The tour will start from Yangon with a domestic flight to Kale in the North Chin State. Passing through villages and communities it will end in the South Chin State to discover the beauty of tattooed elder Chin women.
April 26 - May 10, 2019
In cooperation with KMSS Caritas Myanmar & Chin Institute NGO
A highly unique and exclusive Myanmar tour in cooperation and in partnership with KMSS Caritas Myanmar.
Humanitarian Photo Travel
From Yangon to the Chin State
A highly unique and exclusive Myanmar tour in cooperation and in partnership with KMSS Caritas Myanmar.
Unexplored and away from any of the usual touristic and photographic routes, the Chin State is the most fascinating and unknown area you can live in Myanmar. Meet small groups of locals living in secluded and elevated villages in the mountains and talk to people who have never known the faces of the Westerners before your visit.
We drive some miles on dirt roads to the remote villages of the North Chin State, meet local families and then spend the night with them. You can admire the oldest women with their tattooed faces in the South Chin State.
This is a unique experience in an exclusive humanitarian photographic travel and it is also open to travelers who would like to experience the unique tour along a route away from the classic Myanmar tourist routes.
Located in the western part of Myanmar, the Chin State is delimited to the south by the Rakhine states and to the east through the Magway and Sagaing regions. It borders north with India and west with Bangladesh. The contour of the terrain is predominantly mountainous with little communication paths, normally dirt-free and with fewer means of transport available.
The Chin Myanmar tribes are known for the peculiarities of tattoos that cover the faces of some older women. Each area of the Chin State has specific tattoo designs, so it is possible to discern where a woman is born, based on the lines and symbols represented on her face. This practice is no longer allowed by the Burmese authorities and, moreover, the new generations do not seem to love this tradition.
Therefore, this peculiarity of Chin culture will soon be extinct, as only a few elderly women remain in remote villages to testify with their faces. The Chin State capital is Hakha, a city that offers the unique feeling of a true border city. Until a couple of years ago, foreigners could only visit Hakha with special permits. The city, like the other major villages of Falam and Tedim, are practically free from tourist services and only have a few small hotels and some guesthouses. There are very few and only rarely Westerners who are pushing to visit the city and the whole area of the region.
The Chin State remains one of the least developed and known areas of Myanmar and is home to some of the remote and isolated communities in the country, consisting of dozens of subgroups that speak different languages and have different cultural and historical identities. Proud and independent, these people have maintained their traditions even in the face of many invasions.
This is a short itinerary. The detailed program will be available only for interested participants in order to protect local communities, children, people and the privacy of our NGO Staff on the field.
- Day 1 - Yangon
International flight to Yangon. Accommodation in Yango
- Day 2 - Yangon
Arrival in Yangon. Transfer to our accommodation. Visiting the city: Pagoda Shwedagon, Chaukhtatgyi, etc. Overnght in Yangon
- Day 3 - Kale
Flight to Kale. After reaching our accommodation, we visit the city: markets, landmarks, etc. Later we will visit villages around Kale. Overnight in Kale.
- Day 4 - Falam
Travel to Falam by car/minibus along the roads of the Chin state, colored earth and an area rich of tribes still little known to tourists. Stop at a village whose inhabitants speak the Tedim dialect. Visit of the area. In the afternoon we will continue towards Falam. Visit of Falam and surroundings. Overnight in Falam.
- Day 5 - Hakha
After breakfast we travel from Falam to Hakha (ca 1h). Visiting the market of Hakha (closed on Sundays) and the ancient traditional houses, the National Museum, the Baptist church built in stone at the end of the nineteenth century by an American missionary and the Buddhist monastery. View of the city, the capital of the Chin state, from a perfect panoramic point at sunset. Overnight in Hakha.
- Day 6 - Matupi
After breakfast we will travel toward Paletwa via Hakha-Matupi road, passing through Surkhua village, Rezua, and reach Matupi in late afternoon. There is stunning scenery along the road. Overnight stays at the hotel in Matupi.
