Our pick up from NK arrived promptly at 3:00pm and took us to the "local" bus station about 10 minutes away. Crazy to say, especially after traveling through Asia for so long, but the bus was actually waiting for us! We were scheduled to leave at 3:30pm however, we were all loaded up and on the road by 3:20pm - awesome!!
Nyaung Shwe -> Hispaw 13 hours for 15,000 Kyat ($12.25 USD)
If you're doing the math and thinking wait... 13 hours and they are leaving at 3:30p... You're right, you'll be arriving wayyy before roosters are even awake to say cock-a-doodle-do! Ahh super annoying, but that's life. Couple things you can do to plan ahead for it.
1) Book ahead. There is a place called Charlie's Guesthouse, it's $7 a night for a dorm bed and you can book online. Pretty positive loads of backpackers stay here and if you're not on a tight budget, I'm sure you'd enjoy it.
2) Live a little on the edge and just figure it out when you get there. Haha thats what we did and we by farrrrr found the best deal!
When you arrive at the bus drop off point, it'll be center-ish of town. Nothing special or at all marked, it's literally just somewhere on the side of the road. DON'T STRESS! You can seriously walk the entire town in 20 minutes! There'll be a bunch of taxi drivers waiting for you when the bus drops off. DON'T DO IT! No matter what guesthouse you book in advance, nothing is more than a 10 minute walk. Save your money for a cheap beer later 😋.
When we arrived, and mind you it was 4:30am, we lucked out a found a awesome local taxi driver and asked him for recomendations on fidning a "cheap cheap" place. For the price of getting to take a fun photo with us, he shared his secrets and told us to go check out The Royal Rose, only a 5 minute walk away.
Since the bus alwaysss drops off at 4:30am, don't feel bad, everyone is used to the early morning wake up call.
The Royal Rose -> 3,000 Kyat each ($2.45 USD)
> Double and Triple Room Options
> Brand new squatter toilets
> Hot water shower
> Toilets and showers are separate
> Breakfast not included
> Wifi only in main building - works sometimes?
Now this is definitely nothing special! Very basic room, we lucked out and were able to move one bed opening the door to make adjoining rooms. "Team Room" for the 4 of us and our friend we made along the way. Toilets are downstairs and at the other side of the building. 2 showers, both downstairs kind of hidden behind the building. The place is definitely under construction, but really, if you just need a place to crash, this is it!
We arrived to the main building at 4:45am and had to wake the guy sleeping behind the reception - oops 😏. He asked our budget and we said "cheap cheap", like 3,000 Kyat. He then got on the radio and called the night security over for us. From there the security guard takes you down the street about a block, then another block down on your right to a separate building. Haha perfect scenario for a funny 5am story,
None of the staff speak English so please be patient with them! Super sweet family and the building is actually pretty impressive. Confirm the price by using the calculator on your phone, then you're all good!
Lights out and time to crash! Cool thing is not only did we get rooms right away, we didn't have to pay anything for checking in so early! Just the 3,000 Kyat for the next night.
As I mentioned, Hispaw is a super tiny town. Most come here for trekking. Unfortunately we had some bad weather and our two days were spent mostly indoors due to the rain. If you don't use the maps.me app, the map above is your best overview of the town. Although we didn't get to partake in all the fun, below is a list of suggested things to see/do.
We mainly ate at local family run stalls and street carts, but if you're craving something a little western, I highly recommend you make a stop at Mr. Shake's. They have delicious guacamole and the craziest flavored fruit and dessert shakes. Some even spiced with a little local rum!
Guacamole 1,500 Kyat
Shake 1,000 Kyat (little more with rum)
Another fun treat is to try out the local pastries! Until about 10am you can score some delicious coconut buns and local fried donut/bread dough. Soooo bad for you but soooo delicious. The earlier you go the better. These are a popular dish in the mornings at the local stalls and when they're out, they're out and you'll have to try again tomorrow.
A fun thing we got to experience was the Morning Local Market. It's located along the river and seriously starts at 4am! We were a little dead and didn't go till 5am, but still really enjoyed it!
It's mainly all meats, fresh fish and produce. Families either purchasing for their homes, or locals businesses. Not much to buy as a backpacker, but really neat to see each stall organized and lit by candle light.
Lastly, and always my favorite, hanging out with the kiddies!
There are at least 3 different schools in the area and the kids love to play! Majority of them are currently taking English classes so if you can make sometime to go spend an hour talking with them and playing games on the blacktop, you'll truly make their day!