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Kengtung (Cheingtung, Chiang Tung, Kengtong, Kyaingtong) is a town in Shan State, Eastern Myanmar.

Get in[edit]

Best way is to go to Kengtung is by bus from Tachileik (400 Thai Baht/10 000 Myanmar Kyat, ~5 hours), leaves at 8:30 (and eligibly at 11:00 as well) and motorbike taxis from the border will take you to the bus station for 50 Thai Baht (5 min drive from the border), or shared taxi from Tachilek (450 b/person, 4 people). Tuk tuks from the bus station in Kengtung downtown cost 2000-3000 Kyats

As of October 2014, travellers with a full visa are allowed to travel to Kengtung from Tachilek without a guide. However, you will need a permit from the Ministry of Hotel and Tourism office at the border - requiring to have the bus number for issuing the permit, which you might need to get from the bus station first and come back to the border. Travellers coming from Thailand on a 14-day entry permit still need a guide (1000 baht/day).

As of October 2014, travellers were still NOT allowed to take the public bus from Taunggyi to Kengtung. The Ministry of Hotels & Tourism branch in Taunggyi, director Mr. U Yan Aung (Tel. 09-428315235), is willing to arrange a guide at $80 per day, and a rental vehicle for $1200 (one thousand two hundred dollars) for the journey from Taunggyi to Kengtung.

The number of flights to Kengtung is increasing, there is for sure one on Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday and two on Friday by Yangon Airways and Myanmar National Airways, price is around 145-165$, depending on the company, the price does not fluctuate even few days ahead it stays the same. Taxis to downtown 8,000 kyats (1000 local price!). Tuk tuks 5,000 kyats.

Get around[edit]

The town itself is walkable. Motortaxis are 500 Kyat.

See[edit][add listing]

Hilltribe trekking can be arranged through your guesthouse or through an independent guide. When trekking, make sure that you don't give kids sweets, unless you are prepared to provide toothbrushes as well.

Eco-tourism does not yet exist here. Most guides, while speaking English and if you are lucky one of the local languages other than Shan, are not well educated when it comes to preserving and protecting the fragile hill-tribe cultures. They often treat the minorities as attractions and have little understanding for their "superstitions" and beliefs. Furthermore they will encourage you to take photos of people in their private settings and hand out sweets to children in order to get good photo opportunities.

Be mindful of this precarious situation when visiting the area and try not to affect village life too much. Also, make it clear to your guide that handing out freebies interferes with the local culture and encourages begging. Rather show your respect to the village elder and make donations in the form of medication and school material. Ask for local teachers, etc. The negative impact of unchecked tourism can already be clearly seen in the Akha villages closest to Kengtung, where rows of women will try to sell you jewellry.

Local hilltribes include Akha, Ann, Lahu, Lahu Shi and Wa.

Tuk-tuks to reach the villages cost 1000 baht for a full day, though in between the villages you will walk whilst the driver waits for you. It's quite expensive and bargaining is difficult. As a consequence not much money goes to the villagers. It's rather split between guides, drivers and guesthouse owners.

Do[edit][add listing]

Go to the huge morning market. It's open until 1 PM, but if you go in the early morning it's much livelier and great for people watching. You can see hilltribe women in their traditional costumes shopping and selling their produce. There is a small but interesting food section as well. All in all, it's one of the most interesting and colorful markets in SE Asia.

Have a stroll around the lake for the sunset, meet nice people there and visit the numerous Shan, Burmese and Chinese temples. The wat next to the golden chedi is noteworthy and has good views.

Buy[edit][add listing]

There are beautiful embroideries made by the hilltribe people for sale in the market

Eat[edit][add listing]

Shan Khow Soi-shan noodle soup is the staple of the region, they are served in the afternoon. For breakfast, try Shan pizza - there are some street stalls scattered around the city. Otherwise, try some local burmese curry restaurants.

Khow Soi comes in two variants here: as a clear broth with meatballs (similar to Pho and the noodle soups in Thailand) and the very intetesting version with yellow chickpea porridge, a dark sweetish soy sauce and cilantro (they call it Tofu Nue). Add some deep-fried beignets for an amazing dish.

Around the lake there are many cheap tea shop restaurants, where you can drink cheap Myanmar draft beer and try local dishes and barbecue. Snacks include tea leaf salad and whole grilled fish with spicy marinade. Great atmosphere, open until quite late.

Street vendors sell barbecue in the city center.

Drink[edit][add listing]

Rice whisky is cheap and potent. A Chinese beer costs around 800 Kyat.

1,5l mugs of Myanmar draft are very affordable. Look for the tea shops around the lake where all the youngsters meet.

For a non-alcoholic alternative try the Indian influenced black milk tea.

Sleep[edit][add listing]

  • Harry's guesthouse, (3km from the city centre on the main street to Taunggyi). Decent double/triple rooms and hot showers for a reasonable price. Rooms are not as clean as expected for the price, but are among the cheapest in town. Matrasses are old and uncomfortable due to springs pushing in your back. Breakfast (noodle soup and coffee) included. [March 2015] 400-450 baht.  edit
  • Law Yee Chain Hotel, (Near the Market), +95 8421114. Decent hotel near the market with free breakfast. Charge is $20 per person, not per room. Google Maps shows exact location. $20 per person.  edit
  • Winning Crown Guesthouse, No 14 Palo Road, North Central Market quarter, +95 9253 67 0059. New decent guesthouse (Jan 2016) near the market, bathroom with hot shower in the room, no breakfast, no wifi, nice Chinese owner and so far the cheapest in town. However, it is not licensed to host foreigners - only for Burmese people (September 2016) 6000 Kyat per person for a twin room.  edit
  • Hotel Khema Rattha, No.25/28(A), Taung Gyi Road, War Khote Myothit, Kyaing Tong, Shan State, Myanmar, (+95) 84-22691, 09-25 4304696, [1]. Great new hotel with kind owner and staff, who will shower you with genuine Burmese hospitality. Recommended just for the service and hot water! US$33-45 for a double.  edit
  • Parami Motel, Corner of Tar Yaw Street and the main road (From the main market go west towards the roundabout and the motel is right there, next to a cake shop). This is an overlooked gem, it is directly in the city center, 5 minutes walk from the market, 10 minutes from the Nong Tung lake and with very nice people who speak English and arrange a tour guide for you. Towels, toilet paper, soap is included, there is no breakfast, no wifi, but the room is very spacious, double bed, lots of electricity plugs, a fridge, a fan, hot shower. It is not a luxury, but for the location and price, it is great. 15$ (non-negotiable).  edit

Get out[edit]

As of October 2014, a guide is required to travel from Kengtung onward to Taunggyi and Inle Lake. Guides will not take you via public bus, and a hire vehicle is required. Guides and vehicles are available from the Ministry of Hotels & Tourism, 21/22 Lwe Hmwe Street, Tel. 084-21617. The branch director, Mr. U San Linn, has quoted $80 per day for the guide, and $1200 (one thousand two hundred dollars) for vehicle rental for the journey from Kengtung to Taunggyi.

There is an airport in Kengtung with daily fights to various points throughout Myanmar, including Taunggyi ($126) Yangon (at least three flights: on Wednesday, Friday, Sunday for 123-163$).

  • Tachileik - Border Town close to Laos and Thailand. 8.30 and 12.00, 400 baht, 5 hours.
  • Mong La and on to Jinghong, China.
  • Railway station exists, trains exist, but is there any regular passenger service?

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