- Day 7 - Kanpetlet
After breakfast, we will continue our journey to Mindat and Kanpetlet. Mindat as well as Kanpetlet is home to local traditional dresses, foods and drinks. People still live in a traditional way. So in the evening, we will explore the Chin culture and their way of life by visiting local people with traditional dresses and face tattoos. Overnight stay in Kanpetlet.
- Day 8 - Bagan
Drive to Bagan. On the way we can discover Chauk Market. Lunch at a hotel in Bagan and visiting the area around Bagan and some old pagodas building. Dinner and overnight stay at Nyaung U.
- Day 9 - Mrauk U
Departure by plane from Nyaung U (Bagan) Airport to Sittwe, the capital of Rakhine State (Arakan), located by the Gulf of Bengal. We continue by boat, going up the river Kaladan until we reach Mrauk U, the ancient capital of the kingdom of Arakan. Lunch on board. Arrival in Mrauk U in the late afternoon. This city was a royal site during the XV century and, at the height of its splendour, was one of the richest Asian capitals in the world. Today Mrauk U hosts more than 700 temples scattered among the hills. Overnight in Mrauk U.
- Day 10 - Mrauk U
In the morning, we depart to discover the chin villages situated in the surroundings of Mrauk U. Transfer in a 4WD going up the river Lay Myo. Short stop at the local market to buy fruits and snacks before we embark on a small boat and head toward the north for about two hours to reach the village of Paung Pan. Exploring this small village you will discover how little the life of the community has changed (Laytoo chin) over the past hundred years. A typical tradition is that of tattooing the faces of women because in the past there was a belief that the Burmese kings and nobles were in the Chin state to abduct the most beautiful girls. Tattooing the faces was a way to make the young people less desirable in the eyes of the Burmese king. Currently the tattoos are no more in vogue, but it is still possible to see elder women with tattooed faces. We continue going up the river toward the villages Kyung Chaung and Sho nay, two typical villages of the Chin state that offer a glimpse of the unforgettable life along the banks of the Lay Myo. Picnic lunch. In the afternoon we return to Mrauk U. Dinner and overnight stay.
- Day 11 - Sittwe
Transfer to the embarkation and return to Sittwe by boat. Lunch on board. Arrival in Sittwe. Visit to the fish market. Afternoon is free. Overnight in Sittwe.
- Day 12 - Yangon
Flights back to Yangon and overnight stay in Yangon. Evening free.
- Day 13 - International flights
Transfer to the airport and International flights back home.
All prices are correct at the time of publishing. They are liable to change and can only be confirmed upon submitting an enquiry.
The participation fees include:
All transfers in private vehicles (car, minivan or minibus, concerning the number of participants) with air condition and driver.
Accommodation in double/twin rooms with or near the local NGO partner
- Meals - Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner
Meals as indicated in the itinerary, with our NGO partner or in local restaurants.
- Professional Photographers
Professional NGO Photographers, experienced in the humanitarian field, will accompany the group for the whole travel.
The participation fee does NOT include:
- International/Domestic Flights
Return flights from any Worldwide main airports, economy class. We can offer best fares from our partner Raptim if you tell us your departure airport in the enquiry form.
- International Medical & Travel Insurance Coverage
All Participants in a Cause Photo Travels tours are required to have sufficient Medical Travel Insurance. Cause Photo Travels refuses participation of travel if the correct valid Medical Insurance is not provided. Travel insurance can be purchased with Cause Photo Travels and RAPTIM. Please visit the Medical and Travel insurance page.
Each participant hereby confirms that they understand and agree to purchase the required insurance listed below, that is valid internationally, and that they will be required to provide proof prior to departure for the Trip and in order to participate.
