15 days in Myanmar – Gokteik viaduct, Hsipaw (Day 5-6)

Day 5: MANDALAY – train to HSIPAW, Gokteik viaduct crossing


The “monster of silver geometry in all the ragged rock and jungle” that Paul Theroux mentioned in his travelogue The Great Railway Bazaar is a British colonial heritage. This 689 metres length viaduct was considered as a masterpiece when completed in 1900.

I had to cross that monster! which means waking up at 4AM to get the train ticket from Mandalay to Hsipaw. When I got to the train station my cab driver/ motorbike guide Ting Ting helped me to book an ordinary seat ticket. 2USD for almost 12 hours train journey, a cheap and rewarding experience!

Myanmar_Hsipaw_xiaolongbao takes the train

4 tips to make your journey pleasurable:

  • Don’t laugh if you see your trip companions carrying heavy blanket or fleece jacket…you’ll need it onboard at 4am it’s freezing…
  • Don’t fall asleep too close to the windows or you’ll get sunflower slap!
  • Carry some hot tea and snacks.
  • A more comfortable option would be to take a shared taxi from Mandalay to Pyin U Lwin and then catch the train. (most backpackers prefer this way)

Enjoy the ride, it’s a 12 hours long journey that is worth every kyat!

Myanmar_Mandalay_train station
at the Mandalay train station
Myanmar_Hsipaw_Train ride catch the train
this how to catch a train, run and jump


Myanmar_Hsipaw_Train ride Gokteik
Gokteik viaduct


Myanmar_Hsipaw_Train station
Fruit seller
Myanmar_Hsipaw_Train ride sellers from train
people watching from window seat


Myanmar_Hsipaw_Lilythehome Shan noodle
Shan noodle from Lily the Home. It’s not on the menu but if you ask nicely, the chef will make it just for you.


Myanmar_Hsipaw_Lilythehome terrace
panorama view of Hsipaw from Lily the Home terrace, a chilled little town that could be a good base for hiking.



Lily the home

No.108, Aung Tha Phay Road, Hsipaw

Phone: +95 82 80 408

You could ask pick up service at the train station for free.

The guesthouse could help organizing hiking trips, bike rental, laundry, bus ticket.

Perfectly clean, delicious food, lovely people, panorama view of Hsipaw…what else?



– Train ticket (ordinary class): 1,700 kyats

– Single room Lwith balcony: 15,000 kyats

– lunch + dinner: 5,000 kyats



Day 6: HSIPAW Shan palace – night bus to BAGAN


Rent a bike and go explore Hsipaw…. there is not much to do frankly speaking. The little Bagan is just a marketing name for ruins that are left as it is, a dusty pile of stones….however on the way there you could stop at the Ms Popcorn for the most delicious freshly squeezed passion fruit juice.

Myanmar_Hsipaw_Ms Popcorn

On the way back to the guesthouse, you could visit the Shan Palace, a colonial house where the last Shan prince lived. His Australian wife, Inge Sargent, wrote her exotic and tragic memoirs in Twilight Over Burma: My Life as a Shan Princess.

You could visit this historic building with the house keeper who is a relative of the royal family.

Myanmar_Hsipaw_Shan palace


– Bike rental: 2,000 kyats

– Donation Shan palace: 2,000 kyats

– Lunch + fresh juice+ Shan black coffee at Ms Popcorn: 3,500 kyats

– Night bus to Bagan: 15,800 kyats


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