Lashio is 854 meters above sea level and is surrounded by mountains, rivers and gorges. It has about 130,000 inhabitants with a Chinese population share of over 60%. It is now by the nearby Chinese border a vibrant trading city. Lashio is the terminus of the more than 200 km long Mandalay - Pyin U Lwin - Kyaukme - Hsipaw - Lashio. The city is ideal for people who are looking for off-the-beaten track destinations, as only a few visitors come here.
Hsipaw, the old Shan city, is surrounded by forests, hills and mountains and crossed by the Dokhtawaddy River. It has attractive surroundings: the Palaung and Shan villages, which can be reached on beautiful hikes, and the remote mountain village of Namhsan as new tourist territory. The place was once the seat of a Shan prince, who met his dream woman in America in the early 1950s. The Haw, palace of the last Shan prince Sao Kya Seng, which was built in 1924 and in which he and his Austrian wife Inge Sargent lived until 1962, still stands in the old city of Hsipaw.
The Gokteik Viaduct is located on the route between Pyin U Lwin and Kyaukme and is the most famous railway bridge in Myanmar. It was built around 1900 by the American Pennsylvania Steel Co. according to English plans and the steel components were specially brought from the USA. At the time it was the second largest in the world. The train ride from Mandalay to Lashio is a must for railway enthusiasts, even if the average speed is only 20 km/h. This 689 m long and 102 m high railway bridge spans a nearly 300 m deep gorge.
Inle Lake is one of the major tourist attractions in Myanmar. It is about 22 km long and 11 km wide. It lies 900 m above sea level and is surrounded by mountains. The lake shore and islands are home to 17 villages, which are mostly inhabited by Intha people. It has a population of some 150000. The Inle region teems with exotic sights and experiences. Speedboating across a vast picturesque lake among the blue mountain ranges is a thrilling experience.
About 45 km northeast of Kalaw, the small town of Pindaya is nestled snugly at the foot of a limestone ridge. The town is well known for its picturesque Botaloke Lake and its impressive caves filled with countless Buddha statues. To reach Pindaya, you'll pass a colorful patchwork of the fields and hedges, which are pleasing to the eye. The beautiful landscape along the way alone makes it worthwhile for you to visit Pindaya. The main reason to make this appealing journey is to visit the famous Pindaya Cave, which houses more than 8000 Buddha Images in variety of shapes and sizes.
Kalaw, a peaceful and quiet town, perched on the western edge of the Shan Plateau, at an altitute of 1320 m. In British colonial days, it was a popular hill station owing to the pleasant weather and the beautiful surroundings. It has a significant population of Nepalis and Indians, who came here to build the roads and railways during the colonial period. The town is surrounded by hilltop viewpoints and the peaceful villages of the Palaung, Danu, Taung Yo and Pa-O tribes, all set in a gorgeous landscape of forest-capped hills. Kalaw is the starting point for trekking to those places.