During my travels in Asia I’ve done quite a few treks. Each trekking always surprises me in a positive way. I also did a 3 day trekking from Kalaw to Inle during my 1 month Myanmar itinerary. The landscape is amazing and what better way to discover it than on foot?
During this trekking from Kalaw to Inle I enjoyed amazing views and I got a better look at the local life and culture. I recommend it to everyone!
The trek is only suitable for people with excellent mobility and reasonable fitness. In 3 days you have walked 60 kilometers. That’s quite a lot! And because it can rain quite often in the Kalaw area, the trails were not in perfect condition. It was often muddy and very slippery.
In addition, you shouldn’t be averse to basic facilities. There isn’t a western toilet for three days, but literally a hole in the ground and there’s no hot water. Not a problem for me, but it’s good to be aware of this!
In Kalaw there are several organizations that offer a trekking to Inle Lake. Some offer private tours, others in groups. I really enjoyed going with a group to meet new people in this way and we had a really good time! You can choose for a one-day, two-day or three-day trek.
The first day started on time. Around 9:00 AM everyone was ready at the meeting point to start the trekking. First we walked a bit through the city and soon through the forest where we got our first shower of rain. The highest point was about 1400 meters and we could enjoy an amazing view. On the way we met a number of farmers with their cattle and their dogs. The route continued through several villages where we had lunch.
The landscape was so diverse during the first day and we passed a number of beautiful viewpoints.
We stayed overnight after a hike of about 6 hours in the Kyauk Su village at a family home. There were mattresses with blankets and pillows waiting for us upstairs. There was no electricity and food was cooked for us over the fire. It was a treat! We tried to communicate with the local family through gestures and that resulted in funny moments. I loved it!
Everyone woke up early this morning. Some daredevils took a “shower” in their underwear using tubs of cold water from the water basin. I let this opportunity pass by! Before we started our second day, the family prepared a delicious breakfast for us.
This day we walked again through small villages and along various plantations. Today the route was a lot more slippery and several of us (almost) fell down a few times. One of the most beautiful parts of this route I found the many rice terraces with the mountains in the background. And we had to climb over one of those mountains to get to the other side. It was very slippery and therefore quite tiring!
During our lunch with local beers we had way too much fun and before we knew it it was already getting dark. This evening we would go to sleep in a local monastery. We would never reach our overnight stop before dark. We therefore walked the last part in the dark with our flashlights, but luckily we arrived safely, but covered with mud.
This time I did try the local shower in the monastery. Armed with a flashlight and in our underwear, we took a very refreshing shower with the help of cups of ice cold water. Dinner was delicious and we all played card games together until the late hours.
There was of course no sleeping in, because the monks started singing early in the morning. After a nice breakfast we started our hike to Inle Lake, a 4.5 hour walk. Fortunately we did not have to climb that much anymore and it was mainly descending.
After our last lunch together, we boarded the boat that took us to Inle Lake.
What to bring?
It’s quite useful to know in advance what you should bring along the trek. Make sure everything fits in a daypack and that it’s not too heavy. You have to walk with it on your back for a few days.
- Enough water, think about 1 liter (you can buy more drinks and snacks on the way in some villages)
- Warm clothes for the evening (it can get quite chilly in the evening)
- Slippers, towel and shower equipment (you can only shower with cold water)
- Raincoat and rain cover for your backpack
- Sunglasses and possibly a hat or cap
- Mosquito repellent
- Toilet paper
- Power bank (the overnight spots have no powersockets)
- Bed sheet and pillowcase (blankets and pillows are provided, but I thought it was nice to have them)
Price trekking Kalaw
The price will differ slightly per organization, but they are mostly the same. For example, I only paid $ 20 for a three-day trek. This included: breakfast, lunch and dinner, overnight places during the trek, a guide and the luggage transfer to Inle Lake. The price does depend on the size of the group. You pay a little more for a smaller group. But overall is super cheap.
How to get to Kalaw
- Yangon – Kalaw: Buses run directly from Yangon to Kalaw. This bus ride in theory takes about 9 hours, but in reality it could take a little longer.
- Hpa-An – Kalaw: The ride from Hpa-An to Kalaw in theory takes about 10 hours, but in reality our bus took no less than 14 hours. This ride wasn’t smooth at all because we made many stops and even had to get off the bus in the middle of the night because it was too heavy to pass the toll gate.
- Naypyidaw – Kalaw: On the way to Kalaw you can also decide to make a stopover in Naypyidaw, the (new) capital of Myanmar.