekking to Inle from Kalaw, but there’s no reason at all why you can’t do it in the opposite direction, or try a far less busy trek in the mountainous area east of Nyaung Shwe and Inle.
The Kalaw hike is extremely popular these days and a lack of too many routes and overnight stay options means that in busy periods you’ll encounter a lot of other hikers. When starting from Inle, the two main departure points are In Dein and Khaung Daing. Though group sizes are likely to be considerably smaller heading this way, you will of course encounter all the trekkers coming the other way. The classic version is three days, two nights, though a few shortcuts allow for a two-day, one-night version. You’ll pass numerous Pa-O villages and some Palaung ones and stay overnight in either monasteries or village homestays. Either way, it is a hilly and pretty tough trek. Low season sees far fewer people, but then the mountaintops are often cloud-covered during rainy season.
At least as rewarding are the treks into the eastern hills between Inle Lake and Kakku district, to the south of Taunggyi. These can be adapted to one-, two- or three-day programmes.
A one-day version leaves Nyaung Shwe at 08:00 and a walk of around 20 kilometres sees you finish in Maing Thauk around 15:00 or 16:00. A return by boat to Nyaung Shwe costs 8,000 extra for up to five people. The route involves a fair amount of ascents and descents but scenery and views are great and it includes a cave temple, Htet Eain, plus a couple of Pa-O villages in the hills east of Red Mountain Estate.
The two-day version in the same direction includes a mountain monastery, Yin Pyar and a Palaung village as well as Pa-O settlements. Overnight is either at the monastery or in a village and all meals are included. An interesting three-day trip finishes at the Kakku pagoda complex before a return to Nyaung Shwe by road. Guides (generally Pa-O) are of course variable in quality and language skills, so we’d recommend meeting your guide before committing yourself. You need a reasonable fitness level to complete the longer treks.
Numerous agents in town organise these and similar trips. Our sample prices below are from helpful Thu Thu Travel on Yone Gyi Street.
One-day: One person, 15,000 kyat; two and up 12,000 per person.
Two-day, one-night: One person 50,000 kyat; two and up 35,000 per person.
Three-day, two-night: One person 120,000 kyat; two and up 45,000 per person.
We realise prices don’t make mathematical sense but that’s what we were told. Rates include simple meals and basic accommodation.
Thu Thu Travel: Yon Gyi St; T: (081) 209 258, (094) 100 3892; email@example.com; open daily 08:00-20:00.
Based in Chiang Mai, Mark Ord has been travelling Southeast Asia for over two decades and first crossed paths with Travelfish on Ko Lipe in the early 1990s.
These tours are provided by Travelfish partner GetYourGuide.
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