Putao is a snowcapped jewel, a picturesque town in Kachin State, Northern of Myanmar. What should you do in here? In the past, it is the legendry landscape, which has drawn rugged adventures from around the global to northernmost Myanmar. There are many high peaks covered by snow and ice, convenience for adventure tourism such as trekking and mountaineering. As other mountainous areas, Putao offers high snow mountain, fast flowing mountain streams, rapids and waterfalls as well as plains and slopes of paddy plantations.
- Location: about 338 km north of Myitkyina, the capital of Kachin State
- Status: the northernmost town of Kachin State
- Population: 120 000 (2013)
- Inhabitants: Kachin, Lisu, Bamar, Shan, other small tribes
- Weather: cold all the year round thanks to its surrounding snow-capped mountains
- Most famous for its various endemic birds and rare orchids as well as trekking activities
Putao is a snowcapped jewel, a picturesque town in Kachin State, Northern of Myanmar. What should you do in here? In the past, it is the legendry landscape, which has drawn rugged adventures from around the global to northernmost Myanmar. There are many high peaks covered by snow and ice, convenience for adventure tourism such as trekking and mountaineering. As other mountainous areas, Putao offers high snow mountain, fast flowing mountain streams, rapids and waterfalls as well as plains and slopes of paddy plantations. Mountain Hkakaborazi is the highest pick, located at the 5881 meters elevations, is not a best choice for adventures. The more appropriate is Mountain PhongKanRazi, with 3630 meters elevations. Mt. PhongKanRazi is recommended for mountaineering in hill land of Kachin, Jimphaw, Lisu, Rawan, Khamti Shan, and other hill-tribe people. Adventurous people will have a great experience with many nights at camps, and cold weather. They can not only walk or hike to stay overnight in the tribal villages around Putao but also far from this town in a circuit. People have time for discovering nature, usually hike to the last village in the north – long distance walk needing nearly one month, lots of provisions and porters. They are also participated in hiking to villages and excursions into the jungle along hunters’ trails. The locals are friendly, can be helpers, porters, trail readers and cooks for the trip.
In the first day when you come there, you will be surprised by wonderful views and friendly people. You will walk in the water on the eastern bank of Mali Khariver on Ma Chan Baw village or walk over the suspension bridges over streams. Mali Kha’s riverbank is where woman come to their laundry and bathe in the warm sun of late morning. The water is icy, crystal and clear, would eventually mingle with another river further west to form the Ayeyarwaddy. Walk or drive around the town, you will see all of local views: Houses, market, shops, tribal people, Christian churches and Buddhist monasteries. Come to Putao market, it is easy to take one handicraft as the gift for your travels. Like other markets, this is the place for locals to buy and sell all of things: vegetable and citrus fruits, herbal leaves, bulbs, honey, exotic orchids and medicinal plants. The morning market is seems to be the most crowded in this sleepy town, with diverse people in their traditional dresses. Three major nationalities still uphold their ancestors’ traditional way of life: the Khamti Shan, Lisu, and Rawang. In each nationality, women and men wear a kind of clothes in colors of black, blue, red or white. All of women usually wear a string of beads decorated with seashells grinded on river stone into smooth discs. In the market, you will observe the various kinds of orchids. Putao has the diversity of flora and fauna, is considered as one of the most biological diverse regions in Indochina, with both tropical lowland Indo-Malayan and upland Sino-Himalayan species. Cold weather in high mountains is favorable for the growth of temperate zone plants. The Hkakaborazi National Park, which was established in 1996 and covers an area of 1472 square miles, now maintain approximate 50 species of orchids and some of the world’s most endangered butterfly species.
Around Ma Chan Baw village, there are many old officers’ houses still standing in the town center, with colonial traces. British Club building is now abandoned and empty with broken windows and cracked walls. The remains are only old billiards tables stand in one room. British Commission House, or Guba Guesthouse is in the better condition with two stories, setting on a wide lawn on the outskirts of town and overlooking the Malika River. The house is seems to be well-tended rustic cabin and it is also said to be haunted by a spirit of a long-haired woman.
Outside of Ma Chan Baw, there is a legendary site: a rock outcropping that look like a petrified dragon. Lore of locals told that the dragon was once real, for this transgression of eating a pregnant woman, God punished this creature by turning it to stone. People who wish a fortune usually go there, a shrine near the head of dragon with a small golden pagoda. You will see that is candle wax on the dragon’s head, and broken egg shells and dried yolk around the dragon’s eyes. Locals said that if you visit at night, you maybe sometimes see the dragon quivering in its stony slumber.
Putao is famous for its snowy and icy mountains, purity of the air and the clearness of the river’s water. Fresh environment and friendly people make Putao become a special place in Myanmar.