Hsipaw is a small town with relaxed pace of life situated 200 kilometers North East of Mandalay. Situated on the mighty Shan hills it is a perfect spot for trekking and exploring the ethical villages that are dotting the surrounding highlands.
Built on a river bank of Dokthawaddyi River and surrounded by mighty Shan hills Hsipaw is a great place to enjoy nature and breathe the pure air of the highlands. The valley around is mainly paddy fields where locals grow their seasonal crops and you can still see oxcarts going on the roads delivering different goods from the nearby farms. The hills are covered with lush forests dotted with tea plantations.
In the town itself, there are plenty of Pagodas and old traditional houses to admire and one of the must see place is the old Shan prince palace (more like a mansion) at the northern end of town. The last Shan prince disappeared during military coup in 1962 and today his nephew and his wife are taking care of the mansion and gladly give insights of the History of Shan state.
Hsipaw and the surrounding areas are mainly inhabited by Shan, Palaung, Pao-O ethnic minorities. The colorful main market is a place worth visiting with all village people gathering to trade their local goods. The main resource of income for the rural villages is tea cultivation and people are still living in simple conditions with strong traditions. Locals are friendly and welcome tourists with curiosity, but for better insight of their lives we recommend hiring a Palaung or Shan guide.
Although the town itself is a very charming place Hsipaw is still mainly a starting point for treks to the surrounding areas. There are different length treks available and during treks the lodging takes place at local houses or monasteries with shared facilities. You have also a possibility to rent a bike, take a boat trip on the river, explore Shan chietains Saobwa’s residence and history or explore the hot springs and waterfalls of the area.
Situated next to Mandalay-Lashio road Hsipaw is easily reachable with buss from Mandalay (approx. 8hrs) or Pyin Oo Lwin (approx 6hrs). We recommend doing the rain journey from Mandalay (11hrs) or Pyin Oo Lwin (7hrs). The railway is a true work of art traveling through steep hills and over the 300 meter deep Gokteik Gorge. We recommend taking a bus to Pyin Oo Lwin and jumping on the train from there to witness the breath-taking train journey but cutting it bit shorter. It is also possible to rent motorbikes from Mandalay and make the journey independently. The road condition is good all the way to Hsipaw with varied landscapes.
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