The town of Kyaingtong (formally Kengtung) is situated in the far eastern part of Shan state. This sleepy town has had an interesting past and has played host to Chinese traders, British officials in the late 19th century, pilgrims and missionaries as well as famous writers. Somerset Maugham devoted two chapters of his 1930 travel book to the Kyaingtong Market.
The area was opened up to foreign visitors in 1993 and is a seldom seen part of Myanmar with remote mountain valleys and stunning natural beauty. The town and surrounding area is an eclectic blend of many cultures, including Shan, Burmese and Thai, which renders this part of the country deeply fascinating and rather enchanting. The ethnic villages that inhabit the hills include the Khun, Wa, Ann, an animist tribe, Akha, Palaung and Lahu tribes which have all in part managed to preserve their ancient customs and heritage as well as their traditional dress.
Kyaingtong is a rewarding destination providing you have a sense of adventure. The tourist infrastructure in this part of the country is generally of a much lower standard than other, more popular destinations in Myanmar. We work with two basic family-run hotels that do not have the same level of service or attention to detail that can be found in the hotels of Yangon or Mandalay for example.
Vehicles and guides are arranged through these hotels so it is harder to have direct control over their quality. We do our utmost to secure the best vehicles and guides available in the region but please do be prepared for lower standards than in other areas. As the country has opened up, a better standard of vehicle is crossing the border from Thailand and used by these hotels.
The local guides may not have excellent English, but they do have good local knowledge however, and communicate well with the tribal communities. You'll be accompanied by a local guide, and one from one of the larger cities to help logistically.
Suggested Kyaingtong itinerary
This sample itinerary will give you an idea of what is possible when you travel in Kyaingtong, and showcases routes we know work particularly well. Treat this as inspiration, because your trip will be created uniquely by one of our specialists.