Looking for an adventurous addition to your Myanmar holiday that doesn’t take you too far off the grid? Look no further than Hsipaw! This sleepy northern Shan town used to be a secret that only a few travelers knew. These days it is a common stop for nature lovers but still retains its charm. The surrounding hills are filled with great trekking trails, quaint villages and hidden waterfalls– it would be easy to spend a week here simply wandering around. But read on to learn about Myanmar Diaries favorite things to do in Hsipaw.
Journey to the North
Hsipaw is located in the northeast of Myanmar’s Shan State, not far from the Chinese border. The journey leading to Hsipaw is one of the country’s most epic adventures. Setting off from Mandalay or Pyin Oo Lwin, board a slow-moving train to venture into the hills. Along the way the train will pass over the Goteik Viaduct, a 100-metres high railway trestle that was built in 1900. Enjoy the views as you cross the highlands, admiring fields and villages through the windows. You will arrive in Hsipaw late in the afternoon, stepping off the train and breathing in the fresh air of the countryside.
Riverside sunset and evening vibes
After dropping your bags at the hotel, take a stroll around town to stretch your legs after the long journey. Unlike the busy streets of Mandalay and Yangon, Hsipaw’s roads see little traffic- only the occasional motorbike or cow- so it’s a pleasant town for wandering. Make your way to the banks of the Dohktawaddy River, a tranquil waterway that cuts through the rice paddies like a glimmering ribbon. Watch the sunset here before continuing your walk through town, perhaps stopping in a local restaurant for a cold beer and a plate of noodles before returning to the hotel for a good night of sleep.
Fueling up for an adventure
The true beauty of Hsipaw is its countryside so a full day outdoor adventure is highly recommended. You may wish to skip breakfast at the hotel and instead walk to one of many small food stalls selling Shan khao sway, a popular local breakfast. The combination of noodles, tender meat and yummy herbs is filling and provides loads of energy for the morning’s activities. Wash this down with cup of freshly brewed green tea grown in the surrounding hills- this is truly a ‘local’ drink!
Rice paddies and ancient ruins
With a belly-full of noodles, it’s time to hit the trails. A short walk takes you through rice paddies and fields growing seasonal crops. Depending on the time of year, you may see farmers at work using oxen and water buffalos rather than machines to tend the fields. Amid the countryside lie a series of old brick ruins that have earned the nickname ‘Little Bagan’. Although not quite as impressive as the real thing, Hsipaw’s monuments are well worth the walk and are extremely photogenic.
After this sightseeing stop, continue exploring the countryside. There are plenty of options and the route you chose is based on your personal interests and fitness level. Waterfalls, hilltop pagodas with fabulous views and charming rural villages are waiting to be discovered.
On your second day of your Hsipaw tour, opt for a softer adventure! Board a motorized boat and cruise along the scenic Dohktawaddy River for a half day. Relax and enjoy the views, catching glimpses of buffalo lazing by the water’s edge and kids playing in the fields.
Go ashore for a walk through a more remote part of the Shan State. You will get to see fruit plantations, tranquil monasteries and farming communities where time seems to have stood still. Take a moment to soak up the surroundings and embrace the beauty of this wonderful part of Myanmar. With this memory stamped into your Myanmar Diaries, return to the boat and cruise back to town.
Choose your next adventure
The adventure doesn’t have to end in Hsipaw! If you want to travel even further off the beaten track, an overnight trek from Hsipaw into the highlands is a great option. Or head to nearby Lashio or Kyauk Me where more villages can be explored on foot or by bike. If your craving for adventure has been satiated by your Hsipaw tour then the former royal capital of Mandalay is a five to six hour drive to the south. No matter which direction you chose to travel, be sure to stay awake as the roads leading away from Hsipaw are filled with stunning views.
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- Cruising along the scenic Dokhtawaddy River
- Trekking through countryside fields and villages
- Gazing upon ‘Little Bagan’s’ atmospheric ruins
- Discovering Myanmar’s incredible natural beauty
- Sampling local delicacies at a small street stall
BEST SEASON TO VISIT :
- From October to June
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