Weekend Gateway To Forgotten Hill Town

HOLIDAYS or vacations are words that bring joy to everyone. As my office was closed four days for Tazaungdaing lighting festival, I decided to go somewhere a hilly region for holidays.

When we think of visiting hilly region, well-known destinations such as Pyin Oo Lwin, Kalaw, Taunggyi and Lashio are the first ones that come to our mind. Right?

But do you know there is a forgotten hilltop town much closer to Yangon? Yeah it is named Thandaung Gyi. It was once used by the British as a popular summertime retreat during the colonial era, located just about 200 miles away from Yangon and can be reached by a car or bus on a half days’ journey.

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Thandaung Gyi Landscape

Actually Thandaung Gyi has been on my bucket list for far too long and I am so glad that I finally managed to tick this off my bucket list.

It was on a Friday morning last week, I started my road trip to Thandaung Gyi at 7am. It took me about 5 hrs to drive to reach Taungoo.  From Taungoo to Thandaung Gyi is only 27 miles up by car passing through lush virgin forests, cascading mountain streams and climb gradually to over 4,000 feet, to reach Thandaung Gyi town.

Beautiful Thandaung Gyi Sunset

The road from Taungoo through Thandaung and up to Thanthaung Gyi is a breathtaking experience as it snakes up the hills for two and a half hours through lush green hills. Due to its altitude, it is significantly cooler than lowland areas.

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Road to Thandaung Gyi 

When I reached to the town, it was already 2pm. The town is overlooked by Naw Bu Baw Prayer Mountain. It is quite a small town only 1.57 sq-miles (1,007 acres), and set in a stunning locations atop the Dawparkho mountain rage in Northern part of Kayin State.

After looking at a few guesthouses, I finally got a decent room at Peace House Bed & Breakfast. The owner of the guesthouse is so friendly and treat every guests like their house members. The staffs are also warm and their hospitality is simply awesome.

Later I had my late lunch at Nepalese restaurant nearby the guesthouse. Actually I could do nothing special that day except I visited tea plantation site near the town and enjoyed the beautiful Sunset of Thandaung Gyi.

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It was also wonderful walking under the lofty pines in the serene stillness of the forest. By the time I got back to the guesthouse, it was already sundown. I felt a soft, cold breeze and the full moon night was equally charming. It was such a pleasant over night stay in Thandaung Gyi that I will never forget.

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Road to Naw Bu Baw Prayer Mountain

Next morning I woke up early, enjoyed the breakfast, and decided to go up to Naw Bu Baw Prayer Mountain, which is a significant religious site for the local Karen Christians.

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Stairway to Naw Bu Baw Mountaintop

There is a stairway with 374 steps climbs to the mountaintop and along the stairway are many small prayer rooms for pilgrims. There is an odd boat-shaped chapel on the peak, evoking the biblical tale of Noah’s ark and topped a huge Christian Cross.

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Boat-shaped Chapel along with a Giant Christian Cross

You can still see an old Baptist Church called Zion Hill Church, and another Baptist Church and an Anglican Church on another hill. You can also visit an old Roman Catholic Church in Thandaung Gyi.

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Magnificent View from Naw Bu Baw Mountaintop

Thandaung Gyi is also home to colonial-era buildings, including a military-owned tea processing plant that was once used to make tea for Lipton.

Those who do visit can go trekking to nearby villages, or try full day hike to the waterfall and hot spring at Taw Pyar Gyi. Local guiding is highly recommended and can be arranged through guesthouses.

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Tea Plantation in Thandaung Gyi

Thandaung Gyi is great for those who don’t want to travel far yet get a break from hustle-bustle of Yangon city. Unlike many other hill towns, what Thandaung Gyi does offer is full of natural beauty, lush virgin forests and fresh-air.

I left sorrowfully and silently said goodbye to Thandaung Gyi but I hope to visit this lovely town again sometimes soon.

