Text page


Burma forum

Hiking in Hsipaw

Posted by JimmyW on 11/2/2017 at 09:36

We loved our hiking experience in Hsipaw. It was 3 days long and cost us 70,000 kyat. It had some significant hill climbs, about 4-7 hours of walking per day, occasional stops for food and tea, and a sweet, knowledgeable young guide who spoke decent English and gave us a lot of great local information. Our homestays were great, deep in the hills, no cars and clear, silent nights under the stars. The homes were kinda' simple, but that's the point; you use an outhouse for the toilet, you sleep on the floor on several mats with fleece blankets, and they serve you fresh meals as part of the deal. Sometimes there's a fun scene of children, adults, and the elderly living their lives in the homes, and you get to be part of it.

One thing to keep in mind is that there is still conflict going on in the area. In fact, you must take a guide because there are landmines (!) nearby. The Shan military occupies many of the towns because they're allied with the Myanmar government to keep the Palau people from achieving autonomy. Many villages around there are Palau, and you'll see Shan soldiers--often young guys with AK-47s--patrolling the area. They have no problem with travelers--they tend to ignore us or occasionally smile. I assume they appreciate our presence, which feels like the case in Myanamar in general.

There is occasional fighting, but it tends to take place outside the villages. This may sound terrifying, but you'd be surprised how chill the whole area felt. People were as friendly as anywhere in Myanmar. No one signaled to us that we were in any danger. It did give the hike a little bit of an ballsy edge, but I can make too much of it. I would go back in a heartbeat and wouldn't worry about a thing unless I was told otherwise. It sounds like this conflict has been going on for decades and people have a good sense of what is and isn't safe.

At one point, I hurt my knee and wanted to take a day off from hiking, so the guide walked with my girlfriend and he had a friend take me to the next stop by motorbike. It cost me another 12,000 kyat, which must have been a windfall for this guy, but he did a great job and took me through some nasty dirt-and-rock roads and trails, steep uphill drives, and stopped in a few picturesque villages. When we got to the homestay, the hosts gave us tea, oranges, and cheroots (cigars).

I love it when a plan comes together.

#1 JimmyW has been a member since 18/1/2017. Location: United States. Posts: 6

Posted by neharani on 26/2/2017 at 22:35

Thanks JimmyW for sharing your experience..it will really help..and it seems that you had a wonderful trip..

#2 neharani has been a member since 23/2/2017. Posts: 55

Posted by hellomoto84 on 13/3/2017 at 05:02

Thanks for this JimmyW! We head to Myanmar tomorrow and have been looking into hiking options around the country. We wondered about the Kalaw to Inle Lake route but have heard this can sometimes seem a bit less authentic than the options in Hsipaw. Either way thanks for sharing your experience, really helpful :)

#3 hellomoto84 has been a member since 13/3/2017. Posts: 18

Posted by JimmyW on 13/3/2017 at 11:07


I'm not sure Kalaw to Inle is so much inauthentic as it is just more tourist-dense than hiking near Hsipaw . Hsipaw is harder to get to (need to go by train or bus wheras you can fly into Inle at Heho airport). Either way, good luck in Myanmar, I think you'll love it.

#4 JimmyW has been a member since 18/1/2017. Location: United States. Posts: 6

Posted by hellomoto84 on 26/3/2017 at 05:12

Thanks JimmyW for your reply and clarifying the part about authenticity.

We are currently at Inle Lake having travelled by bus from Bagan and will be getting the bus in a few days on from here to Hsipaw . Apparently it takes up to 14hours, eeek!

Just wondered if you are able to tell us the name of the company/organisation you did your Hsipaw trek with?


#5 hellomoto84 has been a member since 13/3/2017. Posts: 18

Posted by JimmyW on 26/3/2017 at 08:44


Good luck on the bus ride from Inle to Hsipaw . They told us it'd be 7 hours, but it wound up being like 12 (there are many roads being constructed, and closer to Hsipaw there was a huge traffic bottleneck that took 3 hours with thousands of trucks on the Mandalay-to-Lashio highway).

But once you're in Hsipaw, it's easy to get a hike scheduled. We stayed at Lilly the Home, and just asked the woman at the front desk to organize something for us. You can decided to go with a group or by yourself (we went as a couple, and it cost just a little more).

The Mr. Charles Hotel is another place we stopped by; it looked like the most popular spot for backpackers to stay and organize a trip. They have a desk where you sit with some people who have brochures, etc, and they help you decide. I think it was a little more expensive and less flexible, but probably fine.

I think if you stay at any hotel in Hsipaw, they will help you get something together, and ASAP. It's one of the main reasons anyone visits that town. If not, just go to Mr. Charles Hotel.

And keep in mind, if you like it up in the hills, it may be possible to extend your time up there, stay longer in peoples' houses, alter the route, etc. All it takes is money...they'll accommodate to whatever you want.


#6 JimmyW has been a member since 18/1/2017. Location: United States. Posts: 6

Posted by tehangrao on 31/3/2017 at 22:48

Situé à 60 kms du lac Inle, Kalaw est très célèbre pour ses forêts de pins. Il s’agit d’une ancienne station climatique à l’époque coloniale historique. D’autant plus que la destination birmane est la plus connue pour le trekking Kalaw. Après la contemplation en bateau sur le fleuve Irrawady ainsi que le lac Inle, vous pouvez faire un trekking de Inle à Kalaw. D’ailleurs, la région est montagneuse et très peuplée vu des sept minorités birmanes différentes. Vous ferez aussi de rencontres par hasard, avec les villageois et locaux. Ce séjour vous laissera des souvenirs inoubliables.

#7 tehangrao has been a member since 31/3/2017. Posts: 1

Please login to add your reply

You need to be a Travelfish member to be able to add a post to the forum. After logging in you'll be returned to this page automatically to add your post. Not a member? Join up here.