Kalaw & Pindaya Holidays

High up in western Shan state is the beautiful mountain village of Kalaw, a former British hill station and now home to local hill tribes and also known as Myanmar's prime trekking location. The nearby lakeside town of Pindaya is famous for its limestone caves, filled from top to bottom with Buddha images from several eras.

Kalaw sits atop the misty blue mountains and amidst the magnificent pine forests of Myanmar's Shan State. A former favourite among British colonialists due to its refreshing climate and scenic views, many of Kalaw's original colonial-era buildings remain. It's a small town with everything easily accessible by foot including the centrally situated glittery Aung Chan Tha Zedi stupa and the modest Thein Taung Paya monastery nearby.

Trekking is Kalaw's main attraction, with numerous trails leading up into the mountains, passing through remote villages, traditional longhouses, trea plantations and monasteries. The shorter trails are a perfect for those seeking a brief stroll to soak up the atmosphere and get a glimpse of rural life, while longer treks taking up to three days offer a more immersive experience.

A rotating five-day market is held in Kalaw, attracting villagers from near and far to trade goods including handicrafts, clothing and produce. An eclectic range of restaurants and food stands surround the market, with descendants of Indian and Nepali rail workers, who migrated here during British rule, offering their own dishes to complement the local Shan fare.

The small town of Pindaya has hills on one side and rich rolling farmland on the other, it's famous for its limestone caves, attractive lakeside setting and the traditional Shan paper umbrellas that are made here.

Set deep in the hillsides, the Shwe Oo Min caves are a pleasant 45 minute walk from the town centre and are crammed with around 8,000 Buddha images of various shapes and sizes. Some of the golden images that line the rocky shelves date back centuries but the collection continues to expand as people are still adding more. Access to the cave is through the Shwe U Min Pagoda whose entrance is guarded by a large statue of a spider in reference to a local legend that gives the cave its name.

Pindaya is also known for its handicrafts and it's possible to visit a small factory where paper parasols are made. See the full process from paper making to the hand painting of the decorations before observing locals making the famous Burmese cheroots.

    Why visit Kalaw & Pindaya?
  • Colonial-era buildings
  • Variety of treks
  • Glorious scenery
  • Hill tribes
  • Pindaya Cave


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Essential facts about Kalaw & Pindaya
Local Time

GMT + 6.5 hours

Currency

Kyat

Travel information

Heho is the nearest airport for both Kalaw and Pindaya. Flights take around 1 hour 10 minutes from Yangon or just 35 minutes from Mandalay. The drive from Heho to Kalaw takes around 1 hour while Heho to Pindaya takes approximately 45 minutes.

Best time to go

The cooler climate is very much part of the appeal of visiting this region. From November to January the days are temperate and the nights are chilly. From February to May daytime temperatures rise considerably although the nights are still cool. June to October is the wet season, although there’s still plenty of sunshine.

Visa information

You must obtain a visitor’s visa for Burma prior to departure. Please allow at least three weeks to obtain a visa and note that there is no express processing service.

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