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The North of Myanmar


Global Mark : 15.18    Top Five : No3

Ratings by criteria : 

Charm Scenery Parks Culture Minor. Market Relax Fiesta 


5 5 5 2 4 2 5 2 3 14.67

Ratings by backpackers :

Surveyed Liked  Comeback  Recommend  Range AVER.
19 100% 95% (18) 100% 12 to 20 15.68

Description :
A charming hill station with plenty of Tudor-style mansions
, great nature sceneries, cool weather and... strawberries !

Comments : Do not make the mistake to come here as a day trip from Mandalay : the place is worth a trip on its own...

What to do ? Cycle around the old mansions and feel the history / Check the huge charming rooms of Candacraig (now Thin-Myaing Hotel) / Walk gardens (fruits, roses, rock or Lily) all in one garden (botanical) / Smell pine trees while getting lost in the natural forest area / See peacocks, Ibis or Kites / Eat plenty of strawberries / Say wow at the big waterfall then splash ! / Cross a narrow suspended bridge for light adrenalin / Visit coffee plantations or plants nursery / Play golf ($15 incl. all equipment) with government officials & other senior cadres as this is one of their favorite place of relaxation / Tour the town on colorful horse carriage 

What you may not like ? The rubbish at the botanical garden, even so dustbins can be spotted everywhere / Not having good brakes on your bike for your way down / Not having good gears on your bike for your way up / The rubbish on the tricky path down toward the waterfall / The food stalls around the waterfall / The too- cool- not- entirely- clean water ? / Not getting sugar with the strawberries / The electricity cuts / The rooms rates of Candacraig ($24 or $30 Sgl, $30 or $36 Dbl occupancy)

How long ? Couple of days to relax & explore.

Where to stay ? 

- Conveniently in the town center :

  • Cherry GH (085-21306), No19, 6th block, Lashio Rd (main road), north of the clock tower / Room $3(1) or $6(2), w. HW shower $4(1) or $8(2) / Tea or coffee in the room plus free water / Go there for the clean comfortable rooms equipped with emergency lights / What you may not like : the limited HW, English speaking staff (the helpful manager is on duty from 9 to 18 only) and breakfast (you may have to negotiate to get one in the opposite Indian restaurant)
  • Golden Dream Hotel (21302), No 42-43, block 5, Lashio Rd, south of the clock tower / Room $3(1) or $6(2), w. HW shower $4(1) or $8(2) / Incl. Breakfast / Go there for the correct rooms at a good price / What you may not like : the rather dirty common toilets & shower without HW
  • Da Shanghai Hotel (21164), No55 How Gon Rd, just east off the main road / Room $4(1) or $6(2), w. shower $8(1) or $12(2) / Breakfast for Sgl rates only (!) / Go there for the good terrace overlooking the nice surroundings / What you may not like : the not so clean atmosphere, in particular in the common shower area

- Between the town center and the lake, about 15mn walk :

  • Grace Hotel, corner of Nan-Myaing St and Zwaka St / Room $3(1) or $4(2), w. HW shower $4(1) or $8(2) / incl. Breakfast / Go there for the beautiful & relaxed garden and the clean big rooms at good prices. The best address in town / What you may not like : it is often full and the rooms are basic. 

- On the south-east side of town, on the way toward the botanical garden, a good 30mn walk

  • Gandamar Myaing Hotel (22007), No6 Qtr Circular Rd / Room w. shower $6(1), $12(2) or $18(3) / incl. Breakfast / Go there for the charming house and the big rooms with the old charm / What you may not like : the basic & not so fresh rooms
  • Dahlia Motel (22255), No105, Eindaw Rd, near the above / Room $6(1) or $12(2), w. shower, satellite TV (but no English channel !) & fan $10(1) or $18(2) / Incl. breakfast / Tiny garden with flowers / Free pick up on request / Go there to tell them that their cheaper room are a rather bad value for money as small, basic & charmless
  • May Oo Lwin GH (21021), No51 Ain Taw Lane, No6 Quarter, a bit further north the above / Room w. HW shower $8(1) or $15(2) / Go there for the bungalow style rooms around a nice garden / What you may not like : the basic rooms
  • April Inn (21001), just after the above / Room w. HW shower $10(1) or $20(2) / Go there if you like CD OK only as the bungalow style big rooms are rather empty and not so clean

Where to eat ? I was not very lucky with my choices but there are plenty of Indian & Chinese places around. Maybe Family Restaurant opposite Cherry GH ?

