Depending on how long you tend to visit Myanmar for, most people will visit Yangon, Bagan, Mandalay and Inle Lake – previous post: http://bit.ly/MyanmarPartA. But I also recommend Pyin Oo Lwin, Kalaw and Pindaya Caves. All set in the hills, offering a cooler climate and a slower pace of life.
My two weeks itinerary looked like this:
Yangon > Bagan > Mandalay > (day trip) Sagaing, Inwa, Amarapura > Pyin Oo Lwin > Mandalay > Kalaw > Pindaya Caves > Inle Lake > Yangon
PYIN OO LWIN
This British colonial hill station is worth an overnight visit just for the beautifully kept Botanical Gardens. I took a private taxi from Mandalay in just under two hours. The idea was to sightsee in the day, stay the night and catch the 8am train in the morning to take me over the Gokteik Viaduct. Instead of taking the train all the way to Hsipaw I arranged a taxi to pick me up at the first train station across the viaduct and drive me back to Mandalay. On arrival at the station in the morning the train hadn’t even left it’s starting point in Mandalay and it was a 4 hour journey to Pyin Oo Lwin. I decided not to wait, for all I knew it could have been delayed even further along the way so I headed back to Mandalay from Pyin Oo Lwin with my trusty driver. Despite not heading to Hsipaw or travelling across the Gokteik Viaduct if you fancy a night away from the cities then this town is worth a stop over.
- Sleep – Royal Green Hotel
- Visit – National Kandawgyi Botanical Gardens
- Visit – Governor’s House (or even sleep for a mere $2,198 per night)
- Eat – The Club Terrace Food Lounge
- Transport – Get around town by Horse & Cart
A wonderful old British Hill Station town, a place to chill and enjoy the cooler climate. Kalaw is the start point of the ever so popular trek to Inle Lake. I’m sure I am one of the very few people to just stay here for a couple of nights with no intention of trekking….. I stayed in a glorious cabin in the hills just a short 10 minute walk down to the town. Burmese food is not exactly tantalising on the taste buds but there are so many gastronomical delights in the town.
- Sleep – Nature Land Hotel II
- Visit – Shwe Oo Min Paya Caves – a smaller, less visited version of nearby Pindaya Caves
- Visit – Hnee Paya – the bamboo Buddha. Not that you can tell as it’s deeply covered in gold leaf but stop for some reflection and a cup of tea from one of the lovely local ladies
- Eat – Everest. Felt like I was back in Nepal eating Palak Paneer and drinking ginger lemon & honey – delish!
As I wasn’t trekking from Kalaw to Inle Lake I hired another taxi to take me from Kalaw to Pindaya Caves and onto Nyaung Shwe, the main town for Inle Lake.
The caves are stunning! Set up in the hills, get there early to avoid the tour buses and you will be rewarded with the 8,000 Buddha statues to yourself.
and finally… the joys of taking a taxi to the harder to reach areas is you can stop for magical moments like this one……