Hsipaw is a small city in the northern part of Myanmar, well known trekking destination. But check your trails carefully as to enter many territories around Hsipaw you would need to obtain additional governmental permission. First of all the road from Mandalay to Hsipaw is an extremely narrow, switchback mountain road, the most scary I have ever seen! It’s impossible for two cars to pass at the same time. The bus is literally driving on the edge of the mountain. Train is an alternative option to travel to Hsipaw and people say it is one of the most stunning countryside scenery in Asia. There are a lot of amazing things to do in Hsipaw – a lovely, quiet village. This hilly region offers magnificent mountain views, waterfalls, small Bagan and you’ll be able to learn about Shan culture.
Where to stay in Hsipaw?
Hsipaw village is very small and there are just few guesthouses to stay. There is one guesthouse in the village, which is a main centre of all information, trekking advice, maps, guides, renting bicycles or motorbikes as well as staying overnight! It is Mr Charles Guesthouse. They mostly offer dorms and don’t be surprised the rooms are very basic and tiny. But the atmosphere of the place and people are so rewarding, that you will immediately accomodate yourself comfortably. The guesthouse will have most updated information on where not to travel in the area. The breakfast is included in the price and it’s one of the best I had in Asia! Don’t forget to book the room in advance, every backpacker is aiming to stay there. If the rooms aren’t available in Mr Charles Guesthouse, try Lily guesthouse, it is also a very nice place.
Getting around Hsipaw!
Best way to explore the area is by bike. I decided to walk on foot this time, as I had few days and could take it easy. There are many tiny villages around, especialy Shan Village (you can find it on the attached map). Maps are often not available, so I’m attaching a photo of the one I got. Make a bit more effort and try to reach Namtok Waterfall.
Nam Hu Nwe Waterfall is located few kilometers outside of Hsipaw. You would need to walk along the Muslim and pass Chineese cementery. The waterfal is really huge. You can swim in the pool but the water was freezing! 🙂 On the way to the waterfal I stopped in a small shop to ask for the right direction. I spent almost a month in Myanmar (Burma) and from my experience Burmese people are one of the niciest and most friendly among Asia. They on a guy on a motorbike, who quickly said jump in and took me directly to the waterfall. He took a short walk with me, showing me his banana plantations, spreading over the hills. His English wasn’t good but he was the most proud plantation owner I’ve met. Near the waterfall there is a small Buddha temple, located just under the rocks (you would need to climb a little higher). He was praying there for a good season and harvest.
Where to eat in Hsipaw?
There is one place that you simply can’t miss to visit – Popcorn Garden. This tiny local restaurant is hidden under palm trees, surrounded by a pure nature. Wonderful place to relax, read a book and rest. And of course to eat! The place is run by two women: a mother and the dauther. Food is fabulous, ask for dish of the day, it’s usually something they have on top of the menu. Shakes are equally amazing – vanilla avocado is my favourite. I was very curious about the story of the place. Long a go an Austrian woman led the owner on how to run business and how to create a unique atmosphere.
Apart from Popcorn Garden there are many great cafes, restaurnats and tea houses in the city of Hsipaw, located mainly along the river.
One of best things to do in Hsipaw is exploring a place called Little Bagan. Myauk Myo – the white temple is worth visiting along with the two beautiful monasteries – Madahya Monastery and Bamboo Buddha Monastery. Both constructures are made of teak.
Go hiking in Hsipaw and visit World Peace Pagoda.
Sunset Hill would be one of the most amazing hiking routes in Hsipaw. The view from the top is breathtaking.
Another trail will lead you toward World Peace Pagoda, located on a hill with a huge, amazing monument of the globe with all countries pained.