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Kalaw was founded as a hill station by British civil servants fleeing the heat of the plains. The town still feels like a high-altitude holiday resort – the air is cool, the atmosphere is calm and the tree-lined streets still contain a smattering of colonial-era architecture – while the surrounding hills are fine for relatively easy day or overnight treks to Danu, Danaw, Palaung, Pa-O and Taung Yo villages.

One of the few destinations in Myanmar that genuinely caters for backpackers rather than tour groups, Kalaw is an easy place to kick back for a few days. The town is also notable for its significant population of Nepali Gurkhas and Indians, whose ancestors came here to build the roads and railway during the colonial era.

Best time to visit

Since Kalaw is famous for its breathtaking trails and natural beauty, visitors should keep the weather in mind when planning their trip.

The dry season runs between November and May. While the temperatures are pretty low until early January, it can become quite hot (but still dry) in March and April. That is why the months of November and December are also considered high season with the highest concentration of tourists.

The wet season starts in May and ends in September. Visitors will find no crowds but the heavy rains often make the roads and trails muddy and often unusable.

Check the below table for the general idea of Kalaw weather throughout the year.

Month Avg. High (°C) Avg. Mean (°C) Avg. Low (°C)
Jan 24.1 17.9 9.9
Feb 26.7 20.2 10.5
Mar 28.7 22.9 14.5
Apr 29.8 24.2 17.1
May 27.7 23.2 18.1
Jun 25.5 22.2 18.7
Jul 24.3 21.4 18.4
Aug 24.1 21.2 18.4
Sep 25.3 21.7 18.1
Oct 25.3 21.1 16.4
Nov 25.6 20.4 14.1
Dec 23.8 18.1 10.9

Kalaw's current weather and 7-day forecast


The main reason that people come to Kalaw in Myanmar is to make their way to the graceful Inle Lake. If you make the trip to Kalaw, you can then trek to the lake or vice versa and this part of the country is known for having the most beautiful scenery in all of Myanmar.

If you are looking for a more rural side of the country outside of the main cities, then this is an excellent choice and you will find rolling hills, scenic mountains and dainty local villages dotted all over the countryside. Certainly if you like trekking, then this is not to be missed, and there are a range of hikes available that suit most fitness levels and itineraries.

As well as trekking, you can also enjoy spending time in Kalaw itself and check out craggy caves, spectacular temples and bustling local markets.

Here are the best things to do in Kalaw:

1. Admire the architecture

Like many spots in Myanmar, Kalaw has a few relics of crumbling British colonial architecture.

As you walk around the town you can see these in person, and they include oddities such as cottages built in the British style that would not look out of place in an English village.

You can also check out the pretty Christ the King Church which is famous as it employed the same priest for some 69 years.

2. Support the local community at the RDS Shop

The RDS shop is owned by the Rural Development Society which works to help the local community in Kalaw.

The shop sells textiles, clothes and also paper which is made by hand in the hills around Kalaw.

All the profits from the shop are put towards empowering the local Shan and Pa-O villages and there are a number of development projects in place that work to do just that.

You can also book treks into the surrounding countryside here.

3. Check out Kalaw Mosque

Many travelers are surprised to know that Kalaw has quite a sizeable Muslim population.

With this in mind, you can also visit the main mosque in Kalaw which is known as Kalaw Mosque and is the central place of worship for the Muslim community in town.

The mosque can be visited by non-Muslims outside of prayer times as long as you dress respectfully.

4. Travel to Myin Ma Hti Village

Around 30 minutes outside of Kalaw is the quaint Myin Ma Hti Village.

The main reason to come is to visit the large cave here and you can also rent a bicycle to explore the village from Kalaw.

There are also a number of elegant temples scattered around the village and this is a good spot to visit if you want to get out of Kalaw and see some of the surrounding countryside quickly and easily.

6. Trek to Inle Lake

The main reason why most people come to Kalaw is to trek to Inle Lake which is the biggest attraction in the area and usually takes around three days and two nights.

There are a number of different companies that you can choose from to lead the trek, but you can expect to pay around USD 50 for a tour which also includes meals.

