Kengtung, Myanmar, Rice Field, Local People, and Local Food ~ A journey abroad but feel like Thailand ~ The reason why it feels like Thailand is that traveling in Kentung is like going to the countryside outside Bangkok. Locals can speak Thai. They are very friendly and warm-heart. Local food is pretty similar to Thai food and it is cheap. Houses and buildings are also well-kept.
Let's see what Kentung has to offer under the limited time and uncontrollable weather! ^^
Kengtung is a town in Shan State, Myanmar. Locals are mainly Tai Khuen or Tai Khün, Tai Yai, and Burmese respectively. The town is in the eastern part of Shan State at around 2,700 feet above sea level. It lies in a basin surrounded by mountains with limited flatland. The town is also the principal town of Kengtung Township.
The traditional Kengtung building is in Shan unique architectural style called Hor (mansion) or Khum (in Lanna) or Wang (in Siam). There are so many Hors in Kengtung such as Hor Luang (where the King of Kengtung lives and where he welcomes his visitors), Hor Chiang Lek (where the Queen of Kengtung lives), Hor Nang Fah (where the King's concubine lives), Hor Mai, Hor Chiangchan, and so on (credit: Professor Somchote Ongsakun). The buildings are charming with the good blend of the cultures from Kengtung, Myanmar, India and the West.
There is a lot of interesting ancient tourist attractions with their long rich history in Kengtung.
:: To get to Kengtung ::
It is visa-free for Thai people to travel to Myanmar by flights through Yangon International Airport and Mandalay International Airport. We travel by car over the boarder so we need a travel visa. We get the visa from Embassy of Myanmar on Sathorn Nuea Rd near Surasak BTS Station. The visa application fee is 800 THB. However, you don't need a visa if you hire a Burmese tour guide for the whole trip even you travel by car. Your tour guide will issue a temporary boarding pass for you and the pass fee is 40 THB.
We, three, take a flight to Chiang Rai. Our trip is from 11 - 15 August 2016 which is during Mother's Day in Thailand. It is a long weekend so the ticket is pretty expensive. Well, I have been accumulating some points from writing travel blogs on Readme.me so I redeem my points for a flight ticket on JetRadar this time. I can even use JetRadar application to find a cheap ticket. I have got the needed flight and I don't even have to pay. :)
We arrive at Chiang Rai International Airport around 8 PM. We have got the information that there is a bus from Baan Doo intersection to Mae Sai and the last bus is at 9.15 PM. It is about 5 kilometers to get to Baan Doo intersection from the airport so we take the taxi. However, we can't find the bus station and the taxi driver doesn't even know. We have ended up taking the same taxi to Mae Sai and it costs 600 THB. It is about 50 minutes to arrive at our hotel in Mae Sai. We have made our hotel reservation in advance and the hotel costs us 580 THB for tonight. The room condition is pretty good and the hotel is not far from the border crossing point. We also have made the arrangement for the transfer tomorrow morning with the hotel. We ask for a Tuk Tuk to Tachileik Bus Station to go to Kengtung and the fare is 400 THB. The next morning comes and when the Tuk Tuk is about to cross the border checkpoint, the driver stop and let us have our documents checked and get the stamp.
You are able to use Thai Baht in this area in Myanmar but you should also have some local currency on hand. You can calculate and choose to pay whether in Thai Baht or Burmese Kyat (MMK), pick the currency that let you pay cheaper. You can also get your Thai Baht or US Dollar exchanged into Burmese Kyat at the border checkpoint. 100 MMK is equal 3 THB.
We have arrived at the bus station in Tachileik. There are many bus stations here depending on which bus company you are taking. We choose this bus company but have no clue how to read. The bus station of this company is not far from the border checkpoint.
The following is the bus departure time, 8.00, 9.00, 11.00,12.00, and 13.00 hrs. but don't forget that this is the local time in Myanmar. The bus fare is 10,000 MMK per person (about 300 THB). Our bus will depart at 9 AM and it is necessary to arrive at least half an hour in advance because the bus ticket officer need to fill up our personal information for the border checkpoint. This is to notify the border checkpoint that we travel with their bus. It is similar to the departure card that we need to fill up the flight detail but this one is the bus detail instead.
The bus is not full but I am not sure why they put us at the very back of the bus. ^^ The guy in purple T-shirt can speak Thai fluently. He is going back home in Kengtung. He is very kind and gives us a lot of information and assistance all along.
