After long hesitation I decided to skip Bago and headed directly to the north, along with Belgian and Dutch co-travelers, I got to know in Yangon. Bus trip from Yangon to Kalaw took around 15 hours. Initially the journey was very smooth, however, as approaching the north, the road got much worse, many sharp corners and humps. Also after the sunset it got much colder in the bus. Locals were putting on winter jackets and hats. The biggest surprise came in our destination, Kalaw, where we were dropped off at 3am into 10°C cold. After spending 5 months in hot weather it was quite a shock. Locals say occasionally they get also snow over there. Kalaw is an unhurried little town at the altitude of over 1300m, serving as a base point for trekking tours. It does not offer many sights to see, but you can spend whole day just relaxing in cute teashops. While there, we were lucky to see a big market, held only once a week. People were much friendlier than in Yangon, in rural areas they always are.
Trek from Kalaw to Inle Lake took 3 days and 2 nights, in total ~52km, suitably divided into 18, 22 and 12km segments. We visited several tribes, all belonging to Shan ethnic group, occasionally popping in a village house for a cup of tea. Lunches were also held in traditional dwellings. Each of the tribes speaks different language. We were a group of five and had probably the best tour guide in Kalaw called Jimmy, and probably the best cook called Soso. Although not breathtaking, the landscape throughout the tour was very interesting and offered some really cool views. We walked through many rice and wheat fields, saw tea, ginger, chilli and mandarin plantations and a lot more. Pine forests were present all the way long. Banyan tree was not that difficult to spot as well.
First night we slept in a village dwelling and the second in a monastery, being woken up at 5am by a regular morning ceremony and blessed by the chief monk afterwards. Food during the trek, comprised mostly of vegetarian dishes, was just great (check the pics). Even my sensitive stomach dealt with it perfectly.
Kalaw -> Inle Lake trek is probably the most common one and I highly recommend it.