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The best tips for the cozy mountain village –

Kalaw is not one of the top spots in Myanmar. If you travel the country on the standard route, you will probably ignore it. The tourists who stray to Kalaw mostly come just to trek to Inle Lake from here. It is worth spending a day or two in the small mountain village. In this post you will find my best Kalaw tips.

Kalaw – An underrated village in the mountains of the Shan region

To escape the heat in southern Myanmar, Kalaw was founded as a “Hill Station” during the British occupation. And even today Kalaw has the charm of a small spa town in the mountains – of course with Burmese influences. What the Brits liked so much about Kalaw in the summer months caught us off guard: cold temperatures. During the winter months, temperatures can drop to 5 degrees at night. And even during the day, the climate is not a bit “typically Southeast Asian”, but rather more Central European.

Kalaw is rather calm, unexcited and tidy. In Kalaw you will not find mass tourism and no coaches, but individual travellerswho either have a stopover before their Trekking to Inle Lake or let yourself be captivated by the charm of the small town and stay for a few days. Admittedly: Breathtaking pagodas, turbulent city life (and after dark also people ;)) are looked for in vain in Kalaw. It doesn’t get boring anyway.

The best tips for the cozy mountain village - The best tips for the cozy mountain village -

Kalaw tips and sights

In Kalaw you can really slow down, come to rest, let your soul dangle. If you want to do yoga, you should go to Sprouting Seeds Cafe & Bakery drop by. There you can not only take part in wonderful yoga classes, but also enjoy delicious coffee and (vegetarian) delicacies in the adjoining café.

You will find them in the center of the village Aung Chan Tha Pagoda. Unlike most pagodas in the country, it is not golden, but is decorated with many small mirrors, making it glitter beautifully in the sun. There is a small one directly opposite market. There you can not only buy the most important things for daily needs, but also get to know the life of the locals up close. You can also find trekking supplies here.

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Trekkings and excursions from Kalaw

Speaking of trekking: hiking is and remains the main reason for the majority of visitors to the small mountain village. The Trekking route to Inle Lake starts here and can be booked with almost every trekking agency. Since we didn’t walk the route, I can’t recommend any agency from my own experience. About Ko Kyaw Kalaw I’ve only heard good things about trekking and the Ever Smile Trekking Service.

By the way, the route to Inle Lake is not the only possible trekking in the region. The agencies offer many other tours on request. Some shorter hikes around Kalaw are also possible without a guide. In addition, many excursions start from Kalaw. Excursions to the Pindaya limestone caves. Green Valley Hill Elephant Camp is also located near Kalaw. A very special elephant project that you here can learn more.

Restaurants in Kalaw

Red House Bar & Restaurant – If you walk through Kalaw, you really can’t miss the Red House. It’s quite big (and quite red) and just off the main street. Here you can find everything your (Italian) heart desires. Since the owner is Italian, the dishes are really tasty and come really close to the Italian originals. The drinks are great too.

Cafe Kalaw – Here you can get really good coffee and delicious brunch. The café is wonderfully cozy and the staff is really nice! Absolute recommendation.

Kalaw-Ish – The small café was almost directly in front of our hotel entrance, so of course we had to stop by here. It’s still relatively new but has really tasty food. From the terrace you have a beautiful view of the train tracks. Unfortunately, no train passed while we were sitting there. We liked it anyway.

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Hotels in Kalaw

We have in Kalaw im Kalaw Heritage Hotel slept. The hotel is a bit away from the village and was built in 1903. That may not be insanely old for us. But by Burmese standards it is very impressive. And so the Kalaw Heritage Hotel is an extremely popular setting for films, wedding photographers and Burmese influencers. We met quite a few during our stay! 🙂

But we also liked the Kalaw Heritage Hotel. Much in the former colonial town is reminiscent of Europe. But nowhere have I felt more at home than on the grounds of the Kalaw Heritage Hotel. It could actually be in the Bergisches Land or in other rural regions in Germany.

While the superior and deluxe rooms are in the two old mansions, the standard rooms are in a small new building. You can get a double room including breakfast for as little as €35. What you get in all rooms: A small heater. And believe me: If you travel to Kalaw in winter, you will be very thankful for it at night.

We can absolutely recommend the Kalaw Heritage Hotel. you find it here. You can also find more hotels in Kalaw here.

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Getting There, Getting Away, and Getting Around: Transportation in Kalaw

who with the Airplane arrives, flies up to Heho Airport. The airport, which also serves the Inle Lake region, is about 40 minutes from Kalaw. It is best to ask a driver at your accommodation. Alternatively, you can also look for a driver at the airport. However, most taxis come from the Inle Lake region. And: The taxi drivers at the airport know very well that you are dependent on them and agree on the prices, so that in the end you may end up paying more.

Do you decide for one bus ride Most of the buses that go to Inle Lake are probably suitable for you, as they stop in Kalaw beforehand. It’s best to ask JJ Express or the bus line of your choice. But be careful: the route goes through the mountain regions and in most cases you are really on the road for a long time.

If you start from the Inle Lake region to Kalaw you can enter like us taxi take. Depending on your negotiating skills, this will cost you between €30 and €40. Or you are smart and take it for significantly less money Train. From Nyaung Shwe to Kalaw it takes about 3 1/2 hours and costs you 1,200 kyat – not even 1€. The route runs across the mountains and is said to be beautiful.

Kalaw is not big and you can easily get from A to B on foot in the town. There is also Bicycle and motorbike rental. Bicycles can also be hired in some hotels directly at the reception.

Kalaw Tips: Conclusion

Although our stay in Kalaw was supposed to be just a short stopover, we liked the village so much that we stayed one night longer than planned. There is definitely more to discover here than meets the eye. And even if Kalaw is the starting point for trekking tours to Inle Lake, there are really few tourists here. The perfect place to really get to know the life of the Myanmar people. If you find elephants as fascinating as I do, you should definitely take a trip to the Green Valley Hill Elephant Camp make. My only downer: It gets really cold here (especially in the evenings and at night). So be sure to bring long pants and a jacket.


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