Normally I would never recommend anyone to take a train in Myanmar. (1) It is bumpy, (2) It is slow. Buses, however, are widely available between every city, and even small towns. And the quality of the buses, especially the VIP ones, are surprisingly good. However, the train ride between Mandalay and Hsipaw, wasn’t a train ride I wanted to miss out on. I’ve heard many people say it was the most beautiful train ride in the country, and could only agree with that if I would make the journey myself. And I couldn’t agree more, the train ride to Hsipaw truly is the most scenic train ride of Myanmar!
Some Practical Information
Myanmar is a country that is filled with beauty, there is no doubt about that. From the temples of Bagan, to a trekking around the Inle Lake, beauty and kindness is truly everywhere to be found. But the ones who dare to leave the beaten path and head to Hsipaw, will be in for a even more amazing journey. The train originally starts in Mandalay and heads all the way to Lashio, stopping at different stations.
While this train ride is truly stunning, I would make the decision to start your journey in Pyin Oo Lwin instead (unless you want to take the train at 4am). Here are some things you should know about the train ride:
- The train goes slow… and no it will not speed up in half an hour or an hour, it really does go slow.
- It is cheap, but be smart and buy a first class ticket, the seats there are a lot more comfortable.
- A first class ticket from Pyin Oo Lwin to Hsipaw will cost you 2750 Kyat, which is less then 3$. The train will depart roughly at 8.15am and arrive at 3pm in Hsipaw.
- While some snacks are sold on the train, be sure to stock up on some cookies and perhaps even a lunch in advance.
- Be at the train station on time to buy yourself a ticket and actually find your seat, yes the tickets have seat numbers on them.
And those are basically the most important things you need to know! Now, the best thing you can do is buy yourself a ticket the day before to be sure you will have a seat on the train and then just show up on time for the train! Find your seat, sit back, and enjoy the slow but scenic ride. You will cross farmer’s fields, monks walking around the villages and kids playing in the field.
The Goteik Viaduct
The highlight of the trip must be the Goteik Viaduct. I checked on my map at least 50 times if we were almost there. This viaduct was built in 1899 and is not for the fainthearted. With a total length of 689m and a drop of 102m you don’t want to have a fear of heights! In case you don’t this will be the most exciting and most breathtaking part of the trip. Be sure to find yourself a window seat on the “good” side of the train, from Pyin Oo Lwin to Hsipaw this was on the left side of the train, for the best view. Here you will actually see the train fully going over the bend of the viaduct!
Pyin Oo Lwin
Like I mentioned above, I would highly recommend taking the train from Pyin Oo Lwin. However, instead of taking a taxi there, I could highly recommend spending the night in Pyin Oo Lwin. This town is known for its colonial history and has one of the most beautiful waterfalls I have seen in my life. Rent a scooter, hike to the Anisakan waterfall and drive around town. A long afternoon in Pyin Oo Lwin won’t leave you bored! I would recommend staying at Royal Flower Guesthouse! It is one of the cheapest places in town but the staff is so kind and helpful!
The Most Scenic Train Ride of Myanmar
So there you have it, the most scenic train ride of Myanmar. Yes it might be slow, but it is a day well spent! In case you are planning to go out there, be sure to check out my complete Myanmar Travel Guide! It includes basic information, destination recommendations, where to sleep and much much more. Oh, and don’t forget to pin it!