Most guesthouses in Hsipaw will be happy to arrange your journey from Hsipaw to Mandalay in Myanmar, but some hotels (looking at you, Red Dragon Hotel) seem to know very little. Thus, I included below all the info I could gather about this trip so you can plan on your own.
In comparison, trains are cheaper, slower and have better views than buses. They also move a lot (sideways). Buses are faster (but waaaay slower than cars), have AC and you move up-and-down instead of sideways.
Train from Hsipaw to Mandalay
There is a daily train that runs from Lashio to Mandalay. It leaves Lashio at 5AM and stops at Hsipaw around 9.30AM. Tickets can be bought at the station right then. On the way to Mandalay, it crosses the Goktiek viaduct bridge and makes stops in every medium-sized town.
The main reason travelers choose the train instead of the bus is because of the scenic views, specially at the Gokteik viaduct, and also because of the price. Many travelers choose to ride the train only to see the viaduct attraction, and then get off at Pyinoolwin and get on a bus to Mandalay to save time.
The Gokteik (also spelled Goke Hteik, Gokhteik, or Goteik) viaduct is the second highest train bridge in the world.
If you are travelling to Inle Lake (Nyaung Shwe) but want to take the train to see the Gokteik viaduct, check this article on how to go from Hsipaw to Inle Lake (Nyaung Shwe) without going all the way to Mandalay first.
Train ticket fares
Prices are in Burmese kyats (MMR), and include a life insurance. Seats in ordinary class are simple wooden planks. Seats in upper class are softer and more comfortable. There is a toilet in every coach of the train (bring your own paper).
Sit on the right side to have the best views of the bridge, as it curves to the south.
|Destination||Upper Class||Ordinary Class|
|Pyin Oo Lwin||2750||1200|
Bus from Hsipaw to Mandalay
Any guesthouse or travel agent should be able to give you directions on where and when to get on the buses that run from Hsipaw to Mandalay daily. Everyone I asked seemed to give me a different answer, and one never knows if they are talking about the same bus (but with different expected delay times) or different buses altogether. What’s sure is that there are many buses that run from Lashio to Hsipaw and then to Mandalay throughout the day.
The earliest bus leaves Hsipaw at 5.30AM (around 6,500 MMK). There might be other buses between 5.30AM and noon. The last bus leaves at 7PM. The 7PM bus is ideal for those coming back from a trek who wish to leave Hsipaw on the same day. Make sure to tell the guide about your plans so that he arranges the plan accordingly.
Make sure to check MyanmarBusTicket.com to see if there are any new routes, as tourism in Myanmar is changing quickly.
Hsipaw to Mandalay by taxi
If you travel in a group and can split the cost, a taxi might be the best way to get from Hsipaw to Mandalay: faster and definitely more comfortable.
Shared taxi: around 15,000-18,000 MMK for a front seat, 13,000 MMK for a back seat. Private taxi/driver: anything from 80 to 300 USD, depends on where and how it is booked.