Every day a train takes the laborious route from Mandalay over steep hills and a breathtaking gorge to Hsipaw and on to Lashio. The railway line between Pyin Oo Lwin and Hsipaw is a masterpiece of British engineering, primarily designed to bring trade and control to the northern Shan state, which was an important ally of the British after the conquest of Upper Burma.
The train from Mandalay to Hsipaw takes 11 hours and departs at 4 am. The journey from Pyin Oo Lwin to Hsipaw lasts seven hours and starts around 8 o’clock. Lashio is another four hours by train from Hsipaw. The train from Hsipaw to Mandalay departs at 09:40 and arrives at Mandalay at 21:15.
Driving is not for everyone, but for lovers of this means of transport, the trains in Myanmar still offer the opportunity to rediscover the slowness of traveling. Partly at walking pace, the train moves through a dreamlike landscape, in almost every town people wait on the tracks for the passing train to wave to the travelers. There are countless stops along the way and flying dealers offer their goods between two stops on the train. Whether you opt for the luxury class with upholstered seat or traveling on the wooden bench, this ride is – not only because of the Gokteik Bridge – an absolute must for those who are interested in land and people.