The route to Kengtung by land is whole lot easier than it used to be.
This road was just recently sealed, which now makes it a relatively comfortable 3 hour ride from Takchilek. Just a year or two ago, the road was unsealed and it would take 6-12 hours, depending on conditions, and the road was impassible during the worst of the rainy season.
To get here from Mae Sai, Thailand, walk across the bridge into Takchilek where you can get a 14 day visa, which is only good in this part of the country (i.e. Takchilek-Kengtung-Mongla) It cost $10 USD with no FEC exchange requirements.
Either catch a bus or hire transport yourself for the journey. The road passes through a beautiful river gorge then over some tall mountains before reaching Kengtung. Along the way you will pass 8 or so police check points to verify your paper work. You will also pass through a few Shan and hill tribe villages.
Its funny, once you reach the last police check point just south of Kengtung, you have to get out of the car, and actually walk about 50 meters across the final police check point. Not sure why this is required, but hey they got all the guns, so I was more than happy to comply with the request...
Flying to Kengtung is probably the most common way to get here. Last time I flew from Yangon (2001), the only airline that flew this route was MA, which is the government airline. (They of the scary safety record) They only fly the route about twice a week, and they seem to make up the schedule as they go along.
We were scheduled to come back to Yangon on a Monday,and our in-keeper gave us the notice: "They may fly today,, so better get to the airport early." (May fly today ??)
OK, so we get there early, then wait around for a couple hours and nothing happens... The in-keeper came out to the airport and met us again... Sorry, sorry,,, no fly today, but they may fly tomorrow, so better get to the airport early... (same thing routine the next day, but as fate would have it there actually was an airplane waiting for us on Tuesday...
You also hear stories on MA where the airplane that you flying suddenly diverts to another city for no apparent reason.
Seems the military has a lot of sway over when/where and how MA routes its planes, and if some big General or Colonel wants to abscond with the airplane to go see his girl friend in Heho or Takchilek, well my friends you will just have to wait a bit longer to reach your intended destination...
Dirt Biking Through the Shan State
Dirt Biking to get around is a pretty good option. Though you will be covered in mud, dust, sweat by the end of the day...
Just be careful of the "bridges"... (This one looked like it was made out of tiwgs and woven corn stalks... ) Good thing I didn't eat a big breakfast that morning or may have ended up in the drink... (So to speak...)
- Adventure Travel
Follow the fine example of the young monk traversing this stream and just do as the natives do.... (a lot of times wlaking about is your only option, anyway...)