Trekking and hiking in Myanmar
Trekking and hiking are the best option to discover the countryside, villages and natural beauty of Myanmar but also, and mainly, to meet people from the 137 ethnic groups of Myanmar. Villages have not changed, as soon as you leave the main road, you are in villages and countryside as they were before the opening of the country, for some places (most) as they were hundreds years ago.
People are always very friendly and happy to meet foreigners (as long as you act decently and respect local customs). You will enjoy trekking and hiking in Myanmar.
At today, and because of unfortunates' security problems (2018), there are only fours mains regions where you can do trekking and hiking :
Chin state (west part of the country)
Hsipaw in the north Shan state.
Kentung and the golden triangle area.
Inle Lake (Pindaya, Kalaw and some parts nearLoikaw).
All Sagain area, Katchin areas, North Arakan, North Kayen, north Shan, Chinese border, Thai border are closed and/or not suitable for trekking.
When we are talking about trekking or hiking, we mean trekking and hiking organized by a local travel agency with a local team which is used to do that, with a guide who knows the area.
It is very easy to discover by yourself villages, countryside, hidden monasteries etc... And we really recommend you to stop your car as much as you can to have a walk by yourself. But, if you are planning to do a real trekking or hiking 4-6 hours a day in the countryside, you mean a real professional structure. Unfortunately, some regions are not secure, some regions need specific guides or a real knowledge before going even for one day.
Chin state : West side of Myanmar
Currently (2018), most of the trekking and hiking in the Chin state are around Minda and the mount Victoria (Kampellet). This is the area of the tattooed Chin women. This practice is theoretically forbidden by the central government but as soon as you leave the main two cities (Mindat and Kampellet), you will see teen and young women with tattoos on their face. This tradition is still alive.
The Chin state is superb, people very friendly and they will welcome you at any time (even for breakfast) to drink the local millet beer.
It is possible to walk only one day and sleep in a hotel or guest house, or even do a trek during 3 or 4 days.
Important points :
Elevation is between 2 000 and 3 000 meters.
It is cold to very cold and windy in winter (0-5 C°)
Slope (especially for 3-4 days treks) are quite important (800 to 1 000 m per day) and slopes are very steep.
The soil is a little rocky, not so stable, you need good shoes
The region is very authentic, very few tourists, it is real pleasure to discover this area.
During trekking (more than one day), night accommodations are very very simple (no hot water, no electricity, bathroom, and toilets in the garden...if any)
Kentung : Golden triangle area
You do not have to walk too long (2 at 5 hours per day).
Slopes are more gentle than in Chin state, and you just need good tennis shoes.
This is a superb region to do hiking or small trekking. At present (2018), it is still not possible to stay sleeping at night in the village. You must go back to sleep in Kentung.
Let's be clear, the Myanmar side of the Golden Triangle is much more interesting than the Thai side, more authentic, more ethnic group, lest tourists. This is really the best place to discover 5 or 6 ethnic group.
Importants points :
You have many ethnic groups. This is probably the place where you can meet so many ethnic groups in Myanmar.
Access is only by plane to Kentung or by road from Tachileck (Thai border).
You must hire a guide, you cannot go on your own.
The best is to stay 3 days in Kentung, so your total time to spend will be 5 days (one day to come, one day to leave).
Naga men in their village upon our arrival (they were building a house).
Hispaw (nord Shan state)
Hsipaw is a small city on the road from Mandalay to Lashio (not far from Lashio), in the northern Shan state. The city is small (a big village), it is a nice starting point for a day walk in the countryside or even 2 days 1-night trekking.
Hsipaw is also a famous starting point if you are planning to take the train back to Pyin Oo Lwin or Mandalay and crossing the very famous Gotheik viaduct (another good reason to come to Hsipaw).
Hikkes are easy, with a gentle slope, not so steep and not very important (300-400 m maximum).
You can do day trek, or 2 days trekking (no more).
Access to Hsipaw is only by road (car or bus).
Security is average or bad in this area (especially in the city of Kyaukme located on the northwest side of Hsipaw). We are obviously very careful with all security problems. Currently, our trekkings are in an area which is considered safe for tourist (even by the Myanmar authorities). Nevertheless, we always keep our customers aware of any chance in this area, and we strongly recommend you to double check before doing trekking in this area. Work only with a knowledgeable travel agency or hiking companies. At today (2018), whatever local people or hiking groups may tell you, we advise you NOT to do trekking around Kyaukme, or worst near the Kyaukme Mogok road.
Shaman and astrologer near Mount Victoria
Kalaw - Inle
This is a classic and well-known area for trekking and hilling in Myanmar. This is a classic, so you have tourists, especially between Kalaw and Inle.
There are some very goods reasons why this area is a very good one for trekking. :
Security is very good.
Walks are quite easy (4h to 5h per day) with very gentle slope (300-400 m)
Access to the departure point is very easy : bus, car, plane, train etc...
It is very easy to include a trek in a program of visits in Myanmar. If you go to Inle (most people), you almost arrive at the starting point for the trek. It is a classic AND a good idea.
You can do 3 or 4 days trekking, you can sleep in monasteries or in private houses in villages.
Cost is lower than in Kentung or Chin hills (even if it is not really cheap).
There are only two weaks points : You may encounter other tourist and there is less ethnic group than in Kentung.
Tailor-made trek - Adventure - Excursion - Trek or 4x4 (or both)
We are used to set-up for us (private fun) or for our customers tailor-made trek or expedition in a remote area of Myanmar. It could be only hiking in unusual region (such as hiking from Mount Victoria to Arakan - 6 days walk - 2 days small boat) or a 15 days 4x4 drive in Sagaing jungle, crossing north of Nagaland, Tiger valley before driving down via Indawgyi lake.
We can also have jungle trek (with the night in the jungle) with local rangers.
We sometimes post on our website our own expedition program, asking who wants to come with us, or you may request us if it is possible to study a program for you.
We are never taking a risk, we are used to doing this, but you have to know that this kind of trekking or expedition require logistic, times and are usually costly.
We recommend you to be a group of friend (to reduce the cost per person), you may be also prepared to sleep where we find a place, house, jungle, in hammock or on the floor, to eat what the inhabitants can propose us (usually there is no restaurant in this kind of area, no shower, no electricity....)
Feel free to contact us at any time for more information o to propose us a program you would like to do.
Chindwin river - north Sagaing - on the way to Nagaland.