Myanmar - Getting to know Hsipaw
The more adventurous traveller will find it hard not to fall in love with this dusty Shan town; many are already head-over-heels before they roll into town thanks to the picturesque two and a half hour drive from Maymyo. The town itself is slowly becoming popular with the intrepid travellers looking to escape ‘the trail’ and break out into the Shan’s wonderful back garden. There are a handful of basic but surprisingly good eateries on the main street and the accommodation is acceptable for most.
What to do in Hsipaw
- Give alms. In the mornings as the mist lifts, young monks walk the streets calling for alms, as shop keepers set up for the day. Take care not to touch the monks, and definitely don't take selfies with them.
- Go to market. Hsipaw also boasts one of the best markets in all Myanmar, with tribal minorities from across the region attending on a regular basis. Certainly no tourist market, the focus is on local produce and a diverse, at times mysterious range of essential products sourced from across Myanmar, as well as China. The market starts as early as 3am, and closes equally early.
- Contemplate the sunset from the top of Five Buddha Hill.
- Just a few minutes out of town, you can walk out into the open, close to the banks of the Dutawaddy River, passing amongst fields rich in crops and local fruits. Several monasteries hug the outskirts of town; and you may be lucky enough to be serenaded by the hypnotic pali prayer chants, broadcast from the nunnery at the north end of town.
- Further highlights include river cruises, remote Shan monastery and village visits, trekking and even cycling through the almost unworldly picturesque countryside that surrounds Hsipaw. Hamlets litter the countryside, and as the friendly Shan people tend to their daily tasks, a wave and smile is always returned two-fold.
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Important to note
...that the Foreign Commonwealth Office is currently advising against all but essential travel to northern Shan State. Whilst they specifically exclude Hsipaw from this advice, the routes into Hsipaw in all direction pass through areas that the FCO advise against travelling in.
...how to pronounce Hsipaw