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The gateway to the hills of the Shan State, the picturesque town of Hsipaw is becoming a go-to destination for adventurers who want to get off the beaten path and experience rural life in Myanmar (Burma). Once a royal hot spot, Hsipaw is where the old Shan Palace of the saopha - the Shan Chiefs (royals) - is located, largely empty since the military coup of 1962.
Connected to the center of Myanmar by rail, Hsipaw was once a popular trade destination for the British, and an entrypoint to connect with the remote villages of the Shan State hills. Visitors can delight in the many attractions of Hsipaw, while also taking in the natural beauty and serenity of its quiet surroundings.
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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.
Visitors can take a tour of the old Shan Palace, where the Shan Chiefs (royals) resided until the military coup of 1962. Guests will marvel at the palace’s intricate architectural design and learn about the town’s history from a royal insider - the wife of the nephew of the last royal family member at the palace.
Guests will have an authentic Myanmar experience at the Central Market in Hsipaw, as the merchandise is truly directed at villages, not tourists. Meet members of several different local tribes and peruse some local goods, including traditional Shan clothing. Just make sure to get up early - the market opens at 3:30am, closing by 6:00am.
Travelers can catch an extraordinary sunset from one of two nearby hills, Five Buddha Hill and Nine Buddha Hill, about 2 km from the town center. Visitors can access the hills by biking alongside the picturesque Myit Nge river.
Just 8 km out of town, the Pagoda Bawgyo is a must see for visitors to Hsipaw. This Shan-style monument - a Buddhist place of worship - is said to be more than 2,000 years old, and features four sacred Buddha images, locked inside but brought out once a year for an annual festival.
Take the Train
Visitors should be sure to arrive to or depart from Hsipaw by train, as the railway into town is not only of historic significance - it was built by the British to connect the center of Myanmar to the remote Shan State - but the slow ride features incredibly stunning vistas of the nearby hills and beyond.
The Shan State is yours to discover: from a historic rail ride to Hsipaw to the traditional Palaung villages, this six-day adventure will allow you to experience life in the rural hills of the Shan State, where traditional villages are full of life, culture and colour. Get your trekking shoes ready!
Trace Myanmar’s ancient trade route, making your way from Mandalay to Hsipaw, on this 4-day luxury journey. You’ll tour a charming town by antique horsedrawn cart, take a train over the colossal Gokteik Viaduct, shop in the early morning at a unique market, and watch the sunset from Nine Buddha Hill.
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.