Along The Burma Road

Continuing our focus on Myanmar, we’d like to direct the spotlight onto points north and east from Mandalay, tracing the British-built Burma Road up to China. The first stop, around 70km past the picturesque Anisakan Falls and the mysterious Cyber City, is the former hill station of Pyin-Oo-Lwin. A good day can be spent exploring its expansive botanical gardens and plethora of intriguing colonial mansions, before heading on by train across the mighty Gokteik Viaduct.

From here, a loop can be taken up to the ruby-mining town of Mogok. Due to the somewhat shady nature of Mogok’s chief industry, the area has long been made off-limits to foreign visitors. This has recently changed, however, and exploring the mines and markets does make for a very interesting stop, particularly when accompanied by little or no other tourists, before heading on towards Hsipaw.

Hsipaw is a wonderful microcosm of picture-postcard Myanmar. Definitely one for the outdoor-inclined, the surrounding countryside is rich with rushing waterfalls, rolling hills, and rustic villages; a huge variety of treks can be arranged, including some with overnight stays in traditional Palaung villages. Until recently accommodation in Hsipaw was very much backpacker-orientated, but with the addition of the Riverside @ Hsipaw Resort there is a comfortable, boutique option. In fact, coming back to this hotel was a highlight of a recent staff trip – a long day out trekking, on the outside terrace with the sun setting over the Dothawaddy River, a cold Myanmar beer in hand, a longtail boat chugging past, megaphone-led Buddhist incantations floating across the water – a perfect incapsulation of South East Asia at its very best.

Beyond Hsipaw the Burma Road continues up through Lashio (which has a small airport, and can be used to turn back towards Yangon or Mandalay) and on to the bustling border town of Mu-Se. Beyond lies China; Yunnan province to be precise, another region of rich history and stupefying landscapes.

Such an adventurous itinerary could be extended at either end, either back through China and turning south towards Vietnam or Laos, or breaking further on through Myanmar to idyllic Ngapali Bay. Get in touch for further inspiration!