There are checkpoint, rest area for toilet, and markets that the bus stops along the way.
It is about 5 hours traveling time through rice fields, mountains, and villages for about 160 kilometers to get to Kengtung.
After we have arrived in Kengtung, we take a Tuk Tuk to our accommodation. We choose to stay at Harry's Trekking House (I can't find its official Facebook page but it is located right here, you can get more information from this link as there are people did the check in before) because a lot of foreign travelers love to stay here. The owner is very friendly and kind. She can also speak Thai. A room here is 20,500 MMK per night and we have reserved it for 2 nights. I feel lucky that there is a market called "Kad Bung" located just in front of our place. There are also a few bicycle and motorbike service providers around here. This is totally convenient.
We rent a bike on our first day and it costs 3,000 MMK per bicycle.
This one, we didn't rent. ^^
We rent motorbike on the next day. It is 10,000 MMK per day. We need to wear a helmet and follow the rule as well. Policeman is very strict here. Guess what! We are caught driving on a prohibit street at Kad Luang. The policeman can't speak Thai at all so we need to ask the vendor in the market who can speak Thai to help us out. We have ended up paying the fine for 1,000 THB. Lol
We ride a motorbike outside the town and have found that the rice fields are all nicely green, very pretty. I guess if we are here in winter, it should be as cold as those places in the northern part of our country.
Please be careful when riding the motorbike especially when attempting to take a selfie!
I have experienced another incident while searching for Ko Yin Lay Temple. I heard my friend shouting from behind that my motorbike has a flat tire. We almost arrive at the temple actually. What can I do now? We are pretty far from the city. At the same time, there is a local riding a motorbike and he is approaching. I have decided to ask for help. He said that he would buy me a new tire and find some needed equipment. I feel completely thankful and lucky. Not long later, he comes back and fixes it for me. I learn that my motorbike stepped on a nail. After the tire has been replaced, I ask him how much does it cost? He said, "the new tire is 3,000 MMK" (I didn't expect it would be this cheap). Therefore, I give him 5,000 MMK including his service as well. I hope what I gave is not too less and I am happy that I can continue my journey now.
:: Rice Field ::
We ride motorbikes through numbers of local villages outside the city. We have no clue about the name of each village at all. We just keep riding and stop where we find it charming. The rice fields are so green here, beautiful!
Through the rice field
This is my favorite angle but it makes my neck get tired.
:: A City of Hundred Temples ::
Temple... reflects how prosperous Buddhism is in Kengtung. There are more than one hundred temples here in Kengtung. The famous temples are as follows.
Wat Jom Sak is located on a hill on the other site of Naung Tung Lake. It is one of the three Joms (Jom is a hill and three Joms are Jom Kham, Jom Mon, and Jom Sak). There is the biggest standing Buddha in Burmese style with pointing finger which is known as one of the highlight tourist attractions in Kengtung.
Wat Hua Kuang is one of the most important temples in Kengtung. It used to be a place where all the princes of Kengtung were ordained as a monk.
Wat Pra Chao Luang or Maha Myat Muni Temple is located in the roundabout right in the middle of Kengtung. The temple is a house of Maha Myat Muni Buddha image, a replica of Phra Chao Paralakang. It was built in Mandalay, separated into pieces, and brought on a cow carriage before assembling again in Kengtung.
Wat Phra That Jom Kham, the temple of Buddha's hair relics houses an ancient pagoda which is more than 1,200 years old. The pagoda is well-respected as a holy pagoda in Kengtung because it enshrines the hair relics of the Buddha. The pagoda is in golden color because it is made of genuine gold plates. Therefore, it stands magnificently on Jom Kham (Jom means hill) on the other side of Naung Tung Lake.
Ko Yin Lay Monastery is a temple that has an ordination hall in a duck shape. There are many young locals ordain to be a monk here. The temple is outside the city, over 10 kilometers from the downtown.
Young Buddhist monks are studying.
They also learn outside a classroom.
And once there is a vendor coming with snacks, they are like this, as they are still young.
:: Local People ::
Locals are very friendly, kind, and warm-hearted. The city itself is very calm and peaceful. For example, P' Saengthip, the owner of
Harry's Trekking House is very generous. She always gives us a lot of useful information about Kengtung (I can remember only some eiei).
Chilling by Naung Tung Lake
We have found many houses outside the city are made of clay.
An old wooden house
Some of the houses in the city are still with tin roofs.
