Train to Hsipaw
Train travel from Mandalay to Hsipaw passing Pyin Oo Lwin, Goiktek Gorge and Kyaukme. Traveling by train in Myanmar is cheaper and more comfortable than traveling by bus. It costs me US2 to travel from Pyin oo Lwin to Hsipaw, 7 hours (only if you are lucky). Most of the time the train is not on time. Ask the train station, he is the one who know the best.
The Goiktek Gorge is the most spectacular view on the journey, but the maintenance had been stop since the contract expired few years ago.. so you take the risk!
And even though you will think that the train tix is cheap, local pay a much cheaper price compare to you (a few hundred Kyat).
Let the train take the strain.
If you visit Hsipaw, you will probably come from, and return to, Mandalay. There several options for this route, share taxi, bus or train. I got the share taxi to Hsipaw, and found it most uncomfortable. This is purely due to my size and being cramped in a small car. The return journey, which took considerably longer, was by train and far more comfortable.
Comfort, however, is not the primary reason for me advising you to do at least one leg of the journey by train. The views and sights from the slow-moving train are wonderful and, of course, there is the Goktiek viaduct which for me was a "must see" in Myanmar. See my "off the beaten track" tip for details of this remarkable place.
The train to Mandalay departs Hsipaw at 0930 (ish) but you have to get to the Station an hour before for the "formalities". I had arranged my ticket the day before through Mr. Charles guesthouse and it cost me 6 USD. The journey takes about 12 hours if there are no delays, which there frequently are.
Eating is an important consideration as there are no feeding facilities on the train, although vendors beseige it at every stop. If you want to eat, the train stops for a good period at a station where it arrives at 1100 hours. Everybody gets off and eats in thestation restaurant. Don't worry about missing the train as it blows it's horn very loudly several times to let you know it's going. It makes a similar long stop (one hour) at Pyiy U Lwin, and again there are resturant facilities. Don't forget that by the time you get to Mandalay and check in to wherever you're staying, just about all the restaurants will be closed.
The second picture gives you an idea of what the inside of a first class carriage looks like.
Be aware also that the toilet facilities on the train are basic to say the least!
train to hsipaw
It takes app. 7 hours to get to Hsipaw by train from Pyin U Lwin and costs 2 USD/person. It's often crowded and you have to be careful when placing your baggage on the shelf above your head as it may fall down to someone's head and cause injury... It's nice experience to go by train, as lots of locals do the same. And there's the famous Gotkeik bridge,which you are not allow to take photos of (as was officially told to me). It may be a bit uncomfortable to sit long hours on wooden bench, but I took 2nd class and maybe in upper class there are better.