Getting tired of low lands and plains? Hilly regions accessible by air or, if you prefer, a thrilling car ride up and down in the Chin Highlands, maneuvering the twists and turns along the winding roads. Lying in Western Myanmar, Chin State is home to many hill tribes with each unique cultures, surrounded by dense forests and various sorts of flora and fauna to feast your eyes on. Chin state is the least developed state in Myanmar for many reasons, which happens to be a blessing in disguise. Modern developments seldom make an inroad into this highland hinterland, hence least spoilt by the impacts of globalisation. Authentic people, natural environment and breath-taking sceneries are just some of the treats waiting for you up there. Infrastructure here is rudimentary at best and roads can be bumpy. Tall peaks kissing the heavens and unbeaten tracks traversed by rough-and-ready transports more often than not serves as a mouth-watering prospects for adventurers. Nature lovers and adventurers alike are heading for this remote location to discover its unique beauty.
Basically, it can be said that trekking is the major activity for visitors to Chin State. However, there are other special interest activities here including birdwatching, discovering the flowers and plants, exploring the lifestyle and culture of many Chin ethnic tribes, camping, and motorbiking.
Some popular destinations in Chin State:
This majestic peak (10,016ft/3,053m) straddles three Chin towns, Kanpatlat, Mindat and Matupi, in Southern Chin State. Mt. Victoria has become popular with most domestic travelers and nature lovers. Not as high as Hkakabo Razi (19,296ft/5881m) the tallest peak in Myanmar, Mt Victoria offers just the right level of challenge for amateur mountaineers and will certainly serve as a pleasing dessert for veterans after extreme, grueling hikes up tallest peaks. It is the tallest peak in Chin State, and the third highest in Myanmar. Also known as Khaw Nu Soum in Chin and Nat Ma Taung in Myanmar, Mt. Victoria currently lies in the Nat Ma Taung National Park which has been designated the ASEAN Heritage Park. Look out, Birdwatchers and nature lovers! Immense varieties of bird species, flowers, shade trees, and pine trees will greet you once you set foot here. These emblems and monuments of nature stand testimonial to the passage of time this highland has traversed.
Your trip to Mt. Victoria can start from either Kanpatlat or Mindat. The trekking route begins from the base camp which can be reached by vans. From the base camp, it would take around 2 hours to reach the summit. December to February is the best time to scale Mt. Victoria as the rhododendron or Taung Zalat flowers are in full bloom. A bit cold but more like a pleasant European summer rather than Arctic winter.
Mt. Kennedy, also known as Lay Thar Taung is located near Teddim Township, and it is the second highest peak in Chin State. It was once the scene of a fierce battle between the British and Japanese towards the end of World War II. Due to Chin State’s daunting topography, not many domestic travelers have been there so it is one of the hidden destinations in Myanmar for adventure seekers. From the end of November to January, the entire mountain is awash with rhododendron flowers in a dazzling display of blue, white, pink and yellow. Travelers to Northern Chin State usually go trekking to Mt. Kennedy on their way to Rih Lake.
Rih Lake is a naturally formed heart-shaped lake located in northwest Chin State in Rihkhawdar township, and quite close to Myanmar-India border. The presence of Mizo people in the lake’s vicinity and Mizoram villages in India adds to its magic. These people believe in spiritual powers of the lake and that the lake itself serves as the gateway to heaven (termed Piairal in Mizoram language). Looking for a path to the seventh Heaven? What better way than trekking to Rih? Tranquility abound, and the cool embrace of Mother Nature ever so palpable, the lake has become a favorite destination for locals and non-locals to swim, to take a boat-ride and go on picnics.
Siang Sawn Village
Located to the east of Teddim, Siang Sawn is a serene village which is notable for their own unique brand of religion although a majority of Teddim people are Christians. This impeccably tidy village has been organized in the shape of a human eye following the words of their religion leader Pau Cin Hau who have witnessed the heaven, or claimed to have experienced it. Still, Siang Sawn is heaven-sent for trekkers and trippers with its smoke-free, drug-free, rubbish-free environment thus has been regarded as an ideal village in northern Chin State since August, 2007. There is a model traditional Chin house in the village, and a museum where you can discover the tradition and lifestyle of Zomi Chins (Teddim Chins). Siang Sawn is a must-stop destination when you visit to Teddim in Northern Chin State.
Despite the difficult transportation in Chin State, which just adds to the zeal of adventurer-seekers, many domestic travelers have already stepped on the ranges of Chin highlands. Chin highlands have a different feel to Shan Plateau with tranquility and mystery in store – lurking just around a bend on a cliff edge. Though relatively less well-known, Chin highlands is indeed a precious gem for adventurers and nature lovers.