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Hsipaw

 

A charming town located high in the hills of Shan State, Hsipaw’s quiet, dusty streets, traditional buildings, and offers easy and great hiking opportunities to waterfall, hot-spring, tribes villages etc – particularly considering the journey from Mandalay involves one of the world’s great train journeys crossing Goteik Viaduct, the railway line between Pyin Oo Lwin and Hsipaw is a masterpiece of British engineering, designed primarily to bring trade (and thus control) to the Northern Shan State, an important ally of the British after the conquest of Upper Burma.

HOW TO GET THERE

There are plenty of road transportation from Yangon, Mandalay and Inle Lake, but all of these bus stop on the highway and continue to Lashio, from highway bus stop, you can proceed to the town. There are also flights from Yangon and Heho (Inle Lake) to Lashio, which is 2 hrs drive from Hsipaw. Another way, as well as the best way to arrive Hsipaw is, taking the Mandalay – Lashio train from Pyin Oo Lwin or Mandalay, crossing the famous “Goteik Viaduct”. The best way to explore around Hsipaw is walking and biking. Boat trip along the Dokhtawady River will also give you the pleasant way to enjoy the area.



ATTRACTIONS

Central Market (or) Candle-light Market

The Central Market at Hsipaw is one of the best markets to visit in all of Myanmar. Shans, Kachins, and other tribals from the surrounding area come into Hsipaw to sell their wares. The customers are less local buyers but travelling salesmen who peddle the things acquired at the market going door to door in the villages. Their mobile sales platform is usually a motorbike and in some cases a tuktuk or a mini truck. As the market winds up soon after sunrise, they start early at 3:30am and pretty much wrapping up by 6am.

Little Bagan & Bamboo Buddha Image

A small complex of ruin pagodas is located north of the town and accessible by walking, cycling or by tuk tuk. Then, continues to the old wooden monastery where the huge antique Buddha image made of bamboo is.

Shan Palace

The Sawbwas (the governor in Shan Language) of Hsipaw lived in the Shan Palace at the northern end of the town. The last Sawbwa (Sao Kya Seng) disappeared during the military coup in 1962 and the palace is cared for by his nephew and his nephew's wife. The building is usually closed in the rainy season and visiting hours are restricted, so check with your hotel before heading there.
Also recommended is to look up the memoirs of the last Sabwa's austrian wife, Inge Sargent, called "Twilight over Burma: My Life as a Shan Princess." It's a moving personal account of her life in Burma up till her husband's disappearance.

Thein Daung Pagoda (or) Sunset Hill

The best way to enjoy the sunset in Hsipaw is climbing to Thein Daung Pagoda, also known as Nine Buddha Hill or, most popularly, Sunset Hill. It’s part of a steep ridge that rises directly behind the Lashio road, just over a mile south of Hsipaw and offers the panoramic view of lovely Hsipaw Town with Dokhtawady River.

Mahamyatmuni Paya

At the southern end of town (across the Lashio Road) is the Mahamyatmuni Paya. It is the biggest and grandest pagoda in the main town. The large brass-faced Buddha image here was inspired by the famous Mahamuni Buddha in Mandalay. He’s now backed by an acid-trip halo of pulsating coloured lights that would seem better suited to a casino.

ENVIRONS OF HSIPAW
River Junction

If you fancy a more chilled-out activity, then a half-day boat trip on the Dokhtawady River from Hsipaw to river junction is an enticing option. This scenic journey features monasteries, pineapple plantations, fields, forests and a 45-minute walk where you will have the chance to speak to local Shan farmers. Swimming is also ok if you wish at the river junction.

Bawgyo Paya

This famous pagoda is located 8km out of town in the direction of Mandalay, is a revered Shan pagoda. In addition to the usual complement of Buddha's, the pagoda also has some ancient statues of Hindu origin in the plaza outside. There is also the pagoda festival that’s held every year and considering as the biggest pagoda festival for the region. If you catch that time, don’t miss that.

Nawng Kaw Gyi Lake

Nawng Kaw Village (around 40 km one way from Hsipaw on paved roads) in Hsipaw and visit this beautiful lake with a small wooden temple in the middle of it (a bridge connects to it) and a pagoda on the hill, close to a monastery. You probably won't see any other tourists and the locals are very friendly, waving at you all the time. It is a nice day trip out of Hsipaw.

Nam Hu Nwe Waterfall

It is located a few kilometers south of Hsipaw and a beautiful waterfall that sees very few tourists. There is a small pool at the bottom for cooling off in the fresh water.

Hot Springs

It accessible by a road from Little Bagan and these natural hot pool on a nice river. The locals use this spring as their concrete bathtub, so expect to share some very soapy water with them. Dress modestly eg by wearing a longyi, women and men go separate.

Trekking to Hill Tribes Villages

There are also one day trek, 2 days trek and 3 day trek to several hill tribes villages such as Palaung, Danu, Shan etc.

Kyauk Me

Kyaukme (pronounced chalk-may and sometimes spelt Kyauk Me) is a quiet market town which is all too often overlooked, located on the road and rail routes between Mandalay and Lashio. However, it is certainly worth a visit, with some fine colonial-era buildings, a busy local market, and numerous trekking options in the nearby hills.