What do you want to do?
How difficult of an adventure? Easy / Moderate / Challenging?
What experience do you have in each activity?
How many days do you want to go for?
We go the local way, riding Chinese 125cc semi-automatic scooters (motorbikes), a means of transportation for both on road riding and off road. Of course in the wet time of the year, the muddy trails limit what we can do, but we can use motorbikes to ride between villages, to waterfalls, and to explore further out and away from Lashio.
A great day trip we can do is what we call the Burma Road Ride. Its a full day of riding the WWII era Burma Road, which winds its way from Lashio to Kunming in China. We don't quite make it to China, but we have an adventurous day riding Myanmar highways through picturesque mountains & diverse villages. We get great Shan snacks in the former Shan kingdom town of Hsenwi and then tasty Kachin curries for lunch in the town of Kutkai, a Kachin predominant town up on the plateau, with the famous mountain, Loi Sam Sip towering outside of town. On the way back we see it all from a different angle, and before reaching Lashio, we take an hour to rest our sore bums in a village hotspring-fed bath house.
STANDUP PADDLE BOARDING (SUP)
Standup Paddle Boarding is a great way to chill out & enjoy the natural environment. Just outside of Lashio sits a series of reservoirs with jungles encroaching on the shores, full of birds, fed by small mountain streams. For those who have never paddled, it seems daunting, but it takes just a short time to get comfortable on the board, and they are much more stable in the water than most imagine. We often recommend SUP for the end of a trip, as it is a great way to relax after a full few days of adventure. We can diversify a half day of paddling with cliff jumping, rope swinging, swimming, yoga (or trying at least), having a floating picnic, or learning how different paddling techniques.
All of the waterfalls that MAO explores are untouched by tourism, and few people outside of the local population have ever been to these off the beaten path falls. Some are on small creeks that wind through the jungle, and some are on rivers which swell in the wet season to the point that we cannot even swim it.
Dark Horse Falls is a favorite for many travelers (only swimmable between December and June). One traveler called it a "Waterfall Playground", and we agree. Its a series of many waterfalls which creates many opportunities for swimming, exploring hidden caves, cliff jumping anything from 2 meters to 15 meters, sunbathing on the rocks, floating downstream, climbing trees, and relaxing in fresh pools.
Hidden Tiger Falls is an isolated mountain spring which cascades down through a deep valley, with towering old growth rain forest creating a canopy where few sun rays sneak through. The excursion through this waterfall starts when we hike deep down into the valley, and then the creek becomes our trail and we climb the stairway of falls, some less than 1 meter, and several 10+ meters tall. There are small pools to jump, and a vines hanging from the jungle, creating natural swings.
Kashi Falls is along a creek and is accessed from a small Shan village where we walk past rice paddies, and then follow the creek as a trail until we can go no further. The end of our trail is a horseshoe of cliffs with the creek cascading 16 meters from above. For the adrenaline junkie, you can jump the whole waterfall into the deep pool, or you can go the more modest route of climbing in and behind the falls and jumping 2 meters from the side of the bank.
HIKING / TREKKING
MAO is not so much a trekking company, as there are many trekking options in the region, but we prefer to mix some hiking into our multi-activity adventures where desired. Generally we don't do more than a half day of trekking, but use hiking as a way to connect villages, waterfalls, and lakes. We can do a variety from easy strolls for short distances to longer routes with lots of elevation gain and loss.
Hiking is certain to connect us to the variety of communities outside of Lashio. Outside of Lashio, all of the village communities will be one of 7 tribes: Shan, Palaung, Kokang (Chinese), Lahu, Lisu, Wa, & Kachin. When we go hiking, we go slower through these communities, and there is more opportunities for interaction.
MOUNTAIN BIKING (MTB)
We have 6 carbon fiber hard tail mountain bikes which are good rides for those who are experienced, and more than sufficient for those who have ridden very little. There are endless trails covering the mountains and rural communities, linking farms to villages, and villages to each other, which create perfect mountain bike trails. The mud from green season creates some challenges for us between June & October, but there are lots of options for a variety of skill sets.
We love to link activities like waterfalls, paddle boarding on the lakes, and overnight village stays using mountain bikes as our mode of transportation. Its a great way to get some exercise, experience the environment without the noice of motorcycles, and interact with beautiful scenery. Our truck can transport our travelers and bikes to different places, be it the top of the mountain so that the trip is mostly downhill, or to remote trails that are more challenging.
OVERNIGHT VILLAGE STAYS
Passing through a village during the day time can feel like the village is a ghost town, as all of the people have left their homes to farm in the valleys and surrounding mountains, but when they come back in the evening, the villages come to life. Kids are out of school and playing football in the field, people are washing publicly at their local showering or bathing spots, and there is opportunity to connect with more people and play games after dinner.
Dinner is always a highlight, eating local produce and freshly prepared that day. During dinner, we can learn from our hosts about their culture and values. When the sun goes down, off grid communities go dark, and we embrace the time of the village, going to bed with the village and waking up with them (and the roosters). MAO provides all bedding & mosquito nets, but we request a donation to be given to our host community which they invest in local projects.