Hispaw, Kalaw & Pindaya
A charming town located high in the hills of Shan State, Hsipaw’s traditional buildings, and trekking opportunities make it worth the effort of getting there. It is a small, peaceful with relaxed atmosphere.
The Central Market at Hsipaw is one of the best markets to visit in all of Myanmar. Shans, Kachins, and other tribals come here to trade regularly.
The Bawgyo Paya, 8km out of town in the direction of Mandalay, is a revered Shan pagoda. In addition to the usual complement of Buddha’s, the pagoda also has some ancient statues of Hindu origin in the plaza outside.
Hsipaw is famous for beautiful trekking routes. The most popular trekking route from Hsipaw is to a Palaung village called Pan Kam, which can be visited in a day but is usually done as an overnight trip. Other options include a longer hike starting at the hilltop village of Namhsan and walks around Kyaukme, a town partway between Pyin Oo Lwin and Hsipaw which has accommodation for foreigners.
Kalaw is located about 71 km west of Taunggyi, just about half-way along the Thazi-Taunggyi road. It is a peaceful and quiet summer resort nestled in pine-clad Shan Plateau. Being at an altitude of 1320m, Kalaw is pleasantly cool all-year-round and ideal place for trekking to interesting hill-tribes living in the surrounding mountains of Kalaw. These hill-tribes in their colorful costumes coming to Kalaw market add to the tranquil lure of Kalaw.
From Kalaw, adventurers can venture out into the lush forests and visit the ethnic minority villages of the Danu, Palaung, and the Pa-O. The small town is also the starting point for treks to Inle Lake to the east.
Within Kalaw, there are a few things to see like the bustling local market, the Aung Chang Tha Zedi stupa (sometimes called Aung Chang) covered with silver and gold glass mosaics, and the Hnee Pagoda that contains a 500-year-old Buddha made of bamboo. There is even a church in the town called Christ the King Church, constructed during colonial rule. The Shan food of the town is diversified with influences of Indian and Nepali flair because of the Indian and Nepali rail workers who stayed in the town during British rule.
Pindaya is a small picturesque town, situated about 45km north of Kalaw. The journey from junction road AUNG PAN to PINDAYA is breathtaking in many ways with panoramic mountain views. Pindaya is noted for its natural limestone Caves housing over 8,000 Buddha Images of various sizes, made from teak, lacquer, marble, alabaster and cement, and an picturesque Bouketaloke lake surrounded by shady giant Banyan trees. On market days, one can find different races residing in the region gathered at the market, buying and selling the products of the area. It is also possible to trek to surrounding Danu, Palaung, Pa-O and Taungyo villages.