Capture the rugged beauty of Myanmar’s north with an epic train ride. Journey from Pyin Oo Lwin to Hsipaw, traveling slowly through the highlands and across the jaw-dropping Goteik Viaduct. Amble through rice paddies to meet friendly farmers and take a boat down the pristine waters of the Dokhtawady River.
Board a slow-moving local train for a trip across the Goteik Viaduct, one of the world’s highest train trellises.
Travel by local horse and cart to see remnants of the colonial era and walk through the impressive Botanical Gardens.
Spend a day exploring Hsipaw, traveling by boat and on foot through rice paddies and villages tucked amid rolling hills.
Northern Shan State by Train - 4 Days / 3 Nights
Leaving from Mandalay in the morning, begin the tour with a scenic two-hour drive to the former British hill station of Pyin Oo Lwin. Located on a plateau 1,000 metres above sea level, the area is famed for its cool climate and lush vegetation -a reputation that was not lost on colonial rulers who settled the area as a means of escaping the sweltering heat of lowland areas. Many reminders of Pyin Oo Lwin’s colonial era are still present in the form of brick and timber houses that were built during this time period.
Pyin Oo Lwin is home to many ethnic tribes as well as a considerable numbers of ethnic Nepalese and Indians who migrated here during the British occupation.
Enjoy a traditional horse cart and carriage ride through town. Stop at the Botanical Gardens -432 acres of leafy gardens home to a diverse mix of botanical species from around the world. The Gardens were established by Sir Harcourt Butler, former Governor of Burma, and remain in a remarkably well-manicured state.
Continue to a local market for a taste of the local culture and look at the stunning array of multicoloured flowers and vegetables on sale.
Overnight in Pyin Oo Lwin.
After breakfast at the hotel, transfer to the railway station for a 6-hour locomotive tour to Hsipaw. The scenic and iconic journey crosses the famous Gokteik Viaduct which spans a 300-meter deep gorge high in the Shan Mountains. The views from the train are spectacular, so be sure to have a camera ready.
Lunch-box on board.
Arrive at Hsipaw in the afternoon. A pleasant small town on the banks of the Dokhtawady River, it’s a great place for taking leisurely strolls on foot while exploring local culture.
Overnight in Hsipaw.
After breakfast in the morning, take a boat trip along the Dokhtawady River. Stop at a local village along the way and take a stroll through the various farms there to learn about local agriculture. Then, stop at a local monastery to sip tea with resident monks there.
From the monastery, hop back on the boat and head to a secret spot where a small tributary feeds into the Dokhtawady River. This area is not only a fantastic place to snap a few photos, but the water of the tributary is clean enough to take a quick dip.
On the way back to Hsipaw, stop at another local village for a chance to talk to some of the Shan farmers and walk through their citrus groves.
Arrive in Hsipaw for a late lunch (client’s account)
Afterwards, visit the former palace of the Last Sky Prince of Hsipaw. A champion for democracy in the 1950s and 60s, the prince was imprisoned in the military coup of 1962 and never seen again. The property is managed by his niece and nephew who will give a guided tour while explaining the family history and telling the sad story of the Last Sky Prince.
Late in the afternoon, head just outside of town to Nine Buddha Hill. From here, watch the sun set over Hsipaw and the Dokhtawady River.
Overnight in Hsipaw.
In the morning, check out from the hotel after breakfast. Then visit a colorful Shan market in Hsipaw before departing for Mandalay. On the way, visit Bawgyo Pagoda, one of the most famous pagodas in northern Shan State. Another stop will be made at a viewpoint overlooking the Gokteik Gorge -a postcard-perfect photo setting of the Ribbon Band Highway. The drive then descends along a winding road into the gorge and then back up to the higher elevation again.
Reach Pyin Oo Lwin around midday and have lunch (own account) at December Farm. Famous for its strawberry farm and dairy, December farms is a great place to try the local food, fruit wine, and even some homemade ice cream made with on-site dairy.
Continue the drive to Mandalay, arriving in the early evening, and check into the hotel for the completion of the tour.
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