Experience the rare cultural opportunity of exploring the lush Kengtung area and meeting the local Shan Hill tribes. These traditional, well-preserved cultures are completely unique to the rest of Myanmar - even maintaining their own ancient languages, some of which sound more similar to Thai than Burmese. Our four-day Hill Tribes of the Shan State itinerary will take you to the heart of this beautiful old-world culture. As it is possible to reach Kengtung by road from Northern Thailand, or by plane from within Myanmar, this itinerary can be scheduled in conjunction with other destinations in the region.
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Fly from within Myanmar or drive from Northern Thailand into Kengtung-- a lush, subtropical, wild area with several lakes dotting the plush countryside. The town has a Tai population unique from the rest of the Shan State, as it was settled by the ancient Lawa people, after being designated for them by the King’s grandson. Noticeable is not only the Burmese influence, but also the impression of the former Thai occupation of the area. Take a stroll around Nong Tong Lake, a peaceful hub in the town. This evening, you will stay at the New Kyaing Tong Hotel, a hotel that sits on the site of the former royal palace, which was demolished after the royal family was driven into exile.
Spend the morning exploring the countryside where the Akha, Lahu and other fascinating hill tribes still live.This is one of the few regions in Southeast Asia where it is possible to meet and spend time with authentic tribes in their home villages. Hike first to visit the Loi tribe. While they don't wear the vibrantly dyed clothing that some of the other tribes do, they are unique in their way of living. The Loi live in wooden longhouses-- multiple families residing under the same roof. Also unique are their farmining and agricultural methods. Travel deeper into the countryside of Kengtung to visit more hill tribes in their villages. After the Loi village, you will hike up Hokyin Mountain in order to reach your next destination in Wanpauk, where the Silver Palaung hill tribe lives. The women of this tribe wear brightly colored clothing and large silver belts around their waists. Spend time here and learn that, while many of their traditions are the same, the people within this village have different religious beliefs. Return to Kengtung at the end of the day by car.
After breakfast this morning, visit the Akhu village known as Wan Sai. The locals continue to dress in their ancient traditional garb and live according to traditions mostly unchanged and uninfluenced in recent times. Reach the villages on foot as you trek through vivid rice and vegetable fields. You will be astonished by the welcoming hospitality and warm kindness, which extends from village to village. You will have an opportunity to visit the Ann in their village Wan Pin. The Ann people are animists and in the village you can see a small ritual house. You may notice that many of the women's teeth are tar-black, stained from chewing betel leaf. Head back to Kengtung and pass along the Lone Tree Hill, a vantage point which will provide a wide view of Kengtung.
Spend the morning perusing the markets. Don’t miss out on a chance to see the local wet market selling fresh vegetables, rice, fruit, meat and fish. There are plenty of stalls selling silver coins, local headdresses, and other locally crafted goods. Dine like a resident on a cup of hot tea and noodles for breakfast right before your departure from the Shan State, on to your next destination.