Situated on the high plains of the Eastern Shan State in Myanmar and surrounded by picturesque mountains, the city of Kengtung offers a unique and simplistic form of vacation with an emphasis on two words: rural lifestyle.
A hub of diversity, the charming town is home to numerous ethnic groups that coexist by trading with each other. Years before, Kengtung was a shining star of inter-kingdom trading between the empire of China and the Kingdom of Siam. Actually, the place has numerous variations of its name – Kengtung, Chiang Tung, Kyaintong, and Cheingtung. A strong proof of its numerous personalities – fitting with the numerous but unique surprises it has in store for every tourist!
As with almost all of Myanmar’s cities, there must be a pagoda that towers over buildings and declares the devotion of its people to Buddhism. The temple to visit in Kengtung is the Wat Zom Khan pagoda, with a golden hilltop stupa beautifully reflected by the Naung Tung Lake. Since it lies at the heart of the town, it perfectly symbolises the role of religion in the country. The Naung Tung Lake is one of Mother Nature’s undeniable gifts to Kengtung. Serene and relaxing, the lake is the perfect place to stroll and expose one’s self to the full force of nature’s dazzling beauty. But, the best attraction in Kengtung is not found in a building or nature, it is found in the interaction of the numerous ethnic tribes in the place: the Tai Khun, Wa, Akha, Lahu, Eng, and Burmese – all bringing with them their individuality.
Unfortunately, the Kengtung Airport has been permanently closed. The best alternative to reach Kengtung is by bus from Tachileik after arriving from the Tachileik Domestic Airport with a fare of USD 10 with up to 5 hours of travel time. You can also get a shared taxi from Tachileik to Kengtung for USD 10 to 11 per person with a maximum of 4 passengers.
The Myanmar Kyat (MMK) is the official currency of the nation and is available at either money changers or banks. There are no more than 8 banks in Kengtung, but that amount is enough to cater to the financial needs of tourists. Always have reserve currency when planning to visit sites far from the banks or ATM machines. Accommodation costs in the area start at around USD 17 USD per night for hotels and USD 53 for comfortable resorts.
On average, the temperatures in Kengtung are almost always high. Seasons are divided between dry and wet. With December to March spanning the dry season and the rest as the gradual start of the rainy season culminating in August. The best time to visit Kengtung is from May to July when the dry season and humid temperatures become manageable and the rains are infrequent.
Kengtung is a small town and is easily toured by walking. If you can’t bear walking all day, motor taxis are available at around MMK 500 (USD 0.34) per ride.
Due to its circumstances, Kengtung’s cuisine is not that diverse or widely influenced. The staple food of is the Shan Kow Soi-shan noodle soup which can be found at any food stalls or restaurants around the area. There are some restaurants that started offering foreign food starting from Chinese and Thai dishes. Around the lake, an array of comfy and chic street food stalls and makeshift tea shops can be found. The market, on the other hand, is abundant with barbecue vendors. A complete meal in a food stall starts at around USD 2. Restaurant food, on the other hand, starts at about USD 5.