Kalaw is a hill station in Myanmar (Burma), at 1320 metres above sea level.
Trekking from Kalaw to Inle Lake
Buses from Bagan leave at 7:30 in the morning arriving in Kalaw around 3pm approximately (K11,000). Same bus continues to Inle Lake (Nyaung Shwe town). Make sure to buy the ticket as soon as possible since it's always overcrowded and you don't want to get a spare seat on the aisle.
Buses from Sipaw travel via Kyaukme and Pin Oo Lin. Leaving in the afternoon and arriving around 0600. Cost 15500K depending on exchange rate (October 2015).
- There are also slow train services to Thazi (Thazi-Kalaw is up the mountains, village stops, jungle right outside. Departure from Thazi to Kalaw 0700. Prices 800K ordinary, 1300K upper class (October 2015). Heho(with airport) (US$2/3) and Shwenyaung (US$2/3).
- Direct train all the way from Yangon is 3550K (lower class), a bit more for upper class. 26 hours journey including a ~5 hours stop in Thazi in the middle of the night, so passengers can rest a bit. Departure everyday at 11am from Yangon. Arrive in Thazi around 2am. Stop in Thazi. Start again at 7am, arrive in Kalaw at 1.15pm. The first section Yangon-Thazi is extremely bumpy and uncomfortable, the landscape isn't especially interresting. The second part from Thazi to Kalaw is much nicer, mountainous, slow and dramatic.
Bicycles can be hired from Niang Niang by the mosque. Try to get one with gears (that work!) so you can cycle to the sunset spots. They will also do 1day cycles to Inle but bargain hard. Luggage transport provided.
- Tein Taung (Cloud Hill). Just take the 'stairsway to heaven' situated on the north of the town. Amazing view on the surrounding valley and sunset not to be missed.
- Shweoomin Pagoda (temple + caves). Walking/cycling distance.
- Bamboo Strip Pagoda (temple). Walking/cycling distance.
- Myoma Monastery
- Myin Ma Thi village (temple + caves). Some kilometres away from Kalaw (about 30-40 minutes bicycle ride). Big cave to explore by foot. Free entrance but don't forget a little donation at the entrance/exit. Possible to rent a bicycle from the shop right next to the Myoma Monastery (in Kalaw). 2500K/ day (simple bike) or 10000K/day (mountain bike).
- Green Hill Valley Elephant Camp. A 45-minute drive through the mountains brings you to the Green Hill Valley Elephant Camp, which employs several retired mahouts and their elephants from the timber industry. The owners have two elephants there themselves. You can also choose to trek up to the camp. The idea to treat elephants ethically is slowing catching on in Myanmar, and this Camp is the best in the country, according to owners of an elephant reserve in Thailand. You can walk with and bathe the elephants. Supporting tourist activities like these may encourage others to promote ethical treatment of elephants for tourism, rather than for simply entertainment. []
Kalaw has many trekking companies, most of the backpackers guesthouse will offer you a range of different treks, 1 day around Kalaw, 3 days 2 nights to Inle Lake, etc.
Before agreeing to a trek compare at least 3 different options and talk to other travelers. Normally they discount for a group of at least 4 people so it will be easy for you just join some travelers in Kalaw who want to do the same trek (most likely to Inle Lake).
Guest Houses are pretty cheap because the business remains with the trekking. Don't feel bad if you don't take the trek that your guest-house is offering, they will certainly have clients from other parts too.
The typically price of the trekking tour is 20$ person per day including meals in trekking trip, accommondation in trekking trip.The big luggage will be transport to Inle.The cost is 4$ for one luggage.
Ko Min is one of the excellent reputation guide in Kalaw.He can speak good english and knowledgeable.You can contact by email.
Lots of beautiful and cheap handycraft to buy at the big central market, in the center of the town.
- Sam's Family trekking company has a restaurant too. Check openstreetmap.org map.
- The central market is surrounded by many street food stands.
- Seven Sisters restaurant with amazing local food.
- Pyae Pyae restaurant is situed just on the left side of the Seven Sisters restaurant. Very good local food (500 to 3000 K).
- Pine Land Restaurant, one of the best chinese restaurant in Kalaw. Available variety of chinese foods and wines. Free wifi for restaurant customers and can get pay per hour in Internet room. Please check their location and menu list in their website: http://pinelandrestaurant.weebly.com
- Smile is located along the the highway road across from the KBZ bank. Smile is the cheapest place to have a drink in Kalaw. The owners, a lovely local couple, spend their time waving and smiling at potential customers as they walk by trying to drum up a bit of business. Although very small and furnished with plastic chairs, Smile has an unusual charm. It's a great place to people watch and strike up conversations with some friendly locals. They also have a limited food menu. All beer costs 1500 Kyat.
- Many tea shops surround the central market.
There are many budget options as well as proper hotels in Kalaw. Most of the budget accomodations are around USD 10-20 /pax/night. The cheapest one seems to be US$8/night for a dorm. About $25/night for a double bed with 2 people should be still available in a decent hotel as of Dec 2014.
- Pine Land Inn. Start at USD 6 for a single room, 2 people can fit on the bed. (01.2016: 10$ for double incl. breakfast) They have a lot of choice including single/double/multi room with or w/o bathroom. Please note, there may or may not be heating in the rooms, lots of blankets provided. Breakfast available extra 1 USD. Free wifi, good connection in all the building. Situated on the main street, north of the town (10 minutes walk from the railway station, 1 minute from the main market), straight next to the big "Winner Hotel" building.
- Golden Kalaw Inn. Incredibly helpful and professional owner. Very clean hotel, nice breakfast. Please note there may not be heat or a/c in rooms and it can be quite cold in the winter, although there are plenty of blankets. As of Dec 2014, USD 9 for Dorm, USD 25 for double room. A great value. Tel: +95-081-50311. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Friendly staff
- Golden Lilly. Although mentioned in the LP, this hotel has had frequent and consistent unfavorable reviews and shockingly bad stories from travelers. Trip adviser has details.
- Seint Hotel, (In the same street as Golden Lilly). Working WiFi, hot showers, good breakfast, western food, friendly staff edit
- Rail Road Guesthouse, (Next to the trainstation). new guesthouse with nice rooms and fair prices edit
- Trekking to Inle Lake. (2/3 days walk)
- Bus to Inle Lake (should arrive around 3pm, ask on the guest houses/travel companies).
- Train to Inle Lake every day around 1.15 pm, often delayed. Cost 500K ordinary class, expect almost 2x more for upper. Good valley views, and farming landscape on a clear day.