Trekking in Kalaw, or to be more precise trekking from Kalaw to Inle Lake, is one of our favourite things to do in Myanmar. From being outside, enjoying the incredible landscape, to staying in a local family’s home and tucking into some home cooked food, there’s a lot to like about it.
We’ve explained below a little bit more about what to expect when trekking in Kalaw, and how to get the best out of it.
The Night Before
The night before your trek begins, your guide(s) will come and meet you at your hotel in Kalaw. This is so they can talk with you about what you’re most excited about seeing and doing, and also explain a little bit about what the trek will entail. So if you're a bird lover, or want to go swimming, or think you’re pretty fit and want to walk for longer, then make sure you let them know.
They’ll also tell you what to pack in your daysack so that you don’t end up bringing too much. Your much larger suitcase will then get transported to Inle Lake tomorrow, and will be waiting for you at your hotel when you arrive in 2 or 3 days time. We’d definitely recommend packing less. You really only need a spare pair of clothes, camera, sun cream and insect repellent. That’s it.
Wake up early and make sure you eat a big breakfast at your hotel. Your guides will usually arrive around 8am to pick you up, but this could be earlier or later depending on what you discussed the night before. Your larger suitcase will also be collected and sent on it’s way to Inle Lake.
Depending on if you’re doing a 2 day or 3 day trek you’ll either take a short tuk tuk ride to the start point, or begin walking straight away from your hotel. Your guides will have all the food for the upcoming trek, but make sure you pick up a bottle of water for yourself.
And off you go!
You’ll be walking through incredible landscape, over rolling mountains, with great views of the valley below. There will be plenty of interaction with locals as you walk through villages of different ethnic tribes along the way so make sure you ask your guide for a few phrases that you can practise along the way.
Depending on your walking pace, you’ll usually arrive at your homestay village in the late afternoon. Here you’ll meet the family that have kindly agreed to host you for the night. The location of this homestay will change with most tours, depending on the day and the number of people taking part in the trek.
Soon it’ll be time for dinner, but make sure you have a walk around the village before it gets too dark, as there are unlikely to be any street lamps.
Dinner will be an assortment of traditional Shan dishes that has kindly been cooked by your host and you’ll either eat with your guide, or sometimes with the family, depending on their preference. Make sure you read our Myanmar culture blog to know the proper etiquette when eating with a family. We’ve found that this meal can often be the highlight of the entire trip in Myanmar.
Before long it’ll be time for bed, and we recommend not staying up too late, as it’s an early start tomorrow (but do understand that sometimes the temptation of sampling the local liquor is too much). Mosquito nets are always provided, and you’ll have your own little room, or part of the house to yourself for privacy.
Arrival at Inle Lake
Whether you’re taking a 2 day or 3 day trek, you’ll arrive on the shores of Inle Lake on your last day at lunchtime. Here, you’ll get to enjoy one last lunch with your guide before you board a boat that will take you across the lake and drop you off at your hotel, where you can relax those weary legs.
You’ll also need to pay the Inle Lake entrance fee when you arrive which is $10
It’s your decision whether you go straight to your hotel at this stage, or decide to do a bit of exploring on the lake and ask your boat driver to take you on a mini tour. Even just going on a long detour, through floating gardens and villages we think is worth it.
If your hotel is located in Nyaung Shwe, then your boat driver will drop you off at the jetty here, and you can walk the short distance to your hotel. Your larger suitcase will be waiting for you here.
We would highly recommend trekking in Kalw to anyone. Whether you think of yourself as an outdoor kind of person, or prefer a more laid back approach to your holiday, there is something for everyone, and the trek can be tailored to your level of fitness.