The busy town of Bhamo might be constantly on the go, but its relaxed vibe and chilled out locals make it well worth the scenic (but slow) boat trip from Katha or Mandalay – you can also fly here from Mandalay. With its old teak buildings, busy market and pretty waterfront, there isn’t much to do here other than a little sightseeing and relaxing. Bhamo was once a staging post on the journey to Mandalay, but these days few tourists pass through the town. Access to the areas surrounding Bhamo is currently highly restricted due to ongoing conflict, so travel here is difficult at present.
Friday in Bhamo is market day and the riverfront is alive with the hustle and bustle of locals selling their wares, with the beautiful overhanging ‘rain trees’ with their pink blossom, visible in monsoon season. After some shopping at the market, we recommend checking out one of the local curry houses for fantastic meals with home-made tamarind chutney. Or try some lime pork served in a banana leaf, a local Kachin speciality.
One of the best and most exciting things to do on your trip is hire a bike and take the hour-long ride to Tain Pha Hill. This Buddhist complex has meditation halls and a hilltop stupa, and the views over the surrounding countryside are simply spectacular. Visitors mostly come here for the bike ride itself though, and if you arrive between December and June, you’ll have the opportunity to cycle across the 470-metre-long bridge, made entirely of bamboo. Every year this is destroyed in the monsoon season and painstakingly rebuilt by the local villagers!
It’s well worth heading a couple of kilometres north of town to see the Shwe Kyinar Pagoda. Hire a bike and cycle here or hop in a tot-tot (motorised trishaw) to check out the beautiful pagoda as well as the remains of the old walled city of Sampanago, once the capital of the Shan Kingdom of Wanmaw.
Is there a lot to see and do in Bhamo? Not really, but that’s part of its unique appeal. A little off the beaten track, a place only seasoned travellers will check out, it’s definitely somewhere that isn’t overrun by other tourists.
Plan your trip to Bhamo today.