Bike ? Plenty of places charge the basic K300 per day or K150 per half day. Sein Mya Chel Cafe & Cold Drink (red sign), west of the clock tower on the left, charges K200 & K100 only. 

Backpacker's Tips : Jane, Thailand (Sept 04)
If you have a couple friend travel with you , you can hire a taxi from Mandalay to Pyin U L win which is about 9,000 K and share the price. It is not very nice car( no AC) , but fun because the driver will tell you many stories and stop by the market and let you try some local whisky.
You should have a dinner at Candacraige hotel which is about 3US$ per meal . They will recommend you to have roasted chicken .. but you have to order ahead of time . The meal will come with very soft bread, real butter and real jam and a supper good desert, strawberry with some sweet thing and you can order a bottle of strawberry wine in a good price. The lady there is from Shan , she will song Shan song for you if you like.
If you want the best strawberry shake , please visit the restaurant call Golden Triangle which run by foreigner and Thai lady . Very good food, and very good real fresh coffee ( say good bye to Star Bucks ).

Backpacker's Tips : Jean-Marc Delatre, France (Sept 00)
Dahlia Motel : double bargained to 4$ (reg. price 5$), ventil, bathroom, small breakfast. Very nice. Though a little far from city center, but they drop you there and pick you up on evening on simple phone call. / Hlaing Tea Shop: Indian very good, very friendly, lunch = 385 K (1 cheese nan + 1 garlic nan + 1 Tiger)

A great day on bike ? The following places could be visited in one day :

- Mrs. Dat Taw Chaint "Big" Waterfalls : About 8 miles out of town, you will need to cycle downhill for around 30mn toward Mandalay until a green big sign pointing on the right. After another 15mn on a smaller path, you will reach the rocky trail down. It is a 20mn tricky walk down, more if missing the regular shortcuts. Snacks, drinks and tubes are waiting for your patronage at the fall. Going back is certainly more sportive but the strawberries along the way will boost your courage. You can also stop at a coffee plantation and a coffee museum. 

- The botanical Garden : From the waterfall, take the road on the right just after the city gate & map. On the way, the golf and plants nurseries may be worth a look. As for the garden , it is definitively worth the K10 fee (hopefully it will not turn into $10 soon). Fruits garden, roses garden, rock garden Orchid houses, natural forest,...

 << Discover the two major sights

Leaving Pyin U Lwin ? Yes, you will unfortunately have to leave one day... 

To Mandalay, regular pick up leave during the day (last one at around 5pm or later if train from Lashio real delayed) : K300, 2.5 hours. 

To Hsipaw, one pick up leave at 6am daily from north of the clock tower (K800-900, 4 hours). Otherwise, buses from Mandalay may have seats available. They stop for refreshments near Triple Diamond Restaurant (from Cherry GH, pass Family Restaurant and walk toward big road) at around 8 & 10. It should cost K500. All things considered, it may be best to take the train. 

The trip to Hsipaw : SSSS / R / $2 / 7 hrs / Train ordinary class
I had been told to show up at 7am for the bus from Mandalay but at 7:45, it wasn't clear whether or not one would come and, if coming, whether or not it would have a seat available. Indeed, the water splashing Festival had just started.
So I decided to play it safe and experience the train. An experience, this definitively was ! To start, the train showed up an hour late. It usually stop at Pyin U Lwin for half an hour to get more cars (which means that there is no problem getting a seat) but, because of the delay, the procedure took over an hour. We finally left at 10am.
The atmosphere on ordinary class always makes good stories but, because of the Festival, it was particularly festive, crowded & wet. Sitting by the window, my duty was to close the glass window any time water splashing was spotted, that is at every station or civilization encounter. A tricky assignment and I must admit that I reported failure a couple of times...
We reached Gokteik at 1pm but waited for the train coming from Lashio to cross the bridge. And then it was our turn, at slow speed to guarantee safety on this rather impressive ravine crossing. The two tunnels which followed where, well, dark but it somehow gave the signal for the real fiesta to begin. 
Indeed, quite a few young people where getting high and started to shout songs while dancing and jumping between two cars. Considering that stability was not the train's main characteristic (slow speed was) and that the vegetation was sometimes real close to the train, I would not really recommend this sport...
The scenery, when not obstructed by water, was really beautiful as deep inside the countryside and dotted with villages. And some parts, like the crossing of the bridge, were simply dramatic. The right side offered a better experience as a whole : better sceneries and more color at the small trains stations with all the salesgirls.
So altogether, it was slow, crowded & noisy but it was as funny and interesting as a travel experience could be. We arrived, rather dry, at 5pm. 

See also the trip from Mandalay