Tourism in the northern Shan State has been increasing year after year, especially at the famous Gokteik Viaduct, Hsipaw and the surrounding areas.
“Foreign tourists come to see the Gokteik Viaduct in northern Shan State via train. They first come to Hsipaw or Kyaukme via motorcar or fly to Lashio and take the train from Hsipaw or Kyaukme to ride across the Gokteik Viaduct. Another attraction is the tea plantations in Namhsan. Many tourists also go on trekking tours to nearby villages,” said Naing Win, director-in-charge of the Directorate of Hotels and Tourism for Northern Shan State.
The highest bridge in Myanmar and once the world’s largest viaduct, the Gokteik Viaduct is located between Pyin Oo Lwin, Mandalay Region, and Lashio, Shan State, and 100 kilometres northeast of Mandalay City. The bridge spans 689 metres (2,260 feet) across two canyons and rises over 102 metres (335 feet) into the air.
Besides the Gokteik Viaduct and Hsipaw, the Hsipaw Haw – a former palace of Shan prince Sao Kya Seng – as well as Bawgyo Pagoda and river cruises across the Duthawadi River also attract many foreign visitors.
Foreign tourists can travel to northern Shan State by bus, train and air.
The number of hotels and guesthouses in Lashio, Hsipaw, Kyaukme and Muse has increased from 21 hotels and guesthouses offering 731 rooms in 2012 to 37 hotels and guesthouses offering 1,185 rooms today.
Northern Shan State received 5,856 foreign visitors in 2012; 9,186 visitors in 2013; 12,210 visitors in 2014; and 5,736 visitors this year up to April.
Myanmar received 3.08 million foreign visitors last year and is expected to receive more this year, according to Naing Win.