- Accident & Sickness Medical Expense Coverage (minimum $100,000 USD)
- Emergency Evacuation & Repatriation of Remains (minimum $200,000 USD)
- Accidental Death / Dismemberment
- Trip Cancellation Coverage
Suggested Additional Coverage:
- Hospital Room and Board
- Baggage and Personal Effects Coverage
- Trip Delay / Interruption
- Visitor to Bedside
We strongly urge you to evaluate your risk and to take out travel insurance that covers the full value of the Trip and personal effects in the case of Trip cancellation, loss or theft of baggage, and emergency evacuation. The Tour Operators their owners, agents and subsidiaries will not be held responsible for these expenses. It is vital for you to realize that if you experience a delay or find it necessary to cancel or cut short the Trip for any reason, you will lose part or the entire sum of the amount paid (see the section “Deposits, Payments, Cancellations and Refunds” in the terms and conditions above).
Travel insurance helps to minimize the risk of monetary losses you would incur in the event of a delay of your departure due to weather, airline strike, missed connection, etc., your inability to travel for reasons such as illness, injury, unforeseen financial complications and other personal circumstances, or if you were required to cut the Trip short for medical or any other reasons.
There are restrictions and limitations on any insurance program. For this reason, we recommend that you read carefully the fine print of your insurance policy.
- Snacks & Drinks outside of normal meals
Please consider a little amount for some personal snacks or drinks along the way.
- Tips for guides, drivers, bellhops etc.
Tips are not covered by the participation fee. Please read the “What to bring” section to check for tipping guidelines.
- Personal transfers to your departure airport
Personal transfers / train tickets to and from your departure airport are not covered by the participation fee.
- The country
Myanmar, officially the Republic of the Union of Myanmar and also known as Burma, is a sovereign state in Southeast Asia. Myanmar is bordered by India and Bangladesh to its west, Thailand and Laos to its east and China to its north and northeast. To its south, about one third of Myanmar’s total perimeter of 5,876 km (3,651 mi) forms an uninterrupted coastline of 1,930 km (1,200 mi) along the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea.
- Documents required
Myanmar tourist visa can be obtained upon arrival at a fee of US$ 30 for 28-Day for all nationalities at Yangon International Airport and Mandalay International Airport in case you do not have sufficient time to get visa at your country.
The current official currency of Myanmar (Burma) is the “kyat.” A kyat is subdivided into 100 “pya.” The ISO 4217 code for the kyat is “MMK.” It is typically represented by a “K” when written with numerical value.
- Credit cards
US Dollar is the accepted foreign currency in Myanmar. Traveller’s cheque and major credit cards are not available around the country. It is recommended to bring US$ cash for shopping and general purposes.
Myanmar is home to four major language families: Sino-Tibetan, Tai–Kadai, Austro-Asiatic, and Indo-European. Sino-Tibetan languages are most widely spoken. They include Burmese, Karen, Kachin, Chin, and Chinese (mainly Hokkien). The primary Tai–Kadai language is Shan. Mon, Palaung, and Wa are the major Austroasiatic languages spoken in Myanmar. The two major Indo-European languages are Pali, the liturgical language of Theravada Buddhism, and English. More than a hundred languages are spoken in total. Since many of them are known only within small tribes around the country, they may have been lost (many if not all) after a few generations
Please inform us of any pre-existing conditions such as diabetes or asthma and any prescription medicine you may be taking. We also need to know about any food allergies or physical disabilities that you may have.
No health certificates or vaccinations are officially required for entry to Myanmar, unless arriving directly from Yellow Fever countries.
- Time Zone
- Plugs, sockets and electricity
Electric current is usually at 220 Volts A/C. Various plug sockets are in use. Better hotels supply adaptors and transformers for 110V equipment.
- Phone, Smartphone and local carriers
To purchase a SIM card, foreigners need to have photocopies of their passport photo page and Myanmar visa page, as well as one passport photo. SIM cards are 3G mobile data enabled and standard SIM and micro SIM cards are available. MPT (Myanmar Post & Telecommunications), Telenor and Ooredoo are the 3 carriers in Myanmar, MPT has the best coverage.
