Kalaw stands high on the western edge of the Shan Plateau. It is 70 km west of Taungyi about halfway along the Thazi-Taungyi road. This was a popular hill station in the British days and it is still a peaceful and quiet place. At an altitude of 1320 m it is also pleasantly cool and a good place for hiking amid gnarled pines, bamboo groves and rugged mountain scene.
Kalaw’s climate is much more pleasant than the baking heat of the dry zone, although in the winter it can get quite cool at night and early in the morning. The town is set amongst magnificent pine forests and the area has become very popular with trekkers.
Of the many houses built by the British in Kalaw around the turn of the century, a few still remain in various states of decay and disrepair. Most are now occupied by government or military officials, although some are still eerily silent, apparently undisturbed since their owners left 50 or more years ago. There are a number of colonial private residences, located close to the Amara Resort, if you do have a particular interest in colonial history. The former Kingswood school is now a military hospital and the race track is very overgrown, however Christian services are still held at the Anglican Church and are attended by Shan people educated by American missionaries.
Kalaw has a significant population of Nepali Gurkhas and Indian Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims who were brought to Kalaw by the British to build the railway line. Their influence is visible in the town with many local restaurants offering traditional Indian and Nepalese dishes with a Burmese twist.
A former colonial British hill station, this small-town offers cool temperatures (Kalaw sits at 1.300 meters elevation) and plenty of trekking opportunities. The population is a mix of Shan, Indian Muslims, Bamars and Nepalis (Gurkhas retired from British military service) many of whom are missionary educated. Traveling by car, it's about two hours west of Nyaungshwe on the western edge of the Shan hills.