Shan State Travel Guides
The Shan State is a state located in Myanmar (Burma), which takes its name from the Shan people, the majority ethnic group in the Shan State.
Location: East central
Area: 155,800 km2
Telephone: Calling code
Town and Districts
Sittwe, Maungdaw, Buthidaung, Kyaukpru and Thandwe
The Shan State is a state located in Myanmar (Burma), which takes its name from the Shan people, the majority ethnic group in the Shan State. Shan State is comprised of 69 townships, including 24 newly-created townships in Special Region 2 (Wa Area). Its capital is Taunggyi. The state is largely rural. Major cities of Shan State are Lashio, Kengtong and Taunggyi.
The Shan State borders Yunnan province – China to the north, Bokeo and Luang Namtha Provinces – Laos to the east, and Mae Hong Son, Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai provinces – Thailand to the south. It also shares borders with five administrative divisions of Myanmar.
The physical nature is plateau and succession of mountain ranges said to be older than those in the western regions of the country. There are many river streams, the largest and longest being the Thanlwin (Salween) which enters Shan state from Yunnan province and flows north to south and later goes through Kayah, Kayin and Mon states before draining into the Andaman sea.
The Mekong river serves as border line between China and Shan state for a short 40km at the eastern tip, and again between Laos (Luang Nam Tha and Bokeo provinces) and Shan state before arriving at the famous golden triangle tip where Laos, Myanmar and Thailand meet. The average height of the plateau is 900 meters. The plateau rises quite abruptly from the central plain.
The famous Inle Lake where the leg-rowing Intha people live in floating villages, in the great Nyaung Shwe ‘plain’, is the second largest natural expanse of water in Myanmar, shallow but 14 miles long and 7 miles wide. Pindaya Caves near Aungban are vast limestone caves which contain 6226 Buddha images.
The Shans dominated most of Myanmar from the 13th century to the 16th century as rulers of Ava, Sagaing and Pinya kingdoms. In the 19th century, long after their power declined, they were distributed among more than 30 petty states; most of them paid tribute to the Bamar king. Under the British colonial administration, first established in 1887, the Shan States were ruled by their hereditary chiefs (Saophas or Chaofa) as feudatories of the British crown. In 1922 most of these small states were joined in the ‘Federated Shan States’, under a commissioner who also administered the Wa State. This arrangement survived the constitutional changes of 1923 and 1937.
A single Shan state, including the former Wa states, was established by the 1947 Constitution of Burma. Earlier on February 12, 1947, at the Panglong Conference an agreement was signed by the Shan, Kachin and Chin leaders and Aung San for the Burmese government. In 1959 the Sawbwas relinquished much of their power to the Burmese government under General Ne Win.
Then the Shan Federal Movement, led by Yawnghwe Sawbwa Sao Shwe Thaik – the first president of the independent Union of Burma (1948-52), and Mong Mit Sawbwa Saw Hkun Hkio – Foreign Minister, was seen as a separatist movement insisting on the government honouring the right to secession in 10 years provided for by the 1947 Constitution, and Ne Win staged a coup d’etat in 1962. The military coup fuelled the Shan rebellion, started in 1958 by a small group called Noom suik harn (Young Warriors), now joined by the Shan State Army (SSA) led by Sao Shwe Thaik’s wife Mahadevi and son Chao-Tzang Yawnghwe.
Shan State’s autonomy was further eroded by increased centralisation of the Burmese government following the Constitution of 1974 promulgated by the ruling Burma Socialist Programme Party (BSPP). Generally, the Shans remain committed to the preservation of their distinct ethnic heritage.
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