Learn about the royal mystery of the Last Shan Prince & his Austrian wife before doing some Hsipaw trekking around the surrounding villages & countryside – read more in our Hsipaw Travel Guide!
With its laid-back vibe and affable atmosphere, Hsipaw is an increasingly mainstream alternative hub, especially for travellers with time on their side.
Synonymous with Mr Charles’ guesthouse, Hsipaw also offers Mr Book’s bookshop, Mr Food’s restaurant and Mr Shake’s cafe, along with a handful of other foreigner-friendly places with English names and picture menus.
For a small town, Hsipaw has a little mix of many things:
- pagodas and shrines
- ‘little Bagan’ and miniature Kyaitiyo Golden Rock
- markets and trading tribes
- cheeroot factories
- nearby waterfalls.
Hsipaw trekking & things to do make it the town on one the best places to visit in Myanmar.
The Last Shan Prince
Besides Hsipaw trekking, the town is also home to one of Myanmar’s more intriguing stories and histories.
A powerful royal-ruling Shan State, Hsipaw’s last prince Sao Kya Seng studied in the United States where he met and fell in love with a fellow classmate, Inge Eberhard (from Austria).
After marrying in 1953, they returned to Burma, and it was only then – on sight of the awaiting crowds and fanfare – that the bride discovered her new husband was a prince.
Inge took to royal life with ease and enthusiasm, learning to speak Burmese and Shan, and quickly became popular with the local people.
Hsipaw is the starting point for treks to the surrounding countryside and Shan villages.
They can be organised at your hotel or guesthouse.
For travellers accustomed to trekking in Asia, the scenery is largely unremarkable, though the rolling hills and fertile soil, vegetable crops and rice paddies, were verdant and vivid in the monsoon season.
The landscape similar to that on the 3 day hike from Kalaw to Inle Lake.
The route is easy, partly uphill, however the heat is strenuous.
Before lunch, the night’s destination of Pankham Village is reached, with relief.
Accommodation is in the Chief’s home – the man himself away on business, his wife the ever-obliging, smiling hostess and chef.
Home-cooked Shan food is simple, plentiful, varied and delicious.
The village consists of thatch and bamboo houses raised on wood stilts with corrugated iron roofs.
There’s also a monastery and school.
Throughout the days monks and children are observed passing one another by.
The children play, and work – on and off the land. As ever in Myanmar, the children are curious and delightful.
The afternoon is relaxing, followed by a walk through the village, and a local tea plantation and workshop.
The next day, a different route is taken on the way back to Hsipaw.
Accommodation in Hsipaw
Mr Charles Hotel
$7 a night for fan single room or air-con 6-bed dorm, shared bathroom, wifi.
The price includes an amazing buffet breakfast of Shan noodles, pancakes , toast, fruit, soup, egg, coffee and tea.
This was the only hostel we encountered in Myanmar, in set-up, feel & vibe.
How to Get to Hsipaw
There is an afternoon bus from Mandalay, it takes approximately 6 hours to arrive in Hsipaw.
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*** The Final Word – Hsipaw is a recommended for travellers who want to chill-out for awhile or those who enjoy trekking ***
Did you do any longer Hsipaw trekking?
Not recommended DIY travel; take a tour instead
Visited in June 2014