Only a handful of foreigners travel each year on the Chindwin River north of Monywa, but it offers the chance to see some beautiful scenery and meet people who have had little or no contact with tourists. Several of the villages along the river are, in theory at least, open to foreigners, including (from south to north) Mawlaik (Kalay), Homalin, Thamanthi and Khamti. Since there are airports at both Homalin and Khamti (although the latter sees few flight arrivals), and since travel upriver from Monywa was not allowed at the time of research, the best option is to fly up from Mandalay or Monywa, then take a series of boats downstream to Monywa. Each of the villages mentioned has at least one guesthouse that accepts foreigners.

It’s important to check on the current permit requirements before setting out (see Getting around), but whatever the case, expect to be greeted by police officers and immigration officials surprised to find foreigners passing through. It will take at least a week to travel down from Khamti to Monywa.

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