"The trip was smooth and seamless throughout; there were no glitches at all. We had a wonderful time."
A family from Houston

Mandalay to Hsipaw: Unveiling Myanmar's Ethnic Tribes by Rail

Get a rare and beautiful cultural glimpse into the daily lives of the ethnic tribes occupying rural Myanmar. Visit Pyi Oo Lwin, Gokhtike Railway Viaduct, Kyaukme and Hsipaw. Travel as ancient traders did, taking the same route they did during bustling economic times. Become one with nature and tradition as you embark on this 4-day journey through Myanmar’s ethnic tribal culture.

Highlights   Pricing
  • Get acquainted with the lush Burmese countryside as you travel the same ancient road used for centuries by Chinese and Burmese traders.
  • Take a train ride and enjoy an elevated view of the Gokteik Railway Viaduct to Kyaukme
  • Visit Hsipaw’s early morning market and see the local tribes in their traditional costume
Starting at
per person
View more details
Day by Day Itinerary

View Mandalay to Hsipaw: Unveiling Myanmar's Ethnic Tribes by Rail in a larger map
Day 1

Watch in awe as you drive through the lush, green countryside to the classic British hill station, used during British rule - Pyin Oo Lwin. Check out the quaint European-style town as you walk through the local market and snap a picture with the old clock tower. Tour the town in a charming antique horse-drawn cart. Stop and smell the fresh florals as you visit the National Kandawgyi Gardens. The soft, green carpeted land is covered in a multitude of colorful flowers, dense forests and cascading lakes. Spend a quiet evening at the Kandawgyi Lodge in Pyi Oo Lwin.

Day 2
Pyi Oo Lwin - Gokteik Viaduct - Hsipaw

Head to the Pyi Oo Lwin Railway Station, climb aboard, and embark on a train ride you’ll never forget. Passing above the Gokteik Railway Viaduct to Kyaukme - you have the same experience many tradesmen did as they passed between Mandalay and China in past times. At its completion in 1901, the Gokteik Viaduct was the second largest bridge in the world. Once you reach your destination, continue on by car to the historic town of Hsipaw and visit the most revered pagoda in Northern Shan - Bawku Pagoda. Spend a restful night in Mr. Charles Guest House in Hsipaw.

Day 3

Make it an early morning and explore the incredible, one-of-a-kind morning market hosted by the local ethnic tribes. The market starts at 3:30 AM and wraps up just three hours later. Later, explore Hsipaw before taking a few small treks to the outlying villages inhabited by the ethnic minorities in the area. Catch the sun’s final rays as you watch it set from your prime seat atop Nine Buddha Hill (Koe Su Mountain). Retire back to the guesthouse after a full day of cultural exploration.

Day 4
Hsipaw - Kyaukme - Mandalay

Journey back to Mandalay on a 5.5-hour car ride along the famous Burmese road well-trodden by Chinese and Burmese traders traveling between the two countries to exchange goods and other fineries. Pause your journey to visit the charming, small town of Kyaukme, a town settled by Shan, Chinese and Indian traders. Stop by the local houses to purchase traditional products created by the families living there. Arrive in Mandalay in the late afternoon and check into a hotel to relax before your journey home the next day.


Suggested Accommodations

Kandawgyi Lodge

Kandawgyi Lodge

A beautiful colonial-style red and white lodge positioned atop a hill, this renovated hill station is a quaint retreat. The renovated series of lodges are nestled in among the trees. Less than 70 km from Mandalay, Pyin Oo Lwin is a charming town in the Shan Highlands, filled with colonial architecture, pine trees, silver oaks and refreshing eucalyptus plants. The highlands are also Myanmar’s principle fresh fruit and vegetable source. At the lodge, you can choose from 15 stylish rooms. The lodge’s restaurant serves savory Chinese cuisine as well as local favorites. Resting 3,605 feet above sea level, the lodge is truly a quiet retreat in Myanmar’s natural beauty. 

Mr. Charles Guest House

Mr. Charles Guest House

Located in the small town’s city center, Mr. Charles Guest House in Hsipaw is your home away from home in Myanmar. Set in a small, sleepy town in the Shan State, Hsipaw is full of steep hills and breathtaking gorges. With wood trimming and high ceilings, the guest house is a present day comfort in the midst of a traditional setting. Clean and spacious, pick from the 26 modern rooms available at the guest house. Enjoy an on-site massage or go for a stroll in the garden. Start your day off right with a complimentary breakfast of either western-style eggs or the typical traditional breakfast of noodle soup. You can access the town through either the scenic railway, taking a bus, or hiring a car from Mandalay. 

Mandalay Hill Resort, Red Canal

Mandalay Hill Resort

With 206 guest rooms and suites featuring beautiful views of the Irrawaddy River and the Royal Palace, the Mandalay Hill Resort Hotel is a comfortable retreat located at the foot of Mandalay Hill. Amenities include a fitness center, two tennis courts, a swimming pool, massage services as well as a number of dining options to choose from. Enjoy an international barbecue buffet and culture show at Kinsana Garden Theater or traditional Chinese cuisine at Ming’s Chinese Restaurant. Kipling’s Lounge offers a tapas menu and performances by a live band while Yadanabon Cafe provides guests with local Myanmar cuisine. The Mandalay Hill Resort Hotel is approximately 15 minutes from the Mandalay airport.

Red Canal

Being a boutique property this hotel prides itself on its high standards of Myanmar grace and hospitality. The hotel is a celebration of all things Myanmar, featuring teak furniture, fixtures and fittings made from rattan, mother-of-pearl and Myanmar marble. Each room bears the name of a Myanmar ethnic group, the design and decoration of each room reflects their respective cultural heritage. Chin and Shan suites feature a terrace overlooking the pool and gardens. The Rakhine suites are spacious and ideal for the business traveler. An outdoor shower with a slate wall of cascading water is the highlight of the honeymooner Kachin suites. Onsite dining includes the Spice Garden an elegant restaurant serving Myanmar, Northern and Southern Indian cuisines. Step into the stylish spa for beauty and health treatments. The spa’s interior is inspired by traditional construction methods of rural villages in Myanmar. The building remains at a comfortable temperature, even in summer with walls plastered with natural mud mixed with rice husks and straw. Running water features, rattan fixtures and terracotta tiles combine to give this retreat a rustic and earthy feel.

Meet An Asia Expert
From Travelogues
Our co-founder & CEO Catherine Heald enjoys going to Myanmar and trekking in remote hilltribe villages, where the way of life has remained the same for hundreds of years.
Contact now See all