3 Day 2 Night Trek in Beautiful Hsipaw, Myanmar

We wouldnʼt say that were natural trekkers and in our normal day to day life we barely make time to walk for pleasure, just when we are walking the dog but during our trip so far weʼve already managed to do four big treks.

We found out about the quaint little town of Hsipaw through a friend who told us about her trip there and the wonderful trek sheʼd undertaken into the hills a few years previous.

We decided that we wanted to do the same, especially as it would give us the opportunity to meet the locals and find out more about their way of life here in Myanmar.

Getting to Hsipaw

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There are usually a couple of different options depending on where youʼre coming from. From Mandalay thereʼs a train, bus or shared taxi. The journey on the train is meant to be quite beautiful, but it takes around 14-16 hours so we skipped this option. 

When we tried to book the bus we were told it was cancelled for when we wanted to travel as there werenʼt enough people so we ended up taking a shared taxi with another local couple which cost us 16,500Kyat each (£10) and took around 6 hours. 

You might think a taxi would be quite the luxury option but youʼd be wrong! In Indonesia all of the shared taxis we took were in 6/7 seater cars with loads of space - it was lovely. 

In Myanmar however the taxis are normal sized cars with little room for your luggage especially as our taxi driver was also transporting something at the same time. We ended up with two bags at our feet which was nʼt the most comfortable for that length of time. To sit in the front they also told us weʼd be charged an extra 3,000Kyat, which although is not much we  decided weʼd be fine in the back.

Staying in Hsipaw

Despite how small Hsipaw is there are still quite a few hotels to choose from to suit all budgets.We stayed in the Red Dragon Hotel which is close to the centre and was priced at £11 for a room with shared bathroom and £16 with ensuite and fan. Itʼs slightly more expensive to get A/C but since we were travelling in November we found it wasnʼt hot enough to even need one. 

The staff are very helpful and friendly and we were able to leave our bags there during the 3-day trek which was great.

Breakfast is also included and is served on the 6th floor giving you a fantastic view over the river and the town. Sunrise and sunset views would be fantastic up here if you wanted to.

If you want something a bit more luxurious, the new Kumudra Hill Hotel looks really lovely and has a pool. We came here for some food on our last night and it does look really special, although itʼs a bit further out which is compensated for by the stunning views. 

Trekking in Hsipaw

Before we arrived in Hsipaw Iʼd already been in contact with a guide called Kham Ai who Iʼd found recommended on a Trip Advisor Forum. 

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He explained to me what we should expect from the trip and the prices - £60 each if there was a group of us or £90 each if there was just the 2 of us. Wesaid weʼd be happy with either although at the time of booking it was just us.

Accommodation would be homestays in the villages we would visit along the way. And the food would be cooked and provided by the families at these homestays as well as some stop off points on the way.

Kham also assured us that the trekking was safe and that safety was his upmost priority. Last year there were a few people injured and killed when they stumbled across landmines in this area so we were a little worried as itʼs close to the unrest in the North. 

There are now 2 or 3 different trekking companies, but if youʼre looking for somewhere that isnʼt just interested in money, is genuinely interested in providing a great service and making sure you have a good time then drop Kham Ai a message!

After weʼd checked into our hotel at Hsipaw we went down to Firefly Travel which is where Kham Ai now works. Itʼs his own company that he started up with 4 other guides. We told him where we were staying and he said weʼd be picked up In a tuk-tuk the next morning at 8 am. 

We headed back to the hotel to pack and grab a few supplies as well as a couple of tins of biscuits to share with the families we would be staying with on the trek.

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The kit we took 

  • Clothes for 2 days 
  • Raincoats 
  • 2 headtorches 
  • Walking shoes 
  • Water but this is also supplied
  • Biscuits as a small gift 
  • Earplugs 
  • Sleeping bag liners 
  • Bluetooth Speaker/power bank
  • power banks

Day 1

The day began with a huge breakfast at the red dragon. First, we had fruit brought out, then toast, then a plate of noodles with an egg on and coffee. By the end of it I could hardly move. Moving however is what the trek is all about so we dropped our bags in the hotel storeroom and went to take our tuk-tuk to the starting point of our trek.

Kham happily informed us that two more people would be joining us on the trek and refunded us the extra money we had paid the day before for the two-person tour.

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We were then introduced to a very nice French couple called Nicolas and Elodie who would be accompanying us on the hike through the amazing Shan state countryside.

The day was warm to begin with and only got hotter. We originally had concerns about it raining as it had bucketed it down the day before but all concerns of this soon disappeared in the sweltering heat of the day. 

The countryside was really spectacular and constantly shifting from farmland to grassland back to farmland and into rolling hills filled with tea plantations and the small villages of the Palong and Shan people.

Kham our guide kept our spirits up by telling us about local culture and plant life, happy to answer any question that we brought up and ready with some incredible stories about his past. Kham was a very interesting guy and he was always checking that everyone was ok. He also came armed with a ready supply of plasters for blisters and medication for upset stomachs and other needs if we needed anything. 

After a good amount of time walking we arrived in the first of the Palong villages where we got to see people going about there daily business. The village had a working sawmill, tea plantations and a few seamstresses making bags. Their were a ton of kids playing in the streets it was so nice to see the village working properly and it didn't feel like any of it was forced, just people going about there daily lives.

After the first village we moved on to the next one where we got to sleep for the night. The host put on a huge spread of tea leaf salad, tomato salad rice and a load of other bits and pieces as well as tea, lots and lots of tea. 

Day 2 

We set alarms the night before for 5.30 am so we could catch the sunrise across the valley and it didn't disappoint. The moisture in the air creates low hanging clouds that slowly rise up as the sun falls along the valley. This casts orange beams of light creating a beautiful view that lasts about 20 to 35 minutes.

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You then get a big breakfast before setting off on your trek for the day. We first headed for a waterfall leaving the village and it's tea plantations behind and stomping off through hills and then jungle. down some precarious but not too challenging paths.

The waterfall is very pretty in a small clearing that is surrounded by jungle and we sat there for a short while before walking on to our lunch stop. 

Once again the people on the trek provided a huge lunch for us that easily kept us going for another few hours until we got to the next place we were going to stop for the night.This was to another tea producing house, however at this one we got to see the tea being manufactured and processed. 

You can also have a freezing cold bucket shower at this stop in the open air and under the stars. This is highly refreshing especially if you get a breeze, actually, it was extremely cold but after 2 days of high heat and hiking I would have settled for anything.

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Day 3  

This was my favourite day of the hike we trekked up high into the mountains until we were above the clouds and visited a school, we were introduced to the kids and they just loved seeing themselves in a boomerang video. 

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There was a lot more walking through amazing countryside and a couple more villages but then Kham suggested that we go to his village and he would introduce us to his family which we all agreed to immediately. 

This was a really lovely experience and his dad made the best tea leaf salad I had tasted in all of Myanmar. Kham's sister dressed Hannah and Elodie in full traditional Palong wear for photos, and his grandma is one of the warmest and most welcoming people I have ever met. To see this side of village life was a truly special and an experience I will be forever grateful for.

After this, it was a long and leisurely tuk-tuk trip back down to town through the beautiful rolling hills with a glowing red sunset, not a bad way to spend three days if you ask me.

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Links 

Firefly's trip advisor

Kham Ai's facebook

Firefly's facebook

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