Located high in the hills of Shan State, Kyaukme, Hsipaw, and Lashio are prized for their pristine and untouched beauty which is little known by tourists. With numerous hills and high mountains, several ethnic groups, the three town of Kyaukme, Hsipaw, Lashio are top trekking destinations, where you can enjoy the colorful and authentic life of hill tribe villagers.
Kyaukme is a quiet small town in northern Shan State. It is situated on the Mandalay- Lashio road, after Pyin Oo Lwin and before Hsipaw. It is certainly worth a visit with some beautiful colonial-era buildings and a busy local market. This well preserved town has not been spoiled yet, so coming to Kyaukme, travelers will definitely have an authentic and getaway from the hustle and bustle life in big cities.
Trekking to Palaung villages is the ideal excursion if you go to Kyaukme. It will give you an opportunity to discover the original and native lifestyle of Myanmar. Watching the interesting technique of making bamboo paper at local workshops, eating delectable local foods, and sleeping at local houses are the unique and unforgettable experience.
Known in Burmese as Thibaw, Hsipaw is a picturesque town located high in the hills of Shan State, on the bank of Myitnghe River. Its traditional buildings, bustling market, trekking opportunities and interesting local lives make it worth the effort of getting there. With just sufficient tourist infrastructures to be convenient, Hsipaw remains completely a genuine Shan state town.
Surrounded by farmlands and mountains, Hsipaw attracts many travelers for treks and walks into the ethnic minority villages of the Padaung and Shan. Don’t miss contemplating the lush green fields, observing Shan monasteries, meeting local people whose smile can melt your heart. For a longer trek, you can go to Namhsan, the tea capital of Myanmar.
The town itself is an engaging place to explore. It has numerous shrines nearby, including Myauk Myo, locally called ‘Little Bagan’ in the northeast corner of the town, with two impressive monasteries and a handful of crumbling and overgrown brick pagodas.
Hsipaw was the royal capital of the small Shan state . One of Hsipaw’s main attractions is the old Shan Palace, residence of the last prince of Shan, which has a fascinating history.
The further highlights include river cruises, and the Central Market, one of the best markets to visit in all of Myanmar. The market sells the popular Burmese hats, sandals made of old tyres, agriculture products, and foodstuffs…
Off the beaten track, Lashio is at about 200 kilometers northeast of Mandalay and has a border with the Yunan province of China. Lashio is the major trading town in northern Shan State. The town itself is not of huge significance to the visitor but it worth a visit for its markets and its frontier atmosphere. You will see many dressed minority people in the streets and markets.
The road to Lashio is surrounded by beautiful and ever-changing landscape, maybe one of the most diverse routes through Myanmar’s countryside.
The township is the habitats of several ethnic groups such as Palaung, Chinese, Kachin, and Shan. Don’t miss the chance to trek to these hilly villages.
You can also visit to some religious sites in Lashio. Located 5 kilometers out of the town, Mansu Pagoda is over 250 years old with the Chinese influences are clearly in the design work. The colorful Quan Yin San is the Myanmar’s largest Chinese temple.
Hot springs is also an interesting place which is always crowded with local pilgrimages. They believe that the hot springs has curative properties.
Train between Mandalay and Lashio
There are definitely faster ways to travel between Mandalay and Lashio than by train. Visitors will spend entire day going by rail but it is worth, because the journey is an adventure.
The train make it laborious way up from Mandalay via steep hills and a breathtaking gorge. The higher the train climbs, the greener the country. The railway line between Pyin Oo Lwin and Hsipaw is a masterpiece of British engineering- the Gokteik Viaduct. One of Burma’s most stunning man-made marvels, this viaduct is a spectacular railway bridge over 100 meters above the ground and nearly 700 meters long. The train is slowly winding its way across the viaduct, giving ample opportunities for photos. The view is astounding: a river running wild and deep down in the valley, a huge waterfall cascades into the abyss, and amazingly green and lush surroundings. This is one of the ‘must do’ railway journeys in the world.