Foreign visitors are not allowed to stay over in the villages around Kengtung, and most of the day-hikes are at least an hour’s drive from town, which makes hiking here relatively expensive. Trips can be arranged direct with freelance guides or through accommodation; one of the cheaper options is with Harry’s Trekking House. The guide fee – typically $20 per day – is supposed to go straight to the guide, although many hotels and guesthouses quietly take a cut.
The most popular destination is the Pin Tauk area (transport from K35,000), as the three-hour walk passes through the villages of several different ethnic groups (Akha, Eng and Khun Shan, plus Silver Palaung if there’s time). Hikers may be dismayed to find, however, that most of their interaction with locals involves being offered handicrafts.
Other hikes are likely to be more rewarding, including to the Akha villages of Hokyin Hill (transport from K35,000), the former British hill station of Loimwe (transport from K50,000), and – furthest afield, near the Chinese border – the villages of Wan Nyet and Wan Saen (transport from K60,000), where Loi people live in longhouses.