As part of the experience you will get to visit monasteries and farms along the way.

7. Shop at the local market

When you are in Kalaw proper, one of the main attractions is the central market, also known as Kalaw Market.

The market rotates its location and changes every five days between Kalaw, Pindaya, Aung Ban, Heho and Nyaung Shwe.

With that in mind, if you are in town when the market is located in Kalaw, then make sure to take advantage of the opportunity to visit.

On a trip here you will find an amazing mix of local fruits and vegetables as well as local arts and crafts.

These are brought down by artisans and sellers who live in the surrounding mountains and include traditional textiles as well as jewelry and some toothsome street food.

8. Take the train to Thazi

Myanmar is known for its epic train journeys, and one of the best ways to arrive in or leave Kalaw is by taking the train to Thazi.

This is known as one of the most scenic journeys in all of Myanmar, which is saying something, and it is not to be missed if you like travelling by rail.

If you do opt to depart or arrive in Kalaw by train then you will get the chance to slow down and take in the verdant scenery in one of the less visited parts of Myanmar.

9. Visit Hsu Taung Pye Paya

If you are visiting Kalaw Market, then you should also take the time to visit Hsu Taung Pye Paya which is located close by.

This temple is known for its many different stupas and it also has a charming history attached.

The temple fell into disrepair many years ago and was crumbling to the ground, but luckily it was restored thanks to the generous donations of Buddhist visiting pilgrims.

10. Watch the fishermen at Inle Lake

If you choose to trek from Kalaw to Inle Lake then you will be greeted with a huge, limpid body of water.

The main attraction here however is the fishermen who have developed an amazing way of rowing their boats using their legs instead of their arms.

If possible make sure that you visit the lake around sunset to watch the light dancing on the water.

11. Admire Aung Chan Tha Zedi

If you are in the center of Kalaw then you won’t be able to miss this colorful and pretty temple.

Aung Chan Tha Zedi is so famous thanks to its glittery stupa and is covered in a shimmering mosaic that catches in the afternoon light.

The mosaic is made of thousands of pieces of gold and silver colored glass and this is one of the more vibrant temples in terms of design that is definitely not to be missed when you are in town.

12. Stop off in Meiktila

Many people who come to Kalaw do so to travel to Inle Lake or vice versa.

If you decide to take this route, then one of the best places to break the journey is in Meiktila which is around 5 hours away from Kalaw by bus.

The main reason to visit Meiktila when you are in Kalaw is to enjoy the scenic lake here which is not as grand or famous as Inle Lake, but is still well worth a visit.

The lake is actually an artificial reservoir rather than a natural body of water, but it still gives you the chance to check out the local scenery and watch locals going about their business.

13. Explore Buddha Cave

Buddha Cave is also known as Shwe Oo Min Paya and is perhaps the most famous religious spot in Kalaw.

The attraction is actually located around half a mile outside the center of town and consists of a natural limestone cave which is a famous as it has been filled with iconic, golden Buddha statues.

You can explore the cave at your leisure and check out the mesmerizing rows of statues at the same time and this is truly one of the most amazing sights in the region.

If you are visiting Kalaw in March, then you can expect the cave to be quite crowded as this is the time when pilgrims come here to pay their respects at the shrine.

Outside the cave you will also find a collection of stalls that sell local trinkets and traditional arts and crafts pieces.

14. Dine at a local tea shop

Kalaw is located in Shan State which means that you spend time sampling the delicious food for which this part of Myanmar is famous.

This includes succulent Shan curries as well as fresh salads and plenty of chewy noodles.

Some of the other delicacies for which the region is famous include rice cakes which are made from pressed rice with additions like turmeric and sesame seeds.

Some of the best places to try the local food include the Burmese tea shops that are dotted around town and you can get a cup of the local tea here and try a variety of toothsome side dishes.

15. Admire Thein Taung Paya

Thein Taung Paya is a good spot to visit in Kalaw as it is located on a hillside and allows you vistas over the main market and the city center.

