Pyin Oo Lwin is less the 2 hours away from Mandalay and there are frequent shared taxis to get up there every day, making it a nice day trip if you’re short on time. The charming and sleepy town, with its flower markets and green surroundings, was also the base of the Indian Army during the British time. That’s why today there are big Anglo Burmese and Anglo Indian communities in addition to the native Shan tribe and Chinese that are recently starting to move from the nearby border. A real cultural mishmash visible in the colonial buildings, alternating with hindu temples, a very british botanical garden with a golden paya and traditional shan cuisine mixed with indian.
The real star of Pyin Oo Lwin are the perfectly maintained National Kandawgyi Gardens, not to be confused with the landmark garden just few meters away where you will find a scaled replica of all the major landmarks of Myanmar. You could visit the garden in a few of hours if you like but, spending the whole day there with a book or having a picnic is a real treat. There are different parts in the garden, including a bamboo forest, orchid garden, a butterfly museum, a lake and many different species of trees. When coming from the bustling and noisy Mandalay, the silence of the garden will feel unreal. There is an entrance fee of $5 and it’s worth every pence.
The next big attraction are the Anisakan Falls. From the city you will need a motorbike taxi that will drop you at the beginning of the large, and easy to follow, trail which you will take all the way down to the waterfalls. There are a few benches, so you can rest and enjoy the view of the majestic falls. Going back up takes about 45 minutes and, even if the trail is easy, is still pretty steep and you will feel very close to having a heart attack. Don’t worry, you will survive!
The best way to enjoy Pyin Oo Lwin is by bicycle, the streets are quiet enough and moving slowly will allow you to enjoy the landscape and the colonial buildings spread in the countryside.
Traveling Myanmar can be really tiring, due to the long bus journeys in precarious road, the heat, the early mornings and the lack of English. If you feel like you need a break, a couple of days in Pyin Oo Lwin will recharge you completely.