How to Trek in Myanmar

Trekking in Myanmar

Also known as Burma, depending on whom you talk to, Myanmar is a developing, mostly rural country sandwiched between India and Thailand. In addition to its cultural relics, which include the solid-gold Shwedagon Pagoda in the capital of Yangon and the 43-square-miles of temples in Bagan, a city in the western part of the country, it boasts natural beauty throughout, including mountains in its northern region. If you want to trek in Myanmar, you should keep several things in mind.

Step 1

Bring your own trekking equipment. As you will notice almost immediately upon landing at Yangon International Airport, Myanmar is an extremely poor, developing country. Although you might be able to rent basic walking sticks and, if you plan to camp, tents for sleeping, you can expect the quality of most everything here to mirror the taxis you take, except for in the most luxurious hotels in Yangon and Mandalay.

Bring your own trekking equipment
Bring your own trekking equipment

Step 2

Arrange your trekking tour through your hotel’s front desk or a travel agent in the vicinity of your accommodations. Although people might claim to be trekking guides, particularly in rural areas of the tourist trail near Bagan or Inle Lake, many are simply drivers who might not be qualified to guide you while trekking.

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Step 3

Set a price before you embark and prepay, if possible. As is the case in any developing country, prices in Myanmar are set not by government bodies but by bargaining. Keep in mind that the rate your guide quotes you to begin with is usually a bit high, then hammer out a price you think is fair and shake to make it official.

Inle Lake
Inle Lake

Step 4

Be extra cautious when trekking. It won’t surprise you after a few days in the country that health care in Myanmar is less than advanced. Although doctors and nurses are caring, educated and compassionate, the fact is that facilities are lacking, and if you get seriously injured while trekking, they might fall short of what you need.

Step 5

Pack rain gear if you plan to trek in the hot season between April and October and a jacket or coat if you plan to trek in the cool season between November and March. Monthly precipitation averages in hilly regions such as those near the town of Lashio in northern Shan State can top more than 12 inches in July, while nighttime temperatures in the same locale can dip to as low as 36 degrees F in January. If you plan to camp out overnight between treks during the cool season, bring along heavy blankets.