Myitkyina is the capital of Kachin State in Northern Myanmar. The population of the town is around 200,000 and includes a healthy ethnic mix of Bamar, Kachin, and Indian people.
Myitkyina was the site of a bitter battle between Japanese and Allied forces during the Second World War. The town was almost completely destroyed in the battle. The location of the town, in an opportunistic valley between India and China, made it strategic enough to be on the Ledo Road built by the US General Joseph Stilwell.
Myitkyina is a busy town and acts as the business center of Kachin State.
(Update December 2013) The fighting between the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and the army of the central government has largely stopped but the road remains closed for foreigners for now. No boat connections between the town.
Myitkyina is not a small town which means that most of the time a motorbike taxi or a rented motorbike is the best way to get through town. Trishaws are available too. A good way to get around are also so called Thonbeins (3-Wheelers) which can accommodate several people. Taxi-Cars can be found and offer more comfort and safety, albeit at higher prices.
- Cold and Dry Season – November to Feburary
Temperatures can go down to about 5°C at night, which means freezing mornings and evenings and the need for some very thick blankets at night. Daytime temperatures of about 20-27°C.
- Warm Season – March to June
Temperatures are steadily rising through the months of March, April and May. Overall pleaseant, especially in March and April as there is no rain yet but also no rain.
- Wet Season – June to September
Hot and rainy weather similar to large parts of Thailand and southern Myanmar. Thunderstorms, heavy rainfalls and floodings are common. Daytime temperatures of about 30-35°C and night temperatures of 25 °C.
- Kachin Manao Park - Visit the area in which the annual Kachin Mano Festival is held. Nicely located next to the mighty Ayeyarwaddy River. Worth a visit.
- Kachin Cultural Museum - A museum (entrance fee 2 USD for foreigners, 200 Kyats for locals) about the culture of the Kachin and Shan. Some interesting things on display, such as pictures of the mountains of the Putao area and dresses of the Kachin and Shan tribes. Unfortunately doesn´t offer an objective view on Kachin people as it´s owned by the government. No mention of the current religion of the majority of Kachins (Christianity).
Rent a motorbike and explore the town on your own. This also allows you to visit Myitsome, Waingmaw, the fantastic Ayeyarwaddy Bridge (especially sceninc at dawn) and the Praying Mountain. Drive slowly as the traffic within the city is pretty heavy on most roads. To rent a motorbike contact your local guesthouse/hotel, they will be glad to help you out. There is also an expat living in Myitkyina that offers motorbike rentals and will give you advice.
One can find and buy the World's best jade and gems. Buy Kachin Traditional dresses, handicrafts and other national cultural textiles and food.
- Kiss Me Restaurant – Beautifully located next to the Ayeyarwaddy River. Good variety of dishes (Chinese, Bamar and Kachin). Fair prices. English menus. Very popular amongst the youth of Myitkyina. Located next to the Su Taung Pyi Pagoda.
- Café 60 – Located next to the Kachin Manao Park (cultural point of interest). One of the best places in Myitkyina for delicious food (Bamar, Chinese, Kachin). Very popular amongst local people. Good prices for big dishes. English menus are available. Only drawback is the lack of good service.
Try the local rice wine, it's available at most restaurants.
- New Light Hotel has nice rooms with free drinking water and shared bathrooms for 17,000 kyats (Jan 2016). Larger rooms with private bathrooms are also available. 5 mins walking distance from the train station.
- YMCA $10 (13,000 kyats)/Singles (shared bathroom) or $14 (depending on room size, private/shared bathroom). Basic Budget-Traveller place with friendly (and helpful) Staff. Little comfort. Hot water not always available in private rooms, never available for shared bathrooms (Jan 2016).
Note: the pin on google maps is not correct; the YMCA is about 5 minutes walking distance from the train station. When you leave the station, turn left and continue down a busy road to a big intersection. Turn left there and cross the train tracks. Afterwards, turn immediately right onto the YMCA's road, you'll see it on your left side.
- Hotel Madira- Rooms starting at 45 USD, modern Hotel, clean, comfortable and spacious rooms, free snacks and coffe/tee.
- Hotel United- Rooms starting at 30 USD, Rooms are comfortable but smaller than the ones of Hotel Madira.
- Palm Spring Resort – Luxurious Resort with Swimming Pool and lots of greenery, Rooms starting at 120 USD.
- Drug abuse, especially Heroin (locally known as Number 4) is rampant amongst the local population, especially the (Kachin) youth. This has had several negative consequences and has made parts of Myitkyina a relatively rough place.
- To stay safe you should avoid walking around the northern quarters Shitapru and Tatkone at night. You should also avoid to ride motorbikes on quiet roads in this northern area of Myitkyina, sometimes groups of criminals try to stop motorbike drivers and steal their belongings and their motorbike.
- The city center is generally more safe than the outskirts of town but some, (normal) precautions should be taken.
- The city is generally a very safe place during the day.
- foreigners currently (Jan 2016) not allowed to leave town by boat towards Mandalay **
- Bhamo reachable by bus FOR LOCALS ONLY. 10,000 kyat. Foreigners cannot reach Bhamo from Myikyina as of March 2016. You will have to head south along the western shore of the Irrawaddy from Myikyna, either by train, or by bus. You can start a boat cruise from Katha (reachable via the Naba train stop).
- Myitsom (Mali Zup in Kachin language), the confluence of Mali and Nmai Rivers and the starting point of the Irrawady river, 40 miles from Myitkyina. Boat tours are available (8.000 - 10.000 Kyats). Some decent restaurants and shops are located at the confluence. Nice views.
- Waingmaw The town across the river from Myitkyina. Nice drive via the big Ayeyarwaddy Bridge that offers breathtaking views.
- Praying Mountain Located about 15km north of Myitkyina in Palana on the main road north to Myitsome. The Praying Mountain is a hill with a viewtower on top. It offers nice views on the surrounding areas including the Ayeyarwaddy River.
- Indawgyi Lake The best way to go there is by firstly heading to Hopin by train (about 4-5 hours from Myitkyina and 14-18 hours from Mandalay). From there you can go by a off-road truck to Lonton (~ 1.5 hrs, 5,000 kyats), one of the main villages on Indawgyi Lake and currently there are 2 guesthouses where foreigners can stay overnight. The lake itself is very quiet and home of many birds. You can do a boat tour here and visit the famous Shwe Myitzu Pagoda that is situated right on the lake. Kayaking, cycling and trekking are also available as activities at Indawgyi Lake.