L ocated in the eastern part of Myanmar, southern Shan State is one of the best places to visit and relax in summer. In colonial period, senior government offcials head to in Kalaw or Taunggyi to spend their summer. Shan state is also very diverse and colorful region since it is home to many national races including Shan, Palaungs, Danu, Lahus, Inthas, Taungyoe, etc. Almost all ethnic groups have their own traditions and cultures. Then, the places in Southern Shan state especially Kalaw, Pindaya, Inle lake, Kakku , Taunggyi, Htam Sam Cave are defnitely worthy a visit. You can easily get there and also do not need to worry for accommodation. In almost every region of Southern Shan State, there is a fve-day market, where you can buy various fresh and cheap products from local inhabitants’ own farms.
Kalaw has been very popular hilly resort since the colonial period. It is located 1320m above sea level and surrounded by pine trees and Shan plateau. The distance between Kalaw and Yangon is only 634.2km. One can reach Kalaw within 7 hours by car. You can also get there by train. There is direct train from Yangon that takes 26 hours to reach Kalaw. Such a long duration is due to having many stop overs along the way. However, the landscape is astonishing, nice and mountainous and dramatic. Around Kalaw, there are also many interesting places to visit and do many activities including hiking and trekking. Green Hill Valley Elephant Camp, a 45-minute drive from Kalaw is recently popular in Southern Shan State. Visitors to this Elephant Camp can find local village traditions and natural beauty of the surrounding forest and get opportunity to learn about Mahouts and their Elephants in the nature. Then, the visitors can also participate in this Elephant Camp’s program; replantingand conserving of the forest to save the environment.If you are interested in trekking, Kalaw has a lot of trekking companies, with a variety of treks.
Although Pindaya is a small town in Southern Shan State, it becomes one of the mustsee tourist destinations of Myanmar for its famous limestone caves. Pindaya is Danu Autonomous Region and the main inhabitants are Danu and PaO. If you want to go Pindaya from Kalaw by car, it takes only 45-minute. Pindaya caves containing thousands of ancient Buddha stuppas is the major tourist attraction of Pindaya. You should not miss to visit Boataloke Lake where seven fairies used to take bath according to legend. There is no luxury fve-star hotel in Pindaya but you do not need to be anxious about accommodation. Accommodation options include a number of good hotels and guest houses. Those on budget almost all monasteries are always ready to welcome the visitors including foreigners (male and female) for the night.
Located in heart of Shan plateau, Inle Lake is second largest fresh water lake in Myanmar. You can reach there with 30 minute drives from Taunggyi and 1hr half hour drivefrom Kalaw. It is mainly famous for unique life style of local people especially leg – rowers. Floating villages and foating market are the main attractions. If you are at Inle Lake, you can hire a boat and visit around the lake in one day. For people who want to stay at Inle Lake for two or three days, there are lots of hotels and guest houses for accommodation. The Paungdawoo pagoda is worth for a visit and pagoda festival is held in every October. You can also taste real Intha Montti which is unlike Myanmar famous Mohingha and buy traditional cotton and costumes, silver wares and other handicrafts there.
Taunggyi, the capital of Southern Shan State is chosen as one of the best place to live in Myanmar. Peaceful environment and cool weather make perfect for people to live in Taunggyi. It is located 1436m above sea level and it takes around 8hr to reach Taunggyi from Yangon. There are also daily direct fight from Yangon. Many famous pagodas are located around Taunggyi and each has its own history that was really interesting. If you are in Taunggyi, you should not miss out. The Cultural Museum where cultural objects, musical instruments, traditional dresses, farm implements, paintings, sculptures, handicrafts of the diversity of ethnic groups residing in Shan State can be seen. The Myoma Market is the most colorful and busiest part of Taunggyi since it is the gathering point of different ethnic group residing in Taunggyi. Aye Thar Yar Vine Yard is also popular among tourists. Drinking winein Vine Yard and looking at mountain scenery is the best thing for the visitors. The most famous event in Taunggyi festival is Air – balloon festival, which is celebrated in every November. Various Shapes of hot air balloons are released into the sky. This festival is the biggest and most famous festival not only in Shan State but also in the whole country.
Htam Sam Caves
Compared to Pindaya Caves, Htam Sam Caves are not that popular among tourists. However, it becomes more and more popular among local travelers. You can reach there about 30 minutes drive from Taunggyi. Township where Htam Sam Caves are situated is under PaO Autonomous Region. It is long and large lime stone cave. Htam Sam Caves were frst discovered by a monk, named Ko Yin Lay. You can have free lunch the monk offers every day in Htam Sam Caves. You should not miss this lunch since it is really well cooked and delicious. On the way to Htam Sam Caves, you can take a rest in Ho Pon and eat Tohu salad which is also really tasty.