Mindat is a southern town in Chin State, a state in western Myanmar. Owning a humid subtropical climate, warm temperature for most of the year, this is an attractive destination for tourists who interested in rural environment. It is more favorable for travel in the dry reason (December-May) after the rainy season ends in Myanmar.
- Location: southern Chin State, western Myanmar
- Population: about 80,000
- Area: 3,157 square km
- Inhabitants: Muun , Makang and Dai – generally known as K'cho
- Best time to visit in a year: in dry season (from December to May)
- Most known for its untouched traditional culture
Coming to Mindat, tourists will have various activities to enjoy their vacation. The beauty of nature and friendly people will make a memorable trip for all travelers, include the sternest ones. The popular way to go Mindat is driving jeeps on the dirt winding hill road, a long trek through iron framed bridges, and maybe streams in the wet season sometimes. In the other time of year, there is a view of large islands of silt emerging when the river level dropped after the end of rainy season. The jeep slowly climbs into low rolling hills, surrounded on each side by small fields and villages. The elevation is higher; the road is worse. The road becomes narrower and winding through temperate forest with tall teak trees and thick ground vegetation including creepers and vines. The views in Mindat are very interesting and wonderful, especially with the first coming travelers, with pine trees along the road and mountainous environment in the town.
Tourists come to Mindat because they want to not only enjoy the beautiful scenes of mountain and hill but also experience the life of the Chin. The major ethnic group in Mindat is K’cho, with unique culture and custom. K’cho is the name that Chins living in Mindat and Kanpetlet call themselves, and in fact, this ethnic is divided into three mainly tribes: Muun, Makang and Dai. In Burmese, Chin means basket and K’cho people were called as the Chins because of the basket they which they use to carry goods. If you come there in 20th February, you can completely participate in the Chin National Day Festival. People dance around the fire, regardless of ages. Animist traditional ceremony (animist or traditional spirit religion) is hold to dedicate a cattle for K’cho people’s God but this festival are hardly seen today. Yet there still lives several shamans in southern Chin, one of which is said to be as old as more than 100 years old. In Mindat, Muum tribe people usually celebrate New Year between March and April before they start hill farming. As well as one of animist ceremonies changing years after years to make plans and discuss how to overcome difficulties, this festival is the time for locals pray for abundant crops and domestic animals to have a great weather. Besides, “Lun Yu” Ethnic Festival is a festival taking longest celebration days. In this festival, giant stones are pulled in a contest of strength, and cows and pigs are sacrificed for huge feast. Take part in a massive celebration, with plenty of rice wine and dancing to make for a most memorable evening. The K’cho women are famed for their tattooed faces, an extraordinary custom began in the eleventh century when some young maiden girls tattooed, disfiguring their faces to protect them from slavery or capture by the ruling princes. Now you can only see those women in Mindat and other south Chin village, since in the North and Center Chin State, they had been no practice of tattooing. The young women of Munn tribe in Mt. Victoria region are especially keen to do this customs with diverse tattoo designs.
The way K’cho people earn a living is practicing shifting cultivation, trapping, hunting and logging. The land is being limited because of emigrating and burning the vegetation. They often grow dry rice on one land for a year but sometimes three or four years before moving. The result is now about 26% of land has been affected by erosion. But today some groups, however, have settled permanently in large clearing in the forest. Coming there, visitors also observe that a K’cho Chin house usually has only one room. All activities take place on the floor where food is prepared and eaten. Mats are rolled out nightly for sleeping and then rolled up or stacked away during the day. If you are invited to come to their house, it is grossly impolite to take off your shoes before come in since the floor is center of home life.
In Mindat, there are stone tables and Y-shaped wooden poles, catching eyes of travelers. They are easily found in the road in the forest and mountain area villages and used for the ceremonies as a place to put a cow and so on. With the head of animals hanged on, they become the attractive and exotic items for visitors’ photographs.
Another special attraction in here is story of the Nose flute. A man play this very unique musical instrument when he asks a woman to marry him, as a means of proposes. The woman also plays the nose flute as a token of her acceptance to get married. People in Mindat are famous for their instrument.
The highest peak lies in between Kanpetlet and Mindat is known as Khawnu Mthum, Mt. Victoria or Natma Taung, and it is also one of the highest peaks in Southern Asia, often covered by snow all the time of the year. It is an attractive mountain with a lot of offers and is gaining favor among eco-tourism. Khawnu Mthum National Park is a collection of birds. It is one of the best and most well-known areas for taking bird watching tours in the country with many rare and interesting bird species thank to the location at an average elevation of 1200 meters on the far eastern end of Himalayan mountain range. The park is now believed to be not only one of the largest and safest accommodations for rare birds and endemic bird spices but also a great bio-diversity area with many rare forms of flora and fauna. With the park, the thick forests of Khawnu Mthum on the Mt. Victoria used to be abundant in wild life tigers, leopards, bears and deer, but today, it is rarer.
And if you are a Buddish, go and visit the Taung Pu Lu Buddhist monastery in Mindat. The head abbot is the famous Ashin Pyinnyar Thiri. You can make donation for the monastic school for the local poor children opened at the monastery and operated by the abbot. These children really need your help. Welcome to Mindat.