The far northern region of Myanmar (Burma) is the perfect destination for travelers with a sense of adventure. Few tourists visit this remote area of the country, opting instead for the more frequented areas including the Inle Lake region and Yangon.
The Burmese Himalayan region offers a unique opportunity to experience this unspoiled landscape and get an insight into the traditions and cultures of its inhabitants.
Several companies offer guided treks in the Myanmar Himalaya, some routes are suited to more experienced hikers whilst others are less challenging.
This article provides information about the different options available plus practical advice for traveling to the Himalayan mountains and obtaining a Myanmar eVisa.
Documents Required to Travel to the Burmese Himalayas
Before planning a Himalaya hiking trip, it’s important to check Myanmar’s visa requirements. Most travelers need a visa and many can now apply online.
The Myanmar eVisa application can be completed from home, all information and supporting documents are submitted electronically. Once approved, the visa is sent to the applicant via email.
Foreigners taking part in outdoor activities such as trekking and mountain climbing are advised to take out comprehensive travel insurance which will cover the cost of any medical assistance should it be required.
To protect the region, a special permit is required to travel to Putao and can be obtained through local tour companies.
Traveling to the Myanmar Himalaya
The starting point for treks into the Burmese Himalayas is Putao, a small mountain town situated close to the border with India and China.
Most visitors travel to Putao by air as the roads are only accessible during the summer months and can be challenging to navigate.
There are direct flights to Putao Airport (IATA: PBU, ICAO: VYPT) from Myitkyina which can itself be reached from Myanmar’s international airports in Yangon and Mandalay.
Accommodation in Putao is limited so it is essential to book lodging ahead. It’s also a good idea to take some food and snacks, due to the remote nature of the area there are few places to purchase supplies in Putao.
Guided Treks in the Myanmar Himalaya
To go trekking for more than a few hours a day, it is mandatory for visitors to go with a licensed guide, this is highly recommended in order to get the most out of the experience.
Hikers should choose the trail best suited to their experience and ability. Tours range in length from 3 days to up to almost a month. In most cases, hikers camp overnight or stay in trekking lodges with basic facilities.
Alternatively, visitors can opt for day treks and tours, returning to the village each day.
All Burmese Himalayan tours should be arranged in advance, prices and routes can be compared online.
Which is the Highest Mountain in Myanmar?
Hkakabo Razi is the highest mountain in Myanmar and Southeast Asia measuring 5,881 meters (19,295 ft).
The mountain was first climbed in 1997 and it takes experienced climbers several days to reach Hkakabo Razi base camp. The challenging route to the base leads through several villages and forest areas.
Mountaineers who do take on the hike are rewarded with a fascinating range of wildlife including monkeys, pandas, and deer as well as many species of birds and butterflies.
Temperatures are low throughout the year so it’s important to be prepared for cold conditions.
Other trails in the Burmese Himalaya
Hkakabo Razi should only be tackled by serious and experienced mountaineers however there are a number of other challenging treks in the area which can be completed in around 10 to 11 days:
- Phon Gan Razi mountain
- Trek to Naungmung town
- Phone Yinn mountain
Nature and Outdoor Activities in the Burmese Himalayas
As well as being the perfect base for hiking, Putao offers the chance to go white water rafting and kayaking on the Namlang and Malikha rivers.
Nature enthusiasts will be treated to an exceptional selection of fauna and flora, some may even spot the rare black orchid.
Plantlife varies at different levels. At the base, there are subtropical forest areas that make way for subalpine forests at a higher altitude.
The area is still largely uncharted and scientists are constantly discovering new species in the eastern part of the Himalayas.
When to Go Trekking in the Myanmar Himalaya
The best time of year to visit Myanmar is between Autumn and Spring, from around November to February. At this time of year temperatures are pleasant, 66 to 70 ºF (18 to 22 ºC) perfect for taking part in physical activities such as trekking and hiking.
Putao and the Himalayas should be avoided during the monsoon season, from June to September many hotels close.
Tourists will find more available flights and trekking options during the peak season which is another good reason to visit between November and February.