Restaurants by Naung Tung Lake
Local convenient shop
A cow with big nose
Buffaloes in a small pond
:: Market and Local Food ::
Kad in local language means market. The biggest market in Kengtung located right in the middle of the city called "Kad Luang". The market opens from early morning until early afternoon and you can generally find everything here.
These are Phulae pineapples and I have got to tell you that they are very tasty.
Local noodle is pretty similar to what we have in Thailand and you can choose to have it with pork, beef, or chicken. It is 10,000 MMK per bowl.
I have been told that I must not miss to try Spicy Mango Salad at Kad Luang. I guess you are mouth-watering now, am I right? ^_^
Kad Bung is right in front of our accommodation. You can find many wild stuffs here and it is opened from 5 AM.
There are vendors coming to get stuffs from here to sell further. They come with their motorbikes and will carry all the stuffs on the motorbikes like this.
Observing local vendors and those locals who come to shop
They must have the very good knees as they sit like this for hours. :)
I just woke up and I haven't even wash my face, let's just look for something to eat!
Various kinds of chili pastes with sticky rice
Breakfast in local style with no fried egg, bread, nor ham but sticky rice, chili paste, local sausage, Chinese doughnut, corn, pineapple, and local noodle soup is so good. We just buy a bit of everything so we can finish them and don't have to trash anything.
Then you may find so many good foods especially barbecue in the early evening by Naung Tung Lake. There are numbers of barbecue restaurants for you to choose from.
This menu is called "Khao Feun" and this one is a hot dish. It is similar to Congee but the texture is like a pudding.
We eat Khao Feun with soy milk and soft-boiled egg.
Curry and rice, rice is fried rice with some sauce and topped with beans. Various kinds of curry that we have picked are served in small plates. Then we have some chili pastes which are served with fresh vegetable. This restaurant is right by Kad Luang Road and the foods here are delicious.
We don't forget to try Myanmar beer. ^^
:: Naung Tung Lake ::
The early history of Kentung is not certain. There is a myth saying that there was a severe flood all over the city. Then the hermit named "Tung" used his power to pull the water into the middle of the city which create a large lake called "Naung Tung." As a result, the city is called "Kengtung" since then.
It is our last morning here and there is a light fog.
It has been a wonderful 3-day trip in Kengtung. I really would like to recommend you to travel here. Myanmar is our neighboring country and you can even spend 2 days and 1 night here.
We travel with this bus on our way back to Tachileik. The station is right next to Kad Luang so it is very convenient. When you walk through Kad Luang, don't forget to buy an old tiffin carrier back home as well! :)
The rain keeps pouring down the whole time on our way back so we sleep.
We have arrived back at Tachileik. Then we take a Tuk Tuk to go to Tachileik Market right next to the border checkpoint for some shopping. The Tuk Tuk costs us 250 THB.
Goodbye Myanmar, it is time for us to go back home.
Wait! ... Our trip is not over yet. We are back in Thailand and will go to downtown Chiang Rai for one more night. We will fly back to Bangkok tomorrow at 7 AM. That's why we will go to Sunday Night Market tonight. We just need to spend every second preciously.
We take the bus from Maesai Bus Terminal at 15 THB per person to downtown Chiang Rai. There are many means to travel to the downtown but this Green bus Mae Sai - Chiang Rai will be the earliest departure for us. The total traveling time is around 2 hours.
The entire trip of 5 days and 4 nights with 3 days of traveling in green season in Mae Sai, Tachileik, Kengtung, and Chaing Rai ends here. ^^ If you can make it to Mae Sai border checkpoint, don't forget to spare sometimes and travel to Kengtung. You will experience a local life, friendly people, good food, nice surrounding, and calm atmosphere.
Kengtung with 3 Joms, 7 Kengs, 9 Naungs, and 12 gates - we couldn't cover all of these so if we have a chance, we will be back.
I will see you again on my next trip. There will be another trip with green rice field but let's see where it would be! Please stay tuned! :)
I would like to use this opportunity to thank
www.readme.me who provides me a space to share my travel story and experience. Moreover, I am able to accumulate the points and redeem my points for exciting gift voucher. You can register and start writing your own story now too.
Thank you Jetradar to let me redeem my points for the discount coupon for the flight ticket. For those who are searching for a cheap flight ticket, you should download Jetradar application.
Story by LingPle | LingPle Mayuree :
Photo by : LingPle | LingPle Mayuree , Puffin Coral , Rada Pa Plearn
Facebook Friendship Journey :
IG : lingple
decaying colonial-style building