Adventures in Shan State, Myanmar

This is the journey for you who want to get away from the most visited areas and experience the contrasts in Myanmar – from the lively cities of Yangon and Mandalay to the quiet minority villages in the beautiful and mountainous Shan state.

You start by exploring Yangon which is a wonderful mix of past and present. From here, the tour takes you by local bus to the beautiful mountains of Shan State, north of Mandalay. The Hsipaw area is ideal for hiking and is close to the life of Myanmar’s minority villages. Learn more about Myanmar on listofusnewspapers.

Over the next few days, you will slowly head south towards Mandalay and pass the country’s highest bridge, the beautiful Goteik viaduct, on your way to Pyin Oo Lwin, which was a refuge for the British during colonial times when it got too hot in the city.

The trip ends in Mandalay with a few days on your own and a different bike ride that gives a good insight into Mandalay’s everyday life. The city will, after your days in the north, suddenly feel modern, noisy and intense.
This travel proposal shows you the Myanmar of contrasts – from the hectic city life to the slow everyday life in the remote mountainous areas of Shan State. If you want to extend your stay in Myanmar and bring even more experiences home, then of course it goes well!

Day 1: Departure from Scandinavia

You fly from Scandinavia to Myanmar, where you arrive the following day.

Day 2: Arrival in Yangon, Myanmar

At Yangon Airport, you will be met by your driver who will drive you to your hotel. The rest of the day you can on your own start exploring the city which has a calm pace and where lots of smiling faces greet you. Yangon offers an exciting contrast of past and present – exotic scents from the many fast food restaurants find their way into the old buildings from the colonial era, all while today’s modern society has an increasingly strong impact on the city. Do not be surprised if, for example, you see a Buddhist monk with a smartphone! Due to its lush, tropical vegetation and its many beautiful parks and lakes, the city has been nicknamed “Garden of the East”. Visit Sakura Tower where you can experience Yangon from above and perhaps treat yourself to a meal in the restaurant on the 22nd floor – where a beautiful view of the city awaits you.

Day 3: Yangon‘s local markets and cultural experiences

Even when the first rays of the sun look ahead, you embark on a slightly different tour. Compared to other Asian cities, Yangon has a limited amount of traffic, so it is ideal for exploring the city on foot and seeing how life unfolds on sidewalks, squares and street corners. At the city’s fish market on the Yangon River, you get an experience that few tourists will ever see – here at the markets, fish and various vegetables are prepared for today’s trade. We recommend that you try the local specialty Mohinga – a mild fish soup with noodles and biscuits. Maybe you will also see some of the city’s monks pass by in the hope of getting food donations for the coming days. The monks live primarily on donations from the country’s inhabitants and have a special significance in this religious country. You end the fantastic morning walk at your hotel at 09: 30 where breakfast is served, unless you have already eaten your fill of local specialties during the morning hours. During the rest of the day, you can experience the city’s other sights on your own. We recommend a visit to the mythical Shwedagon Pagoda, which is among the world’s largest and most impressive. The 2,500-year-old pagoda is almost 110 meters high and is covered with up to 60 tons of gold. It is a magical experience to see how the color, expression and atmosphere of the pagoda change throughout the day. Early in the morning, the pagoda looks dazzlingly beautiful in the light of the sun’s rays caught in the gold-plated  stupas, while at the end of the day, when dusk slowly descends, the pagoda looks almost magical in the enchanting glow of the golden stucco. There is room for devotion and silence when the peace has subsided. (F )

Day 4: Yangon – Hsipaw in Shan State

Enjoy one last morning in Yangon. Stroll along the city streets, visit the famous Scott Market where you can buy everything from food, clothes and plastic buckets to crafts and precious stones, or see the huge reclining Buddha – one of Yangon’s attractions. End your visit to Yangon with a cocktail at the historic Strand Hotel, where the atmosphere takes you back to colonial times. In the early afternoon, it’s time to wave goodbye to Yangon and travel on by night bus to Hsipaw. The bus journey takes approx. 13 hours – so take the opportunity to get some sleep. ( F )

Day 5: Hsipaw – Shan State

The bus arrives early in the morning at Hsipaw, just in time to see the sunrise over the beautiful countryside of Shan State. Early in the morning you will probably appreciate the pre-booked tuk tuk that is ready to drive you to your hotel. Here you have the opportunity for a few more hours of sleep before new adventures await you. Together with a guide, you go on a hiking tour in the beautiful surroundings and you get a really nice introduction to Hsipaw and the Shan state that few travelers visit. Get a glimpse behind the facade of this (once royal) city. Enjoy the atmosphere, the slow pace and the exciting minority culture. You get close to the ethnic minorities and get an insight into their daily lives.

