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States and divisions - Kachin state

Kachin State
Kachin state | Map | Google map

The northernmost state of Myanmar has borders with India and China to the north, Sagaing division to the west and Shan state to the south.

The state is mountainous with several highest peaks of the country. The country's highest peak Hkakaborazi at 5882 meters above sea level is located close to China (Tibet) border. The northernmost tip where the highest peaks are is under snow almost the whole year round. The largest natural lake Indawgyi is also in the state. The place is the head waters of the country's largest rivers: the Ayeyarwaddy and the Chindwin. The areas along the rivers form valleys amids high hills.

The Ayeyarwady is formed by Maykha and Malikha mountain streams; the confluence point being at about 46 km north of the capital Myitkyina.

Most of the people are Kachin. The groups of tribes include Atsi, Jingphaw, Lashi, Lisu, Lawngwaw, Rawang, Tibet, Shan and Bamar. Agriculture is the main economy, however it is confined mainly to the plains such as Patao, Myitkyina, Bhamaw, and Indawgyi plain. Shifting cultivation still prevails in the hills. Rice, wheat, maize, ground nut, sesame, pulses, chillies, onions, potatos, tobacco, sugar-cane, tea, mustard, and vegetable are grown. Fruits such as leeches, oranges, grapefruits, and pears are also products of Kachin state.

Forest products include teak and other hard woods, fire woods and charcoal, cane, bamboo, cutch and resin. The state is also famous for its jade. Important jade mines are found in Hpakant, Tawhmaw, Longkin and Mawhun. Kachin textiles, swords and knifes are very much valued throughout the country.

Transport and tourism
The roads system is in poor state. Mandalay to Myitkyina (779 km) is not recommended for foreigners. The road from Myitkyina to Potao is also not recommended. There is daily train between Mandalay and Myitkyina which takes somewhere between 24 and 30 hours to finish. The ride is not comfortable, but many foreign tourists have made it even though the railroad is known for some accidents in the recent past. Myitkyina to Bhamaw road (186 km) is possible to use during the dry season (October to June) though the road is also not so good. The road runs along Myanamr - China border, and there are several military check points.

The most popular route taken by foreign tourists to Kachin state is to take a flight or train to Myitkyina, then after a visit of Myitson (confluence point of the Ayeyarwaddy river) take a drive to Bhamaw. Spend a day or two there and continue in a passenger boat down the Ayeyarwady to Mandalay. The boat ride is the main highlight of the trip, which takes two days and a night sleep onboard the boat. The boat leaves Bhamaw in the morning and arrives Manalay next day evening. During the high waters (June to January) the boat runs three or four time a week up and down. It is either double decker or triple decker. It is possible to have a private cabin.

The trip further north to Patao needs special permit and you have to use the service of a travel agent. Up to now the travel is done by flight. Please check with local agent for the flight and airlines. Entering Hkakaborazi mountain national park is possible. It requires long, probably several months, preparation including securing the permit and travel documents.

Several guest houses are available in Myitkyina and Bhamaw. In Putao and other places tourists need to use government guest houses or home stay or camping.

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