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There is one near Mount Popa. So far they only once had a German guest as they told me and this place should be quiet enough.
Please keep in mind, that you need a permission from the government to do it. But my guess is that with the necessary patience and time you would be able to get it.
You can see two pictures of it in my Mount Popa report and the tourguide I recommend there can certainly help you with everything as he is a big fan of the place.
Written Aug 12, 2012
Mount Popa is a one and a half-hour drive, 50 kms, southeast of Bagan. It is an extinct volcano which dominates the area with its imposing expanse. It is surrounded by thick jungle teeming with natural springs, butterflies, monkeys, medicinal herbs and exotic flowers. At its foot is a magnificent rocky outcrop, a table mountain topped with shimmering gold stupas - this is the Popa Taungkalat, usually confused with Mt Popa itself but is the real destination for travellers. The Popa Taungkalat, a buddhist monastery, is the legendary home of 37 Burmese "nats" (spirits), statues of which can be found at its base. It is 737 metre (2,417 ft).
To reach the stupas at the top, we removed our shoes and began the half-hour and 777 step climb up a covered walkway to the summit. There are many stalls next to the steps at the lower levels and a multitude of monkeys looking for food handouts. The walkway winds around the outcrop, at first gradual but then very steep and narrow. The views from the summit are quite spectacular looking over to Mt Popa itself and far into the distance.
On the drive to Mt Popa, there are several primitive roadside mills, where you may watch gentle buffalo slowly circumnavigating the central stone, grinding palm seed into oil. The farmers also make and sell a local toffee (candy) from palm sugar which they call "jaggery." We also stumbled across a market in one of the towns along the way at which we were the only foreigners there.
Written May 11, 2011
Mingun is a fascinating township that can be reached by a riverboat in about one hour from Mandalay or a couple of hours by vehicle. It contains a number of beautiful pagodas and good tourist stalls. It is a quiet town with few if any cars or motorbikes as the locals use ox carts for transport.
The Mingun Pahtodawgyi is a monumental uncompleted stupa began in 1790 by King Bodawpaya. The completed stupa would have been the largest in the world at 150 meters. The huge cracks in the structure were caused by an earthquake in 1839.
King Bodawpaya also had a gigantic bell cast to go with his huge stupa. The bell was started in 1808 and finished by 1810 and is today the largest ringing bell in the world. The bell weighs 90 tons and stands 20.7 feet high from the rim to the top. The bell is uncracked and in good ringing condition. The bell does not have a clanger but is rung by striking the outer edge.
Within easy walking distance is the white Hsinbyume or Myatheindan Pagoda with a distinctive architectural style built in 1816. This pagoda was badly damaged by an earthquake but restored in 1874.
There are also the Settawyar Pogoda, Molmi Pogoda and other fascinating pagodas within the township of Mingun.
Mingun is located approximately 11 km (7 miles) north of Mandalay on the western bank of the Irrawaddy River.
Updated May 11, 2011
The capital of the Burmese kingdom before the colonial era, Mandalay is Myanmar 's second largest city. It is still considered to be the cultural capital as well as the economic and religious centre for Upper Myanmar . Highlights include the Shwenandow pagoda which has some exquisite woodcarvings adorning its walls, the Mahu Muni Buddha image covered in gold leaf, the Kuthodaw Pagoda, home to the world's largest book. No visit to Mandalay would be complete without a climb to the top of Mandalay Hill at the end of the day. Mandalay is also well known for its handicrafts and is the ideal place to search out marble, wood carvings, weavings or traditional puppets. Around Mandalay are four ancient capitals, each very different and each worth a visit to explore their monastic culture and plentiful temples. Mingun is home to the world's largest uncracked bell and is reached by boat along the river, while the other ancient cities of Ava, Amarapura and Sagaing can be visited together in one day.
Updated Apr 4, 2011
Phone: 01869 276 200
there is a regular servivce from Mandalay up the river.. nearly two days and a bit later you would arrive at Bhamo and you could go by taxi to Mytykina. the accomodations are rudimentary but most burmese would live on the deck cook and there is a place you can buy some food on boat, once again very basic. but it passes through some fantastic sceneries and also each time the boat docks at towns, it is good to go out and see the town and see the activity around the dock such as in Katha. Having a burmese speaking friend accompany you would make the whole thing simpler. You will be charged in dollars but it is very little compared to the length of travel (around 50 usd)
Written Dec 19, 2010
Most people who do the boattrip from myitkiyna to katha or further to mandalay have to stop overnight in in small village called sinbo - if they do their travel by public boats. thats your chance to leave the less beaten track and discover the totally unknown. because the local authorities dont`seem to care about travel restrictions you can leave the village for hikes into the wilderness. you can even rent a bike from a villager to do the trip! just take any direction away from the river. you will meet a lot of surprised locals, who`ll show how to kill fish in a river with a machete(!) or you can help them carrying bamboo out of the jungle. the people here live with the jungle. if you enter the forrest you will soon discover that there are some famers growing different things. so take your time and stay in sinbo for a day more. here you can get a glimpse on the real real life of people in myanmar. by the way: catering is easy. there are some street-kitchens in the village and you can get nice food at your hostel.
