30+ photos from five days in Upper Myanmar: Bicycle tour in Mandalay, scenic train to Hsipaw, and adventures at the ancient cities of Mingun, Amarapura, Innwa, and Sagaing.
Yet another long night bus brought me to Mandalay, 3rd stop on my 14 day backpacking trip around Myanmar (Burma). P, a Thai traveler I met in Bagan was also headed the same way, perfect! because that meant we wouldn’t have to travel alone again for, at least, a few more days.
Mandalay: last royal capital of Burma
Me and P rented bicycles and explored a few sights within Mandalay city center, including the former Royal Palace, Mandalay Hill, and the Central Railway Station, where I bought my train ticket to Hsipaw. The weather was perfect especially the beautiful sunset looking over the whole city from Mandalay Hill.
Hsipaw: Train Ride through Rural Burma
I traveled solo during my overnight trip to Hsipaw, while P decided to explore sights nearer to Mandalay and wait for me to come back.
Experiencing the train ride from Mandalay to Hsipaw was actually the main reason why I ventured north of Bagan. There were a lot of interesting places to visit in and around Mandalay but after reading about the Mandalay-Hsipaw train ride as one of the best railway journeys in the world and seeing jaw dropping photos of it online, I got obsessively excited.
I loved that the places and people seemed to be stuck in a bygone era. The whole experience was like being in a movie. The locals were very friendly, especially the group of old monks that never failed to smile whenever I walked past or chatty conductor that broke the lull moments of the 11-hour train ride.
The best part was definitely when we reached the long-span bridge over the massively beautiful gorge in Gok Teik.
Ancient cities of Upper Myanmar
P and I met again in Mandalay on the last day of his trip. He shared a lot of useful tips about going about the rest of my trip in Mandalay.
I only had two days left to visit as much as I can of Greater Mandalay also called the ancient cities of Upper Myanmar. The ancient cities include Mandalay and surrounding settlements of Mingun, Amarapura, Innwa (Ava), and Sagaing.
I started with a half-day trip to Mingun, which involved a scenic wooden boat ride along the mighty Ayeryarwady River. Then, rented a bicycle again to explore more sights within Mandalay City Center.
Touring around major sites of Amarapura, Innwa (Ava), and Sagaing was doable in just one day. Instead of hiring a motorcycle from Mandalay, I decided to break away from the usual routine by taking local pick-up commute.