Indaw and Katha Tour Highlights
- Stunning Pottery Village
- Hanlin (Pyu) Ancient World Heritage Site
- Beautiful countryside excursion from Shwebo to Indaw
- Visit Local villages and Elephant camp
- Finding George Orwell steps in Katha
Day 1: Mandalay-Hanlin-Shwebo
Early morning 2.5-hour drive starts from Mandalay to Nwe Nyein village nearby Kyaukmyaung. En route stops and observe the traditional pottery village. Since centuries ago, the daily life of Nwenyien village has seen little changes. Activities such as harvesting the clay from the river bed, crafting the huge pots, glazing with slipware and bringing in to firewood ovens ‘Kilns’ for the firing process are deeply embedded in village day to day routine.
Proceed (1 Hrs 20 Mins) to Hanlin village which was enlisted by UNESCO World Heritage Sites in May 2014. Hanlin was a Pyu city-state, of considerable significance city, between 200 BC and 900 AD. Wander around the dry country village with Archaeological heritages dating back more than 1,500 years.
Lunch is possible at the village noddle shop.
Continue to Shwe Bo city by car (1 hrs), which was once served as the capital for King Alaungpaya during the 18th century. Upon arrival in Shwe Bo, start with a visit to the main local market. Shwe Bo is a major agricultural trading town with beans, rice and sesame being grown in the surrounding plains and the market is a hub of activity. Afterward, visit a small British war cemetery of soldiers killed during pacification campaigns near Shwebo.
Then visit the ‘wishing grounds’, an auspicious spot believed to have been used by King Alaungpaya as a gathering point before battles. The locals come here to make offerings in hopes their wishes will come true.
Overnight in Pyi Shwe Theingha Hotel.
Day 2: Shwebo – Mezar – Indaw
After breakfast, drive through a country road passing the major rice growing region and many villages to Indaw. For energetic travelers, hiking up to the natural Bats Cave on the way is possible. Prepare to see the dark smelly cave with 100000 bats. Bat’s Dung is the best natural fertilizer for regional agriculture.
Proceed to Indaw passing Mezar region and the bridge just opened. Long ago and far away, Infamous Mezar used to accommodate the political exiles during the Myanmar Kingdom, because this region was covered by dense rain forests and it’s a mean of cruelty to be sent away to such a place away from the civilization.
Arrival in Indaw in the late afternoon, a small town full of its unique natural tour attractions nearby. If time permits, visit the museum monastery where old Buddhist ornaments, literature are kept. Go under the wooden monastery and look at the gigantic wooden boat and ore.
Continue to the most interesting area of the region, Mann Le Village. Mann Le village and region was famous for the most venerable Buddhist scholar Mann Le Sayardaw (1842 – 1920) who’s prose works are highly regarded in Myanmar literature studies. The myth is that he’s a dead body covered by gold leaves is still to be seen in the monastery. The huge teak monastery itself is well worth visiting with ornate teak pillars, double stories, old atmosphere, and surrounding history.
Wander around the village and observe the local crafts: The pottery works and palm hats weaving.
Overnight in Shwe Myanmar Hotel.
Day 3: Indaw – Mawlu –The lake (Indaw lay) – Elephant Camp – Katha
In the morning, walk over a bamboo bridge crossing a small river and visit Manfar village, full of Katu tribes. Observe the basket weaving, the tradition of the village. Continue driving to Mawlu where one can observe how we make the Burmese and Shan Drum, the whole process of crafting, putting leather to make a sound, testing the drum.
Proceed further to picturesque Indawlay Lake and stop for a photo.
Then, continue to the World War 2 Museum and observe what went wrong or right for the war time’s sake. After that, a short drive will take to the Elephant camp where you can experience the nature of the wood and the elephants. In the late afternoon, proceed to Katha, infamous Gorge Orwell’s town.
Stay overnight in Hotel Katha.
Day 4: Katha (Finding Gorge Orwell in Katha)
In the morning, visit the lively Katha market. Trace the footsteps of George Orwell and the plots of his famous book ‘Burmese Days’. Katha was Eric A. Blair’s (George Orwell) last posting in the Imperial Police before he sailed back to England in 1927, adopted the nom de plume Orwell and launched a writing career that would produce powerful novels and commentary. Seven years after leaving the sleepy town on the Irrawaddy River, he immortalized it as the setting of his first novel, the vehemently anti-colonial “Burmese Days,” though he called it not Katha but “Kyauktada.”
The British Club, where much of the novel’s scheming, fighting, drinking, and sweating takes place, still stands, as do other sites mentioned including a tennis court, a pagoda and a prison. A house believed to have been Orwell’s home in Katha remains in use.
Visit Orwell’s town full of colonial buildings. Amazing thing is that (that might even amuse Orwell) Once Orwell’s house is still occupied by a Myanmar police officer family today.
Visit the house of Commissioner (Locals call The Red House), the Divisional Forest Officer’s house , the Tennis Court ( British colonial time), Old British Club, old prison, the old bell which was used and hanged at the ship of George White, Allied War Cemetery, The old Church ( Shinpaul Lu Ann Ga Li Kan ), the fire station’s collection of IFC ships bells taken from sunken ships in the Second War. Katha was the final resting place of the old flotilla and here over a hundred ships were scuppered in 1942 in an Act of Denial before the advancing Japanese.
Stay overnight in Hotel Katha.
Day 5: Katha – Mandalay or Monywa or Bhamo
- Today, you may continue to Bhamo by car or by local boat and fly out.
- You may also continue to Monywa and then Bagan by car.
- You may also go back to Mandalay by car or by local boat.
Things to know about Katha, Indaw region
- Best Time to travel: difficult to go in the raining season (July, Aug) otherwise good /narrow tarred roads and passing nice village scenery (all year round) (4 out of 5)
- Accommodation: availability of hotel accommodations is still limited, generally not up to the 2 stars level, total rooms up to 80 only in Katha + Indaw (2.5 out of 5)
- Food and Hygiene: Food is good, cheap but a bit oily and may have to be careful with the sensitive stomach (3.5 out of 5)
- Regional Guides: there is only a handful of regional licensed tour guide working in Katha, they are great but limited in numbers (2.5 out of 5)
- Road Conditions: Country road, narrow tarred road (3 out of 5)
- The worthiness of Visit: This is definitely a genuine Burma/Myanmar tour site. Culture, history, British world-famous writer’s place and setting of the book, eco lovers will enjoy the elephant camp and the forest. (5 out of 5)
- The level of physical activity: Moderate, not very demanding (4 out of 5)
- Kid’s Friendliness: Very low possibility to entertain kids (1 out of 5)
- Quality standards of tourism services: Very basic (2 out of 5)
Overall: If you don’t mind a few defects & shortcomings, this program is Myanmar’s next tour site which can offer rural tourism; community-based tourism; ecotourism, Cultural Tourism, Special Interest Tourism (3.5 out of 5)