Hsipaw provides a relaxing rural antidote to the rush of big-city life. The main town of the northern Shan Highlands is looped by diverse hiking trails that lead you round rolling green hills and rice paddies, to untouched mountain villages and sacred shrines.
The most popular trek takes in Pan Kam, a Palaung tribal village famed for its inhabitants’ sparkling silver belts and vibrant traditional garb spun on back-strap weaving looms. While in Sar Maw, you’ll be rewarded with the gleaming sight of Bawgyo Paya Pwe, a gilded pagoda treasured by another ethnic group, the Shan, since the 12th century.
In Hsipaw itself, that group’s history is kept alive at Shan Palace, a museum bravely run by the family of the last ‘sawbwa’, a regional leader who disappeared in the 1962 military coup. Then there’s Little Bagan, an area dotted with vine-clad pagodas and dainty ‘nat’ shrines to local deities – the crumbling stupas found near the Bamboo Buddha Monastery are the stuff of old sepia-tinged travel journals.
At Central Market, you can nab a bowl of noodles or slurp down tea made from freshly picked leaves, while the adjoining backstreets host a cottage industry of handicraft shops and trinket stalls – just the place to pick up a souvenir of your Burmese days.
When to go?
Myanmar’s tropical monsoon climate creates a minor dilemma when planning your visit. June to October promises the most rainfall – but also better prices and a freer run at attractions and hiking trails. Travellers who favour comfort over cost will appreciate the more forgiving temperatures and lower humidity between November and February.
Tai House Resort
Where to stay?
Tai House Resort – Hsipaw, Myanmar
A green reprieve from Hsipaw’s dusty surrounds, you’ll be well looked after at Tai House. Its immaculate garden hosts bungalow-style rooms decked out with traditional décor, comfy beds and private showers. Plus, Booking.com guests rave about the warm, generous staff who are always happy to fix guided treks, transfers and great local grub.
Kumudra Hill Mountain View
Kumudra Hill Mountain View – Hsipaw, Myanmar
Boasting a rooftop hot tub and Hsipaw’s only swimming pool, Kumudra Hill is just the tonic for tired trekkers. The hotel runs a free shuttle between the village and its lofty location overlooking the countryside, and offers a garden-to-table restaurant and reliable WiFi. No wonder Booking.com guests give it top marks for value and comfort.
Riverside Hsipaw Resort
Riverside Hsipaw Resort – Hsipaw, Myanmar
Housed in cute, thatch-roofed abodes by the Myitnge River, this hotel promises a quiet getaway from bustling Hsipaw. The spacious, pristine rooms include fans, mosquito nets and terraces facing the tranquil river, while the attentive staff can arrange massages and spa treatments. The restaurant’s colourful, varied menus are also a hit with Booking.com guests.