Take A Hill Tribe Tour Through Myanmar - Pyala-Travel.com - Travel Program

With Pyala Travel, you can embark on an adventurous hill tribe tour! Visit the tattooed women, the Chin and people around Kengtung in the Golden Triangle.

Myanmar hill tribe tour

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walk in Golden Triangle, meet the tattooed faces of the Chin

In Myanmar, you will find many traditional hill tribes. Because of the isolation of the country there are very traditional societies here. On this trip you will visit the people around Kengtung and the tattooed women of the Chin in the west.

from 1640,-
16 days

Myanmar hill tribe tour
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Day 1 Arrival Yangon
Today you arrive in Yangon, formerly known as Rangoon. After the Customs formalities are completed, exchange money before transferring to your hotel. Today you can explore Yangon along with an English speaking guide and private car with driver. Visit the central Sule pagoda, located amidst many buildings from the British colonial era. Also, the Chauktatgyi Buddha, a huge reclining Buddha, should not be missed. In the late afternoon you can visit the Shwedagon Pagoda (Shwedagon Paya or, as the Myanmar say), the Golden Glory of Myanmar, an imposing edifice and perhaps one of the most impressive temples in the world. The end of the day, at sunset, is the best time to see this impressive monument. By nightfall many townspeople come to the Shwedagon to walk their rounds around the pagoda and to meet friends and acquaintances. It is also very nice to go to the river and take in the bustling river life with its many ferries.
Day 2 Yangon - Kengtung
You leave the city life behind you and fly direct to Kengtung in Shan State, in the middle of the infamous Golden Triangle. Since Kyaing Tong (Kengtung) is only accessible by plane, you cannot travel overland and you need to fly. Kyaing Tong (Kentung) itself is a nice town with a colorful market and many beautiful temples and pagodas. It is the largest city in the so-called Golden Triangle, the border region of Myanmar, Laos and Thailand, and center of the opium trade. Due to the battle between the army and the drug lords, the region was inaccessible for decades. It is now much calmer, but the overland routes are still closed. Because of the isolation, this is one of the most traditional regions in the Golden Triangle and you will find beautiful villages of the Wa, the Eng, the Shan, Akha and Lahu peoples.
Day 3 Kengtung
During your stay you have two days for hikes and treks, while visiting a number of villages of different tribes. There are also many markets in this area, which rotate on a schedule among the villages. Today you will drive two hours northwest from Kyaing Tong (Kengtung) and continue walking from there to Akha villages of the Loai population. The ride, the walks and visits take days to complete. It's a beautiful drive through the rice fields. You walk into the hills and  partly through the woods. The villages are more or less hidden in the jungle. The walks are pretty tough, but doable for anyone with a normal physical condition and some hiking experience. Keep in mind that it can sometimes be quite hot. We recommend you to bring plenty of water and some snacks for the road. The walk begins uphill, not too steep, but the path is rising constantly in the first hour. The second hour is a lot flatter. The path, or rather the dirt road, is new and quite broad. There are also occasional cars that come along and raise a lot of dust.

Note: The local authority could temporarily restrict or bar the visits to certain villages or areas without prior notice as per the situation in such area.   
Day 4 Kengtung
You will be traveling to Hokyin where there are four different Akha villages. One village is Buddhist and the other animistic, another Christian and the last a "bit of everything." It is about an hour away and then a half hour walk to the first village. From there it is always a half-hour walk to the next village. This hike also starts uphill, partly along a wider path that a tuk-tuk or car can also drive on, and later on a narrow path along the mountain. Upon your arrival in the first village, the Akha women will already be waiting for you. People in all four villages are very friendly and accessible. The path is fairly steep but can be walked by anyone without help. Sometimes you have to look down deep ravines. From one village to the next the hike is always first a bit down and then up again. The villages are all on top of a hill. Distances between the villages are quite short, ranging from 15 to 30 minutes walking. After the last village you walk down again, partly along a fairly new, wide path, and then on a narrow path for about one and a half hours until you are back at the car.  

Note: The guide is sometimes forced by circumstance to visit other villages and take other walks.
Day 5 Kengtung - Inle Lake
A short flight takes you from the hills around Kengtung to Inle Lake in Shan state. This area is much more accessible and it is also much more accustomed to foreigners. Nevertheless it is still a beautiful area. From the airport in Heho it is an hour drive to Nyaungshwe, located on the northern bank of the lake. Along the way you take a scenic drive through the countryside and the hills of Shan. This is one of the traditional agricultural areas of Myanmar and then you also see many rice fields, corn fields and farmers with ox-carts along the roadside. Nyaungshwe is a relaxing place and the base to explore the area. You can stroll through the market, on the countryside cycling and of course boat trips across the lake. In the town itself you can visit some monasteries, a market and there are many restaurants and shops.
Day 6 Inle Lake
Today is a free day to enjoy the beautiful lake. We definitely recommend that you book a day trip to explore the lake, the villages, monasteries and floating markets by boat. In the towns around the lake you will also find a large rotating market place, and should one of the market days occur when you are there, you can see such a market, where many mountain peoples come down to visit.
Day 7 Inle Lake - Pindaya - Kalaw
From Inle Lake,  you travel in a few hours to Pindaya. In Pindaya you can visit the beautiful caves with thousands of Buddhas. Then, another drive to Kalaw, a small town which was originally founded as a British hill station and is at approximately 1300 meters of elevation. It is a nice town and it is worth visiting the market. In Kalaw you can also find many British colonial houses. In addition, Kalaw also has a large Indian community and you will find Hindu and Sikh temples. There is a small, bustling market that happens once in 5 days which many Palaung and Pa 'O peoples visit.
Day 8 Kalaw
Today you have a free day in Kalaw. The fresh, hilly area around Kalaw invites hikes. You can take a short walk or choose one of our walking tours. In addition, you will visit some villages of the Palaung and Pa'o population.
Day 9 Kalaw - Bagan
A long travel day brings you to the famous temple complex of Bagan.
You can also take the flight to Bagan which of course is faster but a bit more costly.
Day 10 Bagan
Bagan is undoubtedly Myanmar's most famous attraction, and rightly so; it is one of the most beautiful temple complexes in the world. On the eastern bank of Ayeyarwaddy River, you will find an area of 40 square kilometers covered in endless temples, pagodas and monasteries built between the 11th and 13th centuries. It is an enchanting experience to climb one of the temples during sunrise or sunset and look out over the landscape. As far as you can see there are temples scattered across the plain and farmers with their herds wandering among them. 

