Shan State has been quoted by many a famous traveller as the land of picture postcard settings. Occupying close to a quarter of Myanmar's land mass, it is often hard to find words to do justice to its beautiful scenery.
Shan State is lost in the mists of time, shrouded in mystique, intrigue and adventure. The infamous Golden Triangle, the Leg Rowers of Inle Lake, The Floating Markets and Gardens, the Long Necked Women, the Shan shoulder bag and the Nation's national dress, the 'longyi', woven by indigenous looms; all are part of what makes Shan State a must for the traveller who wishes to see the real Myanmar.
Taunggyi, a former British hill station, is the centre of business and cultural activity. Simply wandering the cities' streets is very pleasant, especially since the climate is cool. The weekly market is a good place to see some of the ethnic minorities.
The town of Nyaungshwe nestles on the banks of Inle Lake, located between the airport at Heho and Taunggyi. The Intha and Pa-O people of Inle Lake have constructed villages on stilts over the surface of the water, and have cultivated gardens out of hollow weeds and silt from the lake that float on the surface. The water is crystal clear and a pictoral paradise for the professional and amateur photographer alike.
Inle Lake offers an unforgettable pastiche of unique experiences. A motorized long-boat trip across the lake to see the famous 'leg rowers' is one opportunity not to be Shan State has been quoted by many a famous traveller as the land of picture postcard settings. Occupying close to a quarter of Myanmar's land mass, it is often hard to find words to do justice to its beautiful scenery.
The wooden monastery of Nga Phe Kyaung presents a chance to see the unusual 'jumping cats' , and on the lake's southern banks is Ywama, a town where goods are plied daily by the locals at floating market.
Phaung Daw U Pagoda is home to five golden Buddha images brought back to Myanmar from southern Siam over 700 years ago. The stalls underneath the Pagoda offer a treasure trove of souvenirs for visitors!
There are still many examples of British architecture throughout Shan State with numerous fine homes and small hotels still in use.
Kalaw, the favourite of the old British hill stations, is a wonderful example of what there is to offer. A picturesque village surrounded by pine forests, it features some of Myanmar's most beautiful gardens.
The road from Kalaw to Pindaya is breath-taking in many ways, with panoramic mountain views, reminiscent of the Alps in Europe.
The caves at Pindaya are in a limestone ridge overlooking a lake, and full of thousands of carved Buddha images, made form lacquer, teak, marble, brick, alabaster and cement.
Kentung is one of the most scenic towns in Shan State and it can be easily reached from the Thai border crossing at Mae Sai / Tachilek. Kentung is surrounded by many villages of ethnic minorities, including Shan, Akha, Lahu and Wa.
So far we have only mentioned places in southern Shan State but the north also has some rural towns and dramatic scenery. Lashio, located at the southern end of the infamous 'Burma Road', on the way to the Chinese border, is one such destination.
Moreover, the train ride from Lashio, through Hsipaw, over the Goiktek Viaduct, to Pyin Oo Lwin and Mandalay is a real treat and a feast for the eyes
The scenery of Shan State is truly magical and is sure to stay with you for many years after your visit.