SWEETNESS ABOUNDS IN PYIN OO LWIN, MYANMAR

A man carrying strawberries and fresh cream at a strawberry farm near Pyin Oo Lwin, Myanmar.

Strawberries growing at a farm near Pyin Oo Lwin, Myanmar.
Located about a two-hour drive from Mandalay, Myanmar, up several switchbacks, and away from it all is Pyin Oo Lwin (Maymyo). As a former summer haven during British occupation, Pyin Oo Lwin is still the perfect getaway to escape from the heat.

It’s a lovely town, now booming from tourism, but not overly saturated by tourists. Yet. I’ve had the chance to visit a few times, and both trips have left my sweet tooth wanting more of its sugary goodness.

Sweetness abounds in Pyin Oo Lwin. From fields of strawberries to locally produced jam, honey and wine, this area is truly one of Myanmar’s finest.

HOW TO GET THERE

The easiest way to get there is by bus from Mandalay. You can also get a bus from Yangon. Trains from Yangon and Mandalay are available as well.

Taking a taxi from Mandalay to Pyin Oo Lwin is another option. Even though it’s more expensive, it may be better if you’re traveling in a small group.

Do some further research, as departure times and pricing seem to change often.

Bungalow style accommodation at Hotel Pyin Oo Lwin, Myanmar.
WHERE TO STAY

There are many hotels in and around the city. I highly recommend staying at Hotel Pyin Oo Lwin or Royal Reward Resort. Both offer bungalow style accommodation to give you and your fellow guests more privacy and comfort without emptying your pockets.

Rooms at Hotel Pyin Oo Lwin are rustic and spacious with large, comfortable beds. A huge bathroom with a separate tub and shower, as well as attached changing area is built-in. The water pressure and temperature were just right. And a fully stocked bar with snacks and drinks also comes with each room.

Breakfast with a view is included, featuring fresh local coffee, fruits, as well as traditional food and Western cuisine. Staff was friendly, too. I loved every minute of my stay at Hotel Pyin Oo Lwin. I’ll definitely go back.

A horse-drawn carriage in Pyin Oo Lwin, Myanmar.
A horse-drawn carriage in Pyin Oo Lwin, Myanmar. March, 2014.

GETTING AROUND

For trips just outside of Pyin Oo Lwin, get a taxi, motorcycle taxi, or rent a motorbike or bicycle. But, if you simply want to tour the city center, try hopping on a horse-drawn carriage. Many brightly colored buggies seem to be restored originals. It’s fun to see buggies and cars next to each other, a mix of old and new.

NATIONAL KANDAWGYI GARDENS

Head to the National Kandawgyi Gardens for a morning walk, or spend an afternoon there. It’s open 8AM-6PM. An entrance fee for foreigners ($5 as of the date of this post) is required. The botanical gardens are really well maintained. You can hear monkeys, see over 70 species of bamboo, visit an orchid garden, or just sit and relax at a tea shop. If you don’t have two or three hours to spare, you can hire a driver to take you around quickly.

 National Kandawgyi Botanical Gardens in Pyin Oo Lwin, Myanmar. March, 2014.
National Kandawgyi Botanical Gardens in Pyin Oo Lwin, Myanmar. March, 2014.

A girl takes a stroll around an orchid garden inside Kandawgyi Gardens in Pyin Oo Lwin, Myanmar.
A girl takes a stroll around an orchid garden inside Kandawgyi Gardens in Pyin Oo Lwin, Myanmar. March, 2014.

DINING

If you’re like me, you probably prefer snacking while you travel, or taking the cheaper route by eating street food, and hitting up small, family-operated restaurants. However, if you don’t mind splurging a bit, Feel is a very popular and worthy place to check out.

A cool breeze with a sip of wine is why most locals and foreigners come to Pyin Oo Lwin. Here’s where you’ll get just that. Because it's a lakeside restaurant, evenings actually feel chilly if you dine on the deck. Bring a jacket or layer your attire to fully take in the beautiful atmosphere.

