Rustic Kalaw, Myanmar


The small hill town of Kalaw in Myanmar


Nestled in the misty blue hills of Shan state in Myanmar, Kalaw was founded as a hill station by the British. With a laid back vibe, cool & refreshing climate and scenic views of the hills, Kalaw is a good base for treks around the area.

The Moon from our window in Kalaw
The Moon from our window in Kalaw

Surrounded by the Shan hills, Kalaw is great to relax, enjoy the view and that’s exactly what we did for next two days! Other than cycling around the small hill town exploring nearby monasteries, pagodas & the market at leisure.

Streets of Kalaw
Streets of Kalaw
Golden Pagoda at sunset
Buddha idols at the pagoda
Glowing in the evening light surrounded by trees
One of the monastery complexes at Kalaw
Kalaw Market
Dried tea leaves inside Kalaw Market
Shan food in Kalaw
Soup Noodles & Avocado salad

Nepalese & Indian food is popular in Kalaw, but we spent a day sampling local Shan food and a visit to the local market where villagers from surrounding hills come to sell their produce & crafts. Other than clothes & winter wear, dried tea leaves, fermented tea leaves, fresh fruits from around the region, dried flour cakes (papad), pickles, spices, herbs, dried meat, local street food and salads, there was also a wet market section with fresh vegetables & meat. Did you know the Burmese use tea leaves as a food ingredient? Other than brewing tea, the leaves are fermented to make a special Burmese tea-leaf salad. And avocados mostly used in salads are commonly available in restaurants and streets!

Bodhi tree at Thein Taung Pagoda
Thein Taung Pagoda & monastery at Kalaw, Myanmar

Thein Taung pagoda and monastery is a short walk up a nearby hill. With beautiful views of the town and the surrounding hills, it’s quite rewarding to spend time at the Buddhist monastery and see the daily life of young Buddhist monks who call it home.

Two young Buddhist monks take turns to ride a bicycle without a front tyre!
While others play football, one takes a selfie!
Outside the monastery, ready to play!
A young Buddhist monk inside Thein Taung monastery and another outside his home nearby.

It was playtime for the young monks when we reached and they were getting ready to play football in the courtyard. While two monks got a bicycle without a tire and took turns riding on the mud path, there was one who was taking a selfie with the back camera of an old phone! While I saw these monks playing inside the monastery, there was this boy nearby trying to fly a kite outside his house. A small video from inside the study hall at the monastery.

Beautiful colours at Sunsets over Kalaw, Myanmar
Kalaw Sunsets
Sunsets over Kalaw, Myanmar

The monastery is a great place to catch a sunset even though it gets crowded with tourists by evening. After a beautiful sunset over the town of Kalaw, it was time to prepare for the 3-day trek to Inle Lake through tribal villages of the Shan hills. A 60 km hike through gentle rolling hills with colorful fields of vegetables, spices and avocado trees, home stays in Bamboo huts and local village life.

Trek from Kalaw to Inle Lake

But before that some rules on “How to be a Better Traveller” in Myanmar! ( You can view the above image in full size image by clicking on it) This was on the wall at our tour guide’s office and he insisted everybody reads them before we start the trek; a great way to learn and a reminder to respect the people & culture of the places we travel to!

For more on Myanmar and the ingenious Intha people of Inle Lake, my previous post on Lotus weavers of Inle Lake. See more pictures from my travels to Myanmar.


5 Comments Add yours

  1. arv! says:

    Beautiful images. I have never heard about this place…never knew Burma has a hill station

    1. Ritu Saini says:

      Thanks Arv 🙂 Not very highly elevated ones but Burma does have hill stations. It was nice to feel a little chill in the air at not more than 1350 Mtrs elevation.

      1. arv! says:

        great to hear this Ritu. Wish to explore Burma, someday!

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