Myanmar’s northernmost part of the country is Kachin, famous region for its jade trading, narcotic and smuggled goods. The main attraction sites are Indawgyi Lake, Second Defile, Katha, Kyaukmyaung, Myit-son (confluence), Putao and Mt.Hkakabo Razi.
Myanmar’s largest lake, Indawgyi is one of the principal attractions of Kachin State sustained by a dozen streams feeding into a depression. A series of picturesque Shan villages dots the lake shore, comprising clusters of wooden stilted houses. In the middle of the lake rises the dazzling white and gilt Shwe Mytzu Pagoda where relics of the Buddha are said to be enshrined. Travelling to the lake from Myikyina by train, the jump-off point is Hopin, a sleepy town with a large ethnic Chinese population, reached after hours. Pick-up trucks are available to ferry travellers from the station over the remaining 45 km of bumpy, sinuous mountain roads. A couple of basic guesthouses offer accommodation for visitors. Note that if you visit this region by car you need to obtain a permit.
The Ayeyarwaddy crosses a fertile plain as it approaches the Second Defile, flanked by steep cliffs cloaked in dense vegetation, the 13,5 km passage is the most scenic along the entire length of the river. During the rainy season the water’s depth can reach an amazing 61 meter and when the water is low, elephant haul huge teak logs from the jungle to the river’s shore.
On the west bank of the Ayeyarwaddy, standing in the shadow of Gangaw Taung Hills is Katha, presiding over a fertile plain where kidney beans are the principal cash crop. This serene provincial town, shaded by grove of beautiful trees is the main administrative hub of the district. Katha is famous about it served as the inspiration for George Orwell’s fiction town of Kyauktada in his novel “Burmese Days”. Orwell or Eric Blair as he was christened, was stationed here as a police officer in 1926. A handful of colonial-era buildings featured in the book survive, including the town jail and British Club.
The town of Kyaukmyaung located 17km east of Shwebo, 46km north of Mandalay and at the southern end of the Third Defile of Ayeyarwaddy. Today, it is famous principally for its pottery industry, centered on the clay-rich river bank known as Ngwe Ngein to the south of town where ceramic items drying picturesquely in the sun. Most striking among them are the massive 50 gallon vessels known since early colonial times as “Ali Baba pots“. A fisherman best friend, Ayeyarwaddy Dolphin, around 60-70 can explore near around near Kyaukmyaung area.
Near the town of Myit-son, 42km north of the Kachin‘s Capital Myitkyina, the official source of the Ayeyarwaddy is the confluence of Maykha and Malikha rivers. It has been attempted to develop the area around the spot where the rivers merge as a traveller attraction but these days, the natural splendor have been comprehensively eclipsed by the mud slicks and dirt scars of the open-cast gold mining fields lining the riverbanks.
The lowest population of about 10,000 inhabitants of Shan ethnic originally settled in Putao so far ago, and perched northernmost of Myanmar. Although the road from Myitkyina is these days open during dry season, sporadic flights from Yangon are the only way to travel to Putao, which lies in a valley encircled on all sides by mountains with the snowcapped ridges of Hkakabo Razi. The area off limits to foreign visitors and a few visitors who come here each winter generally do so on three or four-day tour extensions, staying at the luxurious and beautifully sited Malikha Lodge on the outskirts of town. A popular route is the ten-days round trip to the summit of Mount Phonkan Razi, 3,630m high, a superb vantage point on the valley.
Mount. Hkakabo Razi
A ten-day round route from Putao is Hkakabo Razi (5,889m), foreigners are permitted to trek to the base camp of its. The mountain lies within the Hkakabo Razi National Park (2,414sq km) tract of protected rainforest and high valleys with enriched flora and fauna.