Situated at an altitude of 1070 meters, around 67 km east of Mandalay city, the origin of Pyin Oo Lwin goes back to the times when it was used as a British military camp in 1896. Due to its cool climate and hilly surroundings, it became known as the summer retreat of British Burma (Myanmar now). The British called it – Maymyo (some use this term even today), meaning May's town in Burmese, to honuor Colonel May who was the commander of the Regiment posted at the town in 1887.
However when the Burmese military government took over, they renamed it 'Pyin Oo Lwin'. It is also known as 'Pyin U Lwin'. The main sources of income of the locals are rearing cows, farming vegetables and flowers, tending strawberry and pineapple orchards, growing coffee and Knitting sweaters. This petite town with its cool ambiance is well known among local and international tourists for its colonial charm and cool climate.
Getting in Pyin Oo Lwin
- By bus - It takes around two hours to get to Pyin oo Lwin from Mandalay and will cost you not more than K5000 exchange rate
- By train - It takes around two hours to get to Pyin oo Lwin from Mandalay and ticket prices differ according to the type of class you chose.
- Ordinary Class - $3
- Upper Class - $6
- By taxi - It takes approximately two hours (from Mandalay) to make the journey costing around K10,000 which can be shared among two or more people.
- By motorbike - You can hire a motorbike from a rental place in Mandalay -Motorcycle Rental mandalaymotorbike.blogspot.co.uk- and ride with freedom and ease to Pyin oo Lwin at your own sweet pace.
Things to do in Pyin Oo Lwin:
Visiting Colonial Houses
- The main attraction of this hilly region is its colonial churches, bungalows and cottages which are mostly situated at the southern end of the town.
- The Governor's house which was built in 1903 got destroyed in 1943. Its perfect replica stands there today in the form of a high class hotel.
- All saints' Anglican Church which was built in 1912 stands in witness to its colonial past.
- Gandamar Myaing Hotel, Nan Myaing Hotel and Candacraig (Thiri Myaing) Hotel have replaced ex-colonial buildings that used to be known as 'Croxton” (a British mansion), 'Craddock Court” (a colonial rest house) and the guest house of the Bombay Burma Trading Company respectively.
Pyin Oo Lwin Market
- A 'must see' itinerary in your tour, this buzzing market in the center of the town neighboring Purcell Tower, displays authentic Burmese fresh produce and dry rations of the likes of wine, strawberry jam, coffee and woolen cloths (the specialty of Pyin Oo Lwin).
- Constructed in 1934 by the English Company, Gillete & Johnson Co. in honor of the silver Jubilee of the rule of the British King, George V, Purcell Tower stands erect to this day over looking the central market.
Visiting religious sites
- Chan Tak Buddhist Temple, this colorful Chinese temple can be found quite close to Thiri Myaing Hotel in the southern part of Pyin Oo Lwin. It was said to be a construction of the many Chinese immigrants who live there.
- Maha Ant Htoo Kan Thar Pagoda, the origin of this Pagoda is as colorful as the temple. Legend has it that while transporting three marble images of Buddha from Mandalay to China, one toppled off the truck and the workmen could not lift it back inside the truck, causing them to leave it behind. A local monk had faith in its power and preached Buddhist doctrine to the locals by sitting atop the image for seven days. When people tried to move the statue after 7 days, they found it weightless and was easily moved to its current position in the town. From this day on wards the statue sits inside a beautiful Pagoda built around it receiving offerings from faithful devotees within and without the city.
- Peik Chin Myaung Cave (Maha Nandamu Cave), located in Wetwun village along the road to Lashio, 12 miles to the east of Pyin Oo Lwin, this limestone cave, with a 20 feet wide and 1600 long entrance, is said to be 230-310 million years old. It bears its present name, as a result of a past where Peik Chin plants grew in multitude near the caves. However its magnitude and strength lie in the sheer number of Buddha images and the pagodas of varying positions and sizes displayed in various niches and corners inside. When you go deeper within, you cannot but notice the underground springs flowing(locals believe that these waters have healing powers and bottle it up to take home as a home remedy for skin and eye irritations) to and fro and the icicles or rather stalactites which have formed due to centuries of dripping of water from the rocks and limestone. A stop over at this cave is a must for anyone visiting Pyin Oo Lwin.
- Dattawgyaik Waterfall (Aniskan Falls), situated in Ani Sakhan, exactly at half way between Mandalay and Pyin Oo Lwin, this beautiful water fall consisting of three layers reaches a height of 122m and a depth of 91m, making the 45 minute climb from the trail-head to the bottom of the falls extremely steep and the 90 minute climb up the falls to the top equally steep yet refreshingly jubilant with its surrounding hills, the cooling dew drops and the distant echo of the water touching the depth below. If you plan to take plenty of photos we would advise you to travel in winter time as the amount of water is less making it possible to take clearer snapshots.
- Pwe Kauk Falls, a favorite picnic spot among local families who lovingly call this falls the B.E falls. It was also called the Hampshire Falls by the British. This is situated just a bit away from Pyin Oo Lwin on the way to Lashio and consists of two falls.Out of these, the shallower one is preferred by many as a place for fun and frolic. The nearby market will give you a chance to savor local products like wine, strawberry jam, fruits and flowers while a short trek of an hour or so will lead you to a series of natural caves called U Naung Gu displaying Buddha images of ancient value.
Visiting Botanical gardens
- The National Kandwgyi Gardens, consisting of a rare collection of flora, of the likes of foreign species, orchids of different origin, dahlia and rose gardens, along with exotic fruits and trees, spanning originally along an area of 240 acres (out of which 70 acres are water and 170 acres are land) stands the National Kandawgyi Gardens also known as National Botanical Gardens just 1.5 km south of Pyin Oo Lwin. This was the brain child of Alex Roger who was a forest researcher. He founded this in 1915 with the help of Lady Cuffe a fellow botanist and used the Kew Gardens in England as a model. It was recognized by the Government of Burma as a declared Forest reserve with ample state recognition in 1924. Since 2000 it is regarded as a recreational garden where visitors are allowed to rest and relax among the well maintained paths and nooks while enjoying the beauty of the surroundings. The flocks of black and whit swans, shoals of pond fish, the aviary filled with horn-bills and other varieties of birds, swamp trails,The fossil museum, the petrified wood museum, the butterfly museum and the watch tower that gives panoramic views of the town make this place one of the top tourist attractions in Pyin Oo Lwin.
- The National Landmark Garden, this lies in the immediate vicinity of the famous Kandawgyi Botanical gardens consisting replicated scale models of many popular land marks of each state in Burma laid out in a land measuring up to 50 acres.The objective of its 2006 launch was to let the visitors observe cultural constructions of the likes of Pagodas, Stupas and natural treasures of the likes of famous caves, hills at a single venue. This is also equipped with a theme park and a massive garden.