Written Aug 11, 2010
For the adventurous traveler, we would like to suggest some trekking spots in the country. Though, there are many but prime spots are Mount Popa (Kyaukpadaung Township), Mandalay (Kyaukhtiyo Township, Mon State) and Tayaw Mountain Range (Kalaw Township, Southern Shan State).
The trekking in Tayaw village is famous for the adventures and sight-seeing it offers. The place also gives an insight into the lifestyle of the Burmese people because many villages too lie in the way. The Palaung people are very welcoming and warm.
To reach the Tayaw Village, you board a flight from Yongon to Heho. Then, proceed about 70 Km west of Taunggyi, which takes you to Kalaw. Once at Kalaw, you are ready for trekking. Kalaw, too, is a famous hiking destination. It sits elevated on the Shan plateau and has good weather. During the British rule this was popular destination. The nearby villages can also be visited during your hiking and trekking trip.
The actual trekking site is about 11Km to the south-west of Kalaw in Tayaw Village. In the village, there are about 12 hilly ranges you can trek to. The trip can last 4-6 hours by foot and is adventurous. More information can be had from the Information Center located in Kalaw.
The Palaung traditions encountered during the trip are an experience in itself. Let me share some of them. The women in Palaung have beautiful attire. They wear skirts with caned hoops and beautiful colorful tops. The houses in Palaung tend to be horizontally long with a lot of members living in it. There are mostly joint families in Palaung culture. A surprising fact you may not like: They tend to bath only once a month.
The main religion in Palaung is Buddhism. Most of the villages are quite small and have a monastery. The main income source is farming and terrace cultivation. The mina food crop they grow is Thanaphet (Cordial Maze) and it has large leafs to wrap Myanmar cheroot (homes). People use these leaves to make Cheroots in Myanmar. Education is still one sector that this region lacks and there is just one primary school in the area. If possible, contribute to the village health fund as it may help some children get education.
Finally, Palaung is a fine trekking destination and alongside it is also a great display of the Myanmar culture. The scenic place is a delight for the adventurers.
Written Jan 28, 2010
As above, if you're wanting to visit most of central Burma, then it's best just to fly budget flights offered by Thai Air Asia roundtripping Bangkok to Yangon. But if you're wanting to visit the northeast Shan area near the 'Golden Triangle' then it's best done as a separate trip from northern Thailand before/after visiting Laos. You can get a separate Burmese visa at the Tachilek border when crossing over from the Thai bordertown of Mae Sai but you'll be restricted to this region and will not be allowed to fly into central Burma.
As the poster mentioned, this border used to be open and I exited and entered/exited via this crossing in the years before the policy change of requiring and exit permit from Tachilek. This area is still worth a visit in it's own right so I'd encourage you to visit it as a side trip from northern Thailand as part of your route to enter/exit Laos.
Written Jan 5, 2009
Last time i asked it was supposedly about $200 for everything (help at the border crossing, a guide and driver till Lashio) and whatever paperwork they need between the border and Lashio.... Up to Ruili you are on your own (not difficult, there are overnight sleeper buses). The flight might seem a little cheaper (i think it is somewhere between $160 and $200 i'm not sure about that. It was about $160 2 years ago). But you'll have to pay the taxi from Mandalay airport to the city which is highly overcharged (anywhere between $12 and $20 depending on how many taxi's are there/left)since there are no other options available (it is way out of the city and there are no buses/trains or even a village....).
For me, i really enjoyed the trip overland. I did the flight too but it is not nearly as exciting. Besides, the area between Kunming and Hsipaw is really visited by tourists so it is really interesting. Btw, there are hot springs in Lashio. I haven't tried this out yet since i didn't know they were there. And if you do go overland, find the english class/school (the guy has the only internet available i think). It is much fun to be there. And we got invited to dinner by the boys of the class and for breakfast the girls took me out ;-)
Written Oct 11, 2008
While you may enter Myanmar from China via the Ruili-Muse border, you will have to arrange for an escort/guide to take you from the Myanmar border to the town of Lashio (east of Hsipaw). I don't know the cost but have heard that it's not cheap. From Lashio, you can travel by bus or train to Hsipaw, the next major town, on your own. There may even be share taxis.
You might consider flying from Kunming to Mandaly instead of travelling overland because I've read that the cost for a flight is nearly the same as overland travel.
Overall, Burma is safe but you do need to take the usual precautions as a solo female traveler.
And as others have forewarned, you do have to count the kyat notes on an exchange carefully (take your time and count it twice before handing over your US$) because 'shorting' does happen. Otherwise, overall, the people of Burma are incredibly friendly and honest.
Written Oct 5, 2008
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