Aboard the train ride to Hsipaw, considered as one of the best railway experiences in the world. Plus, a two-day photo walk around Hsipaw town, which offered a glimpse of life in rural Burma.

Itinerary Rundown

  • Mandalay (Part 1)
Day 1
  • Mandalay
  • Hsipaw
  • Mandalay to Hsipaw Train
  • Hsipaw Hostel Check-in
  • Sunset Hill
Day 2
  • Hsipaw
  • Mandalay
  • Morning Market
  • Hsipaw to Mandalay Bus
  • Mandalay (Part 2)
  • Northern and Central Myanmar
  • Indochina Loop

Trip Date — October 2012

Itinerary Notes & Tips

Day 1

  • 2:50am – Wake-up. Leave most of my stuff at hostel
  • 3:15am – Start walk from hostel to Mandalay train station (30 minutes)

Mandalay to Hsipaw train

  • 3:40am – Arrival at train station. Proceed to “platform 4 or 5” and board the first class cabin
  • 4:00am – Departure from Mandalay train station
  • Mandalay to Hsipaw train (11 hours)
    • Bought the Mandalay to Hsipaw train ticket at Mandalay train station
      • First class cabin – US$8
    • First class seats priced at US$8 while second class was at $5. A few differences I noticed: First class seats had a cushion and a little more leg room, more empty seats, and higher foreigner to locals ratio.
    • 8:05am – stopover at Pyin Oo Lwin (30 minutes)
    • Eat assorted deep fried snacks + bottle water – K800
    • 11:20am – first view of rock formations and bridge over gorge
    • 11:40am – passed steel bridge over the gorge in Gok Teik
    • 11:48am – finished crossing bridge
  • 3:10am – Arrival at Hsipaw train station

Hsipaw Hostel Check-in

  • Walk to Hsipaw town center (5 minutes)
    • pass by mosque and clock tower
  • Check-in at Nam Khae Mao Guest House (134 Bogyoke Road, Hsipaw Town Center)
    • Single room (shared TB; free wifi) – US$6
    • Best value hostel I stayed in my whole Myanmar trip

Hsipaw Walking Tour

  • 4:10pm – Start walking to Sunset Hill
  • 4:16pm – Pass by Dut Htawaddy River
  • 4:41pm – Reach hilltop temple
  • 5:17pm – Sunset

Sleep: Nam Khae Mao Guest House
Day expenses: US$14 + K4,000 (estimate)

Day 2

Hsipaw Morning  Market Photo Walk

  • 6:00am – wake-up
  • Photo walk around Hsipaw morning market
  • 7:30am – Free breakfast at Nam Khae Mao GH
  • 9:00am – Check-out

Hsipaw to Mandalay Bus

  • Walk to bus stop along Lashio RoadPay for Hsipaw to Mandalay non-aircon bus – K5,000
    • Buy 1L bottled water – K300
  • 10:23am – Bus arrived (originated from Lashio town)
  • 10:30am – Departure from Hsipaw
  • Hsipaw to Mandalay bus (7 hours)
    • Lunch stopover
      • Sweet and sour chicken 2,000ks
    • Some parts for the ride was interesting but not so spectacular. Passed through, winding mountainside views. Stopped every hour or so and each stop took so long.
  • 5:30pm – Arrival in Mandalay

Sleep: Royal Guest House
Day expenses so far: K7,300 (full day expenses posted at Mandalay itinerary)

Backpacking Budget Summary

Total expenses estimate: US$27 (does not include day 2 expenses in Mandalay)

    • US$14 + K11,300 (US$13)

Daily budget estimate: US$13.5 per day

Date of travel: October 2012