Scenic Train Ride to Hsipaw
You have not experienced Myanmar if you haven’t done this EPIC train ride from Mandalay to Hsipaw!! We knew we had to do it from all the research we did on the country, but we didn’t think it was going to be this amazing!!
Firstly, when we say its the best train ever, we’re definitely not referring to the actual train. It is super rustic and third world. But the views are as top quality as it comes. SO LUSH.
The experience started off pretty rocky. We went to the train station in Mandalay the day before to book. We were then told the Upper Class tickets were sold out so we had to settle for Ordinary Class. This sounds more authentic and fun, but the train ride is 11 hours. 11 hours on hard wooden seats compared to reclining sofa chairs and with only a $1.6 difference – what would you do?!
The morning of our trip we arrived at the station at 3:20am. This was our first long walk with all our gear – I should maybe rethink my 65 litre backpack of clothes. We found our seats in Ordinary Class and squished in next to the locals who had been sleeping there all night.
Rudolph then tells me he’s quickly going to look at Upper Class in the carriage next door. 5 minutes go by so I decide to peek over and call him. He wasn’t there. I sit back down – not being able to leave all of our bags unwatched. I tell myself, he’s probably just stepped off the train to find a toilet or to speak to a friend he’s suddenly made. Another 5 minutes later the train engines start up and the horn goes off. I am now silently panicking as I sit alone.
Another 5 minutes go by and I can tell the train is about to leave. If he left the train and got in some type of trouble or got locked in a bathroom then I should really be grabbing all our stuff and getting off the train to go find him (considering I also have both phones). But if he’s gotten off the train and onto another carriage further down, then I would be left in Mandalay alone with no wallet and two backpacks that I could never carry alone. The train only leaves once a day so it would take 2 days for us to find each other again.
Seconds away from complete panic on what to do and just as the trains about to leave, Rudi causally walks back on the train with the biggest smile ever. “Babe, I got us Upper Class tickets, how cool.” It’s true – you can love and hate someone at the exact same time!!
Watch our GOPRO Video of this 11 hour SCENIC train journey in under 2 minutes:
Tips for catching the train:
Sit on the left hand side of the train – it has the BEST views of the bridge (as the bridge curves to the left). It also has the best views of the farmlands and local villages and the fields of yellow flowers, a waterfall and some stunning mountain-scales – as seen in our video above.
Book via the website or get to the station an hour early if you want to book Upper Class tickets.
Ordinary class – costs 1 700 Kyat per person:
For comfort: Pack a cushion and book all 4 seats so that you can spread out.
Upper Class – costs 3 950 Kyat per person:
Pack mozzi spray, toilet paper and a warm top as it gets pretty cold in the morning.
Pack snacks – You do get locals walking through the train selling food, but only from 11 am.
Sit back and enjoy – We got stunning views, great naps and even some productive blogging done.