Lashio is a town in Shan State, Myanmar.
During World War II it was a stop on the Burma Road. Today it is a mercantile town that is mostly avoided by tourists except the few who make it across from China.
The Burmese part of the Burma Road is shorter than the Chinese part, from the Ruili China & Muse (pronounce Mu Say) Myanmar border crossing to Lashio. The Ruili / Muse border is not an International border access, so special permission may be needed to enter from China. However, travelling from the Myanmar side up to Muse is easy without an escort or special permission needed. An immigration official told me they intended to open the border for international travel in 2016 sometime.
There is easy access to Lashio by bus from Mandalay or Yangon on Shwe Mandalar bus lines. 15,000 Kyat ($15 from Yangon). This bus is comfortable. You can upgrade to 22,000 Kyat ($22 from Yangon) for VIP class bus. You can buy bus tickets online by searching for Myanmar Bus Tickets, and the site I used I was able to pay with Paypal.
There are also vans that travel once they are full. No info on that option, as I've only heard of it, not used it.
You can get there from Hsipaw (locals pronounce: Thibaw) with the train which departs mid afternoon, and costs 600 Kyats per ticket. Bear in mind that the train supposed to arrive in Lashio at 7.30 or so but you will arrive at least at 10pm in a border town where few people speak English. You can do a full day train, but it is a long day from Mandalay all the way to Lashio. But there are good places to stop for a night or several nights along the train journey. Pyin Oo Lwin (Maymyo) is known for its cool weather, beauty, and colonial era influences. The train goes from Pyin Oo Lwin over the Gokteik Viaduct bridge and a fitting stay for that night would be Kyaukme. There are a few trekking guides there who can take on day trips of hiking or motorbiking, or multi-day treks. Similarly, a few stops down the track is Hsipaw, which is similarly beautiful but has an overcrowded tourism industry. The next main stop past Hsipaw is Lashio, but the most beautiful part of the train journey, as you wind along the river, passing a couple beautiful waterfalls.
No bus to Tachilek
At the moment, it is not possible to travel by bus to Tachileik or the other way around due to conflict areas in Shan State.You can only fly to/from Tachileik.
Air. You can fly to/from Mandalay, Tachileik, Yangon, Heho (Inle / Kalaw), or nearly anywhere in country. Lashio airport is an old military airstrip, as are almost all airports in Myanmar aside from Yangon and Mandalay. It is a typical small Myanmar airport, as it is just a concrete small building with a few wood benches in a middle of nowhere. No computer or internet or screen of departures or English signs or even a phone. There will be a few small shops selling some drinks and snacks. Someone will shout the name of the company you are flying with. Go there with your tickets printed or an email of your booking, and arrive at the airport earlier than you think (our fight departed 25 min early)
By Private Taxi
At the bus stations or stops and at some travel agents or hotels, you can arrange a private taxi to Lashio. This allows flexibility to stop if you negotiate this into the price. This is more expensive than bus or train, but is also more comfortable and convenient. If you want to ensure that the taxi is all yours, you need to pay for all the seats, otherwise they will want to fill it with other people.
There are light trucks or 3 wheelers that can be hired for a negotiated price. A more expensive option would be to hire a taxi.
From downtown, by the market, there are line cars going North towards the airport, and up by the hospital they go towards the train station. The price for the line cars is about 200 MMK each way, which is very cheap.
A few things to be seen in Lashio:
- A pagoda on the top of the hill which supposed to be older then 2000 years? However it looks like a spot for young people and gives you opportunity to overview the area around.
- Morning market: strongly recommended! You will find people from all the villages and hilltribes around dressed typically selling foods or handicrafts. Plus you will see Indian, Burmese and Chinese people all around. You will be the only western on all the town.
- North of Lashio, near the train station, are two different Buddhist pagodas. One is called Bodhi Ni Tau (2000 Buddha Temple) with 2000 Buddhas in lines on the hillside. Also at this location is a large stack of rocks that are interesting to explore. Also Shwe Kyaut Gu is a Shan monastery built into a cave, which is between the golf course and the university.
- There is a Hotspring north of Lashio that is very popular with the locals in the evening. The large pool is not so clean, but you can rent small tile rooms for a couple people to have a private area to themselves, where the water flows in directly. For foreigners, the cost is 3000 MMK.
- Myanmar Adventure Outfitters Co. Ltd., No. 2, Kwa Nyo Rd., Quarter 2, Lashio, Shan State, Myanmar, ☎ +95 9795366426, . 8:00am. Myanmar Adventure Outfitters is a social impact company that offers multi-activity adventure trips into off-the-beaten-path areas outside of Lashio, in the mountains and jungles and villages and rivers and waterfalls. They offer motorcycling, mountain biking, trekking, standup paddle boarding (SUP), overnight village stays, explorations of several waterfalls, tubing, and caving. They have strong relationships in rural communities, and invest profits back into those communities for their greater growth and development. For instructions on how to find them, check them out on Google Maps. 65,000+. (N 22.94238,E 97.74942)
- Shan Pants - Shan men typically wear oversize pants with a string to tie at the waist. Some are 3/4 length and some are full length. You can buy neatly designed ones, custom make in the market, or the ones that are premade. They are great to relax in and are very comfortable.
- Shan Bag - the market carries many variations of Shan bags, with different sizes. They often have red, yellow, and green to signify the colors of the Shan flag, which were the colors of the Shan flag before Myanmar changed their flag to look strangely similar to the Shan flag. There are a lot of Palaung in Lashio area, so you can also find Palaung bags, which are usually white or black with pink details. More difficult to find, but they are in the main market are the bags of the Lahu and Lisu people groups. Lahu bags are often very colorful with red and black and small dangling cloth pom poms. Lisu bags are often hand embroidered in a distinct design. Kachin bags are often marked with the symbol on their flag, which is red and green with 2 white swords crossing to make an X shape.
