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Trekking Tribes & Traditions of Myanmar

10 Days / 9 Nights

Overview

Explore Myanmar’s melange of traditional villages, ethnic groups and rich culture. Encounter a diverse mix of hill tribes in remote Kengtung, come face-to-face with Asian elephants in Kalaw and trek through the sweeping highlands around Inle Lake. Full of fabulous landscapes, this adventure is sure to amaze at every turn.

Trip Highlights

Trekking Tribes & Traditions of Myanmar

Get an in-depth look at Kengtung

Explore the soaring hills of Kengtung on foot to meet with the Loi, Akha, Lahu and Wa people

Trek to Inle Lake

Take a two-day trek to Inle Lake, surrounded by beautiful scenery and staying overnight in a local village. 

Visit an elephant conservation centre

Meet a passionate group of locals working to preserve the natural habitats of Myanmar’s elephants.

Itinerary

1

Yangon - Kengtung

Transfer to Yangon airport: up to 1 hour

We will be greeted by our guide and driver at our hotel and take a transfer to the Yangon airport for our domestic flight to Kengtung.

Upon arrival in the early afternoon, we will take a short orientation tour in Kengtung. The town is in a lush valley and most of the city’s buildings reflect the traditional architectural styles of the Shan people, such as wooden houses with balconies. Explore the city streets and the Maha Myat Muni pagoda before continuing to the hotel for check in.

Overnight in Kengtung.

2

Kengtung – Hokyin – Akhar village (Trekking)

Transfer from Kengtung hotel to Hokyin area: up to 45 mins Trekking up to: 3 hours Difficulty: Easy

After breakfast, visit Kengtung’s local market. This daily market is visited by villagers from the surrounding area who come to sell their products and barter for goods.  Visiting the market, we will see minority hill tribes in their traditional dresses.

Then depart by road to Hokyin area the starting point of today’s trek. The trek begins with a 1.5-2 hour walk to an Akha village. Spend some time in the village and interacting with the locals to discover more about their unique customs and daily lifestyle.

Resume trekking to Na Phi Phank village, a further 30-45 minutes, which is home to Lahu people who are famous for their blacksmithing. Then loop back to where our car is waiting possibly passing a Wa village en route. During the trek a picnic lunch will be served in a scenic spot or village.

Return to Kengtung by car this 

Overnight in Kengtung.

3

Kengtung – Pin Tauk – Hwe Lon – Ann Village (Trekking)

Transfer to the start point: up to 1.5 hours Trekking: up to 2 hours Difficulty: Very Easy

We will wake up early this morning for a colorful and enchanted local market in Kengtung, observing the local people from surroundings hill tribes who buy, sell and trade the various kind of stuffs. It is a unique place to soak in this busy atmosphere to discover the local life.

This is also a great opportunity to compare the diverse styles of dress unique to each individual village next to one another. Later this morning, we will become more intimate with these different tribes and customs as we walk into the hills and enter their villages. During our cultural treks through the Shan Hills, it is highly likely that we will encounter languages so unique that only a handful of villages still use them to communicate. 

Later in the morning, we will transfer to Pin Tauk village, the starting point of today’s trek.  Set off on foot, trekking 45 minutes to 1 hour to the Akha village. Spend some time in the village and interact with the locals to discover more about their unique customs and daily lifestyle.

After a picnic lunch, resume trekking to an Ann Village (approximately 30 minutes).  The Ann minority is known for their traditional black dress and blackened teeth.  After walking around the town and having a tea at a family home, we will incline to the top of Lone Tree Hill for panoramic views of our surroundings.

After a long day trekking to remote hill tribe villages, our private transport will be waiting to take us back to the city of Kengtung.

Overnight in Kengtung.

4

Kengtung – Heho – Pindaya

Transfer from Heho to Pindaya: up to 2 hours

After breakfast at the hotel, this morning is at our leisure to explore Kengtung.  If time allows, visit a traditional Shan lacquerware workshop in Kengtung.

Then transfer to the Kengtung airport for our onward flight to Heho. Upon reaching Heho, drive to Pindaya and this evening will be at leisure.

Overnight in Pindaya

5

Pindaya – Green Hill Elephant camp – Kalaw

Transfer from Pindaya to Elephant Camp: 2 hours Trekking up to: 2.5 hours Difficulty: Easy

Enjoy breakfast at the hotel followed by a visit to the famous ‘Buddha Caves’. This multi-chambered cave system is filled with hundreds of Buddha statues and is a popular pilgrimage spot for locals.  We then visit a local workshop making umbrellas and paper from the mulberry tree. This is one of the few areas in Myanmar still practicing this fast disappearing craft.

Then it’s time to venture into the forest for a unique encounter with Myanmar’s wildlife. Begin with a 1 hour transfer to a typical small Shan village where a guide from the camp will greet us. We will enjoy a light trek through the woods, during which time the guide will point out the indigenous flora and fauna as well as explain more about the local lifestyles in this region.

We will then come face-to-face with the Burmese Elephants. Formerly working as logging elephants, these gentle giants have been given the chance to live freely in their natural environment, giving visitors a unique opportunity to interact. Feed and help wash the elephants and learn about the history of elephants in Myanmar. 

In the early afternoon we savor a delicious lunch prepared using traditional methods and ingredients from the camp’s organic garden.

This afternoon return to Kalaw.

Overnight in Kalaw.

