The Scenic Hill Town of Pyin Oo Lwin, Myanmar

Mandalay to PYin Oo Lwin,

We asked our hotel about transportation to Pyin Oo Lwin and they assured us that a shared cab (7,000 kyat each)  was the way to go.  We use to be cheap backpackers who would rather walk a mile to save a dollar but we’re older now. These shared cabs will pick you up at your hotel and drop you at your next hotel, so you save the headache of getting off a bus and having to catch a cab or walk.  We arranged to have it come early in the morning after breakfast.

Breakfast at this hotel was buffet style fried noodles and vegetables, eggs, samosas and toast.   We would learn later this is a very standard complimentary hotel breakfast.

The “cab,” was  just a normal looking car.  Another man sat in the passenger seat next to the driver, neither of whom were very friendly.  The passenger had some kind of wound on his face that was wrapped in a bandage.  We picked up another passenger, a quiet local women who didn’t talk at all.  We made it out of town and up through the hills.  There was a lot of road construction but the ride was comfortable and in two hours we arrived.

Downtown Pyin Oo Lwin Myanmar
Downtown Pyin Oo Lwin Myanmar

They dropped us off at our hotel, Hotel Rich.  We booked a day before on Agoda.  It was highly rated though a little out of town.  The location was actually very nice, sandwiched between two lakes.  The room was one of our nicest as well.  Ground floor but sunny and clean.

Exploring PYin Oo Lwin

We got bikes and soon pedaled around the lake.  Local boys were swimming and a water buffalo charged at Lena as we tried to pass it in the road. The weather was cooler then Mandalay.  We rode into town and found the local market.

Market in Pyin Oo Lwin
Market in Pyin Oo Lwin

Very vibrant and lots of people.  We locked our bikes near some other bikes and walked around getting lost in the maze of vendors and people.

Market in Pyin Oo Lwin
Market in Pyin Oo Lwin
Market in Pyin Oo Lwin Myanmar
Market in Pyin Oo Lwin Myanmar

Walking down the street,  a man came out of his antique shop, greeting us.  “Hello!” he said as he shook our hands.  The man was very nice and asked us about ourselves and told us that Pyin Oo Lwin was the best town in Myanmar. He also recommended a place to eat, an Indian restaurant.

Downtown Pyin Oo Lwin
Downtown Pyin Oo Lwin

Finding his restaurant sounded good but we soon passed a very popular tea shop that was too tempting to pass up. They were making these buns filled with meat, similar to Chinese pork buns.  Finding a table in the back, we sat down and a young kid, maybe 9 years old brought us coffee and a  bun each.  We had to point to our neighbors at the next table to communicate what we wanted.  We paid 1,500 kyat for everything.  Very cheap.

Stuffed Bun in Pyin Oo Lwin Coffee House
Stuffed Bun in Pyin Oo Lwin Coffee House

We made our way back to the bikes and were soon informed we owed a small feeto have them locked there and watched by the man.  We gave him the money and rode around town exploring.

Clocktower in Pyin Oo Lwin Myanmar
Clocktower in Pyin Oo Lwin Myanmar
House in Pyin Oo Lwin Myanmar
House in Pyin Oo Lwin
Lunch: Shan Noodle Special

Lunch time.  We had a map from our room that had restaurant ads in it.  Lena chose one that specialized in Shan noodles.   We figured it was time to try the famous dish.  We eventually found the place, on a quiet street,  a large building with outdoor garden seating hidden behind the fence.

Shan Noodle restaurant in Pyin Oo Lwin

The young men who were our waiters were a little nervous and spoke no english.  I don’t think many tourists come into this place but it had a lot of locals.  Luckily the menu had pictures. Unluckily, they all looked the same.   I tried pointing to a picture and giving the waiter a thumbs up, as if to ask, “this? Is this good?”  He nodded.  Lena managed to find the word to chicken in her notes and found a chicken Shan noodle dish.  We had tea and snacked on a couple of lotus leaf-wrapped sticky rice appetizers.

Shan Noodle with Brain
Shan Noodle with Brain

Brains.  When my food arrived we both laughed out loud.  Yes, I had somehow ordered the Shan Noodle with brain.  Not sure what type of brain.   I mixed the soft brain up and tried to to think about it too much.  The taste of the dish was great and I managed to eat most of it.    Lena’s chicken looked good.  She enjoyed it.

Shan Noodle in Pyin Oo Lwin Myanmar
Shan Noodle in Pyin Oo Lwin Myanmar
Beer and BBQ in Pyin Oo Lwin

That evening we had espresso at a nice cafe on the side of the road.  Then rode around town as the sun set.  We were keeping our eyes open for a place to have a beer and passed a popular looking place with a BBQ.  We picked the skewers from the glass case and the woman bbq’d and brought them to us: okra, mushrooms, pork, fish ball and one mystery skewer that we couldn’t eat. Some sort of tofu that had rotted?

Back on our bikes after 7 beers between the two of us, we passed a barber shop where a young man was getting his haircut from another young man.   I needed a haircut so why not?  We parked and they immediately brushed the chair off and sat me down.  Luckily a lady there new some english and translated my instructions to the barber.  He did a great job and only cost 2000 kyat.

The next morning, we decided to head north to Hsipaw.

Budget and Expenses for 2 People:

Day 1:
  • 14,000- shared taxi from Mandalay to Pwin Oo LWin
  • 1, 500- BBQ pork buns x2 coffee x2
  • 200- bicycle parking
  • 5,300- Shan Noodles (1 chicken, 1 brain), banana leaf rice
  • 2,700- cappuccino and ice coffee
  • 10, 300- Beer station: 7 beers, bbq veggies and meats
  • 2,000- Sam’s Haircut
  • 1, 500- Draft Beer x2
  • 32, 400- Hotel Rich

69, 900 Kyat Total