By Thiha Lu Lin (Thiha, the Traveller)
Photo: Joe Jin, Thiha Lu Lin
There are three beautiful waterfalls near Kyaukkyi town in Bago Region. For a day trip, when we leave Yangon around 6 am, we can come back around 8 pm. The two waterfalls are in the same place, and the third one is in another place. But three of them are not far from each other. Although it’s closed during COVID-19 period, let me say it should be visited when everything is back to a stable situation.
The three waterfalls called Sat Le Waterfall, Thal Thaw Mu Waterfall and Thal Thaw Khwar Waterfall. Sat Le Waterfall is a little privacy, and the other two are at the same place up the hill. But all are on the same route.
How to get there? We need to go for 99 miles through the highway from Yangon. There is a feeder road which leads to Kyaukkyi town. The road will become narrow, and it is just two cars away. When I went there, some parts of the road were being renovated, and I hope it’s done now. After driving around 3 hours to Kyaukkyi town, we will arrive at Set Le Waterfall first and continue to Thal Thaw Mu and Thal Thaw Khwar waterfalls. After Kyaukkyi town, the road is getting narrower and rougher as the rocks are paved on the red earth. If it rains, the ground can become muddy, so there is a risk that the wheels will not be able to move. There are also potholes, so if the car is low, it may hit bottom.
Set Le Waterfall
After a one-hour drive from Kyaukkyi town, we will arrive at Set Le Waterfall first. We may need to ask the direction to the waterfall on the way. There is an entrance sign on the way to the waterfall which says “Set Le Waterfall” in Burmese and “Khay Loh Klo Waterfall” in English with the Kayin flags. If we go through the gate a little further, we will arrive at the admission gate to pay for entrance fees for vehicles. The prices range from 1,000 kyats to 5,000 kyats depending on the type of car. Travelling cars such as light truck and saloon car need to pay only 1,000 kyats or 2,000 kyats, and 3,000 kyats for Mini Bus and 5,000 kyats for Express.
We will not be bored on the way to the waterfall as there are restaurants, souvenir shops, several types of games during pagoda festivals such as arrow games and shooting games as well as grilled fish, grilled prawn, grilled chicken, grilled egg, and other kinds of grilled foods. We had lunch in one of those restaurants. As there were just a few guests at that time, we didn’t have many kinds of food. There are also souvenir shops which sell Kayin traditional dress, bamboo hat and commemorative T-shirts.
There is another gate to pass near the entrance to the waterfall where armed guards will check the bags we have and will not allow keeping the bottles and spike tools.
I think it wouldn’t be very amusing if we go only to the Set Le Waterfall. The waterfall is relatively small, but the waterfall is speedy. It would be more beautiful if it has much water. It seems the water is shallow and it is good to take rest and drink or eat as there are also big stones. It is just for recreation and not a “wow” place.
Thal Thaw Mu Waterfall and Thal Thaw Khwar Waterfall
This place can be reached after going back to the entrance gate of Set Le Waterfall and turn left. It will take 30 minutes as the car has to drive slowly on the rough road. There is also an entrance gate quite observable on the right side of the road, with the Kayin flags and the names of the waterfall in Burmese as well as in English are written as “Thal Thaw Mu- Thal Thaw Khwar Waterfalls”. After going through the gate for a little further, there will be the admission gate. Usually, there is no checking, though. We need to get out of the waterfalls before 6 pm; if not, there will be trouble with the authority.
The car passing fee is collected here. There are restaurants and souvenir shops like Set Le Waterfall. I didn’t find video game shops there. Most of the restaurants operate together with souvenir shops. The waterfall is more beautiful than Set Le, but we have to face an arduous journey to reach there. You will firstly see Thal Thaw Khwar Waterfall. You can take rest peacefully as there is smooth sand like the beach. You can skip the rocks and walk in the water. You can climb up the small hill with ropes. Even the girls in our group climb up like that. I sometimes felt scared climbing down the hill with ropes than the climbing up. After that, we can make a Soft Trekking in the jungle, including the bamboo forest. After 15 minutes walk, we arrived at the Thal Thaw Khwar waterfall. A massive volume of water beautifully flows from the waterfall. It is not easy to take a bath. It is a little bit deep, but you can get into the water by stepping on the small rocks. The waterfall is lovely to take a photo. Most of the people take rest at Thal Thaw Mu as there are no places to take rest at Thal Thaw Khwar and the water is also deep there. Therefore, I would like to suggest the travellers play in the water of Thal Thaw Mu Waterfall and take rest there, after taking photos at Thal Thaw Khwar Waterfall.
Things to keep in mind
As the waterfall is located in the Kayin organizations-controlled areas and so you all need to follow some words of their organizations. Please notice the opening and closing hours of the waterfall. If they fix the closing time at 6 pm, you need to leave from there before that time. Although the people can drink alcohol at the shops, they scrutinize whether the people bring bottles or other sharp objects and seize such materials. They also strictly ban the disposal of trash. Be careful not to litter. It would be best if you took back the garbage. You need hiking boots if you go to Thal Thaw Khwar Waterfall. It would be better if you take gloves as you need to climb up the hill with ropes. You can access the mobile network only at the Kyaukkyi and on the way to the waterfall. You cannot access the waterfalls.
If you have time, you can pay a visit to three waterfalls near Kyaukkyi township of Bago after four hours’ drive from Yangon. I made a day trip. If you want to spend your vacation peacefully, you should choose only one waterfall to spend a lot of time. If you can manage your time, you can have a day trip without feeling tired. May you all have a safe and happy trip. (Translated by Ei Phyu Phyu Aung and Khine Thazin Han)