To get to the temple you can take a set of steps up the side of the Union Highway and from there you will get to see a traditional Buddhist monastery in action.

This means that you can check out the monks who live there and see how they go about their daily lives and this is a good spot to visit if you are looking for a serene atmosphere out of the city center.

The Hotel - Kalaw Hill Lodge (4 star)

Add: 11 Quarter , Nanthe' Village, Kalaw, Kalaw, Myanmar, 11101

You can walk around and enjoy the tranquility of the environment – the pond, organic farms filled with seasonal vegetables and fruits, horse stables, and cattle barns. You are encouraged to watch and learn how cows, pigs, goats, and flocks of poultry are managed by locals. The guests can also partake in the activity if they feel like it. There are several walking trails within the hotel’s compound which cross the beautiful Kalaw Creek alongside scenic mountains and beautiful farms. Feel free to explore the deep jungles which houses over 20 kinds of local birds and many other species. This property is incredibly suitable for bird watchers and nature enthusiasts.

Amara Mountain Resort (3 star)

Add: No.10, Thida Road, 10 Quarter, West Bogone, Kalaw, Kalaw, Myanmar, 11111

Well-placed in the sightseeing area of Kalaw, it provides a most conducive spot for you to take a break from your busy days. From here, you can enjoy easy access to all that the lively city has to offer. A well-kept environment and its proximity to Myin Ma Hti Cave, Shwe Oo Min Pagoda, Palaung Village give to this hotel a special charm. Just 11 bedrooms. Fantastic facilities, including hot tub, sauna, golf course (within 3 km), spa, massage, to help you unwind after an action-packed day in the city.

Dream Mountain Resort (3 star)

Add: Jo Pyay Yan Pyay Pagoda Street, 10 Quarter, Kalaw, Kalaw, Myanmar, 11221

If what you're looking for is a conveniently located hotel in Kalaw, look no further than Dream Mountain Resort. Set 1.1 km from the excitement of the city, this 3-star hotel commands an excellent location and provides access to the city's biggest attractions. With its convenient location, the hotel offers easy access to the city's must-see destinations.
The hotel provides 24-hour room service, free Wi-Fi in all rooms, daily housekeeping, gift/souvenir shop, postal service to ensure our guests the greatest comfort.

Step into one of 36 inviting rooms and escape the stresses of the day with a wide range of amenities such as television LCD/plasma screen, complimentary instant coffee, complimentary tea, free welcome drink, mirror which can be found in some rooms. The hotel offers an excellent variety of recreational facilities, including spa, massage, garden. 

The Pinewoods Hotel (2 star)

Add: Htin Shu Si Sat Lan, Kalaw, 11221 Kalaw, Myanmar

The hotel features 14 beautiful guest rooms and offers quality accommodation and great service. Ideal place of stay for travelers seeking charm, comfort and convenience in Kalaw.

Free WiFi access is available in this property.

The accommodation will provide you with a flat-screen TV, an electric kettle and a minibar. Featuring a shower, the en suite bathroom also comes with a hairdryer and free toiletries. You can enjoy mountain views from the room.

At The Pinewoods Kalaw you will find a 24-hour front desk, a garden and a terrace. An array of activities can be enjoyed on site or in the surroundings, including cycling, hiking and horse riding. The property offers free parking.

Pine Breeze Hotel (2 star)

Add: No.174,Quarter,Thittaw Street , Kalaw, Kalaw, Myanmar, 11221 

Offering quality accommodations in the sports, nature, sightseeing district of Kalaw, Pine Breeze Hotel is a popular pick for both business and leisure travelers. The hotel is not too far from the city center: just 1km away, and it normally takes about 60 minutes to reach the airport. No less exceptional is the hotel's easy access to the city's myriad attractions and landmarks, such as Kalaw Market, Elephat Camps, Myin Ma Hti Cave.

The hotel provides 24-hour room service, convenience store, daily housekeeping, taxi service, ticket service to ensure our guests the greatest comfort.

Guests can choose from 23 rooms, all of which exude an atmosphere of total peace and harmony. The complete list of recreational facilities is available at the hotel, including massage, garden. Superb facilities and an excellent location make the Pine Breeze Hotel the perfect base from which to enjoy your stay in Kalaw.