Bagan is best explored by bicycle or horse cart. Because of the vastness of the area you will have to choose which temples to visit. Note that these temples - like all temples in Myanmar - can only be entered barefoot. During the warm periods this may mean that the stone floors are piping hot from the sun. It pays to visit the temples early in the day or at the end of the afternoon. 
Day 11 Bagan - Kanpetlet
Today you leave one of the most famous places in Myanmar for one of the most isolated: Chin State. It's a long day riding in an open jeep, which is rather bumpy. These border areas with India and Bangladesh were off limits to foreigners for decades and then were only accessible with the right permits. It's an eight-hour ride on reasonable roads to the small town Kanpetlet, located in the hills of Chin. Initially you are driving through a dry landscape, but during the ride the environment gets greener and more hilly. You cross the new bridge over the Ayeyarwaddy River and head through Chauk to Kanpetlet.

Along the way you will stop several times. Chin tribes are also called Zomi and live not only in Myanmar but also in the Indian state of Mizoram. This tribe is especially known for its women with tattooed faces. According to legend, the practice developed to make the Chin women less attractive to Myanmar men with whom they were very popular. An additional advantage was that the Chin men could easily identify and reclaim their wives. This legend also applies to other tribes, like the Apatani tribe in Arunachal Pradesh, India, where tattoos are also common. Chin girls were all tattooed in their adolescence, a painful process for which the thorns of the local lemon trees were used. Today, the Myanmar government has banned the tattooing of women and you will see that it is mostly the older generation with tattoos. The women you will see all have more or less the same pattern on their faces. They belong to the Moun Clan, one of the three sub-tribes in this region. Other clans are the Dai and Makan. The women around Mrauk U have tattoos that looks most like a kind of cobwebs.

Note: Depending on the condition of the roads (especially between Kanpetlet and Mindat) the route can be different from the above list.
Day 12 Kanpetlet
Today you will visit some villages of the Chin in the vicinity. You will see there are many tombstones around the villages; the Chin bury their dead beneath piled stones which can best be compared to our megaliths, but smaller. During the local Lunn Yu festivals the inhabitants carry heavy stones from the river up to the village where there is already a grave ready to put the case after someone dies.

In the morning you walk near Kanpetlet through a village of the Dai clan where the older women still have tattooed faces. Some women still wear traditional clothing. People who live here are happy to be photographed. You will stay a little longer in this village so you can get acquainted with the people with whom you come in contact. After lunch we visit another two Chin villages. In one of them the women play the nose flute, and with a little luck you can see that too. You take a flute and blow it with your nose at the temple. There are easy hikes today, but keep in mind that the height difference is around 150 m.
Day 13 Kanpetlet - Mindat
On the way to Mindat you pass more villages. Halfway there you get out of the car to continue on foot. It is a beautiful but strenuous hike of about four hours. You start with a descent down towards the river valley, about 300 meters. The descent is quite steep in places and loose stones make it slippery in spots. An hour later you are down in the valley with the sole purpose of climbing up again on the other side. The bridge over the river is sometimes washed away by the water, and in that case we have a few stones to cross the river. On the other side you first walk up a ways (approximately 50 m increase) and come to the village of Kyar Hto, one of the larger Chin villages.

The women smoking their stiff pipes may surprise you. You may run into the shaman and you can hear about his role in the Chin community. In the middle of the village you will see a collection of carved wooden columns; these are the posts that indicate how many mithun cattle will be sacrificed during each Lunn Yu festival, which mainly takes place in the spring. There are many cattle that are shot by the shaman with bow and arrow in this ritual sacrifice. Afterwards there are always lots of celebrations, eating, dancing and singing.

After having spent some time in the village, you will walk again. After two hours of descent you will reach the main road (still a dirt road), where the jeep is waiting for you to continue on to Mindat, a small town situated on a mountain ridge. In the distance you can see the peak of Nat Ma Taung (Mt. Victoria), the highest mountain in the area. You will visit the more extravagantly dressed women of the Makan clan. Makan women also tattoo their faces and wear gigantic, colorful disc earrings.
Day 14 Mindat - Bagan
Morning brings you to a mountain top monastery. Then you drive a different route back from Mindat to Bagan. It is a tough travel day, but you will make a few stops to stretch your legs. By the end of the day you are back in Bagan.
Day 15 Bagan - Yangon
You can make a few last-minute visits to the temples of Bagan before your late-afternoon flight to the Myanmar former capital (depending on the flight schedule). Upon your arrival in Yangon you can visit one of the pagodas, stroll through the always-colorful Bogyoke Aung San market, or sip cocktails in the bar of the Strand Hotel.
Dag 16 Depart Yangon

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