Hsipaw is an Asian travel tip for all people, that like to go hiking in Myanmar.
Within Hsipaw there are also places worth exploring on foot or by bicycle. Here’s my photo-story:
Little Bagan in Hsipaw
In the north of Hsipaw there are a few Shan temples and stupas to be seen. Most have not been reconstructed, so it feels like an adventure to visit them, especially because they’re only accessible by muddy roads. My favourite stupa was one with a tree on top. On the way you’ll also find a Shan nat shrine. Their nats (spirits) are not human, but horses and elephants.
The maps provided by Charles guest-house are not completely accurate, so ask locals for the popcorn factory once you’re near and they’ll show you the way. Little Bagan stars 200 metres after it.
Horses as nats (spirits)
Hiking in Myanmar, for example in the fields and hills around Hsipaw
I made a one day trip through Shan villages and to the local waterfall. If you want to stay overnight in a local village you can make a two-day-trip bringing you to Shan and Palaung villages and past rice fields and tea plantations. Also on offer is a half day boat trip bringing you to a Shan monastery and plenty of things to look at while you’re on the boat.
Rice fields: In Hsipaw rice can be harvested twice a year. We came in the middle of July and could see, how the summer rice was replanted. This happens in two steps: First baby rice is grown by putting seeds onto the fields. Once the rice has reached the right size it is taken out of the initial field by men and then replanted on another field with more space in-between by women. An irrigation system makes sure, that every field has enough water and wooden or bamboo planks connect the footpaths whenever they cross one of the small water channels:
The villagers rely on the help of water oxes, of which I could make two lovely pictures:
More things to be seen along the way were the local waterfall,
a large Chinese cemetery,
smiths at work in a Shan village,
a Shan woman with her daughter and
a monk hut at the village entrance. It’s used once a year, when the monk conducts a blessing ceremony for the village.
On the way we were also shown a place, where local cigars are produced.
Where to stay
I stayed at the Mr. Charles Guest House, 105 Auba Street, Myo Le Quarter, Hsipaw, phone 082-80 105, mobile 09-671 0278. This guesthouse clearly is the most professional place to stay in Hsipaw and you can easily book one or two-day hikes there. Therefore they charge a little more for the rooms, laundry, etc. Call for a reservation two days before at the latest all year round, because they can be full even in low season because of group tours blocking most of the rooms.
How to get there
You can reach Hsipaw by air by flying to Lashio and then taking a taxi, pick-up or bus to Hsipaw. From Mandalay you can reach it by train in a journey of 10 to 15 hours. But sometimes the train jumps out of its tracks as some Spanish travellers, I met, witnessed. Therefore you’ll witness some wonderful sights. By bus from Mandalay you can reach Hsipaw in about 6 hours.
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