Green Haven Hotel (2 star)

Add: Shwe Oo Min Pagoda Road , 10th Quarter, Kalaw, Kalaw, Myanmar 

Offering quality accommodations in the sightseeing, sports, nature district of Kalaw, Green Haven Hotel is a popular pick for both business and leisure travelers. From here, guests can enjoy easy access to all that the lively city has to offer. For sightseeing options and local attractions, one need not look far as the hotel enjoys close proximity to Shwe Oo Min Paya, Shwe Oo Min Pagoda, Myin Ma Hti Cave.

To name a few of the hotel's facilities, there are 24-hour room service, free Wi-Fi in all rooms, 24-hour front desk, facilities for disabled guests, luggage storage.

All guest accommodations feature thoughtful amenities to ensure an unparalleled sense of comfort. Throughout the day you can enjoy the relaxing atmosphere of the garden. 

Nature Land Hotel II (2 star)

Add: No 10, Thida street, Infront of Kalaw Middle School, Kalaw, Kalaw, Myanmar, 11221 

Whether you're a tourist or traveling on business, Nature Land Hotel II is a great choice for accommodation when visiting Kalaw. Only 1/4 Km from the city center, the hotel's strategic location ensures that guests can quickly and easily reach many local points of interest. For sightseeing options and local attractions, one need not look far as the hotel enjoys close proximity to Palaung Village, Shwe Oo Min Paya, Myin Ma Hti Cave.

Offering hotel guests superior services and a broad range of amenities, Nature Land Hotel II is committed to ensuring that your stay is as comfortable as possible. 24-hour room service, free Wi-Fi in all rooms, ticket service, taxi service, 24-hour front desk are just a few of the facilities that set Nature Land Hotel II apart from other hotels in the city.

Hotel accommodations have been carefully appointed to the highest degree of comfort and convenience. In some of the rooms, guests can find television LCD/plasma screen, complimentary instant coffee, complimentary tea, free welcome drink, mirror. Whether you're a fitness enthusiast or are just looking for a way to unwind after a hard day, you will be entertained by top-class recreational facilities such as golf course (within 3 km), massage, garden.

Thu Maung Myanmar Food

Located in a bright-green building just past the post office, Thu Maung is one of the best Burmese curry restaurants in this part of the country, serving up rich, meaty chicken, pork, mutton and fish curries coupled with exceptionally delicious dips, sides, salads, pickles and trimmings. The tomato salad, made from crunchy green tomatoes, is a work of art.

Address: No.6, Pyi Taung Su Road, Kalaw

Phone: +95 81 50 309

Opening Hours: 8:30 AM – 9:00 PM

Red House Bar & Restaurant

Very sophisticated for Kalaw, or anywhere in rural Myanmar, this new and worthwhile Italian-run restaurant offers homemade pasta, ravioli and wood-fired pizzas, as well as a smattering of local food. Set over two floors, it has a rooftop terrace to dine on, proper service and an impressive liquor selection, making for good cocktails, as well as wine.

Address: No.4/111, Minn Road, Kalaw-Shan State, Kalaw 06021

Phone: +95 9 771 357 407

Opening Hours: 11:00 AM - 10:00 PM

New Simple Life

Such a lovely little café tucked away among the hills and the fields. The food is great, the atmosphere is super relaxing and the owner and hostess is a wonderful lady, in fact all the staff was super nice and attentive.

Address: Shwe Oo Min Road, Near Pine Hill Resort, Kalaw

Phone: +95 9 540 34 49

Opening Hours: 9:00 AM – 8:00 PM

Sprouting Seeds Cafe & Bakery

This all-organic, appealingly rustic cafe and bakery is set in the leafy garden of the owner's home. Everything here is homemade, from the banana and chocolate cake to the ice cream and yoghurt. It also serves up salads and veggie stir-fries, as well as decent coffee and tea. It's a fine place to chill for an hour or two.

