Hsipaw is a small town in Shan State, Myanmar. The city is mainly known as a starting point for trekking tours in the area. It is located on the train line Mandalay – Lashio and offers so when arriving by train the possibility to cross the Gokteik Viaduct.
The Sawbwas of Hsipaw lived in the Shan Palace at the northern end of the city. The last Sawbwa (Sao Kya Seng) disappeared during the military coup in 1962 and the palace is now looked after by his nephew’s wife. She wants to keep alive the history of the Shan-States of the last 50 years and opens the house to visitors from all over the world. And this story is interesting because the last woman on the Sawbwa was an Austrian named Inge Sargent, who recorded her life until the disappearance of her husband in a moving personal report, Twilight on Burma or My Life as Shan Princess.
The central market of Hsipaw is still geared towards the local population. So Shans, Kachins and other tribal members can buy everything from food to clothing and electronics here for daily life.
Trekking tours are offered by many different agencies and include different highlights. Many of the routes start to the west, only a few in the sparsely inhabited north.