6

Kalaw – Naung Tayar – Saung Khar (Trekking)

Transfer from Kalaw to Naung Tayar: 1 hr 30 mins Trekking up to: 4 hours Difficulty: Easy

Our adventure trekking beings this morning with a scenic 90 minute drive which leads us to the small town of Naung Tayar, the starting point of our trek.

The scenery is remarkably different from middle Burma and the air temperature is generally much cooler than the rest of the country. We meet with our trekking team, set off on foot and trek along the trail filled with seasonal agriculture.

After lunch at local family house in traditional style, we continue our scenic trek. On the way, we will have plenty of opportunities to stop and interact with the friendly locals. We reach our overnight stop village of Saung Khar in the evening. Tonight we stay in a house with a local family which gives plenty of opportunity for more interaction and learning about the local people’s way of life. 

Overnight in Saung Khar Village.

7

Kalaw – Naung Tayar – Saung Khar (Trekking)

Transfer by boat to Samkar: 10 mins Trekking up to: 4 hours Difficulty: Easy

Departing Saung Khar early, we say farewell to our host family and continue our trek towards Inle Lake. This morning trek offers great views of bamboo forest, valley and overview of the villages. Our first stop is Naung Mon old Monastery and village where we can learn about monastic life in Myanmar and day to day village life. The monastery also serves as a community center and is an important part of rural Burmese life.

Continuing onwards and downwards we descend to our final destination of Tharyar Gone, a short stroll from the shores of Inle Lake.

Depending on progress made our lunch will be served either in a village or at a restaurant in Tharyar Gone. This also lends the opportunity to observe the making of local rice wine.

Last up, we visit the Thar Khaung Pagoda Complex before transferring by long tail boat to Samkar located on the opposite shore.

Overnight in Samkar. 

8

Samkar – Inle – Nyaung Shwe

Transfer by Boat from Samkar to Nyaung Shwe: 2 hrs 30 mins

After breakfast we check-out and embark on a scenic boat journey to Nyaung Shwe by crossing Inle Lake, one of Myanmar’s most spectacular sights.

This afternoon set off on a sightseeing tour of the town. Travel by local trishaw down to the bustling canal which is a hive of activity in the morning as boats from the lake come in to unload tomatoes and other vegetables for distribution to the markets around the country. Watch as baskets laden with produce are transferred from boats to trucks and bikes.

Hop back on the trishaw and wind through quiet streets. Make a stop at the ‘tomato house’, a warehouse-like structure where the tomatoes are sorted and priced for sale. Then continue past some of the many monasteries and nunneries in the town, stopping for photos as you go.

Check in to your hotel in the mid afternoon. If we can still have enough time to catch sunset, there is an opportunity to visit Red Mountain Estate, one of Myanmar’s top vineyards. Enjoy wine tasting with expansive views of the lake below. Then, transfer back to the hotel.

Overnight in Nyaung Shwe.

9

Samkar – Inle – Nyaung Shwe

After breakfast, head to the jetty for a full day excursion on Inle Lake.

Begin visit the lake’s morning market. The market rotates its location around the lake’s villages in a 5 day rhythm and is visited by lake inhabitants and surrounding hill tribes who come to sell and trade their wares. (Note: market is daily except on dark moon day and full moon day).

Pass villages built on stilts over the lake, inhabited by the local Intha people. Observe the leg-rowing fishermen and see their floating gardens built up from strips of water hyacinth and mud and anchored to the bottom with bamboo poles. Visit Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda, the lake’s main sanctuary, which contains five sacred Buddha images covered in gold leaf. 

At midday, stop to prepare our lunch with a local family! This cooking course is a fun and interesting way to learn about the traditional flavors and preparation techniques of Burmese Cuisine.  Join a local Inthar family in their kitchen to cook local dishes then sit on the floor at a round table and dine in the local way.

Then continue to explore the local crafts of Inle Lake with a stop at the weaving village of Inpawkhone and a cheroot factory, where the typical Burmese cigars are made by hand. Then, come back to Nyaung Shwe by boat.

Overnight in Nyaung Shwe.

10

Nyaung Shwe – Heho Departure

This morning in leisure before our transfer to the Heho airport for our onward flight.

Important Information

Our services include:

  • Vehicles: (varies based on local conditions and vehicle sizes available). Private air-conditioned vehicle for transfer and excursions
  • Excursion to Kengtung villages and Kalaw elephant camp
  • Porters (Clients are only asked to carry a day bag for personal items needed during the day)
  • Plenty of water provided throughout the day while trekking
  • Snacks and local fruits
  • 1  EXO Adventure Certified English Guide for throughout
  • 1 additional local assistant for trekking day only
  • 1 first aid kit per guide
  • Meals as mentioned in the itinerary (B – Breakfast, L – Lunch, D – Dinner)
  • Sightseeing tickets where mentioned in the itinerary.
  • Accommodation as listed above.
  • Flight reconfirmations
  • Private motorized boat for Inle lake visit
  • Wine Tasting

Our services don’t include:

  • Visa arrangement
  • International and domestic flights (Separated table see as above)
  • Supplement for International arrival/departure transfers from/to airport
  • Meals other than mentioned above
  • Soft drinks, or beverages beyond water – we can add this into costs at agents request
  • Beverage and alcoholic drinks at mealtimes
  • Tips
  • Energy drinks or powders, performance bars, or performance gels (Gatorade, Powerbars, Gu, Isostar, etc)
  • Personal Travel Insurance
  • Personal expenditure (Laundry, telephone)
  • Any other services not clearly mentioned in the itinerary and in the inclusive portion.
  • Credit card and bank transfer fees
  • Other language speaking guides

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