Mandalay to Pyin Oo Lwin to Hsipaw by Train
After I heard about the scenic train ride from Mandalay – Hsipaw, I felt that taking the bus just wasn’t an option. The train travels through farmer’s pastures, overlooks rolling hills in the distance, and crosses the picturesque Goteik Viaduct with a stunning canyon and waterfall.
The train leaves the train station in Mandalay at around 4 am. The driver that was supposed to pick us up was probably sleeping and we had to find another transport to the main train station in Mandalay. After almost missing the train, we boarded the ordinary class train to Hsipaw.
The train ride is regarded as being “the most scenic train ride in Myanmar”.
The train soon starts to ascend….
We pick up some more travellers along the way…
The first bigger town along the way is Pyin Oo Lwin.
Food is available at almost every stop on the way
People waiting to board the train… and yes you guessed right, they all came to our wagon with all the luggage….
This sight above is what this train ride is all about….the Goteik Viaduct
The views are breathtaking
Well it is quite high!
Farmers working on a rice field
Kids playing around at a train station
After 10-11 hours at the destination! It was December 31st and it was time to prepare for New Years!!
Some info regarding the train ride from Mandalay to Hsipaw
They advertise three classes of seating at the station: upper class, first class and ordinary class. Upper class is the most expensive and gets you cushioned recliner chairs with tiny fans overhead. Don’t expect much for the upper class – the seats are falling apart and the fans barely work. I guess the only plus that upper class has against ordinary class is the cushioning for your butt during the long journey.
Ordinary class would be more fun as well since you get to hang out with the locals and all the food sellers are allowed to come into your carriage during the stops (they aren’t allowed in Upper class).
Though the prices are low in Western standards, the ordinary class is still half the price of the upper class seats. Now that I’ve taken it, I can tell you that this kind of rides you remember for a life time. Not that it was so bad, but because it was fun.
Now comes to the state of these trains.
Even though the government makes tourists pay ten times the amount that locals pay, the trains still look like they haven’t had a broom put through them in decades. There is a layer of dust/dirt on the floors, food and garbage all over the seats and floor, the seats are falling apart and so are the fans and the amount of “critters” living in the trains.
It is better to take the ordinary class with wooden chairs than upper class with cushioned chairs with bugs….
About Goteik Viaduct
The bridge was constructed in 1899 and completed in 1900 by Pennsylvania and Maryland Bridge Construction. The components were made by the Pennsylvania Steel Company, and the parts were shipped from the United States. The rail line was constructed as a way for the British Empire to expand their influence in the region.
The viaduct stretches 689 metres from end to end with 15 towers which span 12 metres along with a double tower 24 metres long. The 15 towers support 10 deck truss spans of 37 metres along with six plate girder spans 18 metreslong and an approach span of 12 metres . Many sources have put the height of the bridge at 250 metres. This is supposedly a measurement to the river level as it flows underground through a tunnel at the point it passes underneath the trestle. The true height of the bridge as measured from the rail deck to the ground on the downstream side of the tallest tower is 102 metres.
Due to its technical and natural condition it was considered as a masterpiece of the world standard.