Capture the rugged beauty of Myanmar’s north with an epic train ride. Journey from Pyin Oo Lwin to Hsipaw, traveling slowly through the highlands and across the jaw-dropping Goteik Viaduct. Amble through rice paddies to meet friendly farmers and take a boat down the pristine waters of the Dokhtawady River.
Take a memorable train journey
Board a slow-moving local train for a trip across the Goteik Viaduct, one of the world’s highest train trellises.
Explore Pyin Oo Lwin
Travel by local horse and cart to see remnants of the colonial era and walk through the impressive Botanical Gardens.
Discover beautiful Hsipaw
Spend a day exploring Hsipaw, traveling by boat and on foot through rice paddies and villages tucked amid rolling hills.
Mandalay - Pyin Oo Lwin
Mandalay to Pyin Oo Lwin (68 km): 2 hours
Leaving from Mandalay in the morning, begin the tour at 08:00 with a scenic two-hour drive to the former British hill station of Pyin Oo Lwin. Located on a plateau 1,000 metres above sea level, the area is famed for its cool climate and lush vegetation -a reputation that was not lost on colonial rulers who settled the area as a means of escaping the sweltering heat of lowland areas. Many reminders of Pyin Oo Lwin’s colonial era are still present in the form of brick and timber houses that were built during this time period.
Pyin Oo Lwin is home to many ethnic tribes as well as a considerable numbers of ethnic Nepalese and Indians who migrated here during the British occupation.
Enjoy a traditional horse cart and carriage ride through town. Stop at the Botanical Gardens - 432 acres of leafy gardens home to a diverse mix of botanical species from around the world. The Gardens were established by Sir Harcourt Butler, former Governor of Burma, and remain in a remarkably well-manicured state.
Continue to a local market for a taste of the local culture and look at the stunning array of multicolored flowers and vegetables on sale.
Overnight in Pyin Oo Lwin.
Pyin Oo Lwin - Hsipaw
Pyin Oo Lwin to Hsipaw (144 km): 6 – 7 hours by Train
This morning the tour starts at 07:30 after breakfast at the hotel.
Transfer to the railway station for a 7-hour locomotive tour to Hsipaw. The scenic and iconic journey crosses the famous Gokhteik Viaduct which spans a 300-meter deep gorge high in the Shan Mountains. The views from the train are spectacular, so be sure to have a camera ready.
Lunch-box on board.
Arrive at Hsipaw in the afternoon. A pleasant small town on the banks of the Dokhtawady River, it’s a great place for taking leisurely strolls on foot while exploring local culture.
Overnight in Hsipaw.
Today the sightseeing begins at 08:00.
After breakfast in the morning, take a boat trip along the Dokhtawady River. Stop at a local village along the way and take a stroll through the various farms there to learn about local agriculture. Then, stop at a local monastery to sip tea with resident monks there.
From the monastery, hop back on the boat and head to a secret spot where a small tributary feeds into the Dokhtawady River. This area is not only a fantastic place to snap a few photos, but the water of the tributary is clean enough to take a quick dip.
On the way back to Hsipaw, stop at another local village for a chance to talk to some of the Shan farmers and walk through their citrus groves.
Arrive in Hsipaw for a late lunch.
Afterwards, visit the former palace of the Last Sky Prince of Hsipaw. A champion for democracy in the 1950s and 60s, the prince was imprisoned in the military coup of 1962 and never seen again. The property is managed by his niece and nephew who will give a guided tour while explaining the family history and telling the sad story of the Last Sky Prince.
Late in the afternoon, head just outside of town to Nine Buddha Hill. From here, watch the sun set over Hsipaw and the Dokhtawady River.
Overnight in Hsipaw.
Hsipaw – Mandalay
Hsipaw to Mandalay (209 km): 4 - 5 hours
This morning the tour starts at 08:00 and check out from the hotel after breakfast. Then visit a colorful Shan market in Hsipaw before departing for Mandalay. On the way, visit Bawgyo Pagoda, one of the most famous pagodas in northern Shan State. Another stop will be made at a viewpoint overlooking the Gokteik Gorge -a postcard-perfect photo setting of the Ribbon Band Highway. The drive then descends along a winding road into the gorge and then back up to the higher elevation again.
Reach Pyin Oo Lwin around midday and have lunch (own account) at December Farm. Famous for its strawberry farm and dairy, December farms is a great place to try the local food, fruit wine, and even some homemade ice cream made with on-site dairy.
Continue the drive to Mandalay, arriving in the early evening, and check into the hotel for the completion of the tour.
Our services include:
- 3 nights’ accommodation in a shared twin room or shared double room with daily breakfast
- Meals as mentioned (B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner)
- English-speaking guide from Mandalay
- All transfers and excursions with private air-conditioned vehicles
- Pyin Oo Lwin – Hsipaw train
- Local guide in Hsipaw on trekking day
- Horse cart tour in Pyin Oo Lwin
- Local boat on the Dokhtawady River
- Entrance fees for the visits mentioned in the program (Pyin Oo Lwin–Botanical Garden Entrance Fee)
- Drinking water while touring
Our services do not include:
- Meals other than mentioned (B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner)
- Visits not mentioned in the program
- Drinks and personal expenses
- Tips and porters at the hotels
- Credit card fees (2-3%) or bank transfer fees for non-cash payments
- Any other items not mentioned
Not quite right or still need some more inspiration? Take a look at the journeys below and discover what other people who liked this tour also looked at!
- WWII history of Kanchanburi
- Visit Kamphangphet Historical Park
- Nature at Lan Sang and Taksin National Park
- Ancient pagodas and churches of Mawlamyine
- Circle train ride through Yangon
The Legend of Pila Island - Mergui Archipelago
- Barefoot luxury at Awei Pila Resort
- Panoramic views of the Mergui Archipelago
- Eco-friendly stay that protects the environment
- Indulge in pampering spa treatments
- Snorkel or dive the surrounding waters
Myitkyina and Kachin State
- Discover Kachin culture
- Visit Myitkyina’s highlights
- Cruise the Myit Sone confluence
- See Kachin traditional weaving
- Meet local blacksmiths
The Mighty Mekong, Asia’s Lifeblood
- Trace the path of the Mekong
- Marvel at Laos’ UNESCO wonders
- Meet Myanmar’s ethnic hill tribes
- Capture a taste of Cambodia’s culture
- Discover hidden corners of Asia
Southeast Asia’s Spiritual Path
- Give alms to Laos’ monks
- Wander amid the Angkor temples
- Admire dazzling Shwedagon Pagoda
- Bike historic Chiang Mai
- Explore ancient Bagan
Family Multi-Activities Adventure
- Bike Yangon’s vibrant suburbs
- Swim with Asian Elephants
- Spend a night in a local house
- Trek to hill tribe villages
- Kayak through Inle’s villages