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Beautiful Pa Thi Creek in Thandaung Lay

On my way back, I stopped at Thandaung Lay, just 13 miles away from Taungoo. It sits along the bank of the roiling, monsoon-swollen Pa Thi Creek on 100 acres of shady land.

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Pa Thi Creek

The water is crystal clear and good to relax your mind and body, but I felt this area requires to place an environmental regulations that protect the sustainability of the creek and protect trash in the area. Otherwise, it was just so amazing.

However, this trip made my weekend amazing. I can’t wait to share my experiences with my family, friends about my trip, and I also can’t wait to show them all the photos I took.

I hope you enjoyed reading about my spectacular trip and hope I have inspired you to travel more often!!! 🙂

Romantic Legend of Thandaung Gyi

NOT only was Thandaung once a popular hill station retreat for the British during the colonial era, but it was also the site of a legendary romance between a prince named Saw Thaw Oh Khwa, and the beautiful maiden Naw Bu Baw, who was the daughter of the King of the Sea.

According to the story, Naw Bu Baw travelled from the sea to Thandaung to be with Saw Thaw Oh Khwa, who was native to the area. The young couple married and spent their time roaming the mountains, streams and meadows of Than Daung together.

But the local people would not accept Naw Bu Baw’s marriage to their prince, accusing her of being a witch because she possessed a magical silver comb that made her shine like the sun and that also made her invisible when she put it under her feet.

One day, Saw Thaw Oh Khwa went to the eastern mountains to fight against an invading army. Naw Bu Baw gave her magic comb to the prince so he could disappear when the enemy attacked.

But Saw Thaw Oh Khwa died during the battle because he thought that merely possessing the magic was enough to keep him safe. Rather than turn himself invisible, he acted daringly and foolishly in the fight, and was therefore vanquished by his enemies.

The local people blamed Naw Bu Baw for the death of the prince. Accusing her of witchcraft, they dragged her to the highest hillside in the area and imprisoned her in a rock cavern.

Locals say that to this day, the troubled soul of Naw Bu Baw still wanders through the beautiful, mist-shrouded forests of the Than Daung area. Even now the cave where she was locked can still be seen.

How to get there:

  • The best way to go Tuandaung Gyi is going by a car to Taungoo through Yangon-Mandalay Express road and passing through Thandaung Lay, just 13 miles and 45 minutes by car from Taungoo.
  • If you prefer using the railway, you can ride the train from Yangon to Taungoo in about six hours, and from Taungoo to Thandaung Gyi it is only 27 miles up by car passing through lush virgin forests.


  • There a number of small guest houses and Bed & Breakfast in Thandaung Gyi that are licensed for foreigners, most of which are located along the main road of a town.


  • Access to Thandaung Gyi is free, but foreign visitors should carry a copy of their passport to give to police at a checkpoint a few kilometres outside the town.

Let’s Get Lost in Hong Kong

Hong Kong International Airport

WHEN you’re on a business trip, you typically don’t have much time to yourself. However, I started look up all the fun things to do in that city two days before attending my business conference in Hong Kong. Make a list of every sight I would like to see, from the island tour to light show, then prioritize according to how much time I have.

Visit to The Peak
If there is one place that you cannot miss on your trip to Hong Kong, it is The Peak. As I stay in the Tsim Sha Tsui area, from my place to the peak, I took subway from Tsim Sha Tsui to Admiralty stations near Lippo Center. Once you exit from Admiralty station you have to walk about 5 min to Admiralty Garden where you can take a City Bus no. (15) to the Peak. For me this is one of the most fun ways to get to the Peak, other than the Peak Tram. Of course, I decided to take Tram on my way back.

Inside The Peak Tower

Perched at a height of 396m above sea level, it is one of the most chic architectural icons in Hong Kong. With a futuristic design representing the quintessence of contemporary architecture, the fabulous tower substantially adds to the glory of the city. Some of the best views are on the Peak Circle Walk, which winds around the highest point on Hong Kong Island.

