Kengtung: An Introduction
A Shan trading town near the Chinese border in Burma’s far east, Kengtung town sits amongst a large rural population of traditional tribes, including the Akha, La Mone & Lahu, all of whom inhabit the surrounding Kengtung province. Some of the more remote tribespeople have never met a Westerner before, which makes for some intriguing trekking opportunities.
The gently rolling Kengtung landscape is excellent for both trekking & cycling, but it’s illegal to trek without a guide in the east of Shan State - partly because the Thai & China borders are so close - so do avoid wandering off alone! You can in fact cross into Burma from Thailand at Thachileik which borders Mai Sai, close to Chiang Rai.
The town holds an interesting selection of temples, each influenced by different neighbouring countries & cultures. Its early morning markets offer a lovely opportunity to see the colourfully dressed tribespeople head into town to sell their produce & barter for essentials - this is no tourist market, & it’s unlikely you’ll find any souvenirs here, but witnessing an age-old way of life in action more than compensates for that.
Near the town centre, Naung Tung Lake is flanked by colonial architecture & cafes, & makes a perfect place to relax, watch the sun go down, & perhaps share some tea with the friendly locals.
Get off the trail & explore the real Burma