Perched atop a hill in Burma’s Shan State, Kalaw is a former British hill station that has retained a small rural village feel. Set amongst magnificent pine forests and rolling hills, the area has become particularly popular with trekkers, whilst its picturesque scenery and laid-back atmosphere also make it a great place to unwind for a few days.
At a cool altitude of over 1,300 metres, Kalaw was formerly used by the British as a refreshing escape from Burma’s lowland heat. Today, remnants of this British colonial presence can be found throughout the town against a diverse cultural backdrop of Indian, Shan, Nepalese and hill tribe minority populations. Such a cultural amalgamation has contributed to a delicious local cuisine, where traditional Burmese dishes are infused with Nepalese and Indian flair.
The surrounding hills are a haven for trekking enthusiasts, but there are walking trails to suit all levels, taking you up into the mountains past monasteries, tea plantations and small hill tribe villages seldom visited by tourists. Peppered with local restaurants, Kalaw’s leafy streets are a pleasure to explore, and there is a lively five-day rotating market you may be lucky enough to catch during your stay.
Kalaw is the starting point for those embarking on the two day trek to Inle Lake, around 50 kilometres to the east, while Heho airport is just under a two hour drive away.