Workers on a strawberry farm near Pyin Oo Lwin, Myanmar.
Workers at a strawberry farm near Pyin Oo Lwin.
STRAWBERRY FARMS

You can snack on freshly picked strawberries at strawberry farms around Pyin Oo Lwin (when strawberries are in season). Several thatched pavilions get you up close and personal with farmers in the fields. Enjoy strawberries mixed with milk, cream, and/or yogurt while watching the action. Wine, food, and various other beverages are also available. 

AUNG HTU KAN THA PAYA

If you feel like seeing a massive white-marble statue of Buddha, then stop by Aung Htu Kan Tha Paya. It’s an impressive pagoda, but I can’t help but feel like I’m in some casino when I see flashing lights around Buddha’s head. What’s up with that? Why is this a common sight around Myanmar?

A white-marble statue of Buddha at Aung Htu Kan Tha Paya near Pyin Oo Lwin, Myanmar.
A white-marble statue of Buddha at Aung Htu Kan Tha Paya near Pyin Oo Lwin, Myanmar. March, 2014.

A man taking a photo of Pwe Kauk Falls near Pyin Oo Lwin, Myanmar.
Snapping photos at Pwe Kauk Falls near Pyin Oo Lwin, Myanmar.
PWE KAUK FALLS

I suggest visiting Pwe Kauk Falls, but not necessarily for the waterfalls. There are other more impressive waterfalls near Pyin Oo Lwin. But, there’s a lot of shopping to be done near Pwe Kauk Falls. You can get wine made from local fruits, wild orchids, natural honey, cheap produce, and handmade snacks or souvenirs. And as a bonus, there’s a really creepy carousal that appears to be hydraulically powered. Although, both times I’ve gone it wasn’t operating. 

A small admission fee is taken as you enter the area around Pwe Kauk Falls.


A group of people crossing the bridge near Peik Chin Myaung, Pyin Oo Lwin, Myanmar.
A group of people crossing the bridge near Peik Chin Myaung.
PEIK CHIN MYAUNG (CAVE)

I wasn’t impressed with Peik Chin Myaung. It’s an extremely humid cave filled with statues of Buddha and other religious relics. I was sweating all over the place by the time I made it through. If I wanted to sweat so much, I would’ve stayed in Yangon.

I paid a small admission fee for my camera, but didn't even take a single picture inside.

Peik Chin Myaung appears to be part of a very vast underground channel. Perhaps there are more opportunities to explore parts that aren’t filled with fakeness.

I loved the area surrounding the cave, however. It was fun to climb on rocks, and wade in the stream.

More shops line the pathway to and from the site, and a suspended bridge has to be crossed to get there and back. If too many people are on the bridge at the same time, it feels like an amusement park ride. Hold on!

WHY GO?

Something I truly appreciate about Myanmar is how things haven’t seemed to change much over the past several decades. Once a popular hill station during the British era, Pyin Oo Lwin still holds its colonial charm.

Not only is it known as a cool, refreshing getaway during the hot summer months, it’s also famous for its coffee. If you need more sugarcoating to go after reading this post, go for the coffee. And bring some back for me, please.

Although it’s quite touristy, as far as touristy goes in Myanmar, keep in mind many visitors are locals getting away from Mandalay or Yangon. You won’t see too many foreigners at this time. It'll be a much different place in three to five years.

RELATED SITES AND SOURCES:

MYANMARS.NET: Pwe Kauk Falls
PYIN OO LWIN INFO: What to See
WIKITRAVEL: Pyin U Lwin

Frozen strawberry treats for sale in Pyin Oo Lwin, Myanmar.
Frozen strawberry treats for sale in Pyin Oo Lwin, Myanmar. March, 2014.

Wild orchids for sale near Pwe Kauk Falls outside of Pyin Oo Lwin, Myanmar.
Wild orchids for sale near Pwe Kauk Falls outside of Pyin Oo Lwin, Myanmar. March, 2014.

A view of  Nan Myint Tower from Hotel Pyin Oo Lwin, Myanmar.
A view of  Nan Myint Tower from Hotel Pyin Oo Lwin, Myanmar. March, 2014.

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