One the top of The Peak Tower and Panoramic view of Hong Kong

The Peak Circle Walk begins at Lugard Road near the Peak Tower. The sections that are narrow, cliff-side paths are called ‘plank roads’. You’ll see the spectacular panoramic view of the Victoria Harbour when you arrive at the Lugard Road.

Lugard Road runs into Harlech Road, which will slowly take you back to the Peak Tower and to the end of your lap around The Peak. It takes about 15 minutes to traverse the entire tree-shaded path, or a bit longer if you stop to appreciate the waterfall falling below Mount Austin Playground.

After the Peak Circle Walk, I visited to the Peak Tower. Inside the Peak Towner is a dazzling array of restaurants, shops and entertainment venues set against the backdrop of this beautiful city.

More importantly I visit to its Sky Terrace 428 on the top of The Peak Tower. It’s the highest viewing terrace in Hong Kong that offers a stunning 360-degree panoramic view across Hong Kong.

Bar Street in Tsim Sha Tsui

Whether you visit The Peak in the morning, afternoon or at nighttime, The Sky Terrace 428 is a scenic spot that you not to be missed!

As I took a bus to my journey to the Peak, in return journey I took the Peak Tram to Lower Terminus. Riding the Peak Tram is the quickest and most scenic way to experience the fabulous panoramic views of Hong Kong.

Peak Tram Operating Hours:

  • 7am to 12 midnight (Mon – Sun & Public Holidays)
  • Frequency: Departs every 10 to 15 minutes

Sky Terrace 428 Opening Hours:

  • 10am to 11pm (Mon – Fri)
  • 8am to 11pm (Sat, Sun & Public Holidays)

Lantau Island, Giant Buddha and Fishing Village

Tai O Fishing Village, Lantau Island

If you want to see parts of the surrounding islands and amazing views, I would recommend a trip to Lantau island where you can visit to Fishing Village, old Chinese Temple and Giant Buddha aka Tian Tan Buddha.

I took a ferryboat from Hong Kong Harbour to the shores of Lantau Island. Head to Cheung Sha beach – the longest beach in the area – on a comfortable coach bus, then tour the fishing village of Tai O, where you will see traditional stilted home and learn more about daily local life.

This little place is sometimes called the “Venice of Hong Kong”, though it is just a little village with many houses built on stilts over water. A lot of Hong Kong urban residents make a short trip to visit it for an excursion and a break from the norm. You can easily spend a couple of hours in the village, just walking around the market and taking one of the small boats that take you around the harbor and the stilt houses for a close up view.

Boating around the Tai O Fishing Village

Besides tourism, the major industry is fishing. It was a major industry, but the fishing has grown poorer. Local residents fish mainly for their own subsistence or for enjoyment.  In the markets, you can find some of the local catch and buy salted fish or shrimp paste. There are many stalls selling dried sea products close to the bus terminal and ferry terminal area. These stalls also sell souvenirs for tourists.

You can also pay visit to temples in the village namely Kwan Tai Temple honors the lord of War and Righteousness, Tin Hau Temple honors the birth of Tin Hau and people gather in this temple to celebrate and pray for healthy and safe life, and the Lung Ngam monastery to worship Boddha and the Chu Deity.

This trip will then take you to the top of Ngong Ping Plateau where you will see the famous Buddha statue stretches more than 111ft (34 m) high and is the largest seated, outdoors bronze Buddha on earth.

Tian Tan Buddha, also known as the Big Buddha, is a large bronze statue of Buddha

Opposite to the Statue, the Po Lin Monastery is one of Hong Kong’s most important Buddhist sanctums and has been dubbed “the Buddhist World in the South”. Home to many a devout monk, this monastery is rich with colorful manifestations of Buddhist iconography and its pleasant garden is alive with birdsong and flowery scents. You can also enjoy a meal at its popular vegetarian restaurant. This trip offers up some of the most spectacular natural views and definitely not to be missed when you are in Hong Kong.

