Located 200 kilometers northeast of Mandalay, on the railway towards Lashio, Hsipaw Township is an administrative unit under Kyaukme District in Shan State, eastern Myanmar. Its principal town, also named Hsipaw, is a picturesque town on the bank of Myitnge River renowned for bustling markets and interesting local lives.
- Location: 200 km northeast of Mandalay, on the riverbank of Myitnge River
- Status: the administrative center of Kyaukme District
- Name variant: Thibaw
- Population: 148,750 (estimated 2002)
- Religions: Buddhism One of the most well known and powerful Saopha states among Shan State
Scattered around the town of Hsipaw are tea plantations, sugar cane farms, corn fields, green mountains, small plashing rivers, restaurants serving Shan dishes as well as Chinese dishes, teahouses offering delish banana pancakes, and on-hill pagodas providing panoramic views of the entire town. In addition, there are two markets in Hsipaw: the main one is open all day at eastern Namtu Road which sells the popular Burmese hats and sandals made of old tyres; meanwhile, the second market is held early in the morning under fabric awnings, selling local agricultural products, foodstuffs, and essential goods from Burma and China.
According to Myanmar’s history, among the Saopha states of Shan State, Hsipaw is probably the most notable, wealthiest and powerful, along with Keng Tung and Yawnghwe (Nyaung Shwe today). Vestiges of these golden days can be found at the residence of the last Shan Prince; however, you cannot go inside the palace – can only look at it from outside. Also, do not miss the chance of getting to Hsipaw’s largest religious building, also one of its busiest and crowded religious sites - Mahamyatmuni Paya.
You can trek further into the villages surrounding Hsipaw town by walking or by cycling with bicycles rented at a price of 500 kyat each per day. Apart from contemplating verdant fields rich in crops as well as local fruits, observing remote Shan monasteries, this indeed guarantees that you explore the town in the best way, through actually mixing with its indigenous people – those whose smiles can melt your heart, making you feel like you are truly one of a kind.
As tourists often get into Hsipaw from Mandalay or Pyin Oo Lwin, available transportation options are taxi, private car, bus or train. Especially, when accessing the town by train, you are guaranteed to contemplate the beauty of Goteik Viaduct, a construction of hundred years old which is Myanmar’s highest railway bridge.