Chin State is famous for its remoteness. Its name brings to mind vivid images of Chin State’s highest mountain Khaw Nuu Sum, red rhododendrons, cherry trees, various orchid species, rare bird species, a strange heart-shaped lake named Rih, hornbills and Chin women with tattoos on their cheeks.
It’s interesting to learn about 53 Chin ethnicities among over 135 ethnicities in Myanmar, how they communicate with each other having different languages and their customs and cultures which remain untouched because of its remoteness. Nowadays, improved transportation has drawn Chin State nearer to the rest of Myanmar. Khaw Nuu Sum is becoming particularly popular among domestic travelers.
What is Khaw Nuu Sum?
It is the highest mountain in Chin State with a height of over 10,000 feet above sea level. Khaw Nuu Sum is situated across three townships, Kanpalet, Mindat and Matupi and it was once called Mount Victoria but local residents now call it Khaw Nu Thum, Khaw Nuu Sum or Day Nu Ma Htum, meaning Mother of Mountains. The central government of Myanmar maintains its official name as Nat Ma Taung. The mountain is an ASEAN Heritage Site.
Most visitors to the mountain climb from the Kanpalet side while more serious mountain climbers climb from the Mindat side.
When to visit?
The best period to visit is between November and April. Cherry trees sprout stunning purple flowers starting from November to the last week of December while red rhododendrons can be seen starting from mid-December to March.
How to get there?
You can go on your own or with a tour group. Although there is no direct bus to Kanpatlet which is close to Khaw Nuu Sum, you can take the bus to Chauk in Magway Region and then take another to Kanpatlet. There is a bus company named Mya Tha Ra Phu that leaves Yangon at 6 p.m. or 8 p.m. for Chauk and the Kyar Min bus company travels from Chauk to Kapatlet and the journey takes five hours. Alternatively and more conveniently, you can fly to Bagan then go to Kanpatlet using a hired car.
Where to stay?
There are two options concerning accommodation in the area: hotels and motels in the town at cheaper prices or hotels with mountain views in the official hotel zone which is a 15 minute-drive from the town. It is a little more expensive to stay in the hotel zone but the bungalows at the hill tops have pleasant views of the conifer forest. I prefer these bungalows as I can enjoy tranquility and the amazing view of conifers and cherry trees. But you need to book in advance as many visitors are visiting during this season.
Reaching the summit
The best time to climb Khaw Nuu Sum is in the early morning. At that time you will see a sea of cloud. You can reach the 10 mile base camp by car or motorbike. Getting to the basecamp by motorbike will cost K30,000 and it will take 45 minutes. The view on the way is stunning.
From this base camp, it will take a further three or four hours to reach the top of the mountain over a distance of about 3.5 miles. It is better to arrange to bring something for lunch because there is no restaurant on the top. You also need to take water with you. Remember to bring back all the trash you create. If you’re not feeling up to the uphill climb, you can hire a motorbike from the base camp and come back down the mountain by foot.
You will see gilded pagoda, a Christian cross and a Buddha statue at the top and a building where visitors can rest. The flat area around the mountain top is pretty wide. The views are so stunning that you have to see it for yourself. Various mountains ranges including the Rakhine Yoma can be seen from the top. You can take photos, sit pleasantly, enjoy the view, lie down on the grass and watch the sky, have lunch and then climb down.
Chin State in general is not a place for food lovers but you should try out salt and calabash curry, mythun meat, phar curry, the beverage named khaung and rhododendron wine while in the area.
You should bring warm clothes and gloves or you can buy a Chin blanket in Kanpatlet. It is better to trek wearing sports shoes or trekking boots. The weather is very cold so you should take lotion to rehydrate your skin. You should also bring a torch and any medicine that you may require.
• Mya Tha Ra Phu (from Yangon to Chauk) Tel: 09401575088, 09401557561
• Kyar Min (from Chauk to Kapatlet) Tel: 09-429257284
Hotels in the hotel zone
• Pinewood Ville Hotel (09896565584)
• Mountain Oasis Hotel (0947170219)
• The Floral Breeze Hotel (09257961231)
• Sky Palace Hotel (092050733)
Hotels in Kanpatlet
• Taungpawthar Hotel (09448801251/09423431180)
• Yawdan Hotel (0947171093)
• ShweTaung Tan Hotel (0947170259, 0947171351)
• Taw Bayin (09450160132)