At the northern edge of town, Hsipaw’s oldest neighbourhood has a village-like atmosphere, two delightful old teak monasteries and a collection of ancient brick stupas known locally as Little Bagan. Though this name blatantly overplays the size and extent of the sites, the area is undoubtedly charming. The multifaceted wooden Madahya Monastery looks especially impressive when viewed from across the palm-shaded pond of the Bamboo Buddha Monastery (Maha Nanda Kantha).
The 150-year-old buddha is made from lacquered bamboo strips, now hidden beneath layers of gold. Around and behind lie a few clumps of ancient brick stupas, some overwhelmed by vegetation in vaguely Angkorian style.
To get here, cross the big bridge on Namtu Rd heading north. Take the first left at the police station, then the first right and fork left. Take this lane across the railway track, then follow the main track as it wiggles.
To return by an alternative route, take the unpaved track east behind the Bamboo Buddha Monastery, rapidly passing Eissa Paya (where one stupa has a tree growing out of it). You’ll emerge near Sao Pu Sao Nai, a colourful shrine dedicated to the guardian nat (spirit being) of Hsipaw. Rather than turning left into the shrine, turn right and you’ll reach Namtu Rd a little north of the railway.