A highlight of the long, slow Mandalay–Lashio train ride is the mighty Gokteik Viaduct. It spans the Gokteik Gorge, a densely forested ravine that cuts an unexpectedly deep gash through the otherwise mildly rolling landscape. At 318ft high and 2257ft across, it was the second-highest railway bridge in the world when constructed, and remains Myanmar’s longest. From aboard the train, the best views are from north-facing windows, the left side if you’re heading towards Lashio.
The viaduct is visible through the trees for some time as the train winds down from the plateau, and there are fine views from parts of Gokteik station (near the viaduct’s western end), but beware that the train only stops there very briefly.
Trains slow to a crawl when crossing the viaduct to avoid putting undue stress on the ageing superstructure. Despite some 1990s renovation work, the viaduct – built in 1901 by contractors from the Pennsylvania Steel Company – still creaks ominously as trains edge their way across.
The viaduct is 34 miles northeast of Pyin Oo Lwin.