My friend and owner of an Australian travel agency asked me to join and lead their group to Keng Tung. The group traveled for 12 days throughout Myanmar and some people also booked the Keng Tung extension.

Day 1: Yangon to Keng Tung

In the early morning I met the group at Yangon Domestic Airport and where we took the plane with Myanmar National Airlines in about 1 hour to Keng Tung.

Located in a lush valley deep in the Shan State, Keng Tung reflects the old fashioned culture of traditional Shan people. Far removed from more conventional travel destinations in Middle Myanmar, Keng Tung and its surrounding region offer an in depth glimpse into the rural Hill Tribe life of Myanmar which is still unblemished by time and the western world.

The Shan State, particularly the Keng Tung region, has been a crossroads for cultural and ethnic diversity in Myanmar. There are 9 primary ethnic groups in the area with multiple subsets. This part of the Shan State is a true taste of the Golden Triangle, as the Shans of the region closely resemble the Thai and Lao in language and customs.  On arrival at Keng Tung airport, we were welcomed by our guide.

From the airport we drove to the Loimwe area which was a former summer resort for British in the colonial era. We visited en-route the Wa village of Naung Cho known as the birthplace of one of the earliest ethnic tribes of Shan country. In Loi Moi we visited the Old Catholic church built by the Italian mission early in the 19th century and saw some of the colonial houses built as summer residences during the British colonial era. We returned to Keng Tung and checked-in at Amazing Keng Tung Resort, conveniently located at the center of Keng Tung. Hotel options are limited in Keng Tung and Amazing Keung Tung Resort is the best choice.
After freshened-up, we had dinner at Colina Cafe & Bistro, a cozy restaurant with healthy Asian and European food. We had curry Colina and the Salmon with French fries and salad who were both very delicious. Here they also serve one of the best coffees and smoothies in town.

Day 2: Explore the outskirts of Keng Tung and meet the local hill tribes

After an early breakfast, driver and guide picked us up and drove us to Pin Tauk village, the starting point for our trek today. We set off on foot and walked on an unpaved road uphill for about 1 hour. We had to make several stops to give us some breath and to drink some water. After 1 hour, and totally wet, we reached the Akha village of Hwe Lon. We proud ourselves that we made it.

After a short break, we spent time in the village and interact with the locals to discover more about their unique customs and daily lifestyle. We were also invited for a cup of tea at a family home. We inclined to the top of Lone Tree Hill for panoramic views of the surroundings.

We resumed our trekking to an Ann Village (approximately 30 minutes). The Ann minority is known for their traditional black dress and blackened teeth. As you walk into the hills and enter their villages, you will become more intimate with these different tribes and customs. Here we also enjoyed a picnic lunch.

After a full belly we resumed our trekking for 30 minutes where the vehicle was waiting for us and to take us back to Keng Tung. In the afternoon we also had some time to enjoy the resort’s swimming pool.

We had all a wonderful day with our cultural trek through the Shan Hills, it is highly likely that you will encounter languages so unique that only a handful of villages still use them to communicate. This is also a great opportunity to compare the diverse styles of dress unique to each individual village next to one another.

This evening we had dinner Yun 88 – Dim Sum Restaurant. It’s located on the main road. This is one my favorites, not only about the food but also the ambiance, nice design, the lovely staff and you will mostly find only locals there.

Day 3: Keng Tung – Tachileik – Mae Sai – Chiang Mai

After an early breakfast, we visited Keng Tung local market – a fascinating place to soak up the atmosphere. All kinds of vegetables, rice, fruits, meat and fish are on sale. Minority people come to town to shop or to sell their goods. For the Akha the many silver shops are of special interest, as there they can buy the silver coins to make their unique headdresses.
Next, we drove through gorgeous scenery, at a fine road to Tachileik. The drive is around 3 hours depending on traffic. On arrival in Tachileik, our guide escorted us through immigration and customs and where we had to say goodbye. We crossed the border from Myanmar to Thailand and met our Thai guide…

Gerben Bloemendaal