Other than crisp mountain air and stunning views, the reason to make your way here is for trekking to remote villages. The trail to the well-known summit of Mt Victoria, while rewarding for the views, certainly isn't the most interesting route. A guide is necessary to explore properly.

Trekking

The start of the trail to the summit of Mt Victoria is 14 miles from Kanpetlet. There are many other trails across the mountain, and fascinating villages in the area to visit, so you could easily spend several days here. Most travellers arrive on three- or four-day tours run out of Bagan or, more ambitiously, as an end point for hikes starting in Mindat (the extremely fit and driven can do this in two days, but it's more manageable and enjoyable done in three). Prices start at US$80 per person per day for a group of four, not including accommodation and food. There's a K10,000 entrance fee for the national park.

Naing Kee Shing of Mt Victoria Trekker recently began offering two-day trips (US$90 per person, including vehicle, meals and a night in Aye Sakhan Camp) to Mt Victoria, beginning and ending in Mindat. The first day involves around four hours of hiking, with village visits, and then a 45-minute drive to Aye Sakhan. An early morning drive to the base of Mt Victoria leaves time for the hike to the summit, lunch, another hike and transfer back to your hotel in Mindat. The plan, at least for now, is to offer this three times weekly in the high season.

If time is short, you can still get to several villages, including Halong Ban and Kanlong, on a half-day trip out of Kanpetlet (US$40 per group of no more than four people). With one night (in Halong Ban) and two days (US$80 per person, including meals, homestay and porter to carry food and water), you can get a better feel for the area. With advance notice, Aung Ling Thang (09 471 70219), the manager of the Mountain Oasis Resort, can arrange this.

Other highly recommended guides include Mr Saw of Tours Myanmar and Jochen Meissner of Uncharted Horizons.

Birdwatching

During the colonial period, British orchid hunters roamed the mountainsides around Mt Victoria. These days it's trekkers and birdwatchers. With around 245 bird species, including three endemic species (white-browned nuthatch, Burmese tit and Mt Victoria babax), highland pheasants, hornbills (the Chin State symbol), hawks and eagles, it's one of the better spots in all Myanmar for birdwatching. Aung Ling Thang (09 471 70219), manager of the Mountain Oasis Resort, speaks excellent English and can help arrange a guide. He'll likely connect you with Maung Nu, a knowledgeable park ranger/freelance guide who charges US$50 per day (birdwatching guides hired out of Yangon typically charge US$100 per day).