Day 6: Hsipaw on your own

You have the whole day on your own to explore the city of Hsipaw at your own pace. The atmosphere in the dusty Shan town of Hsipaw is amazing. Early in the morning you can see how the fog surrounds the landscape until the sun breaks through, all while the monks walk along the streets and collect alms. If you are alert in the morning, we recommend a visit to the local market, which starts at 03:30 and is open until about 6 o’clock. The market is known as the “candlelight market” because many of the vendors only have candles that light up their market stalls and workshops, creating a magical atmosphere! The market is not full of souvenirs, but rather local crafts such as carpets, textiles, pots and food. The locals come from all over the area to buy, sell and exchange – it will hardly be more authentic than this! You can also go exploring outside the city. After a short walk you will see small fine monasteries, villages nestled in a beautiful landscape and can even explore life along the river. Here there is a lively atmosphere with children playing along the shore, many small boats lying in the river, the fishermen standing with their ropes hoping for catch and the elderly taking a much-needed rest in the shade. (F )

Day 7: Hsipaw – Kyaukme

After breakfast today, you will be assisted by a local guide to board the right local bus to travel on to Kyaukme. Here begins an exciting hiking adventure when you and your guide move out into the beautiful landscape of tea plantations, mountains and a dense jungle. On the hike you walk through small authentic Shan and Palaung villages, where you get the chance to meet the welcoming locals – use the Burmese greeting phrase Mingalabar and see the shy faces burst into big smiles! Today’s hike takes you close to the local life in the mountain landscape and you get to see how you really live here far from the most common tourist destinations. ( F )

Day 8: Kyaukme – Pyin Oo Lwin (Maymyo)

Your exciting adventure in Shan State continues with a leisurely train ride from Kyaukme to Pyin Oo Lwin. Among other things, you will cross the Goteik Bridge, one of Myanmar’s most fantastic, constructed wonders. The Goteik Bridge was built by the British over 100 years ago and is the tallest bridge in Myanmar. It sucks in the stomach when the train slowly rolls out on the iron bridge, but you get a fantastic view of the gorge. The train may not be the fastest mode of transport, but the route is definitely the most beautiful! You get off in the small mountain town of Pyin Oo Lwin, or Maymyo as it is also called. This was a so-called “hill station” that the British traveled to during the colonial era to seek cooling from the heat in Mandalay during the summer months. Although the city has developed since then, Pyin Oo Lwin still retains much of its old colonial atmosphere. Throughout the city you will see horse-drawn carriages that evoke a certain nostalgia and there is also a lively market with a wide range of local goods. Pyin Oo Lwin has some lovely parks and orchards, and in summer there is an abundance of fruit for sale. This is a great place to explore for the curious traveler. (F )

Day 9: Pyin Oo Lwin – Mandalay

After breakfast, take a (shared) taxi with other travelers through the beautiful mountainous countryside down to Mandalay. Remember to ask the driver to stop at the “Mile 21” lookout point before leaving the mountains, where you will have a beautiful view of the area and if the weather is with you, you may even be able to sense Mandalay in the distance. For many, the name Mandalay itself brings to mind the bygone colonial era, but today the city is a modern Asian metropolis with great Chinese influence. It is also the city in Myanmar that has perhaps the liveliest nightlife. We recommend that you hop on a local pickup or rickshaw, or simply take a walk, to explore the streets of Mandalay, whose everyday life is an experience in itself. It is teeming with Buddhist monks, motorcycles, rickshaws and older car models. The city also has a number of workshops that produce crafts from silver, wood carving and silk. Mandalay is rich in cultural and historical sights. In addition to the remains of the historic royal city, there are a number of ancient monasteries and older architecture. Do not miss to enjoy the amazing sunset from Mandalay Hill! (F )

Day 10: Mandalay bike ride

Today you explore life outside Mandalay’s bustling metropolis on a bike ride out to the quiet and charming life of the countryside. The excursion gets through small markets, past local schools and authentic villages to see life on the outskirts of the great metropolis. The rest of the afternoon you have on your own. We recommend that you rent a “bemo” and drive to Amarapura (or take a taxi!) To enjoy a unique sunset over the U-Bein bridge, which is probably the world’s oldest, and perhaps even longest, teak bridge. This is Mandalay’s main attraction and it is a beautiful sight as the sun casts its last rays on the bridge and the small boats on the river. If the water is high enough you can take a small boat trip to see the spectacle from the river, otherwise you can find a small bar that serves something cold to drink, which you can enjoy while watching the sunset. (F )

Day 11: Departure from Mandalay

An eventful journey has come to an end and it is time to go home. Depending on when your flight departs, you may have some time for one last walk in Mandalay or buy some last souvenirs before heading to the airport. ( F )

Day 12: Arrival in Scandinavia

Arrival in Scandinavia, the time depends on which airline you travel with.

Overnight stays

10 nights in budget hotel & hostel

Adventures in Shan State, Myanmar