My Remote Lands guide was excellent in every sense. She was truly sensitive and instructive on local customs and their meanings and applications.
Tucked away in the far eastern corner of Burma, Kengtung is the historic center of the ethnic Shan State. The name Kengtung means "Walled City of Tung" and refers to a mythological founder of the city. This remote area has long held geographic significance; its three international borders - Laos, Thailand and China - make it a critical lynchpin in the country's defense. During World War II, Kengtung was occupied by Japanese and Thai soldiers because it is 100 miles (160 kilometers) equidistant from all three borders. Kengtung was formally opened to travelers in 1994.
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Our co-founder & CEO Catherine Heald enjoys going to Myanmar and trekking in remote hilltribe villages, where the way of life has remained the same for hundreds of years.
If one is taking place, visit the water buffalo market, which takes place two to three times a week outside of town. Local farmers bring in their beasts and prospective buyers inspect the oxen from nose to tail.
There are many hill tribes in the area, the most prominent of which are the Akha, who emigrated from China’s Yunnan province 200 years ago, the Red Palaung, and the Lahu tribes. In particular, the Akha sport elaborate traditional costumes, which can take up to one hour to put on. Meet these distinct, proud peoples, learn about their traditions, ways of life, and the wide range of religions that flourish here, including traditional animism, Christianity, and, of course, Buddhism.
In the heart of Kengtung, one can find Maha Myat Muni and Wat Ho Khong monastery and temple; many of the temples and monasteries in the area have both a Burmese and a Shan name. Nearby is the Wan Phat Kyauk monastery, which features ornate, inlaid doors which were carved by hand. The Khun language, closely related to the dialects of northern Thailand, is taught at the monastery’s schools for children and junior monks.
Jom Mon Temple
Visit Wat Phra That Jom Mon, which sits on a hill and offers a good view of the town. The temple houses a tall Buddha, and the grounds are usually filled with young, novice monks playing football with plastic sandals and makeshift toys.
Zom Kham Temple
Discover the most impressive of the town’s temples and monasteries, Zom Kham. The tall gilded chedi is topped by a gold "hti" (an umbrella placed on top of a pagoda) inlaid with jewels and decorated with small gold bells.
Discover Myanmar’s hidden hilltribes in the country’s Shan state on this whirlwind 4-day luxury adventure. You’ll make friends with the traditional tribespeople, and learn about their day-to-day lives, rituals, customs, and more, while staying at the peaceful New Kyaing Tong Hotel.
Discover the differences between Thailand and Myanmar as the two countries are juxtaposed on this unique 11-day luxury voyage from Northern Thailand to Kengtung, Myanmar. You’ll go from petting tigers in Chiang Mai, to trekking through a Chiang Rai tea plantation, to meeting members of the Loi tribe in Kengtung.
New Kyaing Tong Hotel
Once the site of a palace occupied by the concubines of ethnic Shan chieftans, the New Kyaing Tong Hotel offers a modicum of luxury in the remote reaches of Myanmarâ€™s Shan state. The hotel is comprised of 12 Junior Suites, 24 Superior rooms and 72 Standard rooms, many of which include spacious terraces that overlook the adjacent Noung Ton Lake and the mountainous landscape beyond. In-room amenities include satellite television, mini-bar and air conditioning. The hotel also has a charming pagoda and outdoor swimming pool on its grounds. Dining options are limited: there is a dining hall that serves Chinese and Western cuisine in addition to local specialties. The New Kyaing Tong Hotel is approximately 30 minutes by car from the Kengtung airport.