Kyaing Tong

kyaingtong-01Kyaing Tong is the capital of Eastern Shan State in the famous Golden Triangle Region where Myanmar, Thai and Laos territories meet . It can be accessible by flight from either Yangon or Mandalay or Heho. It lies in the valley between the high misty mountains of the Shan Plateau bordered by the Mekong and Thanlwin Rivers. It is one of settlement of 35 different Shan ethnic groups mostly found - Gon Shan, Ang, Akha, Lisu, Wa and Lahu. Kyaing Tong means "Walled City of Tung". The original city walls and gates can still be seen today.

Kyaing Tong is a pretty town with winding streets that go up and down the small hillocks on which it rests. Lone Tree on top of the Soon Mun Hill at the outskirt of the city stands alone on the hill. Naung Tong Lake lies in the centre of the city- a pretty spot to stroll around by it. The market is a good place to hang out in the morning; tribal people in the area come to shop and sell. The wooden monasteries - Wat Zom Khun and Wat In are excellent ones of which architectural style closer to Laotian and Thai temples. The traditional Shan art work by now is only seen at U Mu Ling Ta’s lacquer ware shop.

Kyaing Tong has trails and places rich with a diversity of people, old customs and older crafts. The Loi, Akha, Lahu, Lishaw, Palaung and Ang live in separate villages some distance from each other. Although they do not mingle freely, they have resided with harmony and peace. These ethnic tribes had preserved their ancient customs and traditions as well as their unique and colorful dresses up to now. Most women in the villages embroider the Akha designs on rectangular pieces of black cloth. Eco-tourism activities can be done there such as trekking, bird watching, mountain biking tours. The Lwei Mwe village near Kyaing Tong is a former British hill station during the colonial period and ideal place to visit.

From 1243 A.D, to the last Sawbwa (the Chieftain) reigned there were altogether 45 Sawbwas. Although there are many ethnic majorities living in this area having faith in different religions, Buddhism is the main religion of this area.

There are regular flights from Yangon to Kyaing Tong. Tachileik is also a border crossing point through which visitors from Thailand with border pass can come to Myanmar. Two interesting places of Loimwe and Mongla can also be accessible by car from Kyaing Tong.

Loimwe, 38 km to the east from Kyaing Tong, was the seat of the British District Commissioner during the colonial period. This 'hill station' features a number of old colonial buildings and a century-old Catholic church. The main attraction is the scenery on the ascent to Loimwe, as you pass through forests, terraced rice fields and past a lake.

Mongla is right on the border with Xishaungbanna in China but on the Myanmar side. China border can be reached from Kyaing Tong by road (2 ½ hours). Mong La is a flourishing town where the border trade, especially the tourist industry is booming. Tourist across the border pour in daily to do shopping, see the highly popular elephant circus and crocodile show or just to relax at a pleasant picnic site surrounded by emerald green mountains.

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