Burma, or Myanmar as it is called officially, is a large and mostly tropical country in Southeast Asia. In the north Burma borders on China (Tibet) and India, and right on the spot where the three countries meet, in Kachin State, is Burma's highest peak: the snow-capped Hkakabo Razi (5881 m). It is one of the southernmost peaks of the Himalaya range. From the mountainous north three river systems (Ayeyarwady, Salween and Sittaung) emerge to help form a landscape of fertile plains between mountain ranges running in north-south direction across Burma, such as the Arakan (or Rakhine) range in the west, the relatively low Bago range in the center, and the Shan Plateau in the east. In the west and south, bordering on the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea, are endless coastal plains, vast river delta's and remote islands like the Mergui (Myeik) Archipelago.
Best place to set out on a truly adventurous and exploratory hike in the remote Myanmar Himalaya's is the town and valley of Putao in the extreme north of Burma, in Kachin State. Putao can be reached by air only. From Putao there is a wide choice of hiking trails, ranging from relatively easy 3- or 4-day valley hikes to full-scale expeditions to major peaks in the area, such as Hkakabo Razi, Phongun Razi, Phangran Razi and Nam Lant. This area being so isolated and little visited, it is essential to hire a local guide and porters. To give an example: to hike from Putao to Hkakabo Razi basecamp will take up to 4 weeks...needless to say this requires hiking experience and considerable stamina.
The Shan Plateau offers some more easily accessible multi-day hiking opportunities, walking from village to village among many different ethnic groups around Kalaw, Pindaya and Inle Lake. Or you can fly out to the most eastern town of Kengtung (Kyaing Tong) for day-hikes in the surrounding area. Finally you can do a 2-day hike from Mindat up Mount Victoria (3109 m) in the western Chin State, although nowadays there is a jeep track almost to the top.
Best time for hiking Myanmar is November till February, while the highest reaches of the Myanmar Himalaya's are only accessible in October. Lodging is mostly in local homes, and camping in the remoter areas.
- Also available from:
- Stanfords, United Kingdom