Lashio is the largest town of the northern Shan State, and a key gateway that connects Myanmar to China as it is at the Burmese end of the Burma Road.
The beautiful Shan landscape that surrounds Lashio is home to a myriad group of ethnic tribes such as the Pa’O, Wa, Palaung, and Shan amongst others, who have had a complex relationship with the Burmese military, a relationship sometimes marred by displacement and violence.
Lashio is not yet in the ranks of Mandalay and Bagan as a destination for travellers in Myanmar. However, there is great potential given its beautiful landscapes and diversity of cultures, largely unexplored by travellers even today.
Myanmar Adveture Outfitters (MAO) was birthed with the recognition of Lashio’s potential to benefit from the tourism industry. MAO is a pioneering outdoor adventure company that desires to expose travellers to a different side of Myanmar – one of pristine lakes for standup paddle-boarding, motorbiking along the Burma Road and stopping along the border towns for snacks, exploring majestic and under-explored waterfalls, and meeting hill tribe villagers that call the Shan mountains their home.
At the core of their business is a desire to create more sustainable jobs for the locals by training them to become certified guides, and to impart skills in hospitality as they become hosts for home stays. By doing so, the locals will have more reasons to stay in Lashio instead of heading to the neighbouring countries for work. Each trip that MAO runs will have a positive ripple effect on the communities that they are working with, and as the business grows, more communities can benefit from it.
On your next trip to Myanmar, or if you know of friends heading there, make sure to head over to Lashio and join MAO on a very special adventure you’ll remember for ages!