Hsipaw was once the Royal capital of a small Shan state in its own right. Nowadays it is a compact, picturesque town, the centre of which hosts a lively (very early!) morning market. Scattered around town are restaurants serving up tasty Shan and Chinese dishes and any number of cozy, bustling little teahouses.
One of Hsipaw’s main attractions is the old Shan Palace at the northern end of the town, which has informally re-opened to the public due to the recent return of the incumbent family. They are keen to tell you their fascinating story, which sheds light on the history and the future of the town, the region and the country. Whilst an audience with them can rarely be guaranteed, we can try seek the necessary permissions to spend time with them and visit their home.
The Central Market is one of the best markets to visit in all of Myanmar, as Shans, Kachins, and other tribal groups come here to trade regularly. Because so few tourists visit Hsipaw, the merchandise is primarily for the villagers who go there to shop. The market begins and ends very early, starting at an un-godly 3:30am and it’s pretty much all over by 6am.
Out of the town, the banks of the Dutawaddy River are set amongst fields rich in crops and local fruits. Its best to explore on foot and it is possible to organise short treks and walks into the surrounding hills. Lying in a valley, Hsipaw is a good place for easy day hikes, heading to several monestaries scattered about the region.