Eastern Myanmar much of it being Shan State has something for everybody. The greatest variety of tribes, lush nature, river valleys and plenty of small roads to explore. The climate here during the winter months can get cold during the night. Make sure you are prepared with right gear for your motorcycle tour.
Here are some of our favourites in short.
Mandalay where most of our bikes are is a great place to start your trip. Heading out from Mandalay north east is Pyin Oo Lwin, a hill station town with some nice waterfalls and botanical gardens. This is nice nice town to make a night stop.
Driving north of Pyin Oo Lwin you will come across Gokteik Gorge with its serpentine road and in few hours through nice rolling hills scenery you will reach Kyaukme. Kyaukme is small and slow paced Shan and Palaung trading town. From Kyaukme we often do rides to the mountain villages where it is possible to stay overnight. These are quite challenging roads so only experienced riders should drive up to mountain villages.
From Kyaukme it is 40km to Hsipaw. Nice small town by the Dokthawaddy River and former Shan kingdom. There are also plenty of Pagodas and old traditional houses to admire and one of the must see place is the old Shan prince palace (more like a mansion) at the northern end of town. The last Shan prince disappeared during military coup in 1962 and today his nephew and his wife are taking care of the mansion and gladly give insights of the History of Shan state.
We highly recommend driving up north from Hsipaw to Lashio where our local rep can arrange nice trips to ethnic villages (with overnight stays), hidden waterfalls with cliff jumping opps, rides to Badwin mines and Hsenwi among other adventure trips to places where hardly other travellers have been to.
A cool loop is to drive from Kyaukme west and on to Mogok or Mandalay. There are hardly any filling stations along this road let alone mechanics so make sure you are prepared for off the beaten trails bumpy ride. The scenery is spectacular and this is one of our favourite rides especially when driving over jungle covered hills to Mogok.
Mogok, Myanmar’s ruby land is one of the most mysterious places in Asia. Over 80% of worlds rubies come from this valley. There 3 roads leading to Mogok of which the 2 southern roads are accessible for foreigners. For the time being it is still necessary to obtain permits for visiting Mogok.
The roads leading to Mogok are great to drive especially with motorcycles lots of curves lush jungle and occassional monkeys.
Some other trail ideas…
Drive south from Mandalay to Kyaukse and take small rural road to Ywagan. In Ywagan there are coffee plantations, waterfall and cave to explore. These are quite far from town though so it is useful to take a guide to show the way.
There are couple guest houses in Ywagan if you decide not to continue to Pindaya or Kalaw on same day.
From Ywagan you can drive your motorbike to Pindaya through region often called the Tuscany of Myanmar. Rolling farming lands and limestone mountains in the horizon – and there is the Pindaya cave which is pretty kitch but so Myanmar and worth a curious visit. This is pretty big cave decorated with thousands of Buddhas.
Within 1-2hr drive you will reach to Kalaw old British hill station town surrounded by pine tree covered hills. There are some nice trails and tracks around Kalaw for motorbike explorations.
Kalaw is 70km from Inle Lake which is popular tourist destination and must see place. At Inle you should consider spending at least one day on the lake on boat trip to visit villages built on stilts over the lake and see the leg rowing fishermen.
There are couple vineyards near the lake producing Myanmar’s premier wines well worth a visit.
For those who fancy some more challenging riding can head up the eastern mountain range to Pao tribe villages. There are many small roads leading up making it possible to do loops and returning to lake.
It is also possible to ride over the mountain range to Kakku and back to Inle via Taunggyi and Kyauk Tha Lone.
Heading further south to Loikaw and surroundings see our Central Myanmar guide.