Address: No.85, Thida Lan, Kalaw

Phone: +95 9 767 472 669

Opening Hours: 9:00 AM – 7:00 PM

Everest Nepali Food Center

Ever-popular, long-running, convivial Nepali restaurant that serves up tasty curry spreads, complete with a good selection of side dishes, in pleasant surroundings.

Address: Kuaung Tau Anau Street, Nampan Quarter, Nyaung Shwe

Phone: +95 9 428 322 745

Opening Hours: 9:30 AM – 9:30 PM

Thirigayha Restaurant

Gentrified but relatively full-flavoured Burmese – as well as Chinese, Indian, Western and a smattering of Shan – dishes are served at this cute cottage restaurant that's geared towards foreigners.

Address: Pyi Taung Su Road, Kalaw

Phone: +95 9 508 150 216

Opening Hours: 9:00 AM – 10:00 PM

Pyae Pyae Shan Noodle

This cosy, friendly shop sells delicious bowls of its namesake noodles, and has an English-language menu of other one-plate dishes.

Address: Union Highway, Hauptstrasse, Kalaw

Phone: +95 9 428 313 100

Opening Hours: 6:30 AM - 9:00 PM

Cafe Kalaw

This place is super to visit and just relax for a while. The coffees are very good and affordable (1500 kyat). The owner is a very friendly guy. You must visit this place when you are in Kalaw.

Address: Ward 9, Hnee Paya Road, Kalaw

Phone: +95 9 261 392 989

Opening Hours: 8:00 AM – 8:00 PM

Gloria Cafe & Restaurant

This place has very good cappuccino, latte or normal coffee. It is one of the best coffees in Myanmar. The ladies working there are very friendly and the place looked really good.

Address: Quarter 5, Union Road, Kalaw

Phone: +95 9 428 324 801

Opening Hours: 9:00 AM – 10:00 PM

Shan Ma Lay

There are a few Shan-inspired dishes on the menu at this clean, two-storey place. But most of the menu features a Burmese take on classic Chinese dishes. The locals like it.

Address: No.21, Yadanar Street, Kalaw

Phone: +95 81 50 201

Opening Hours: 9:00 AM - 6:00 PM

Get in

By bus

Central Bus Stop is on the main road in front (or close) to the Shwe Nan San travel agency. Ask them for information or bus tickets. You can store your luggage for 1,000 kyat per bag for the day. 

From specific destinations:

Bagan - A minibus leaves at 08:00, arriving in Kalaw around 15:00 (15,000 kyat). Same bus continues to Inle Lake (Nyaung Shwe town). Make sure to buy the ticket as soon as possible since it's always overcrowded and you don't want to get a spare seat on the aisle. The roads are being upgraded so try to avoid the very uncomfortable back row if you are taking a minivan. Some companies (i.e. Rainbow minivans) will move foreigners to the back row so that locals can have the more desirable front seats.

Mandalay - Departs in the evening and arrives in Kalaw at around 02:00-03:00. 13,000 kyat.

Hsipaw - Via Kyaukme and Pin Oo Lin. Leaving in the afternoon and arriving around 06:00. 15,500 kyat depending on exchange rate.

We recommend you check the latest bus schedule and price via

By taxi

Shared taxis headed towards Taunggyi depart Mandalay at 08:00 and arrive in Kalaw around 16:00. The front seat costs 30,000 kyat while the back seat costs 25,000 kyat. This is the only daytime option from Mandalay for foreigners. Taxis can be reserved through Mandalay hotels and guest houses.

By train

Kalaw Railway Station

Thazi - 07:00. Prices 800 kyat ordinary, 1,300 kyat upper class

Heho - with airport, US$2-3

Shwenyaung - departing at 08:00 from Shwenyaung (11 km north of Nyaungshwe, Inle Lake). Slow train in the mountains and countryside, 1,200 kyat upper class 

Get around

You can cover the town and nearby caves by foot. Alternatively bikes are for hire from mid-morning at the mosque.

Contact us to get more information


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Inle Lake
Inle Lake

Mergui Archipelago
Mergui Archipelago

Ngapali Beach
Ngapali Beach

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