Hsipaw, a charming and laid-back town located high in the hills of Shan State, Hsipaw’s quiet, dusty streets, traditional buildings, and trekking opportunities make it worth the effort of getting there – particularly considering the journey from Mandalay involves one of the world’s greatest train journeys! One of Burma’s most stunning man-made marvels built by the colonial British, Gokteik Viaduct is a spectacular railway bridge over 100 metres above the ground and nearly 700 metres long.
Hsipaw also has a refreshingly mild climate and numerous shrines nearby, including the atmospheric collection of pagodas to its north, dubbed ‘Little Bagan’; a hilltop pagoda with lovely views over the river valley and a huge Chinese cemetery. Located just to the north of town is the historically significant Shan Palace, residence of the last Sawbwa (Prince) of Hsipaw. Don’t miss the sunset views from the nearby Sunset Hill, as it has panoramic views of the entire valley and town, lit up with a golden glow.
You can easily hire a bicycle to see these sights, as well as the waterfalls, fresh water pools and rock formations of the surrounding hills. Visiting the local noodle factories, and witness the rural lives of local farmers in their paddy fields and banana plantations, is a highlight of most treks starting from Hsipaw.