The Sawbwas of Hsipaw were well known and powerful and played fluctuating roles in regional Shan and national Burmese politics from the 11th century all the way until the 1962 military coup by General Ne Win. The Sawbwas of Hsipaw lived in the Shan Palace at the northern end of the town. The last Sawbwa (Sao Kya Seng) disappeared during the military coup in 1962 and the palace is cared for by his nephew and his nephew’s wife.
In the recent years, many foreign visitors are travelling to Hsipaw. Many are interested both in the intriguing history of Sawbwas and the town relaxing vibe. Hsipaw is famous for the Bowgoy Pagoda, situated in Bowgoy Village about 6 miles far from Hsipaw as well as the trekking routes, waterfalls and Shan villages.
Mingun: With a short and scenic trip up the Ayeyarwaddy from Mandalay you find Mingun, best known for the Mingun Pahtodawgyi, a huge, unfinished pagoda, which, if completed, would have stood at over 150 metres and been the largest monument in the world. At 50 metres high, what remains of the pagoda is still spectacular, and climbing up its ruin’s barefoot rewards explorers with a fantastic view of the Ayeyarwady. Mingun is also home to the world’s largest working bell. Weighing 90 tons, the Mingun Bell is actually second in size to one in the Kremlin in Moscow but the Russian bell is cracked and therefore not in service. A trip from Mandalay takes around one hour upriver and 40 minutes to return, a perfect way to spend a morning or afternoon.
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