How to get there:

  • MTR Tung Chung Station Exit B, then take Ngong Ping Cable Car, which takes around 25 minutes. Then walk for around 10 minutes to the monastery; or
  • MTR Tung Chung Station Exit B, then take New Lantao Bus 23 from Tung Chung Town Centre, which takes around 45 minutes. Then walk for eight minutes; or
  • Catch ferry from Central Pier 6 to Mui Wo, then take New Lantao Bus 2 to Ngong Ping Village, which takes around 40 minutes.
I feel blessed when I look at Buddha

1881 Heritage
My visit to 1881 Heritage was just an accident. Yeah I found it accidentally when I actually go to the harbour site for the light show. 1881 Heritage quickly takes me to Victoria-era Hong Kong. From 1880s to 1996, this was the headquarters of the Hong Kong Marine Police. Several buildings and artifacts of historical interest have been preserved and restored, and the site now features a shopping mall, a heritage hotel and an exhibition hall.

1881 Heritage Building

The site contains a number of Declared Monuments, the most interesting of which is the Time Ball Tower. From 1885 to 1907, this tower provided a vital service to ships in Victoria Harbour. Many of these vessels had arrived in Hong Kong after long voyages, during which their chronometers would have lost accuracy. A one-minute error could result in a ship becoming lost, with dire consequences for the crew.

The ball mounted on the pole in this tower was raised manually every morning and, with data provided by the Hong Kong Observatory, it was dropped at 1pm every day. The tower was in full view of the harbour and the dropping of the ball allowed ships to recalibrate their chronometers to an accuracy of one-tenth of a second, before they departed Hong Kong for other parts of the world. Interesting huh? Just make sure to explore this wonder site during your visit to Hong Kong.

How to get there:

  • By MTR get off at Tsim Sha Tsui station and Exit E, walk towards Salisbury Road, turn right, take subway (pedestrian tunnel) next to YMCA to 1881 Heritage.

Symphony of Light in Victoria Harbour
Very close to 1881 Heritage across the road is the Avenue of Stars. It is a scenic seaside promenade in the east of Tsim Sha Tsui. It is also a place to enjoy A Smphony of Lights, a very famous laser lights and music show, which takes place every night in Hong Kong.

At Avenue of Stars to enjoy the Light Show

At 8pm, over 40 skyscrapers and landmarks that lie on the sides of Victoria Harbour syncronise their lights and beam lasers in time with music. There are five themes that are used during the show such as Awakening, Energy, Heritage, Partnership and the finale is Celebration. Through interactive lighting and music show, it shows the vibrancy and glamorous night view of the city while enjoying the sea breeze, and the bustling star ferries over the sea. Such a wonderful place that you shouldn’t miss in your trip.

 How to get there:

  • By MTR, take the West Rail Line of MTR and get off at East Tsim Sha Tsui Station. Then follow the sign to the Avenue of Stars.
  • By Ferry, Take the Star Ferry and get off at Tsim Sha Tsui Ferry Pier.


Hong Kong Jockey Club

Jockey Club, Hong Kong

I felt such a privilege to have my dinner at the Moon Koon restaurant in Hong Kong Jockey Club. You can enjoy the delicious foods as you take in fantastic views of the Happy Valley Racecourse. During race time, you can keep track of the latest odds and other information displayed on LED screens set up inside the restaurant and as well as balcony seats are available to enjoy the thrilling races.

Local Food Stall, Tsim Sha Tsui

Apart from these places, there are a lot of things to do in Tsim Sha Tsui area, which located in the south of Kowloon Peninsula and faces central across the sea.

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Nathan Road, Tsim Sha Tsui

The hotel I stayed was on Nathan Road which also has many shopping streets that provide a different shopping experience. Canton road is the most famous street and full of many shop selling luxurious products. Tsim Sha Tsui is also an area full of pubs and restaurants of different grades and flavors to enjoy the nightlife.



How to get there:

  • By MTR, take metro Tsuen Wan Line and get off at Tsim Sha Tsui Station, or take West Rail Line to East Tsim Sha Tsui Station.
  • By Ferry, take a Star Ferry from the pier at the Central or Wan Chai to reach the destination.