- Women's Traditional Longyis - The varying ethnic groups of Shan, Palaung, Lahu, Lisu, and Kachin make up the majority of the women's traditional clothing, however in the main market, there is also a lot of Bamar traditional clothing as well. The majority of the traditional longyis in the market are Shan or Kachin however. Nicely made, well embroidered or knit clothing can be much more expensive.
- Tai Clothing - The Shan are the largest ethnic group in the area, but the Shan called themselves Tai. Many t-shirts, hats, and bags are marked with the Shan word for Tai, as well as some shirts just write Tai in latin lettering.
- Bamboo Goods - The main market has a section with many types of bamboo handicrafts that are used for function, but can be used for decoration. A small and cheap item is a bamboo head rest / pillow that is nice when going out for a picnic to lay back and relax. Most of the bamboo goods are made in the local villages by women who spend time weaving bamboo for bulk orders that are sold in the market, drastically increased in price from what the village people get paid for their handiwork.
There are many places to eat around town that will get you satisfied. If don't know names of favourite dishes, you can always point at the picture or ask for Shan Kauk Sway noodles. But here are a few options:
- Family Cafe. Note that this place is only open from 7am to 12pm (noon).. On top of the hill above the market in Quarter 2. Family Cafe has been run by a local Chinese / Myanmar family for nearly 40 years. Its perched at the top of the hill and gives a great view. The owner speak English inside. This is a favourite by many locals. The price is great and the food is great. And they have free WiFi, when it works.
- Sun Moon. There are two bakeries run by Sun Moon within 1 block of each other. New Sun Moon is the newest and most modern. It is primarily a cafe, with espresso drinks, smoothies, ice cream, and sweet baked goods, but also has some good Chinese and Thai inspired meals. The second Sun Moon is just around the corner and is just a bakery.
- Pizza House. If you're craving Pizza, this is an option. It is also near the main market, on the same road as New Sun Moon. The pizza is what you'd expect in the middle of backcountry Myanmar. Not amazing, but not so expensive either. This place has free Wifi, as the phone shop and internet shop next door is owned by the same family. My experience is that the internet was not very fast.
- Great Perfect. This is a place near Mansu Pagoda, north of downtown, with a nice atmosphere and a large menu with decent western menu, including pizza and other italian dishes
- Easy Ray. A Thai inspired restaurant on the way to Mansu Pagoda, north from downtown. They have a variety of Thai and Chinese dishes, with an assorted selection of cold drinks and iced teas.
- The Ritz Cafe. This Chinese owned restaurant is one of the local favorites, and has a large drink menu, lots of western food options, and interesting thatched roofed covered tables outside. The location is north of Lashio downtown, near the turn to the airport.
- The Wooden House. Near the airport is this nicely decorated open air restaurant with a large Thai menu. The food has always been good there, and the atmosphere is a place that makes you want to hang out there longer.
In the evenings, there is a night market in the downtown market area, and many tea shops in the area will be open, as well as you can get street food. No guarantees on the cleanliness. Myanmar is not known for clean street food!!!
- Across the street from Myanmar Adventure Outfitters is a Myanmar Beer Station with cold Myanmar Beer on tap. They are open till 10 or 11pm, and occasionally have karaoke.
- Sann Shwin Hotel is simple accommodation at the bottom of the night bazaar street. Single rooms are 20,000, double rooms are 25,000, and family rooms (4 people) are 30,000. Internet does not work well in the room, but a little bit in the lobby.
- Power Hotel is simple, but has hot shower and air conditioning. Price is 25,000 and up for double room.
- Thi Da Aye Hotel Advertises Wi-Fi (password: tda99900) but however does NOT have working Wi-Fi. The router was not plugged in properly and the guy at the desk wouldn't let me fix it. The following morning the manager didn't feel like doing anything about it either when I told him. Rooms are in excellent clean condition. Single $35.
Update Feb. 2013
Nice Double Room with Bathroom, no breakfast, with not working wifi, TV and AC. 35 USD. They change prices like other people their underwear. 1 Hour before the Double Room was 25 USD and Triple for 35 USD. The staff was nice. Regulary power blackouts included. New Wifi password is tda41010.
- Golden Hill Also has Wi-Fi, unknown working condition.
- Lashio Motel Working but slow Wi-Fi (passwords: motel123, motel), uses a HTTP proxy (18.104.22.168:8080). Likely government-owned.
Update Feb. 2013
- "" Ya Htaik"" Single Room for 20 USD. Double Room for 35 USD.
- Local Bus to Hsipaw every day at 8 AM and 13 PM. Its not a compfortable bus with AC but takes you within 2.5 hours to Hsipaw. Per Person 1500 Kyat. Febr. 2013
Updated March 2015.
The Palace hotel: 2km from the town 4km from the train station. A big building which is almost abandoned, a lot of dust everywhere, not used Spa (staff room), breakfast is almost ridiculous (only egg). 30-50$ x night. Tv, wi-fi (ok), hot shower.
The Royal Hotel: 25$ x night the cheapest option in Lashio just close to the market. No other info on my hand.
Update February 2017
- Hotel CS, Qr (2) Lashio, Myanmar (Corner of San Kaung Rd & Hhinn Si Rd), ☎ +95 82 26076 26788, . One of the hotels that are allowed to accommodate foreigners - the sister branch Hotel CF can't. Basic breakfast is included, but it's nothing special: fried rice or toast with tea/coffee and orange juice. Downtown, near the market area with a small cafe and restaurant attached to it. It is simple but nice and the beds are hard. Rooms are big & nice. Over $40 for family room with 4 beds. Wifi & hot shower! $40/double room (56000 MMK - Jan 2017).