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Home > Myanmar Highlights > Off-the-beaten-track > Northern Jewels > Myitkyina



Myitkyina is the capital of Kachin State in the far north of the country located 919 miles from commercial capital Yangon or 487 miles from Mandalay, Myanmar’s cultural heartland. The British built railroad ends here and its northern most port serves flat-bottomed small boats plying to Bamaw, another big town on the bank of Ayerwaddy. The mighty Ayeyarwady River was born just north of this town so as its name “Myitkyina” means “near the big river”, the confluence of two swift-flowing mountain streams: the N’maihka and the Malihka.

The city has a population of approximately 150,000 comprising Kachin, Shan, Chinese, Bamar, and Indians. While Christianity and Buddhism are the main religions, animism, Hinduism and Islam are also practiced.

During World War II, Myitkyina fell to the Allied forces under General Joseph Stilwell after a prolonged siege and heavy fighting between Nationalist Chinese divisions and Merrill's Marauders of the Northern Combat Area Command and the besieged elements of the 33rd Imperial Japanese Army under General Masaki Honda. The town was strategically important not only because of its rail and water links to the rest of Myanmar, but also because it was on the planned route of the Ledo-Burma Road.

The Myitson or the junction of these two mountain streams is a beautiful place, torrents of wild water jumping over huge boulders and then coming together into the great Ayeyarwady for 2150km southward until it’s emptied into gulf of Mottama.

About 148 km west of Myitkyina, there is a place called "Hpa Kant", which is home to the best jade mines in the world.

Myitkyina is known for its colorful Kachin New Year festival in January (around 10th Jan) called Manao festival, where all Kachin clans come together in their full colorful costumes to celebrate the grand occasion with traditional dances, singing, and drinking of traditional rice wines.




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