In a nutshell
Pyin U Lwin made a name for itself for being the famous summer capital of the British during the colonial period in Myanmar. With that in mind, much of the scenery here is that of a typical hill station in places like India and Malaysia and you can expect lush green scenery and some pretty colonial buildings.
Why go to Pyin U Lwin
Pyin U Lwin sits at some 1070 meters above sea level and the cooler climes mean that flowers, coffee and strawberries grow here and a favourite activity for travellers is to visit the various plantations that dot the hill station. Many visitors also make their way to Pyin U Lwin to relax amidst the pretty scenery and enjoy the cool mountain air.
When to go to Pyin U Lwin
As Pyin U Lwin is a hill station and stands at a higher elevation than other spots in Myanmar, it is cooler than many other areas. This means that in the summer months from June to August it rarely gets hotter than 30 C and in the winter, from January to February, it can fall to 10 C at night. For that reason, if you don’t like cold weather then you may prefer to visit in the summer months and skip the winter season.
You may also want to avoid the rainy season in Myanmar which runs from June to October. This is particularly true in Pyin U Lwin as the cool temperatures coupled with heavy rain can make for a rather disappointing visit.
Where to stay in Pyin U Lwin
When it comes to accommodation, Pyin U Lwin is one of the best places in Myanmar to find a wide mix of choices.
One of the highlights of staying in Pyin U Lwin is that there are a number of beautiful colonial buildings which have been restored and turned into scenic hotels. Bear in mind however that all of these are government run establishments.
You can choose to stay in the centre of town in Pyin U Lwin although some guests find this noisy and many of the main attractions such as plantations and temples are located on the outskirts of the city. With that in mind, you may prefer to stay in the uptown area close to Kandawgyi Garden such as the Circular Road.
There are hotels in Pyin U Lwin to suit all budgets and you will find some cheap guesthouses as well as midrange hotels.
When it comes to budget guesthouses, you can expect to find small private rooms which start from around USD 20. These usually come with shared or private bathrooms and some guesthouses also offer Wi-Fi. If you have a larger budget then you can choose from mid range hotels which have rooms from between USD 40 and 60.
Where to eat in Pyin U Lwin
Despite the fact that Pyin U Lwin is not very big, you can still find a good selection of eateries here and there are also a few culinary delights to be found in town.
One rather unexpected delight is the presence of a number of Indian sweet shops which sell gorgeous traditional Indian sweets like barfi, laddoo and gulab jamun. These are made with aromatic spices like cardamom and are the perfect place for anyone with a sweet tooth. Many of these shops are close to the Clock Tower on Lashio Road.
As well as Indian sweet shops you will also find a number of Indian restaurants in town that serve up delicious south Indian curries. You can also get local favourites here such as dhal, chapattis and rice as well as delicious drinks like lassi.
If you want to try some local dishes, then consider heading to the local Night Market which sets up around 5 pm every night behind the local clock tower. Here you will find classic local cuisine such as Myanmar salads and glasses of local tea. The night market also sells fried Indian snacks and some curries.
How to get around Pyin U Lwin
As Pyin U Lwin is quite compact, you can easily get around the centre of town on foot.
The other option, which will allow you to explore a little further, is to rent a bicycle which should cost around MMK 1,000 to 2,000 per day. You can easily rent a bicycle from local guesthouses.
Another option is to hire a gharry which is a colourful horse and cart which looks like something out of the colonial period. If you want to go further afield then you can rent a motorcycle taxi or a regular taxi.
How to get to and from Pyin U Lwin
There is a main train station in the north of Pyin U Lwin which has services that will take you to Mandalay, Hsipaw and Lashio.
If you take the train to Mandalay then the journey will take around 4 hours although bear in mind that the train leaves Pyin U Lwin at 4 am and tickets cost USD 2. There is also a daily train to Hsipaw (6 hours) which leaves at 5.30 am and a train to Lashio (10 hours) which leaves at 8. 40 am.
If you want to travel to Yangon from Pyin U Lwin then you can get a bus although make sure to book in advance as these are almost always full and also pass through Hsipaw. You can also get a bus from Inle Lake which leaves at 7 pm and takes you to Mandalay and then on to Pyin U Lwin. Tickets cost MMK 18,000.
Another option is to take a pick up or a taxi to other places in Myanmar such as Yangon, Mandalay, Inle Lake or Hsipaw. Fares and schedules however depend on your haggling skills and how many people plan to travel at one time so it is best to check this when you are in Pyin U Lwin.
Is Pyin U Lwin a safe place to visit?
Pyin U Lwin is generally considered safe to visit and violent crime is rare here, particularly involving foreigners.
As this is a hill station, you may want to trek in the outlying areas and if you plan to do so make sure to wear comfortable walking shoes or books as some of the trails can be very slippery.