The chance to see colourfully attired minority folk is one of Southeast Asia’s major tourist draws, and Myanmar is no exception to this regional rule. The national government does, of course, have something of an axe to grind with certain groups, but the danger zones are all off-limits to travellers.
The startling limestone karst scenery around Hpa-An is home to the Kayin, resplendent in their distinctive striped longyi.
2 Mrauk U
Much of Chin State remains off-limits to travellers, though you can get an easy sampler of Chin culture on a boat trip from Mrauk U – the tattoo-faced old ladies hereabouts are particularly photogenic.
Catch the colourful Kachin National Day celebrations way up north in multicultural Myitkyina.
4 Kyaukme and Hsipaw
Head for the tea-swathed hills north of these two towns, where Shan-dominated valleys give way to tea-growing hills tended by the Palaung, crisscrossed with great trekking routes and peppered with homestay opportunities. Hsipaw itself is a laidback town offering a taste of Shan culture.
5 Inle Lake
Myanmar’s most easily accessible minority folk live around Inle Lake – most notable are the long-necked “giraffe” women of the Padaung group, though those trekking here from Kalaw, or visiting the umpteen local markets, will also see pockets of Pa-O and Danu.
A small Shan State city surrounded by Akha, Lahu and other colourful ethnic groups, yet almost entirely tourist-free – and even more tempting now that restrictions have been lifted on the nearby Thai border.