Theravāda Buddhism87.9%, Christianity 6.2%, Islam 4.3%, Other 1.6%
For the vast majority of visitors, travel in Myanmar is safe and should pose no serious problems. Some areas of the country remain off limits due to ongoing civil war and/or landmines. In off-the-beaten-track places, where authorities are less used to seeing foreigners, local officials may ask you what you are up to. Saying you’re a tourist normally satisfies them.
If you have any tattoos of Buddha on your body, keep them covered up.
Low Season (May–Sep)
The southwest monsoon starts mid-May and peaks from July to September. The dry zone between Mandalay and Pyay gets the least rain. Rain can make roads impassable in the more remote areas.
Shoulder (Oct & Nov, Mar & Apr)
March to May, Yangon often reaches 104ºF (40ºC). Areas around Bagan and Mandalay are hotter. It’s cooler in the hill towns of Shan State. All forms of transport are booked solid during Thingyan in April.
High Season (Dec–Feb)
The rainy season is over and it’s not so hot. Book accommodation and transport well ahead for this busy travel season.
As visa requirements vary considerably from country to country and nationality to nationality, please contact the various embassies or a visa service agent in your home country to re-check your visa requirements at least 4 weeks prior to travelling. Please note that visas are the responsibility of the traveller and that Cause Photo Travels will not be held responsible for guests being denied entry should they not be in the possession of the relevant visas. All travellers must be in possession of a valid onward/return air ticket or proof of other means of transport enabling the traveller to leave the country in which our tour passes or terminates. You should also have proof of sufficient funds (e.g. credit card) to see you through your time in the country. In some cases visas are available on entry into a country and may be cheaper to do so, however for peace of mind and to speed up the border crossing process, Cause Photo Travels will always advise you to get your visas prior to your trip if possible.
What to bring
You can bring whatever camera you wish, but we recommend a DSLR or mirrorless digital cameras. Make sure you are familiar with your camera, as with some scenarios you will encounter, you will have to work fast in order to not miss a picture.
- Memory Cards
Memory cards for your cameras may not be available at every stop of the travel, so make sure you bring enough memory cards with you.
Without Batteries, you will not be able to get any pictures. So make sure you bring spare batteries for your camera and a charger. Charging will be possible at the hotels.
Backups are essential. Cameras, harddrives and memory cards may break or get stolen. Make sure you bring enough Backup for the travel.
If you want to bring accessories, please consider the weight of your luggage. We usually use available light, but it could be useful to bring GND filters or a light travel tripod. Make sure, all accessories work with your camera.
Lightweight, loose-fitting, cotton clothing is recommended and long-sleeved items should be included for protection from mosquitoes and the sun. Rubber slippers or sandals are recommended. Footwear are strictly prohibited at Pagodas, temples and monasteries. A sweater and a raincoat will be useful if tour includes Taunggyi (4,675 feet above sea-level), the Inlay Lake and Kyaikhtiyo (Golden Rock) 3,600 feet above sea level.
- Wind & waterproof
It is recommended to bring light wind- and waterproof jacket.
Laundry service may be available in bigger villages or hotels, but if you need frequent washing, please bring ecofriendly detergent to hand wash your clothes.
Use insect repellent to keep from malaria, dengue fever and do also at bay. Use sunscreen literally when exposed to the intense, tropical sun.
- Drinking Water
Drink only bottled water. Do not eat raw vegetables’ only eat fruits that you can peel or cut yourself. Be aware of eating food from street stalls.
Tipping is not traditionally expected here, but in a country as poor as Myanmar, tips can go a long way. Consider tipping drivers and guides, as the time they spend on the road means time away from home and family. Normally, it is $5/day for guide and $2/day for driver.
Bring a light daypack, suitable to carry your cameras for shorter trips in order to avoid bringing your complete camera backpack every time.
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